If you are not a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert chances are you know very little about it but, is there anything you can do to better your performance on your own?
SEO is very complex and expensive but there are things you can do and tools you can use to work on the basics of your site’s performance.
Should you consider hiring somebody? of course, just as you should hire a designer, a programmer, just as you hire a CPA for your taxes. This is an investment.
If you are not ready to hire a consultant, here is a list of ideas so you can get started in the game:
Obviously the first thing you should do is signup for Google Analytics if you are still not using it. Start paying attention to how your traffic performs depending on the content you publish and the changes you make to the site. I’m not suggesting you become an analytic freak but you should at least get familiar with the basics if you want to do more than just staring at the charts.
You might think DMOZ, the open directory project, is a big online dinosaur and why waste time submitting your site. The reason is that Google and some of the other search engines like Altavista or AOL Search still use it in the back-end of their directories because the process of including a site is still performed by humans. Take the time to go through the submission process to increase your chances of being added on other search engines.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
The purpose of this tool is another one but you can still use it to pay around with keywords. Run the report based on your URL, it is also a very interesting exercise to see what you are putting out there in terms of content.
Wordtracker is a tool that helps you research, discover and perform better on specific keywords. This is not a cheap tool and you should probably take it for a ride first and see if you like how it works.
First, you should see who is linking back to your site, there are many tools out there but I’m currently plying with Open Site Explorer. It doesn’t just displays a list of sites linking back to you but it also provides you with a nice series of scores like Page Authority (URL score combining all link) or metrics Total Links (followed, nofollowed & 301’ing pages) among others. This will give you a staring point to start building links.
Buy The SEO Book
The SEO Book is not just an e-book but a live website full of resources that anybody can understand and implement. The point here is not that you study SEO to become a ninja but to get familiar with the basics and know what you’re doing online if you can’t hire an expert.
PearAnalytics provides you with a nice set of eye-opening tools from Alexa rank, site age and directory listings to page rank and inbound links. They have a tool to give you a free analysis on your url and while the tool is not free, they offer a Quick Try account you can open to take it for a spin.
All In One SEO
If you are running your site over WordPress, you should consider installing a SEO plugin. After almost 5 million downloads, the most popular one is of course All In One SEO. You can customize to your needs and you can run just out-of-the-box if you prefer. As most WP plugins it is free but there is also a Pro Version for $39.
Thesis (DIY Themes)
Thesis is not just a theme, it offers the strongest SEO available on WordPress themes. It allows you to fine-tune your options per page or post and everything is displayed on the dashboard so you can leverage from this even if you are not a programmer. Now you can focus on writing content.
Scribe is the new SEO software by CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark. It currently works on WordPress. In just a few words, it adds a feature on your dashboard that analyzes copy on every page or post to improve your search performance. Take out the guesswork when it comes to copy writing. It is not free but it is definitely worth a try if you’re serious about your blog.
Follow Some SEO Ninjas
Get educated by following and listening to a few key people in the SEO field. To make it easier to understand the content, follow people that have a friendly voice. I like Lee Odden from TopRank Blog and Michael Gray from Graywolf’s SEO Blog.
Please don’t expect to be # 1 in Google after tweaking a couple of things on your SEO. While you can improve on your own, Search Engine Optimization is a long process and requires of expertise. It doesn’t hurt to be familiar with things and even take some steps on your own like the ones listed here but I will not advice you to try to become an expert if you are already running your own business. Now contribute with your favorite tips and tools in the comments section…