Picture this: You’re scrolling through the latest business news, sipping your coffee, when a statistic jumps out at you.
Nearly 70% of online experiences start with search.
What? No way. That can’t be right.
You tap the microphone icon on your phone. “What percent of online experiences start with search?”
And then the irony hits you.
These days, search engines are the ports from which our inquiring minds disembark. And yet, search engine optimization is basically a footnote in your marketing strategy.
If you’re ready to devote more resources to search engine optimization techniques, you want to get it right. You might be wondering, Can I do SEO by myself? Do I need paid SEO tools? An agency partner?
Let’s dive in and answer these questions.
The short answer is yes. You can learn a lot about SEO strategy on your own if you’re a business owner or a marketer who’s never dipped your toes into SEO. It’s possible to DIY SEO for small business, at least for the basics.
Does SEO work for small business? Absolutely! Even small teams with modest budgets can produce strategic content to bring in organic web traffic over time.
Yes, you can do SEO for free to an extent. Between free tools, self-learning, and manual research, you can address many of the important SEO factors.
However, most marketers and business owners eventually hit a ceiling when doing SEO for free. Most of the free tools available have built-in limitations to drive users toward a paid subscription. (Hey, we’re all out here to make a living.)
It can be frustrating to make it so far through an optimization process only to hit a wall. You might decide that paying for subscriptions to some tools is worth the investment. Our recommendation: Try the free version of the tool first to see whether it meets your needs. Many tools also offer a free trial of advanced features.
There are lots of SEO tools out there, ranging from completely free to $500+ per month subscriptions. If tackling SEO by yourself seems intimidating, start by evaluating your existing content. Here are some of the best SEO checker tools to help you create a great SEO strategy.
Most SEO tools include a site audit feature. Why start with an audit? Using a tool like SEMRush’s free website audit will help you identify glaring issues and opportunities for improvement. With the report from a tool like this, you’ll see how your site stacks up in terms of speed, crawlability, internal linking, and more.
Most searches happen on Google, so it’s no surprise that several of the best SEO tools come from Google. To see which keywords are already bringing in traffic, look no further than Google Search Console. Go to the Performance tab and look in the Queries section to see what your visitors searched to end up on your site.
Curious how many backlinks your content has earned? Serpstat’s backlink analysis tool will give you all the data you need. Reviewing this data will give you a good idea of which types of sites are likely to link to your content in the future.
Google’s got you covered on site performance as well. Google Analytics is a trove of valuable data. To see which content on your site has gotten the most traffic, go to the Reports tab and then Engagement > Pages and Screens report. You can also build custom reports to dig into the nuances of your content’s performance.
The main reason folks often decide to pay for SEO tools or partner with an SEO agency is efficiency. Sure, you can cobble together your manual research with insights from free tools. You’ll be able to make some progress that way.
But is that the best use of your time? What else could you accomplish for your business if you invested in getting better results more efficiently?
If your budget allows, the most effective and efficient way to achieve your SEO goals is to partner with an agency. They’ve done the research. They know your industry. And they have the relationships to earn your content authoritative backlinks.
The bottom line is: Yes, you can build an SEO strategy by yourself for free. But when you start to see results (and you will!), it’s hard to scale a DIY approach. When you get to that point, it’s time to get out the big guns by paying for SEO tools. Or better yet, hire the big guns by partnering with a full-service SEO agency.