If you’re new to SEO, becoming an expert might seem tough and time-consuming.
But it doesn’t have to be! You can become a pro faster than you think by mastering the basics, honing your skills, and using the right tools.
Welcome to our guide on becoming an SEO expert in 2024! In today’s digital world, mastering SEO is key to online success. Let’s explore the latest SEO tactics and techniques to help you achieve expert status in search engine optimization.
What is an SEO Expert?
An SEO expert specializes in optimizing websites to rank higher in search engine results. They understand how search engines work and use this knowledge to optimize website content, structure, and performance.
An SEO specialist aims to increase organic (non-paid) traffic to a website by improving its ranking for relevant search queries.
Image: Infographic of SEO aspects.
What does an SEO specialist do?
An SEO specialist does several things, including:
• Analyzes website performance on search engines like Google.
• Conducts keyword research to find the terms people use when searching for products or services.
• Improves website structure and navigation for better user experience and search engine crawling.
• Builds quality backlinks from other reputable websites to increase website authority.
• Stays updated on Google algorithms and industry trends to adapt strategies accordingly.
• Provides recommendations and strategies to improve website visibility and ranking in search results.
How are SEO professionals relevant today?
Image: Statistics of online visibility due to SEO.
Every online business, big or small, relies on SEO for visibility. From my experience, having SEO skills opens doors to various job opportunities in digital marketing.
You can work in marketing agencies, company departments, or as a freelance SEO specialist. Employers value professionals who can drive organic traffic, generate leads, and improve conversions.
How to Become an SEO Expert?
Since search engine optimization is a relatively recent field, traditional four-year college programs typically don’t offer courses on SEO.
So, how do you become an SEO or link building expert?
Discover the steps to become an SEO specialist, including the skills you need to learn in this guide.
Learn SEO basics
To gain SEO knowledge, begin by mastering the basics.
Keyword research for SEO involves finding the words and phrases people use when searching online.
It involves several aspects:
• Identifying Keywords: This involves brainstorming and researching words and phrases relevant to your content, products, or services.
• Analyzing Search Volume: Determining how often a keyword is searched for on Google can help prioritize which keywords to target.
• Assessing Competition: Evaluating the competition for specific keywords helps understand the difficulty of ranking for them.
• Understanding User Intent: Recognizing the intent behind a search query helps tailor content to meet user needs and preferences.If you want to rank well, gain trust, and increase conversions, you must provide accurate information and meet your audience’s needs consistently.
Image: Infographic of components involved in keyword research.
• Exploring Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that typically have lower search volume but can be highly relevant to a specific audience.
• Localized Keywords: Researching keywords relevant to local searches is crucial for businesses targeting specific locations.
• Monitoring Trends: Keeping track of changes in search trends and adapting keyword strategies accordingly ensures continued relevance and visibility in search results.
Types of User Intent
SEO specialists can improve content by understanding these four types of search intent: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional, ensuring it meets users’ needs.
Image: Infographic of the different types of search intent.
On-page SEO involves making changes to your website to improve its visibility in search results, which, I believe, can greatly impact its performance.
• Title tags: Crafting descriptive and relevant titles for each webpage.
• Content optimization: Ensuring content is high-quality, informative, and engaging.
• Meta descriptions: Creating concise summaries that encourage clicks from users.
• URL structure: Creating clean and SEO-friendly URLs that are easy for users and search engines to understand.
• Image optimization: Adding descriptive alt text and optimizing image file names to improve accessibility and search visibility.
• Mobile optimization: Ensuring your website is responsive and performs well on mobile devices.
Image: Infographic of the components involved in on-page SEO.
Technical SEO focuses on improving the technical aspects of your website to make it more visible and user-friendly to search engines.
Some common aspects of technical SEO that you should ensure for your website are:
• Secure connection (HTTPS): Implementing SSL certificates to provide users with a secure browsing experience and gain Google’s trust.
• Schema markup: Implementing structured data markup to help Google understand and display website content accurately in search results.
• Indexing: Ensuring Google can easily crawl and index your website’s content using robots.txt files and XML sitemaps.
• Canonicalization: Resolving issues with duplicate content by specifying preferred URLs.
• Website security: Protecting your website from malware and security threats to maintain trust with users and search engines.
• Hreflang tags: Hreflang tags specify the language and regional targeting of webpages, ensuring users are directed to the most relevant version based on their language and location.
