Can business owners manage their own SEO? A guide to On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

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2023 is the year for your business to upskill in SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a huge area, and to be done well it often involves a number of varied skill sets.

That’s not to say a business can’t do most, if not all of it, themselves. In many cases with SEO, working out what not to do is sometimes more important than knowing what to do!

How easy is it for business owners to do their own SEO?

As with most questions in life, it depends. As we’ll discuss, great SEO requires skills in writing, marketing and coding. For small businesses starting out, you can more than likely do the bulk of this yourself (if not all).

If you’re looking to do your own SEO for your website, then you need to be aware of what that actually means, as it is an incredibly wide area of the digital landscape.

When done well, SEO is astoundingly powerful and cost-effective.

Effective SEO gives you organic traffic. Organic traffic is ‘free’ traffic, coming from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook or any other source. While a great Google Ads campaign can theoretically get you to the top of the search engine tomorrow, it will cost, and as soon as you stop paying, your website is nowhere to be seen.

The three skill-sets needed for amazing SEO

three hot air balloonsTo have great SEO, you must have great content and great code. You also need other people to like and link to your work.

In this article, we’ll give a brief rundown on

While looking at these three arms of Search Engine Optimisation, we’ll also look at the skills these activities require.

Many business owners we talk to are surprised to find that they often already have these skillsets on their existing team, and so can do a lot of their SEO management themselves.

Copywriters and On-Page SEO

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On-Page SEO is how well your content is optimised for relevant keywords and subject matter.

Some of what an On-Page SEO expert would cover include:

  • Writing compelling page content using relevant keywords
  • An understanding of keyword finding tools
  • Ensuring keywords are used well in content, titles, descriptions and URL
  • Using correct semantics – how headings are structured and using the correct HTML tags when required
  • Writing content that can easily reference and link to other existing content on your website
  • Write content that answers a question or explains a topic so well that other content creators will want to link to it (ie: write for humans, not search engines)

For some tips on writing great SEO friendly content, check out our On-Page SEO article.

PR, Marketing and Off-Page SEO

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Off-Page SEO looks at who is linking to your website. If a high authority website links to yours, this is fantastic and acts like a vote for your authority.

In essence, Off-Page SEO helps search engines trust your website.

To be great in this space, you’ll be able to:

  • Build authoritative links to your site. To do this well, you’ll need some great content from the On-Page team to be able to promote
  • Avoid Black Hat Off-Page techniques like building links from untrustworthy web directories
  • Have great PR skills (online and offline)
  • Be active on social media to promote your business. Get the great content from your On-Page team and push where you can and encourage others to share it
  • Build advocacy for your business, so your advocates will link to you
  • Create a Google My Business listing straight away if you haven’t already
  • Seek unbiased and trustworthy reviews from Facebook and Google users

Read more about PR, Marketing and Off-Page SEO

Web developers and Technical SEO

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Technical SEO focuses on how well search engine spiders can crawl your site and index your content. Unlike On-Page and Off-Page SEO, Technical SEO has absolutely nothing to do with your content. It all comes down to the quality of the code and how optimised it is for consumption by search engines.

The main goal of Technical SEO is to optimize the infrastructure of your website.

A number of factors make up great Technical SEO. We have a more exhaustive article on all of these parts, although here’s a brief summary:

  • Server speed and Time To First Byte (TTFB)
  • Site speed and performance (including optimising all images on your site)
  • Crawlability of your site – well laid out page structure and use of structured data
  • Site security (if your website is not HTTPS is really needs to be)
  • Your site must work well on mobile. Mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 2016 and Google has been prioritising the mobile version of your site since mid-2018.
  • Having an XML sitemap. XML sitemaps are made for search engines as they are formatted for reading by bots instead of people
  • Use and understand Google Analytics
  • Use and understand Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Having a good understanding of HTML & CSS will take marketers and PR staff a long way in the world of Technical SEO.

As a business owner, having control over your Technical SEO is an incredibly compelling reason to learn to code as well.

We’ve worked with many non-technical founders to help them get their technical SEO up to speed.

Overlaps between On-Page, Off-Page and Technical SEO

three women sitting around table using laptopsMany parts of SEO can overlap and often there are no clear boundaries on whose responsibility something might be. It takes a dedicated team to make it all work.

A huge factor in your website SEO is site speed and asset optimisation. So, for example, uploading unoptimised images to your site is not good at all. This responsibility could fall under On-Page SEO as that optimisation could be completed by the content team. Image optimisation could also fall under Technical SEO as the development team probably should have a tool installed to automatically optimise everything that’s uploaded to your site.

It really depends on the size of your team and what infrastructure you have available to you.

Heading structure (when to use an h2 or an h3) falls to the content writer, but also requires a well-coded site to display properly.

Optimised titles, meta descriptions and image alt text rely on the content team to write them well, but require the technical team to have coded the site correctly so they display as desired in a Google search.

What type of SEO is the most important?

It’s all equally important!

Having a beautifully coded website will do you nothing if the content is lacklustre and unappealing. Having great content is a wonderful thing, but without anyone linking to it, what’s the point?

I’ve seen incredible websites, with fantastic content on them that will never get a look-in by Google simply because the code behind them isn’t up to scratch, and the content team won’t adhere to the fundamentals of proper semantic heading structure.

Doing one or two minor things from the lists above won’t do much for your search engine ranking. If you do enough of all three and keep putting in the effort, then the rewards will be great.

This article is only a high-level summary of On-Page, Off-Page and Technical SEO. Each really could be a career unto itself. Whether you’re going to hire an SEO specialist or do it yourself, you must understand all the different parts.

For a small business, it is entirely possible to do all of this yourselves if budget is an issue. Many of the businesses we work with do their own SEO and are incredibly successful at it.

If you’d like to learn more about SEO, sign up to our newsletter, grab a copy of our SEO for Australian Small Business eBook or get in touch about booking in an SEO workshop for you and your team.

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Avatar for Sam HemphillNow a digital veteran, Sam Hemphill initially trained as a drummer and high school teacher and spent 10 years as a touring musician and tour manager. During that time, he...

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