How Can I Start SEO at Home?
Getting started with search engine optimization (SEO) can seem rather daunting, especially if you’re a new website owner who’s just dipping their feet into search engine marketing.
But while many SEO professionals might claim to have “the secret sauce”, the reality is that you don’t have to be an SEO savant in order to see results from your SEO efforts.
In fact, anyone (and we do mean anyone) can learn SEO at home as long as they have access to the internet, a website to tinker with, and the dedication to see it through. You’ll be surprised how much you pick up by simply learning by doing.
In this guide, we’re getting the ball rolling by sharing some helpful tips for how you can start learning SEO on your own – for free!
How to Learn SEO at Home for Free
It doesn’t take a $$$$ investment in order to start learning SEO at home. Thanks to the magic of the internet, website owners can discover effective SEO strategies to start generating organic traffic on their own.
Follow these 6 steps to SEO success.
Step 1: Understand how SEO works
First things first: you must come to understand how SEO works and why it matters for your website.
SEO is not simply about tricking the Google algorithm. Nor is it about cramming your website full of keywords in hopes of getting it to rank in the #1 spot.
In reality, SEO is all about creating content and an overall website experience that’s valuable to your target audience, providing the best possible answer/solution to their Google search.
See, users use search engines to find information, answers to their questions, business reviews, new products, and more. And since Google has a financial (Google Ads revenue) incentive to keep as many people using their platform as possible, it rewards sites that give users exactly what they are looking for.
This is SEO in a nutshell.
With this in mind, your goal as a website owner should be to design a website that your audience will love and share content that will provide the best possible solution to what they are searching for.
This starts with keyword research.
Step 2: Brainstorm keywords for your website
Keywords are the terms (or “queries”) people use to search for information, brands, products, etc. in search engines. They might be consist of sentence fragments like “personal injury attorney LA”, or entire questions like “how much does an elephant weigh”.
As a website owner, you’ll want to brainstorm (and then research) which terms your audience might be using to find websites/businesses like yours.
For example, if you own a small business accounting software company, some keywords people might use to find you online could be:
- “Accounting software for small business”
- “Small business accounting tools”
- “How to do accounting for small business”
- “Basics of small business accounting”
In brainstorming keywords for your own business, think of some terms your potential customers might use to find your brand, learn more about your products, get answers to their industry-related questions, and so forth.
Once you have this list, you will use SEO keyword research tools to compare the search volume and competition level for these keywords.
Use keyword research tools
If you’re new to SEO, it’s likely that you’re starting with a blank slate when it comes to keyword research and, therefore, generating organic to your site. In that case, you will want to find keywords that do get a decent number of searches per month but aren’t too competitive for your site.
Using SEO tools like SpyFu.com, SEMrush.com, or Ahrefs.com, you can do a search for any of the keywords on your “brainstorm” list. These tools will tell you the approximate search volume (number of searches per month) and competition score for each keyword.
You want to hit the sweet spot by finding high search volume, low competition keywords. Over time, you can begin targeting more competitive keywords as you gain some SEO momentum.
We recommend organizing your list of keywords using Google Sheets, noting the search volume and competition score for each. Then, determine which keywords to target on which pages on your website (on-page SEO).
Step 3: Learn the difference between on-page and off-page SEO
On-page SEO refers to any SEO activity that occurs on your website, such as optimizing your content with keywords, adding internal links within your content, or writing great title tags for each of your pages.
Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is any SEO effort having to do with optimization outside of your website. This might include attracting outside links to your website, optimizing your business’s Google My Business profile, or submitting your website to online directories.
The difference between the two types of SEO matters because you will want to follow “best practices” for each. This is certainly the most “confusing” part of SEO, but you can pick this up at home if you have the right resources available.
Check out these recommended sources to learn more about how to improve your on-page and off-page SEO:
- What is Local SEO?
- How Many SEO Keywords Should I Use?
- 10 Essential On-Page SEO Factors
Step 4: Write SEO-friendly content
Under the umbrella of on-page SEO is SEO content creation; specifically, the writing and optimization of the web page and blog post content on your website.
Now, many website owners go into content creation thinking about keywords and how to game the Google algorithm. This is the wrong approach. As we said earlier, your goal should be to create content that provides value to your target audience.
You can select the focus keyword for your page or post, but then plan out the content based on what you suspect your audience wants to learn. What do they hope to find when they Google that particular keyword?
Structure your content
If you’re totally stumped, do a Google search of your target keyword and see how the top-ranking websites are creating content around this search term. Do not copy their ideas, but look to them for inspiration.
Then, write your content, using descriptive headings to organize your content (much like what we have done in this article).
Provide as much value as possible to your readers, link to relevant content on your website, and ask users to take some kind of action (“Subscribe!”, “Get Your Free Consultation”, “Browse Products…”,etc.)
Is your content better than what’s already ranking? Then you’ll have a fighting chance when it comes to rising above the competition in the search results.
Step 5: Start link building
Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. These are important for SEO because they essentially work as a vote of confidence saying, “We can vouch for this website! They know their stuff!”
But not all backlinks are created equal. Some can be spammy if they come from sketchy websites. So, you’ll want to focus on attracting links from reputable, high-authority websites.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Publish amazing content that websites can discover online and can’t resist linking to
- Reach out to websites and offer to submit a guest post on their blog in exchange for a backlink
- Run a PR campaign to raise awareness about your brand
- Network and reach out to publishers to get your site featured in major publications
- Publish “round up” posts that feature input/quotes from industry experts and ask those experts to link back to you
- Create “linkable assets” like infographics, PDFs, free tools, etc. that other sites will be inclined to link to
We do not recommend buying links, as you will often have to compromise in terms of quality and risk attracting spam to your site. If you end up struggling with link building (slow and steady wins the race), don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted SEO professional.
Become an SEO Pro from Home
Now you have some actionable steps for how you can get started with SEO from home, even as a beginner without a big marketing budget. The key is to stay focused on the bigger picture (why SEO matters) and continue taking steps to create the best possible website experience for your audience.
On-page SEO, off-page SEO, content creation, and link building are all part of this process. You can turn to reliable SEO guides online to learn more, test out strategies, and see what works for your site.
Read: How to Do SEO Step by Step