Ultimate Do It Yourself SEO WordPress Guide – Top 5 Priorities

Do It Yourself SEO for WordPress: Introduction

In this Ultimate Do It Yourself SEO WordPress Guide, I cover the top 5 priorities to focus on, to increase website traffic.  

Let’s be honest.  SEO is a huge industry, with an overwhelming amount of information on it.  It may seem impossible to learn at first – it’s not.  It is very possible, I assure you.  

I created this Do-It-Yourself SEO Guide for a reason:  

I want to help you.  

If you are motivated to learn SEO, then I’m motivated to help teach.  My goal in this article, is to help you focus on the right activities to set you up for success.  

I hope you will use my own stories of successes & failures – to help avoid your own failures, and to achieve your own successes. 

To prove this, instead of packing this page with affiliate links that cost you money, I found and included ONLY FREE resources. (Some have paid plans as well, which is unintentional).  This took me extra time, of course, but it is worth it.

And that begins with time management.  Because the reason someone doesn’t succeed – that reason isn’t because they didn’t learn.. No, they failed because they failed to manage their own time.

So instead of asking ‘how to do my own SEO for WordPress’, ask ‘where can I spend my time most efficiently’?  

And that is exactly the question I answer in this article: theUltimate Do It Yourself SEO WordPress Guide – Top 5 Priorities”.  

PS:  If you are looking for an introduction or explanation of WordPress SEO, please check out this article, ‘a brief rundown of WordPress SEO‘”

Chocolate colored shaggy dog sitting in driveway, with an old fashioned alarm clock in front of him.

Your time is important.  Let’s begin with these questions:

What time of the day are you most productive?  Are you able to keep a schedule?  How is your time spent currently?   Are you working full time, or did you leave you job to give this a shot?

If you have trouble keeping a schedule, this may not be for you. 

Sure, you can still be successful. But you will run into frustrations that others won’t. 

Consistency is the key to learning and understanding.  You may need to force yourself into a schedule.  What this means to me – is I had to spend at least 30 minutes per day, on an activity related to SEO. 

As a tip, it was a tremendous help to have a blog up and running before I started learning.

Hopefully, you are already having success.  But, to many people out there, it feels like the meter is running out of time. Their wheels are spinning, and they’re going nowhere fast. 

Which is why it’s important to organize what time you do have,  to give yourself every chance you can to succeed.   So let’s first start by covering the top 5 priorities to focus on when learning SEO:

Do it yourself SEO - Priority #1:
Content.

It is imperative that your content be helpful, engaging, easy to read, include helpful related pictures or graphs, and provide an overall meaningful user experience.  

The #1 priority in this  ‘do it yourself SEO WordPress guide‘, is Content.  Whether you plan on gaining more traffic from blogging, or you aim to use Social Media Marketing to reel in some business, you need to start thinking about who will be creating your content.  

This will most likely be the area where you spend the most time, which is great as it leads to the greatest results.  Content is number 1 for a reason.  Google, the #1 most used search engine, has been a leader in ‘User Experience / UX’.  

Google took user experience to the next level, when they built their entire SEO ranking system from it.  

For example, if the keyword used in your title doesn’t accurately describe the article, it leads to bad user experiences, thus affecting your SEO negatively.  

So, the number 1 area to prioritize your time on – is content, and your focus of that content – should be on user experience..   For instance, make your posts helpful, answer a question, make it easy to read, etc.  I cannot stress this enough.  

If you do not create easy-to-read content that helps others, or engages and inspires others, you will see only mediocre SEO results.  This means it will be on you to do the extra research, or hire someone. 

Before we go cover how you are going to create kick ass content, I want to discuss a game changing pain-point.  

This most often leads to failure, so make sure you pay attention:

Set Realistic Goals

Set Goal with check boxes, about to be filled out in red pen.

Believe it or not, setting realistic goals is one of the major causes of quitting SEO.

One misconception overall, is the length of time it takes to get ranked on Google.  Many people believe in – or are told – unrealistic timeframes.  This is industry-wide.

I have seen SEO experts tell people that they will get them ranking in just 3 months!  

To me, this is dishonest, which leads to missed expectations, frustrations, even rage quitting (and a lot of switching services to another company).  It sets the expectation that the average amount of time to reach your full potential on Google is 3 months, this is not true.

