SEO: Why Not Tackle it Yourself?

The following guest post was written by Vicky Fraser. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


SEO: search engine optimisation. It strikes fear into the hearts of some; cynicism and distrust into the hearts of others. However, if your business has a website and you need to generate leads, you’ll ignore it at your peril.

Firstly: a warning. Anyone who tells you that they can shoot you to the top of Google overnight is either lying, not terribly bright or using dodgy techniques like ‘spamdexing’ (which will get your site blacklisted).

Tackling it yourself

For those who want to undertake SEO themselves, there are a few things to think about. If this is your first foray into SEO, it’s worth spending a little time learning about it.

A video is worth quite a lot of words on this subject, and this is a great little introduction to SEO from those clever guys at Search Engine Land:


When you’ve sussed out your meta descriptions, chosen your URLs, set your keywords and (this is important) written your image ‘alt’ tags, it’s time to think about the copy itself.

It’s not just the search engine spiders you’re writing for; it’s your customers, too. And the search engine spiders know that. New algorithms are popping up all the time and they are getting more and more intelligent. The spiders can recognise good, relevant, useful content and they are more likely to rank it highly.

However, it’s not just about algorithms: the more relevant, interesting and engaging your copy and content is, the more likely it is to be shared, and the more likely it is to be ranked highly in the search engines. Be honest: if you’re not a good writer, employ one. It’s an investment you won’t regret.

Use the tools available to you, as well. There are quite a few good freebies around. HubSpot has an excellent ‘marketing grader‘ tool that gives feedback on a variety of aspects of a website. The SEO snippet tool is a brilliant wee thing for writing your Google snippets and URLs. And SEOQuake is great – offering a suite of widgets to diagnose individual webpages.

Once your site is optimised – don’t leave it alone! SEO is not a ‘job done’, it’s an ongoing task. Start a blog, and update it often. Fill it with relevant, useful content that people want to share – the search engines love it.

Make social media work for you too – more and more, it is searched and indexed by those spiders. The search engines are recognising what valuable sharing and search tools social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are.

Employing someone to tackle SEO for you

The advice above is very brief, and is the tip of the iceberg. If it feels like more work than you can take on yourself, pay an expert to do it for you.

There are many SEO bods out there with a variety of skills, and you may not want or need someone to take care of the whole shebang. Take a good look at your site, using the free tools mentioned above, and decide which areas need your attention most. Then spend your budget on those areas, and tackle other areas yourself.

If you have a little experience with the back end of websites, and know how metadata works, this is a relatively simple (but fairly time-consuming) task, and one that you could tackle yourself. Don’t underestimate, though, the skill involved in boiling each page down to 156 characters for the meta-description (that’s the snippet that appears in Google’s listings. It’s not terribly important for rankings, but a well-written snippet will stand out from the rest on the page and is more likely to be clicked)…

Perhaps your website copy needs rewriting and optimising for search engines? It is not simply a case of stuffing keywords in there; in fact, doing so is likely to harm your rankings and it certainly won’t do your customers any favours. As mentioned above, and this cannot be overemphasised, your website copy needs to be interesting, useful, relevant and informative – as well as easy for the spiders to recognise and rank using keywords.

Maybe you’d like a regular blog, but you just don’t have the time? Or perhaps you’d like to embrace social media, but you don’t know where to start…

Getting the best from your freelancer and the most from your budget

You’ll be paying for the copywriter’s expertise, and a good one is worth their weight in cheese. However, you can keep costs down by doing some of the legwork yourself.

  • Do your research yourself. Ask your customers, your friends and family, your colleagues and even complete strangers what they would search for if they were looking for your product or service.

If you can pass on a decent list of keywords and keyword phrases to pass onto your freelancer, you will save them time. That is not to say that they won’t do their own research if necessary, but they will quote accordingly.

  • Compile a full list of your competitors – local and national – and pass it on to your freelancer. They can do some keyword research, investigate their blog and take a good look at their use of social media to see what works in your industry.
  • Trust your freelancer: they will be able to look at your business from the outside, and talk about what your customers (and potential customers) want to hear. This will probably not be the same thing you want to say! Your customers want to know what you can do for them, not how great you think you are. It may be painfully honest, but it will be honest and it will do your business good.
  • If you’d like to employ a copywriter to blog for you, you can save them time (and reduce the bill) by providing a list of topics, and writing an outline. Researching blogs takes time, so if you do the research for us and provide a skeleton article, the costs will come down.

SEO isn’t that scary. Honest. It does require skilled writers, and an investment in time. Either way, if your business relies on inbound leads from the internet, you can’t afford to ignore it. Dive in – and do it properly!

Vicky Fraser is a freelance copywriter and marketeer based in Warwickshire. Being a science nerd undertaking a physics degree, she specialises in simplifying and clarifying scientific and technical copy but writes about all manner of things for a wide variety of clients. She blogs about science, freelancing and writing – amongst other things.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 Matt Brennan on 11.27.12 at 9:20 pm

Yes. SEO isn’t something that should make your eyes glaze over. It’s the best process to get your website more exposure. If you want to get customers online, you need to be ranking well! Any writer these days should understand what’s involved in SEO.

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