The sheer volume of information out there can be intimidating if you are just starting out in SEO.
We asked industry experts to share their advice for those trying to find their way into a new SEO career, and here are their top tips.
1. Build On Your Existing Skills & Knowledge
“Most SEOs start with one of these skills: writing, marketing or web design / development,” says Benj Arriola, Senior SEO Director at Assembly Global.
If you’ve decided to do SEO full time, “start learning the other two skills where you’re weaker but do not have to be a master. It’s not your core strength, but this is where you learn to build teams, or even tasks. spend if necessary, “he recommends.
Specialization is great, but a working understanding of what your colleagues are doing will make you much more effective at your own tasks.
Sam Hollingsworth, Director of SEO at Hero Digital, suggests starting with books and blogs.
“There are several legit web publications that can teach a lot about SEO. Most are free like Google’s SEO Starter Guide and SEJ’s SEO for Beginners to name a few,” he says.
Webinars, social groups and forums, podcasts, and even YouTube videos are other great places to get a free SEO training.
However, there is a lot of misinformation and old content out there about what is actually a ranking factor, how SEO tools and tactics work best in different scenarios, and more.
It is important that you carefully evaluate your educational source. Look for consensus among experts on what is actually best practice today, and be aware that Google algorithm changes can come and go about implementing things quickly.
You also want to develop your understanding of the key skills needed to be successful in SEO – critical thinking, analytical knowledge, and your ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations between them.
2. Learn The Basics of Website Building
“In recent years, I’ve helped some potential SEO professionals start their careers,” says Ludwig Makhyan, co-founder of Mazeless – Enterprise SEO. He usually suggests that anyone “start with the discovery of HTML and CSS and know the basics of a website anyway”, and suggests that w3 resources be a good source for this.
“Starting a test mini-site is the best approach where you can code and optimize a page for yourself,” adds Makhyan.
Whether you are an internal or freelancing / agency site, it is important that you have a solid understanding of how the websites you work for work, whether they are custom builds, WordPress based, on an ecommerce platform, etc. .
While SEO Best Practices are largely the same across websites – links, content quality, and user experience are essential, for example – you can find SEO for Shopify a very different beast than optimizing a Wix or Weebly site.
Dig into our web development archives to discover expert articles on the platforms relevant to your work in SEO.
3. Brush Up On Your Communication Skills
“The biggest shock many new SEO professionals get is the lack of predictability and uncertainty,” says Kevin Rowe, vice president of strategy & amp; Product at Purelinq.
He advises: “You need to be an expert in operating this kind of environment by communicating, setting goals, being flexible, building evidence of the concept, and testing and scaling.”
Hollingsworth advises a similar approach.
“The basics of any job still apply: Use communication to your advantage. Be personal. Be motivated with a good attitude, and never stop learning,” he says. Hollingsworth explains and notes that much of effective communication comes from clear, well-written emails and deliveries.
“Another big part is developing complex concepts and simplifying ideas to better understand them,” he adds.
So-called “soft skills” like communication are often overlooked in the professional development of an SEO because there are so many technical and analytical things to learn.
However, your communication style can have a huge impact. It could be the difference between your landing that customer, or not; or get the promotion … or not.
When it comes to the specific communication skills you need in SEO, Adam Proehl cites the ability to listen, think at your feet, and know how to distill complex information down to a format that meets the needs of your audience as one of the most important.
4. Learn How To Tell Stories With Data
“Go well with data,” advises Lee Foot, director at Search Solved.
“Learning how to use LOOKUP and COUNTIFS in Excel is a must. Learning how to find the story in the data and present it to actors in an easy-to-understand way,” he says.
Failing to use visual cues to receive text, trying to tell your story without the necessary context, and lack of trust and authority are among the biggest mistakes SEO professionals tend to make in their approach to data stories, says Justin Lugbill.
You can grab more of the top bugs he identified and how to fix or avoid them here.
Amy Hebdon recently shared these compelling examples of data stories for paid search that you can customize to meet your SEO reporting needs, too.
Claudia Higgins, SEO Insights Strategist at Conductor, recently shared some of the hardest lessons she has learned about SEO reporting. Prior to joining the company, she managed SEO data and insights internally with a large ecommerce website.
There, she learned the value of constantly working to improve SEO reporting.
“Establishing consistent, accurate data deserves trust in the business,” Higgins said. She added, “The less labor intensive I was able to make the process, the more time we can spend digging deeper into the data and discovering the root causes and emerging opportunities.”
5. Expand Your Network
Foot also suggests that interning in an SEO agency will help you develop your skills quickly. “It’s also great for networking if you decide to do freelance in the future.”
Chouinard shares the same perspective. He says, “Most SEOs are analytical and student. SEO is great because you can make business decisions, build your specialization, and discover new things first-hand.
“The hardest part is learning to fail. Not everything works. Be humble enough to accept the defeat (or force change from Google) and possibly start over from scratch,” he advises.
It has been a difficult time for many newcomers to the SEO industry to make connections, as the pandemic is seriously affecting our ability to come together in person.
However, virtual and hybrid events have become much more common.
It is also a good idea to track SEO pros on social channels. Many share their articles, blog posts and case studies for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
This monster list of 202 SEO experts to follow is a good place to start.
Do not be afraid to engage and be a part of the conversations that happen online.
As you learn and grow in SEO, try new tools and have all kinds of experiences, you will find a focus area that suits you best.
But if you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to try as many things as you can.
See if you can build some links to your own website.
Set up a site where you can measure, try different size optimizations to see what works.
Read SEO books, make time to visit reputable blogs, and invest in training programs when you find an area you really like.
SEO is very much an ongoing learning industry where even those who have been there for 10 or 15 years or more cannot afford to sit down so that competitors can pass them in the rankings.
If you feel that there is a lot to learn, you are not alone – it’s part of what so many love to be in SEO.
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