The truth is:

The average time it takes for your keywords to fully mature, can be upwards of 12-18 months.  What this means:  Do NOT give up in your first 12-18 months.  Stick to it, and you will see results. 

I cover this topic more in depth, in my article “Beginners Guide to SEO“.   I focus on 2 reasons people fail SEO, and how understanding these reasons ahead of time actually helps them succeed.  Check it out, it’s great information!

So, to wrap up, Content is king, DO NOT take shortcuts – they just lead to missed opportunities.  Make sure your goals are realistic!  

You are probably wondering “how much time will it take for you to be successful”, so let’s go over some expectations of time.

People trying to figure out how to manage time effectively

Map Out Your Time!

So, to map out your time, are you going to be the one creating content? 

Do you even have time to do that?  To answer that, think about the answer of this next question:

How long will it take you to make 1-2 posts per day?  

I will touch on this again further down, but For now – think about how much time it would take you to create 1-2 posts a day.  

Knowing the articles need to be proof-read, organized, quality photos added to them, readable on both desktop and mobile – how long?  

You NEED to come up with a strategy.  When can you be available to create this daily content?  Will you be able to?  

How long does it take you to write 2000 words of a research paper?  If you are just getting started with WordPress or SEO, it will take double the amount of that time at first.

Personally, when I began writing, it took me 7 days, sometimes up to 2 weeks to write an article.  But once I learned that content is king, that truly successful people post twice a day, I created a goal to write articles in 4-5 hours, and started making progress.  

Once you have a plan in place, I want to teach you how to pick a topic that will bring traffic to your website.

white stones with inscriptions on business topics are scattered on a blue background

Finding A Topic

There are 2 ways to look at finding a topic to write about.

  1. Find a topic you want to learn about, or a topic that excites you.
  2. Find a topic that is trending (explodingtopics.com). 

I like both of these methods;  A topic you find interesting will keep your interest on writing about it, while a trending topic will perform well with SEO if done right.

Once you have a topic, think about how you can deliver helpful, linkable content. 

Some ideas about creating helpful, linkable content: 

Answer a common question people have, or address a pain point with a solution, or a way to work around it.  

Here are a couple more creative ways to find topics to write about:

If you have a specific Niche (distinguishable category) already set up, visit Reddit and search it.  Find the posts that have the most comments or views, and you will start coming up with solid ideas.  While you’re at it, look for potential keywords – are any words used more often?

Another idea is to use Udemy.  Search your topic, and find the class with the most reviews.  Take a look at their syllabus.  Pay attention to the headings and sub-headings.  This works as a table of contents for your new article!  You know it will rank highly if it had the most reviews on Udemy.

Once you have some ideas, let’s talk expectations.

DigitallyThrive presents our SEO Guide for Beginners! We go over the 2 main reasons why beginners fail, and why these 2 reasons will also mean your success.

How much content should I create to succeed?

This may be hard to hear, and I certainly did not want to believe it at first.. 

In order to drive in huge amounts of traffic quickly and efficiently:  

You will need to come up with 1, if not 2 articles with high-quality content every day.  

I am not telling you this to make you feel overwhelmed, or feel like quitting.  I am telling you what you need to know, BEFORE you get started.  The beginning, the end, and what success looks like.  

Normally, most ‘experts’ either make SEO sound too confusing to do it yourself, or won’t actually explain the details you need to know.

In a previous article, Beginners Guide to SEO – a Simple Plan with Realistic Explainations, I cover common misconceptions about SEO, as well as 10 SEO tips to increase traffic.

This covers priority #1: Content.  Let’s switch gears.  In this next priority, I cover Keywords, which are the search terms people use to find your content.

DIY SEO - Priority #2: Keyword
Research & Placement

In this section, I cover the importance of the keywords you choose, and where you choose to place them.  

Keyword research

Keyword Research:

To successfully Research Keywords, you must understand what exactly a keyword is.  Then, the differences between regular and long-tail keywords, and how to find specific keywords that will make your content the most visible.

