An SEO expert plays a vital role in helping companies build their businesses and attract new customers through web traffic. People from the different type of companies starting to realize that to understand the fundamentals of SEO would dramatically help and improve the marketing of their business.
Knowing the Search engine optimization skills can help you discover how to analyze and optimize a website, and create an effective strategy for your SEO efforts. So are you ready? Let’s dive into the road how to become an SEO expert?
Are you ready?
SEO experts are tasked with designing, developing and promoting high-quality websites. SEO experts are not typical of the builders of the website but is more often a consulting authority.
The “real” SEO expert is someone who can grow organic search traffic on a consistent basis. “Expert” level also means that you have enough knowledge to combat unexpected outcomes. Getting to this level takes time and effort.
The good thing about knowing how to do SEO is that there are many ways to monetize your SEO skill.
Option #1: Doing SEO for your own business.
The beauty of learning SEO is that you can use it to grow your existing business or every new business you start.
- You don’t need to invest in an SEO agency. A quality SEO agency will cost you at least $2,500/month and will need a 6-12 month commitment. See How Much Should I Pay for SEO Services for more detail.
- You are responsible for your own success. You can work as hard or as little as you would like on SEO.
- You can allocate capital towards whatever you want(since you won’t be investing in an agency).
- You’re forced to focus on what will have the biggest impact. You have a business to run and grow. That means you can’t focus much time on the minutiae of SEO. This forces you to enter deep thinking and figure out what matters most in SEO. More on this in a second.
Option #2: Get Clients by Offering Your SEO Skills.
Getting clients is the single fastest way to grow your income from SEO. It’s also a great way to get immediate cash flow, which you can reinvest into other SEO projects. However, there are also drawbacks to client SEO.
- Unrealistic expectations. This is usually the product of a weak client application or vetting system. If you don’t establish realistic expectations, you will regret it. Don’t exaggerate what’s possible to meet your sales quota.
- Clients can be unreliable and can hurt your cash flow. It doesn’t matter how good your collections system is. There are going to be clients who play games when it comes to paying.
- Operation is a headache. Running an SEO agency is challenging because each campaign is unique. That means each campaign requires different actions. This makes it challenging to create solid systems, which as a result, makes it hard to scale.
- Requires human capital. To scale an SEO agency, you need to hire people. You can only take it so far by yourself. New challenges arise when you bring employees on, but that will be a subject of a later blog post.
- It’s a job with many bosses. Working with clients often feels like a job and not a business. Of course, you can fix this by taking yourself out of the equation. But, that’s easier said than done.
Option #3: Start with a niche site
A niche site is a website that focuses on a single topic such as “Cross Country Skiing” or “Outdoor Gear”.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to start a niche site. You can start as low as $100. In addition, you don’t have to involve a lot of risk with niche site while you can also learning and improving your SEO skills.
Also, if you do keyword research right, you can find niches with lower competition. This increases your chance of success.
The biggest risk you can encounter when creating niche sites is time lost. But if you are trying to improve your SEO skills, then that time will be valuable in your progression.
But like anything else, there are some downsides to niche sites:
- Lower revenue potential. That means you would need to create more than one niche site to generate a decent amount of revenue. And when you add more niche sites, you add more complexity to your business. Building one successful website is hard enough. Developing and trying to grow many niche sites can be an operational headache.
- Decreased profit margins as your portfolio grow. That’s because you will have to spend more time managing your sites or you will have to outsource much of the work.
- More volatility than authority websites. The EMD and Panda updates have proven that Google doesn’t like micro-niche sites. But to be fair, many of the sites affected by those updates, gave little value to users. And many had duplicate or thin content.
Option #4: Develop an Authority Site
An authority site is any website that focuses on a large topic like SEO or Social Media. There are many benefits of building an authority website.
- They have more opportunity for growth
- They have less content restriction
- They are more “linkable”
- They have reduced penalty risk/algorithm volatility
Like the other options there are some downsides as well:
- Greater time investment. To create a great authority website, you need to have expertise in the niche you’re targeting. Producing surface level content won’t help you build an authority site. You must invest your time into becoming an expert or at least top 25% in your industry. Then, you can create an exceptional authority site.
- Bigger capital investment. This won’t affect you if you’re writing your own content. If you plan to outsource it, then it’s going to be capital intensive. That’s because producing “authority” content requires quality writers and larger word counts. Both of those factors increase your costs.
Option #5: Flip Websites
There are two ways to flip websites:
- You can start a website from scratch, build it up, and then flip it.
- You can acquire an existing website, improve it, and then flip it.
Option #6: Sell leads to local business
Creating lead generation websites is a decent alternative to taking on clients. In essence, you first identify a local keyword like “personal injury attorney nyc”. Then you create a website to rank for that keyword. Once the site is ranking, you can sell the organic leads to actual personal injury attorney in New York City. Or, you can sell the website to a law firm.
Option #7: Join a company to start an SEO career.