Image: Infographic of the components involved in technical SEO.
Auditing your site’s technical SEO is important because if your site’s technical SEO is inefficient, you may experience lower search engine rankings, reduced organic traffic, poor user experience, decreased trust, and missed opportunities for engagement and conversions.
Building backlinks involves getting other websites to link back to your site. Backlinks act as endorsements, signaling to Google that your content is valuable and authoritative.
To build backlinks, you can create high-quality content that others naturally want to link to, reach out to relevant websites and request backlinks, or participate in guest blogging opportunities. However, it’s essential to focus on quality over quantity and prioritize acquiring backlinks from reputable and relevant sources.
Some commonly used link building techniques are:
Image: Infographic of the benefits of guest blogging.
Guest posting for link building involves writing articles or blog posts for other websites in your industry or niche. By contributing valuable content to these sites, you can usually include a link to your website within the post or in the author bio.
Guest posting helps you gain exposure to a new audience and improves your website’s ranking by earning high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources.
However, it’s important to ensure that the websites you contribute to are relevant to your niche and have a good reputation, as this will maximize the SEO impact of your guest posting efforts.
Digital PR for link building involves leveraging online platforms and relationships to earn backlinks to your website. It includes strategies like contacting journalists and bloggers for coverage, creating compelling content that attracts attention, and participating in industry events and partnerships.
By gaining mentions and links from authoritative sources, digital PR can enhance your website’s credibility, visibility, and search engine rankings.
Broken Link Building
Image: Should you pursue a broken link opportunity?
Broken link building is a way to get links for your website. You find broken links on other sites and ask the owners to replace them with links to your content. It helps both sides: they fix their broken link, and you get a new link to your site.
Broken link building helps your website become more trusted and visible on Google. By offering a solution to a problem, this form of building links can help you establish relationships with other website owners and improve your website’s authority over time.
Media outreach platforms
Image: HARO Backlinks.
Media outreach platforms like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) offer valuable link building opportunities. HARO connects journalists with sources for their stories, allowing you to contribute expertise and insights in exchange for a backlink to your website.
Responding to relevant queries can earn you high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources, enhance your website’s credibility, and improve its visibility in search engine rankings. Using platforms like HARO as part of your link building strategy can expand your online presence and attract targeted traffic to your site.
Backlinks are vital for Google rankings and help Google understand your website. When Google follows a backlink to your site, it might check for more links on the page. If there are internal links, Google may crawl and index those pages, helping it understand how your pages connect and relate to search queries.
Image: Infographic of the components involved in local SEO.
Location-based SEO for link building involves getting backlinks from websites within your local area or relevant to your geographic location. This can include local directories, community websites, chambers of commerce, and local news publications.
By obtaining links from these sources, you signal to Google that your business is relevant to the local community and improve your visibility in local search results. Participating in local events, sponsoring community initiatives, and engaging with local influencers can help you earn backlinks and strengthen your location-based SEO strategies.
Being skilled in SEO involves setting clear goals and benchmarks to measure your performance, known as key performance indicators or KPIs.
The different elements involved in measuring KPIs include:
• Organic Traffic: Measures the number of visitors who reach your website through organic search results.
• Keyword Rankings: Tracks the positions of your targeted keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs).
• Click-Through Rate (CTR): Indicates the percentage of users who click on your website’s link after seeing it in search results.
• Bounce Rate: Reflects the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page, indicating user engagement.
• Page Load Time: Measures how quickly your web pages load, impacting user experience and website performance.
• Backlink Quality: Assesses the authority and relevance of websites linking to yours, influencing your site’s credibility and rankings.
• Conversion Rate: Measures the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
• Domain Authority: Provides an overall score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Image: Infographic of the components involved in measuring KPIs.
Measuring performance helps you see if your SEO efforts are worth the investment. ROI, which reflects what you spend on SEO versus the results you get, is crucial for business owners deciding on renewing contracts. Understanding and tracking ROI becomes increasingly important as you advance in SEO specialization.
Must have soft skills for an SEO specialist
Apart from knowing how search engines operate, link building professionals also need these specific soft skills:
Analytical thinking helps link building professionals make sense of data from tools like Google Analytics, identify problems, and develop strategies to improve website performance. It helps them evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts, make data-driven decisions, and continuously refine their strategy for better results.
