Yes, you can.

The origins of optimisation were always Google’s attempt to identify how an expert, someone knowledgeable about the subject would format their content and what HTML code would be the result.

This mirroring of how someone who was knowledgeable subject is the basis of Google scoring points within the algorithm. Therefore if you know something about your chosen topic, you can successfully undertake your own SEO and rank highly within Google.

So can I do my own SEO successfully?

To answer this I need to break it down a little. SEO is the sum of parts not a single entity. Google’s algorithm has over 250 scoring factors after all.

SEO can be broken down into four parts

  1. Content including images and video. This also includes semantics and the use of language think of synonyms and antonyms
  2. The use of HTML, JavaScript and other markup languages that are used to format the content to display with a webpage.
  3. The site architecture and the use of internal linking to find the user journey. This would also include the use of relevant external links
  4. Backlinks and sites referring, commenting on, and physically linking to the website. This would include elements of social media

Think of SEO like making a meal the requires all of the right ingredients to be successful.

There is no reason why anyone cannot take the content within a website and translate it into a format that Google will reward high index position.

The reality

In 2016 vanilla Circus carried out an experiment where we copied entire books and wrote software to translate the scanned data into a fully-fledged website.

The content was checked for plagiarism, with any references to books or chapters were replaced with websites and webpages.

All the domains are brand-new with the occasional domain an exact match (keyword).

The result was at the pages and the entire websites languished on page 10 of Google.

It was only when we went in and worked our optimisation magic that the website slowly crept up to page one of Google.

What this tells us is the content isn’t King. On its own sadly, it is only a part of SEO.

All of these authors were highly knowledgeable about the subject.

Themes we chose include history of the Bank of England. The book was written by the Bank of England, one can only assume they were expert.

One of the major problems we had is that the language used in some of these books was to advance Internet and Google is rewarded of colloquial contents or simple straightforward content meant that a lot of these pages were created with very long and verbose. Because they were books or websites; there is a marked difference website.

However undeniably they were well written. Undeniably included every fact you could possibly want to know, including all the relevant citations, with the references etc.

So we know that just being knowledgeable of the subject is not sufficient.

So even if you know your subject writing services and products what you also need to know is the correct use of semantics.

Never Google indexes your website, that is to copy of the website fitted into this indexed search it retains the old copy.

What Google has is 20 years of copies of every website.

What this allows them is a data goldmine of associated keywords and content.

For example, if I’m talking about SEO it would not be unusual to hear me talking about backlinks optimisation, rich snippet speech and data the list goes on.

Content Journey

So if you’re writing about golfing Google would expect to see words like 18-holes.

However, Google is the cleverest software company in the world. Its Algorithm is highly advanced. Aside from just looking in this example the golf-related words, Google is also looking for a range of words that dictate whether or not this is a website that can be trusted.

A simple example of this would be family-run, est in 2001 et cetera. Google is also looking for words like warranty, guarantee, best value the list is endless.

So if you

  1. Are knowledgeable about your subject
  2. Understand the nuances of semantics
  3. And understand the basis of language that reflects trust business establishment

then you are halfway there. But halfway there is page 2.

OK so what next?

Every week with an offer we get a phone call from an enthusiastic small business is trying to do their own SEO.

Why they are calling an SEO Consultancy?

They are calling because the sum of the hours spent writing and tinkering with their content, reading SEO forums, religiously following Search Engine Land and generally trying to do their own  SEO IS NOT WORKING.

I have recently seen an entire SEO team berated for solely for creating content and optimising the content but FAILING to build backlinks to the content as part of the content journey process.

Backlinks contrary to popular belief of crucial for not only getting your content quickly indexed but also giving your content a degree of credibility.

New content that contains facts and figures that Google has not seen before can benefit from an artificial boost Google’s index results.

What content creators don’t realise is that unless another website corroborates the new webpage (ie backlink to it) the content falls down the rankings.

This is sometimes why new websites rank artificially high for a period of approximately three weeks and then slumped down never to appear again. This starts a continue drive for more and more content

The reason why we get a phone call from enthusiastic amateurs who’s budgets don’t stretch to SEO agencies is because no matter how much they write or how many H1s or words in bold they do not or cannot access effective backlinks.

Can I build backlinks myself?

There are three types of link within the website.

  1. An internal link. is the use of anchor text linking to a URL for the page within the website to another page within the same website. These links can be influenced by the words used within my and the words used within the URL. Further influence can be gained by the structural architecture of the website.
  2. An external link. An external link is to find a link to another website. When the user leaves the current. Again this can be manipulated to improve website optimisation. It would not be unreasonable for example this website to, or a financial website to link to the FCA.
  3. Lastly and probably the most popular,  the backlink. A backlink is defined as a hyperlink from one website to another. Again these can be manipulated by the choice of website to link from, and the anchor text used. Websites with more credibility read more backlinks with a greater link strength would be more attractive.

The first two options are well within the amateur SEO’s remit. Care will need to be used on the choice of anchor text and which pages linked to which, and then how the website is structured and which pages are created closest to the TLD etc.

However, with some trial and error, these could be achieved.

The third option of backlinks is where most amateur SEOs go wrong.

It is either a question of lack of knowledge, lack of time, lack of money or just a simple lack of skill that result in amateur SEOs being unable to secure enough backlinks. The result is that any effective links are added only to home pages or hub pages.

There simply is not a reliable source of ready backlinks to add effective link juice to new content. Social media links are important but cannot be relied on to be counted as separate domains.

Endless tweets to different pages on a website are not likely to fool Google.

This is the simple crux of the matter. To be able to build effective backlinks is too time-consuming and too full of trial error and failure that the amateur SEO cannot beat older websites with better link profiles, or competitors with budgets to afford professional link builders.

Vanilla Circus Ltd has been building backlinks for 10 years. It is a long process that requires knowledge, skill, resources, contacts reputation and sometimes just hard cash. It is an ever-changing environment that Google constantly monitors and changes the rules.

In summary

Even without such a strong link profile a company or person doing their own in house SEO can have a lot of success following the instructions above.

I think the question might be would it be more efficient and make better commercial sense to let a professional SEO company do what they are best at whilst you concentrate on your business? But of course, we would say that, wouldn’t we!

Benedict Sykes

Last fact checked and updated on May 14, 2021