This is we call “in-house” SEO. There are all kinds of businesses looking to hire in-house SEO. One way to go about this is to get hired and get some experience. Then, on the side, you can work on growing your own SEO business or working on other projects. This way you won’t have to stress out about income.
List of companies who are looking to hire SEO experts:
Acquire basic SEO knowledge
If you’re an absolute beginner, then you need to get base SEO knowledge. And even if you have experience, you should still study and practice the fundamentals. This builds knowledge reinforcement.
Let’s look at everything that goes into a successful SEO expert:
This is the process of sorting the good key terms out the bad. You may rank first for “the best freaking blog in the whole entire world” but if no one is searching for that – it means nothing. At the same time, you don’t want to try and rank for the term “blog” because you’ll never succeed – there’s too much competition. In the keyword research phase of the process, you figure out which keywords have the best combination of attainability and sufficient traffic, allowing you to see positive results.
- SEO Assessment & Analyze Website for Keywords
- Write SEO Friendly Content with Keywords Contextual Targeting
- SEO Tips for Small Business Websites: Keywords Selection Guide
- SEO Keyword Research Services Overview
Here are some of the best tools for coming up with your initial keyword list:
- Google Keyword Planner: This is the most popular free keyword tool out there. When I need a free solution for keyword research, this is the first place I go and where I recommend you go as well.
- Bing Keyword Research Tool: This is Bing’s Keyword Research website, and there are actually a few pretty useful resources on this site. Definitely, take a look around and get familiar with what’s offered here.
- WordStream Keyword Tool: Like a lot of SEO Tools out there, WordStream has a lot of premium tools available for a lot of money. However, this is a useful tool nonetheless, and signing up for a free trial will give you access to their basic tools for no cost.
- Keyword Tool: Keyword tool is the best alternative to Google Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools. A free version of Keyword Tool generates up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions for every search term. You can use Keyword Tool absolutely for free, even without creating an account.
This is one of the most important components when you’re doing work for a client who has pretty strong competition. By looking at your competitor’s websites you’ll get ideas for key terms, understand the strengths and weaknesses of their site, and be able to capitalize on the things they aren’t doing so well.
You are going to get a few benefits from doing this:
- Seed Keywords: By looking at other similar sites you’ll discover potential keywords to target that you may have missed otherwise.
- Level of competency: Some companies have spent thousands of dollars optimizing their websites. Others didn’t even know you could. By understanding the level of SEO competency your competitors have, you’ll have a more clear idea of the job that’s in front of you.
- Weaknesses: One of the most successful campaigns I’ve run has been due to learning from my competitor’s weaknesses. They had a few good key terms I hadn’t come across, but did an awful job implementing them – right down to misspelling the words! Word of advice – don’t do that. It wasn’t hard to knock them out of the top spot for a few long-tail key terms.
So now that you understand the basics of why, let’s look at the how.
- 5 Steps for SEO Competitive Analysis & Research: This post gives you a general overview of some of the components involved in looking at your competitors. It also has links to a few good resources on the subject, so spend some time reviewing.
- Raven Tools Competitor Analysis Checklist: Raven posted this checklist to market their other optimization tools, but the fact remains this is a really useful checklist to get started with. If you use this and create a spreadsheet analyzing your 3-5 biggest competitors, you’re going to be way ahead of the game when implementing the rest of your process.
Essentially there are two major types of SEO: on site and off site. On-site is everything that you can control your site. This can include things like page titles, optimized sitemap, metadata, content, optimized photos etc. Off-site is everything you can’t control. The primary aspect of this is incoming links from other sites. Links are the currency of the internet, and we’ll expand more on that topic later on. By reviewing and making changes to all of the things you do have control of on your own site, you’ll be making big progress towards favorable rankings, more organic search traffic.
You can’t build a successful SEO campaign without optimizing your page per SEO best-practices. Remember, this list is merely something for you to follow up on, so we’re going to run through the points quickly:
- Keywords: Research them and find the best balance between competition levels and the amount of traffic they’ll bring you. One to two (max) keywords per page. Be sure to use them in various of page elements.
- Title tags: Each page should have its own title tag. Don’t try to rank for your URL or business name, as that should come naturally.
- Meta descriptions: Use them to describe the page and get readers to click when they see the description in the search results. You should probably use a keyword.
- Meta keywords: Skip ’em. For the most part, all they’re doing is telling your competitors what you’re attempting to rank for. Not really worth the time.
- Robots.txt: Tell search engines what to index and what not to. Also set up your URL structure so that the “www” and “non-www” version of your site redirect to one or the other. Otherwise, it’s viewed as two separate sites (c’mon Google, get your act together).
- Analytics: Installation of Google Analytics and Google Search Console on Website.
Obviously, this isn’t anywhere near all of the steps you need to optimize your page, but it’ll certainly get you started.
Let’s break this down into the most simple blanket statement possible: more links = better rankings. The higher the quality of links (meaning links from large and relevant sites) you can obtain, the more likely you’re rankings will improve.