Here are a couple great (FREE) resources to help you out:

  1.  Google Trends:  This free tool shows us data on various keywords, and compare them to others that we search. 
  2.  Google.com:  Knowing just the website doesn’t help, but knowing how to use it for Keywords helps a lot.  By typing the beginning of your keyword phrase into Google, and not the ending, Google’s autofill finds the most searched terms that include your words.  For instance, if I were reviewing a Dyson V10 Vacuum, I would write:  “Dyson V10 vs. ” (leave the rest blank, Google fills in the rest for you).
  3.  Answerthepublic.com:  This site turns your keyword into a long tail keyword / question. Answering questions is rather helpful, wouldn’t you say?
  4.  Explodingtopics.com:  This site shows all of the trending terms in the past (adjustable) days, weeks, months etc.  Find the latest trends to write about.
  5.  Reddit Keyword Research Tool:  This tool helps you scrape Reddit to find what search terms and posting titles people use most.  
  6.   KWFinder:  This also has a specific advantage, which is it allows you to search for long-tail keywords with LOW difficulty.  Imagine Google Searching ‘Physical Therapy’, and then also trying to rank for that word.  Businesses worth Millions pay experts to do this for them, which is why it becomes easier to compete with long-tail keywords that have low difficulty. (D

Keyword Placement:

This may be one of the most important sub-sections in this guide.  When done correctly, you’ll see great increases in traffic.  To do that, I have listed some rules  to guide you, including Google Search Console.  Use Google Search Console  to your advantage, by getting notified immediately if something goes wrong.  Seriously, go sign up for an account if you have not already.

  1. Google Search Console is your best friend.  You can submit your website, sitemaps, edits to errors etc. all in one place.  Google Search Console will also notify you immediately of any warnings or errors that affect your SEO.  Get it, create an account, track it.
  2. The Keyword should be a long-tail keyword, a specific keyword phrase of 5 or so words.  Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for. 
  3. The exact keyword phrase needs to be in both your Title, and Meta Description of your article.  This is something that Yoast will help you out with, as they grade your performance on SEO.  The title is the bold part that shows up on Google, the meta description is the short paragraph that appears under it in Google Searches.
  4. The exact keyword should be used in your article only a couple times.  This is a tricky part, because 5-10 years ago, Google would give you a good score if you stuffed your keyword into your article 15-20 times.  This is not so anymore.  In fact, Google will penalize you for doing that.  Remember, it’s all about the user experience.
  5. It is best practice is to put your exact keyword in the first paragraph, and in the last paragraph.  I have read that you rank higher if your exact keyword phrase starts within the first 6 words of the first paragraph.  And again, add it near the end of the article.
  6. Instead of using your keyword phrase 7 more times in the middle of your article, Google prefers you to use LSI.  LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, are just synonyms for your keyword, and their presence are supposed to boost your articles readability.   Do a Google Search for your keyword.  Look at all the Bolded words on the Search Results page, the bold words that do not exactly match the keyword you searched, are the LSI.
  7. Include your Keyword AND LSI in at least 1 of your images Alt Text At least 1 image should have your keywords in it, the image that best describes your content.  All other images need to have Alt Text!  Alt text is used to  describe the image to visually impaired, who have a smart device read your website to them.  This is simply here for usability, and Google rewards those who create a great experience for the user.
 
Web Optimization Concept Design

SEO Priority #3:
Optimize Content for Search

Incease Readability & Get Organized with Yoast.

Make this entire process, including the keyword placement section above, easier on yourself.  Download the Yoast Plugin.  You will need it for the next couple steps, like the meta tags. 

Yoast has both a paid and a free option, and it is important to understand that you do not have to pay for it, to use its features!  To illustrate this, as well as learn the difference between the free vs. paid versions of Yoast, visit this article, ‘Is Yoast SEO Worth Paying For?.   

As you use Yoast, you will notice that it has a lot of helper content, either question mark icons, or links in the words themselves, that help you understand what is being recommended and why.  

Keep in mind, that although Yoast will help ensure you have content with good readability, structured for Google, and ensure you have solid pictures or graphs with the right alt tags (Yoast will explain), it will not help you create engaging, or helpful content.  

Meta Tags

Optimizing Content for Search, is all about turning the valuable content you have, into rich structured content that is will grab attention and be sharable.  Part of doing this, is making it very easy for Google to crawl your article.  To do this, you will use Meta Tags (the headings on your site).  

It is important to structure your meta tags (H1/title tag, H2/subheading tag, H3 – H6, etc) to act like a table of contents, as this is what Google uses when they search your website.  Moz has a great article and guide on meta tags, if you want to review meta tags.  This will get you started on how important they are.

