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How to D-I-Y your blog SEO on a shoestring budget

You don't need fancy marketing tools to do SEO for your blog, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Here's how to do it yourself in 7 easy steps.

February 5, 2020 by Guest Contributor: Natalie Slyman

As the New Year hits its stride, you're most likely going over budgets and expenses, trying to figure out how you spent so much money last year and how you'll cut back on spending this year. We've all been there, and it's no picnic. 

When looking for ways to cut corners, it’s not uncommon to pinpoint strategies and tools you’ve been using that cost some serious dough and find ways to either eliminate them or take them in-house. 

But for some reason, most marketers think having a search engine optimization (SEO) expert or tools to help enable their efforts in that area is an absolute must. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can actually DIY your blog’s SEO and not spend any money at all. 

Is your mind blown? 

SEO is an essential contributor to your overall marketing strategy. 

In fact, 61% of marketers’ top inbound marketing priority is improving their SEO and growing their organic presence. And I’ll bet that with voice search continuing to rise in popularity, that percentage will only increase year-over-year. 

Ensuring your SEO is in sync and increasing your organic site traffic can put you ahead of competitors in your space, and make you more accessible to your audiences conducting those online searches. 

But if you still aren’t sure how you can take your SEO strategy in-house and do it yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a step-by-step guide to totally revamping your blog to make it more optimized for search. Enjoy! 

How to DIY your SEO strategy

1. Put together your keyword list

The first step of doing your SEO strategy yourself is to identify your keywords through keyword research. These can be short-tail or long tail, but essentially, they should be words you want your content to rank for and phrases your audience uses to search for items related to your field online. 

For example, if you’re an agency that specializes in marketing and design, you’ll want to start with a list that looks like this: 

  • Marketing agency
  • Design agency
  • Marketing and design firm
  • High-quality design
  • Marketing strategy

Your long-term keywords may look something like this: 

  • How to implement a marketing strategy
  • The best design tactics for email marketing
  • How to identify marketing goals 
  • The kinds of marketing strategies to utilize 

These are just examples. What you’ll want to do is identify your specific areas of expertise and build from there. 

I’d also consult with your sales team to see what your prospects are asking about and what they’re expressing they need help with, as that can inform your keyword list as well. 

Or, if you’re a solopreneur vs. entrepreneur, looking through the logs yourself. What are the most common themes? Those make good keywords to target.

Don’t forget to examine your current rankings so you can determine which keywords to build on, and it doesn’t hurt to look at your competitors’ rankings, as well. That will give you an idea of any keywords that are neglected so you can target them and seize the advantage. 

2. Establish or create pillar pages

Pillar pages are meant to be a one-stop-shop for a specific topic, which should also tie into one of your keywords. These pages are typically longer, as they leave no stone unturned and cover as much ground as possible.

You either have these pages and they need to be updated, or you need to create them. When creating or updating these pages, make sure you go into various areas within the topic. 

So, for instance, say you’re creating a pillar page for the keywords “marketing strategy”. 

You’ll want to discuss how to put a strategy together, the goals a strategy can help you achieve, various mediums and tactics that a strategy consists of, how to measure the success of your strategy, and how to use your strategy. 

For every keyword or words you want to rank for, you’ll want a designated pillar page. That way, whenever you use that word in your content, you can link back to that particular pillar page, which will contribute to increasing that content’s ability to rank for that word. 

3. Identify duplicate content and broken links

If you’ve been creating blog content willy nilly, chances are you have a lot of dated and duplicate content out there, perhaps even some broken pages. You must rectify those issues if you want your site to rank well, as they will end up working against you. 

Create a spreadsheet that lists each keyword, along with blog posts that tie into that keyword in some way. And if you have a lot of blog content, you may have to add subgroups for each keyword. See the image below to get an idea of what I mean.

This will help you organize your efforts so you can more easily break down which blog posts are more similar to others. 

Make sure you also create a separate spreadsheet that houses any broken links you encounter while doing this deep dive so you can easily pull them and redirect. 

4. Make updates and redirects 

Once you’re done creating your spreadsheet, review the similar blog content carefully. If any are extremely repetitive or reiterating the same ideas, redirect the less strategic or dated blog posts to the more updated, higher-quality pages. 

This will reduce any self-competing content (yes, your content can compete with itself in search rankings), and ensure the right pages rank for the right keywords. 

This is also a good opportunity to update any blog content that doesn’t need to be redirected but could use more content or a refresh. 

Accordingly, since you’ll be keeping these pages, you’ll want to make sure they have the right keywords used in them, and that they offer the most up to date information possible. 

5. Add links to pillar pages in content 

Now that your blog is cleaned up and duplicate content is eliminated along with any broken links, it’s time to go through your pages and make sure the right ones are linking back to your pillar pages.

Start by reviewing your subgroupings and the links listed underneath them. 

So, let’s say you have three blog links that correlate to marketing strategy and email marketing. Go through each post and add a link to your marketing strategy pillar page using “marketing strategy” as the anchor text. 

6. Create a linking strategy moving forward 

You’ll want to make sure you’re sticking with this strategy for all the future blog content you’re creating. After all, you went through the effort of updating past content, and the only thing that could ruin that is if you don’t continue. 

I know I’ve mentioned spreadsheets about a zillion times, but they are your friend when it comes to this strategy. They can help with just about each step, including this one. I recommend listing each keyword, and in the next column, the pillar post assigned to them. 

It doesn’t hurt to also provide various anchor texts or long-tail keywords that could be used for each as well. 

By outlining which pillar post belongs to which keyword(s), you’ll keep any future team members on the same page and provide an easy guide to check against when you’re reviewing and editing your future blog content. 

It also ensures you continue to keep SEO top of mind as you create your content.

7. Continue to track results  

Make sure you check in on how well your strategy is doing every month or quarter. You’ll want to indicate whether or not your content is starting to rank higher in search results, or if it’s staying stagnant, which could help you locate any problems. 

You can use free tools like Moz, or you can conduct a search using your keywords from time to time to see if your content is popping up. 

Of course, if you’re wondering where to track it and don’t want to go in on an SEO suite like Moz, then I have one closing word for you, and it’s one we’ve said a lot today: spreadsheets.

SEO doesn’t have to be expensive

Having an SEO strategy is crucial if you want to be found easily online by your consumers. Hiring an outsourced SEO expert can be costly, but it isn’t necessary. 

By moving your SEO efforts in-house and following the steps above, you can get your blog in order so that your most valuable blog content starts to rank, and continues to rank over time. 

To review, the basic steps are:

  • Assembling a keyword list
  • Creating pillar pages, or if you already have a high-traffic page to use, revamping existing posts into pillar pages
  • Scoping out duplicate content
  • Updating stale, out-dated content and assigning redirects for content that’s competing with itself
  • Seeding the links to your cluster content from your pillar pages
  • Establishing a linking strategy
  • And, of course, keeping an eye on your results.

And if you’re looking for a platform to make selling your info products easier while you focus on your blog, then your final step is to sign up for this free, no-fuss 14-day trial from Podia.

Easy-peasy.

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