Adaptability helps a link building professional by allowing them to adjust to changes in Google algorithms, industry trends, and technology. This flexibility enables them to stay ahead of the curve, update strategies accordingly, and maintain the high performance of their websites.
Good communication is crucial for success in the SEO industry. How well you communicate can determine the strength and overall success of your client relationships in the field. Communication skills help link building professionals explain complex concepts, interact with clients, collaborate with teams, present reports effectively, and gather feedback for improvement.
Continuous learning helps an SEO specialist stay updated on the latest trends, algorithms, and best practices in the ever-evolving field of search engine optimization. They can adapt their strategies, improve website performance, and maintain their competitive edge in the digital landscape by staying informed.
Learning new techniques allows them to provide better client results and stay ahead of the competition.
Image: Infographic of the skills needed by SEO professionals.
Gain Knowledge About the Key SEO Tools
SEO, which involves search engine marketing, goes beyond keywords. To effectively create and enhance content across various platforms, you need a strategy that requires effort and planning.
Luckily, tools are available to help in research, analysis, content creation, formatting, posting, and monitoring. These tools also help automate many time-consuming tasks for SEO specialists, improving efficiency and enabling a focus on content creation.
Here are some tools that you cannot miss:
Image: Infographic of the best SEO tools.
1. Google Analytics: Helps track website traffic, user behavior, and other metrics.
2. Google Search Console: Provides insights into your website’s performance in Google search results.
3. Google Keyword Planner: Helps find relevant keywords for your content and advertising campaigns.
4. Ahrefs: A powerful tool for search term research, backlink analysis, and competitor research.
5. SEMRush: Offers comprehensive features for search term research, competitor analysis, and site audits.
6. Moz: Provides tools for search term research, rank tracking, and website audits.
7. SpyFu: Allows you to spy on your competitors’ keywords and advertising strategies.
8. Serpstat: Offers competitor analysis and rank-tracking features.
Check out our article on the top 15 link building tools to learn more.
Gain SEO Experience
A great way to get better at SEO and become an expert is by actually doing it yourself and gaining experience.
Create Your Own Projects
An excellent method to gain hands-on experience is creating and working on your own website. Whether it’s a specialized site, a business platform for a side project, or a personal blog, this approach lets you apply your knowledge in a real-world context.
Building your sites from scratch enables you to learn through trial and error, seeing what succeeds and what doesn’t without worrying about damaging someone else’s site. It offers the freedom to explore and experiment more deeply without fearing making mistakes.
Crafting your own projects provides something tangible for your portfolio, which you can showcase to future clients or employers.
Help Local Businesses
Another good way to gain experience is by helping out local organizations.
You can find nearby businesses by searching “[businesses] in [GEO] (your area)” on Google.
Then, you can use SEMrush’s Domain Overview tool to check their website traffic and see if they could benefit from your SEO assistance.
The image above shows a Canada-based company, The Wild Bunch, whose organic traffic has dipped. This could affect the ranking factors and, ultimately, the company’s business. You can use this data to contact the company and offer SEO assistance.
Take an SEO Course
Taking up a certification course can be highly beneficial if you aim to pursue a career in SEO. These courses provide structured learning opportunities that cover the fundamentals and advanced aspects of search engine optimization in a clear and organized manner.
By enrolling in such a course, you can learn essential concepts like search term research, on-page optimization, link building, and analytics tracking. These courses often offer practical exercises, case studies, and real-world examples to help you understand how SEO strategies are implemented in different scenarios.
Some of the best courses you can explore right now are:
Image: Top SEO courses.
Moz Academy: Moz Academy offers a range of courses covering various aspects of SEO, including search term research, on-page optimization, link building, and structural SEO.
Coursera – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization: Created by the University of California, this specialization covers SEO fundamentals, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and website optimization strategies.
SEMrush Academy: Offers free courses on SEO fundamentals, search term research, on-page and structural SEO, and content marketing.
Yoast SEO Training: Yoast offers comprehensive SEO training courses covering topics such as search term research, content optimization, and technical SEO.
An SEO internship provides hands-on training with leading global companies.
It offers the chance to collaborate with industry experts and acquire unique experience unmatched elsewhere.
Another way to gain practical experience is by working for a company right away. Many marketing teams offer entry-level positions.
This is a good starting point; you’ll learn from experienced SEO managers and understand how SEO services are provided and handled. These companies often offer chances for career growth, eventually letting you advance from a junior role to an expert.
