Self-SEO - is it worth it

From Cyberlaw: Difficult Issues Winter 2010
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Website SEO is a long-term process that requires not only patience but also knowledge of website optimization for the search engine guidelines. Many entrepreneurs decide to carry out SEO activities on their own. While this approach is risky, it can prove beneficial in some situations, resulting in greater visibility and a higher position.

What is SEO based on?

The key goal of SEO is to raise the position of a website in the search engine. The effect of this phenomenon is greater organic traffic, which, under favorable conditions, may translate into a higher conversion rate. Due to the fact that Google dominates the market, any optimization changes are carried out in accordance with the Webmaster Guidelines for this search engine. Following these guidelines will allow you to adjust your site appropriately so that the site can rank higher in organic search results.

The search engine uses hundreds of different factors to determine the position. Not all of them are known, but Google clearly indicates in the documentation of the Webmaster Guidelines what elements should be focused on in order for the domain to achieve satisfactory results. Violation of the guidelines in SEO jargon is referred to as using Black Hat techniques - they are not allowed, and their detection may result in the imposition of a filter or a ban. Whether the domain uses forbidden solutions is verified by various Google algorithms, such as Panda, Penguin, or Hummingbird. The basic SEO activities include technical optimization, content marketing and obtaining external links. All activities in the field of positioning should be implemented in such a way that not only meets the search engine guidelines, but also meets the expectations of users. Therefore, an important part of SEO is reducing loading time, optimizing responsiveness, UX / UI design and creating substantive content that Internet users are looking for.

According to research published on the Search Engine Journal portal, approximately 28.5% of users click on the first organic search result. Then these values decrease. The last result on the first page - i.e. the tenth one - arouses interest among approximately 2.5% of Internet users. This statistic shows how important SEO is.

Choosing key phrases

SEO should start with the selection of key phrases. It is the process of selecting valuable phrases, which are then adapted to individual subpages of the domain. Development of a comprehensive selection allows you to avoid cannibalization of key phrases. At the same time, such a document greatly facilitates positioning. A specific word should only match one URL. Thanks to this, the website owner can notice the first SEO effects much faster. Based on the selection, any optimization changes should be made, as well as creating content on the website.

To search for key phrases, you should use specialized tools that present data on the monthly search rate of a specific phrase - for example Senuto, SurferSEO or Ahrefs. The more frequently given words are searched by Internet users, the greater the chance of higher traffic after reaching a high position. However, it is worth remembering that key phrases with high traffic are competitive at the same time, so optimization of the website for such words may be a bit more demanding. In the case of new websites, a good solution is to use long-tail phrases. These are expressions with the so-called "long tail". They consist of a few words and their competition is low.

Technical optimization

Technical optimization of the website is one of the most important SEO segments. On-site errors can make it much harder to achieve satisfactory results in the Google search engine. Independent technical optimization is possible even without advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS. However, these skills are extremely useful, especially when your website code needs some serious updating. Depending on which CMS the website is operated by, technical optimization can be flexible (open source) or strongly limited (SaaS). Therefore, it is difficult to clearly define how many changes the website owner can introduce on his own. Technical optimization includes mainly:

- Meta data setting (title and description); - Creation and optimization of the mobile version of the website; - Shortening the page loading time; - Create alt attributes for graphics; - Uploading a sitemap to Google Search Console; - Setting redirects; - Verification and setting of canonical tags; - Internal linking optimization; - Verification and possible editing of the website structure, - URL optimization.

Create quality content

Creating content on a website has two goals. First of all: it is valuable information for users. Second: the content is analyzed by Google robots. Then the search engine verifies the content to match the answer to the user's query. If the content is substantive and valuable, there is a high probability that it will achieve a high position. Content is a signpost for the Google search engine. For this reason, content creation is extremely important when implementing an SEO strategy, and the lack of content makes it much more difficult to get high positions. Theoretically, building the content on your own is extremely beneficial for the owner of the website. First of all, it is saving - instead of hiring a copywriter, you will write the text on your own. However, it should be remembered that the content must be adapted to the requirements of users and the search engine at the same time. The process of creating such content is known as SEO copywriting. If the website owner does not have a "light pen" and the SEO rules are alien to him, it is difficult to prepare valuable content on his own. In this case, it is more advantageous to use the services of a copywriter or an experienced agency, or you can use a free paraphrase tool.

Acquiring external links

External links leading to the positioned domain are treated by the Google algorithm as some kind of "recommendations". Their acquisition - i.e. link building - has a positive impact on the visibility of the site in the search engine. The dofollow attribute is an important factor. Such a link transmits the maximum "power" of the positioned website. Quality, not quantity, should be the main consideration when obtaining links. Links from spammy sites and unrelated sites can negatively affect your visibility. Obtaining links naturally is also important. Link building is a process, not a one-time technique. Acquiring valuable backlinks is the foundation of your SEO strategy.

The benefits and risks of self-SEO

Step-by-step details of positioning are presented in the article "Stages of store positioning - from audit to conversion optimization". This compendium of knowledge is perfect for entrepreneurs who want to use the Google search engine to increase conversions through SEO. Independent positioning has one very important benefit: it is cheaper than when working with an agency. However, it should be remembered that such activities require knowledge, time and patience. Moreover, implementing changes without SEO competences increases the risk of using Black Hat techniques (even in an unconscious manner). As a result, the domain is exposed to declines rather than increases in the search engine. Therefore, before the website owner starts to prepare the SEO strategy on his own, it is worth acquiring the appropriate knowledge in the field of positioning.

Self-SEO Threats: - Possibility of accidental implementation of Black Hat SEO, - Long waiting time for effects, and sometimes their complete lack, - Difficulties with implementing some changes, especially those slightly more advanced, - Lack of constant help of specialists.

Self-SEO benefits: - SEO spending limitation, - Better familiarization with the CMS system, - Acquiring knowledge of HTML and CSS.

When is it worth self SEO a website?

Self-positioning of a website works mainly for small websites that are just starting their online business. This is the time when, as a rule, the website owner does not have too much marketing budget. Then it is worth thinking about independent SEO based on technical optimization and creating quality content. Small websites are not as complicated as large websites with hundreds or thousands of pages. Therefore, positioning on your own is a bit simpler, which favors amateurs. Stand-alone SEO will also work in low-competitive industries. In such a situation, fewer domains compete for high positions in the Google search engine. Thanks to this, even limited actions in the field of positioning can turn out to be effective.

How to acquire SEO knowledge?

There are many methods to learn SEO. The most effective include courses and workshops organized by experienced specialists. Although they are most often paid, many of them are very popular due to their quality. Free sources of knowledge include blogs, webinars, articles published by SEO agencies and video materials published on websites such as YouTube. There are also a number of books on the market that deal with the subject of positioning. However, it should be remembered that SEO is a development industry, so such materials quickly lose their relevance. In the context of blogs, it is worth observing those that are run by a group of qualified experts. Here are a few of them:

- Search Engine Land - - Paraphrase Online Blog - - Search Engine Journal - - Neil Patel Blog - - Google Blog -

Theory is not enough. Practice plays an important role in SEO. The lack of experience significantly hinders the implementation of effective positioning. As a website owner, you can try to individually prepare a strategy and then implement it by trial and error. You will see for yourself exactly which techniques are effective. Just remember to strictly avoid unethical activities known as Black Hat. It is worth positioning a website on your own only if the website owner has appropriate knowledge in this matter. Otherwise, SEO can only be a waste of time.