The work is not as intimidating as it sounds, thanks to the help of the AMP plugin.  The plugin AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), will literally do most of the meta tags work for you, but it’s still very important you have a good understanding of what they are.  

Just be sure to grab the AMP plugin, and follow this guide on how to use AMP from wpastra.

Optimizing Content for Search

A short, easy to remember SEO Checklist for Web Designers and Blog Writers

This may sound repetitive, but everything flows, simultaneously working together to help your SEO.  To optimize your content for search, there is a list of actions, some of which we already went over.  The list is also in Yoast, but will not be quite as in depth.

Overall, we are recommending that you optimize your content (Steps in this article, including using Yoast), your metadata (using AMP), and create flowing internal links with strategically chosen keywords.

  1. Internal links – You will need to create internal links for each article, that point to similar articles or related content on your website.  This usually means you will have to create another article for the one you are about to post.  That only gives you 1 per article, but try to come up with as many as 3 internal links per page!
  2. External Links to Quality Sites – You also want to link out to a couple well known websites, with high Domain Rankings.  Basically, linking to quality informational websites, or very well known names.  But this simple act, of linking to similar articles on your own website, is what drives page rank upwards.
  3. Include images in your posts, make sure each image has descriptive Alt Text!  Multiple benefits here..  Your article could show up in Google image searches in the future.   If you accurately describe the image, and not just stuff your keyword into it, you will get rewarded with much higher rankings.   There is a simple image SEO reason for all of this: an image with related text ranks better for the keyword it is optimized for. 
If you follow these steps, which are split up between both the Priority #2 – Keywords section and this section above, you will start on the right foot, and within 12 months, see some great SEO rankings.  This is further broken down in the SEO Checklist image I included.   

Priority #4:
Social Media Marketing

Facebook, twitter, and instagram

Aside from creating great content, placing researched keywords in optimal places, and optimizing your content for search, it is very important to share your content to Social Media!  Make sure you create business pages, all using the same handle, if you haven’t already done so.  

At this point, you may be asking yourself: “Which Social Media Accounts should I share my articles and posts on?”

As many as you have time for.  But if your time is limited, prioritize them.  You should be on 4 at minimum, which include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and..

There is one very under-utilized Social Media that brings in better results than all the rest..  Yes, it does better than Facebook or Instagram ads.  It actually blows them out of the water!

Pinterest charts the rise of Pinterest and its impact on SEO

Pinterest

And that is Pinterest.

Pinterest is normally thought of as the app that girls use to share recipes.  But it is so much more than that.  With 450 Million monthly users, and a growing customer base over 30% year over year, it’s easy to see why.

Here are some stats you may not have known (source: Pinterest Business):

  • 47% of users are on Pinterest to make a purchase.  Think about that for a second.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – nothing else compares.
  • And these users have money.  40% of people in the US with a household income over $100k are on Pinterest.
  • 80% of weekly pinners have discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest.  This is getting crazy.
  • Users are 3x more likely to click over to a brand’s website on Pinterest than any other social media platform.  Say no more.
As you can see, Pinterest is something that belongs inside of our toolbox for Social Media Marketing.  Yet, many bloggers either don’t know about it, or don’t use it to increase their traffic!  Which is unfortunate, as I have seen some case studies where people have boosted their traffic by over 300,000 users per month!

How much content needs to be posted?

One of the more important questions about Social Media Marketing is ‘how many times do I need to post to increase traffic‘?  The answer is different for each platform.  If you needed to group everything together, and have a rough guess about how many posts per day you needed, it would be about 3-4 each platform.

Pinterest:  5 posts per day to be truly successful.  Pinterest is a 2nd search engine, make sure you research ‘Pinterest SEO’, as you will see the greatest gains in traffic from Pinterest.   Pinterest has its own keyword algorithms to learn..  More fun!  Lol.

Facebook:  2-3 posts per day, I would argue quality over quantity.  (I only post my articles, which is anywhere between 1-2 per day).

Instagram:  2-3 posts per day.  95% of users don’t post at least 1x per day or more.  Be consistent!

Twitter:  3x per day.  These can be your articles, or quotes.  Educational, or motivational.

Linkedin:  I usually post to linkedin about 3x per week.  I save my higher caliber articles to share on here.  

Is there a way to automate posting to social media?

Absolutely!  This one is a must, especially if you are low on time.  There are actually a large variety of tools to use out there, that help with automation.  