Check out What are Backlinks and How to Get Them to access a complete guide of link building.
Free learning resources to obtain basic SEO knowledge
- Moz Beginners Guide to SEO: This free course covers a lot of the theory behind SEO and will help you to understand the hows and whys of the field.
- WebConfs SEO Tutorial: This one expands into some of the individual SEO disciplines a lot more than the Moz guide, and is one of the best overviews that I’ve gone through.
- Search Engine Land’s Guide To SEO: This is a multi-part series from Search Engine Land’s Guide. It’s 9 detailed blog posts about different aspects of SEO – don’t miss this one.
- SEO Book SEO Glossary: SEO Book is one the leading resources on the internet, and this is a really in depth glossary. It’s worth reviewing for key terms, and bookmarking for easy access later on.
- Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
Stay informed & Keep learning
The SEO industry is dynamic and always changing. While the fundamentals rarely change, it’s important to stay engaged in the industry.
List of SEO websites or blogs to follow:
- Moz: Moz is arguably the most trusted site for all things SEO. If you’re new, their Beginner’s Guide to SEO is invaluable. If you already know the basics, their blog is full of up-to-date educational resources, SEO tips, and experiments into what works best.
- Search Engine Journal: Search Engine Journal goes a little broader than just covering SEO, with content on social media and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising as well, but SEO is still their main focus. They have a mix of blog posts that are good for beginners, as well as important updates and tips.
- Search Engine Land: Search Engine Land provides content on any topic related to search engines, with a primary emphasis on SEO. They cover updates to search engines and any search engine related product, provide tips on doing different aspects of SEO well.
- Search Engine Watch: Search Engine Watch covers general trends in marketing and advertising, but as the name suggests, the site is concerned first and foremost with providing information related to search engine marketing. With a lot of content focused on helping marketers with recent and future trends.
- SEO Book: While most of the blogs listed above have a broader focus that goes beyond just SEO, SEO Book is more directly focused on SEO issues specifically. They sometimes go a bit deeper into the technical side of things as a result.
- Search Engine Roundtable: Search Engine Roundtable is another respected resource on news related to the search engines. A lot of their content focuses on announcements and updates made by the companies that dominate the search engine space (especially Google)
- SEO Nick: SEO Nick covers a lot of the beginner topics that website owners should know about doing SEO. From understanding the basics of conversion optimization to performing keyword research, it’s a good resource to fill in your 101 level information.
- Backlinko: The Backlinko blog provides in-depth guides and example-driven research to help readers strengthen their SEO strategy. The blog is especially well regarded for providing actionable tips for link building, one of the hardest parts of SEO.
- SEO by the Sea: SEO By the Sea is a blog focused on analyzing how the search engines work. By focusing on things like patents search engine companies file and other information they release directly, the blog is able to dive deep into the workings of the often mysterious search engine algorithms.
- QuickSprout: The QuickSprout blog is focused on ways websites can grow their traffic. The posts there consistently include in-depth research and examples to help readers better take actionable insights away from their reading.
My Route to SEO
I had my college degree in computer science which is what I passionate about. I started to learn the basic programming skills and various programming languages such as Java, C++, and PHP. Later on, I took a web development course which I build an online scheduling web application with PHP. After graduating from college, I started my career as a web developer. Thus most of my tasks were assigned to fixing code problems and creating new functions based on client request. Two years after my first job of a web developer, I was thinking to acquire a new skill that can attach to my existing programming skills. Since I like marketing, so I started to discover and explore anything about online marketing by following blogs and join the Search Engine Optimization courses on Coursera. I believe SEO holds tremendous power in helping the business grow in revenue online. I had a discussion with one of my friend who is running an export business between China and the United States. He told me that most of his clients came to him through his company website by search engine optimization. There are still many companies having a difficult time to get orders and deals, simply because they lack information and resources to have professional search engine optimization. So I started my own website on 2016 to acquire clients who need SEO for their business.
Ask a hundred SEOs about how they got their start and you’ll likely get 99 stories (yeah, there’s always that one unexplainable one). They likely started with an existing job skill, such as:
- Web development
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Business marketing
- Online advertising
- Print advertising
- Online consulting
Next, they added their own brand of passion, and usually a little bit of luck, and voila, an SEO is born! (Note that “luck” is usually the sum of preparation plus opportunity.)
The people you meet in this industry are extraordinary. They are very willing, often surprisingly so, to help out their peers and up-and-comers – note how much of their “proprietary” knowledge is shared with one another in the blogs and through social media, all for free!
You won’t become an SEO expert overnight!
Becoming an SEO expert is a marathon, not a sprint. Put in the work every day and try to be better than you were yesterday. Your success in anything is the product of what you do on a daily basis.
- Ogle, S. (2017, December 05). How to Become an SEO Freelancer in 48 Hours. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from https://www.locationrebel.com/become-an-seo-freelancer/
- Gotch, N. (2017, January 11). How to Become an SEO Expert [Complete Guide]. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from https://www.gotchseo.com/seo-expert/