Stay Updated With The Latest SEO Trends
SEO professionals must stay updated with what’s happening in the industry because Google often changes how they rank websites to improve search results. These changes can greatly impact where websites show up in search results and how much traffic they get.
To keep up with these changes, here’s what you can do:
Read Google’s updates: Check Google’s Search Central Blog regularly to track the changes they’re making to search rankings.
Join online groups: Be part of SEO groups on Reddit, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter). You can learn from others and share your ideas.
Attend webinars and conferences: Look for SEO events online or offline. You can meet others in the industry and discuss new trends and updates.
Connect with other SEO pros: Build relationships with people who work in SEO. They can help you understand things better and share useful tips.
Use Google Alerts: Set up alerts for topics you specialize in. Google will email you when there’s new stuff about those topics online.
Image: Infographic of the steps involved in staying updated with SEO trends.
Keeping up with SEO trends helps you find new opportunities and ensure the websites you work on stay competitive in search results. Showing you know what’s going on in the industry can help you get clients and work with others in the field.
Develop a Portfolio to Showcase Your Work
The projects you work on while practicing your skills can have a lasting impact. That’s why keeping records is key: now that you know what works, you can portray your work to demonstrate the different strategies you’ve tried – proving that you know how to use them and make them work.
In SEO, data is everything. Hiring Managers are most impressed by solid information. In your portfolio, you can present this in two ways.
Image: Infographic of the components involved in building an SEO portfolio.
• First, you can highlight your skills and training by explaining how you’ve done what you’ve done, maybe using one project – talking about the SEO certification courses you’ve taken, the techniques and strategies you’ve used, the things you’ve learned, and so on. This way, your portfolio can tell a clear story, starting with what you aimed to do, the challenges you faced, and how you overcame them.Even if you haven’t had paid experience in SEO, your portfolio can include the results of the hands-on exercises you did in your SEO certification course.
• Second, your portfolio can dive deep into the data. Numbers are your best proof – try to find important metrics that showcase the success of your SEO projects, like growth in pageviews or new visitors, higher page rankings, or even faster page loading times.It’s good to think about how to present this data visually – but you need to present it in an impactful but not overwhelming way. Charts and graphs work well; long lists of numbers don’t.
Constantly Improve and Adapt
SEO is always changing.
To be an expert, you must keep up with algorithm updates, learn about the latest tools, and know what’s happening in the industry.
That’s why it’s important to keep developing professionally. By staying flexible and continually seeking new knowledge, you can excel in SEO and achieve better results for your projects and clients.
Network to Build Connections
Connect with SEO agencies and other SEO and digital marketing professionals to expand your circle and boost your SEO career.
Start by building your SEO network. You can attend online and offline networking events for SEO professionals, like SEO conferences and workshops, to meet others in your industry and stay updated on what’s happening.
• Master basic SEO terms: Learn about keyword research, user intent, and on-page SEO techniques like optimizing title tags, content, and URLs.
• Build Backlinks: Building backlinks is crucial for SEO success; you can do this through guest posting, digital PR, and broken link building.
• Local SEO: This helps businesses target specific geographic areas for better search visibility.
• Track your performance: Track your SEO performance using metrics like organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversion rates.
• Develop soft skills: Develop essential skills like analytical thinking, adaptability, communication, and continuous learning.
• Learn about SEO tools: Familiarize yourself with essential SEO tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, and SpyFu.
• Gain experience: Gain practical experience by creating your own projects, helping local businesses, taking SEO courses, and pursuing internships or entry-level positions.
• Stay updated on the SEO trends: Stay updated on the latest SEO trends by reviewing Google’s updates, joining online communities, attending webinars and conferences, and connecting with other professionals.
• Build your portfolio: Build a portfolio showcasing your SEO expertise, emphasizing your skills and the data-driven results you’ve achieved.
• Network and build connections: Network with online and offline SEO agencies and professionals to expand your connections and opportunities in the field.
In conclusion, becoming an SEO expert in 2024 requires dedication, continuous learning, and practical experience. It may feel tough initially, but mastering the fundamentals, staying updated with industry trends, and leveraging the right tools can accelerate your progress.
Remember, SEO is not just about understanding algorithms; it’s about delivering value to users and businesses. Embrace the challenges, stay curious, and never stop learning – the world of SEO awaits your expertise and innovation.