For Facebook and Twitter:  I use Zapier, a free and paid for automation software.  Basically, I publish a new article, and this triggers 2 events:  A new Facebook post, and a new Twitter post automatically.  

For Instagram and Pinterest:  I use Tailwind, which has helped grow my audience on both platforms.  This application automates posting, by scheduling them in advance to both Instagram and Pinterest.  It allows you to schedule 5 pins per day, or more if you wanted to, and it analyzes the peak traffic times for you, automatically adjusting your schedule.  This requires more work than Zapier.

To create sharable images:  I use Canva Pro.  You do not need to pay for the pro account, you can just join free and use their free stock photos.  But if you do pay, they have templates set up for every single Social Media, which is awesome, and tons of premium photos and elements.  

Priority #5:
Backlinks

What are Backlinks, and why are they important?

Any time you find another website has linked to your website, this is a backlink.  This is important because growth of quality backlinks directly impacts Domain Authority, which ranks you higher on Google and other Search Engines.  

It is important to note that backlinks are graded on both quality and quantity, with an emphasis on quality.   This means that you may have to work hard at first, to get noticed, to advance your brand.  And this can take time.  

There are 2 categories of backlinks to cover.  The first, is how to start building your backlinks the right way.  The second, equally as important, keeping an eye on your backlinks, and getting rid of the spammy domains that eventually latch onto your website.  

backlinks are extremely important, as this chalkboard shows

How to grow backlinks to increase traffic

An SEO company MOZ created an algorithm for grading domains, called Domain Authority, and found that it is one of the most impactful ways that your domain is graded.  This relies heavily on the amount of backlinks you have, and the quality of the websites that refer them.

Luckily, there are successful ways to increase backlinks on a website, and they don’t involve more money!  (My guide has focused on only the free / Do It Yourself SEO tactics).  

One very effective method named the Skyscraper Technique, involves outreach as a method to organically grow your list of backlinks quickly.  Skyscraper Technique was first coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko.  

Basically this involves 3 steps.  

  1. Finding Link Worthy Content
  2. Create something even better
  3. Share with the right people
Brian breaks it down in his article explaining how he used Skyscraper Technique to increase his traffic in a couple weeks.  This step often involves either trying to share content you have already created, or creating new content for these sites that you reach out to.  

how to maintain backlinks, and keep the spam out

Unfortunately, even when you have worked hard to build up your list of quality backlinks, spam will find its way in and try to ruin your day.  If you are not checking on the backlinks you do have, and researching the websites behind them, then you may be in danger of losing you rankings. Do not fall into the trap of thinking it won’t matter, or it’s not worth your time..  It will matter, and it is worth your time!  Negative SEO from bad backlinks can be both from spam sites, that keyword stuff and scrape the internet, or from targeted attacks.  Your competitors can perform a negative SEO attack on your website, without your knowledge – eventually getting you unranked from Google completely.  This is even more reason to pay attention and remove bad backlinks.

How do you find bad backlinks?

Finding bad backlinks is easy, but can be time consuming.  You simply need to:
  1. login to your Google Search Console.
  2. Click ‘Links’ on the left-hand column.
  3. Scroll down to all backlinks, and click ‘Show All’.
  4. Review each link by visiting each website – does it look legitimate?  Does it have anything to do with your industry?  Is it even in your language?
  5. If not, it is time to remove them.

How do you remove bad backlinks?

Google recommends you first
  1. Make a list of all bad backlinks.  Make sure its a text or excel file, as you will need to upload this to Google.
  2. Reach out to the website owners of those links, and ask them to take them down.  You should try to reach out multiple times.
  3. Track your links.  If the webmaster does not respond within 5-10 days, send a follow-up email.
  4. If they never respond – Disavow these links from Google.  You created a list already in step 1.  Now visit Google’s Disavow Tool, and upload your list.  Once disavowed, Google will no longer give any weight to those backlinks.

Do-It-Yourself SEO Guide
Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that these are the top 5 areas to prioritize in our Do It Yourself SEO WordPress Guide.  Each priority has its own importance, and if you can incorporate all 5 into your daily habits, or even just habits of publishing articles, you will see great results! 

We understand that SEO can seem like a racket, with agencies extorting you for money.  That’s why we built this Ultimate Do It Yourself SEO in WordPress Guide, which you can save thousands of dollars per month, and do it yourself. 

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