Do you want to learn how to increase your traffic and achieve higher rankings for the keywords that can generate more sales and revenue for your website? Then you should learn everything there is to know about SEO and become an SEO Expert.
Having SEO expertise is not the sole privilege of SEO professionals. It’s a skill that can be mastered by anyone wishing to learn how to do SEO on their own.
I’ve been practicing SEO for the last 18 years and in this post, you will learn what steps you need to follow to become an SEO expert.
Why everyone should become an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Before getting into the steps, it’s important to understand the difference between an SEO expert and an SEO professional.
An SEO expert is someone that knows how SEO works and how to apply SEO to increase the rankings of a website in Search Engines.
An SEO professional is an SEO Expert that practices SEO as a profession either by doing SEO consulting, offering SEO services, or taking clients on a project-by-project basis.
I’m mentioning this difference to point out that you don’t have to practice SEO as a profession to become an SEO expert. There are many advantages as to why you should improve your SEO skills even if you don’t plan to offer services to clients.
Advantages of becoming an expert on SEO
Increase your rankings and traffic – This is the most obvious reason why someone should aim in becoming an expert in search engine optimization.
Less dependency on SEO agencies – I know that this is not what you expect to read in the blog of an SEO agency but that’s the truth. If you have in-house SEO skills then you can grow your business without depending on external support.
Decrease costs – If you are a solo entrepreneur or blogger you can save a lot of money if you can do SEO yourself than having to hire an SEO specialist.
Make better decisions like who to hire to work on your SEO – If you know SEO yourself then it’s much easier to decide which consultant or company to hire to work on your SEO. You will be in a position to understand what their SEO packages include and judge if what they are suggesting can actually help your website achieve better rankings.
Highly recommended for Marketing managers – if you work as a marketing manager then having a good understanding of SEO will give you an extra advantage over other marketing managers or colleagues in your organization.
No business can survive online without SEO – SEO is no longer optional. Websites that are not built with SEO in mind, there is no way they can survive in the highly competitive online World. Knowing SEO and how to use it correctly, can make a huge difference in your website’s future.
10 Steps to Become an SEO Expert
These are the 10 steps to follow to become an expert on SEO.
- Understand how search engines work
- Get to know The Basic Search Engine Marketing Concepts
- Understand the true meaning of SEO
- Choose the right SEO Training
- Stay informed about SEO changes
- Choose the Right SEO Tools
- Practice SEO – Don’t stay theoretical
- Demonstrate your SEO Expertise
- Be Patient
- Follow the leads of established SEO Experts
1. Understand how search engines work
Before even starting to think about SEO, the first step you need to take is to familiarize yourself with how search engines work.
For many people, this may be something that they already know (or think they know), but it’s always good to start with the basic concepts and then work your way up to the most complicated theories.
In a nutshell, search engines have three main processes:
- Crawling – this is how they discover content on the web
- Indexing – how they add and organize the content in their index
- Ranking – how they decide which websites to show in the results (and in what order), for a given search query
As an SEO specialist, you’ll need to know how to optimize a website for each stage so that search engines can read, index, and understand the content of a website without problems.
Resources you can use:
2. Get to know The Basic Search Engine Marketing Concepts
Before getting your hands dirty, you should have a general idea about all the different disciplines that make up search engine marketing. You should understand what digital marketing is and the role of SEO in digital marketing campaigns.
You should have clear in your mind what to expect from SEO and what other tools you can use in conjunction with SEO to make your Internet presence stronger.
In summary, SEO is one of the two components of SEM. The main difference between the two is that SEO traffic is free while SEM traffic is paid.
With SEO your goal is to get to the top of the organic results by publishing content that matches the user intent and by giving search engines ‘signals’ to help them with the indexing and ranking process.
With SEM, you can use PPC platforms (like Google Ads) to pay for your ads to appear on top of the paid search results.
Both methods can help you get traffic from search engines but with SEO you don’t have to rely on paid ads to get traffic. Once you manage to secure high rankings for the keywords that matter for your business, you can get continuous traffic to your site 24/7.
This is just one of the benefits of SEO. By getting to the top of the SERPS, you can take advantage of other benefits like brand awareness, user trust, and recognition that can help you grow your business.
3. Understand the true meaning of SEO
SEO is not just about keywords and links, it’s much more than that. The true mission of SEO is to provide users with a great experience and give them exactly what they want.
Your goal is not just about getting more search engine traffic but it’s about turning that traffic into recurring visitors and customers.
SEO has a number of types, the most important are:
Your job as an SEO expert is to learn what SEO rules to apply at each stage of the SEO process so that your website is fully optimized.
Here is an outline of what each SEO type does:
Technical SEO – Technical SEO is responsible for the crawling and indexing phase. With technical SEO you can help search engines index all important pages of your website without issues. The most important technical SEO tasks are:
- URL Canonicalization
- XML Sitemap Optimization
- Setting your preferred domain
- Optimizing you page URLs
- Optimizing your website structure
- Improving your website page speed
- Optimizing your website for mobile
- Finding and fixing crawl errors
On-Page SEO – On-page SEO has to do with elements found on a page. Things like content, headings, images, videos need to be optimized so that search engines can understand their context.
The most important on-page SEO elements are:
- Page title optimization
- Meta description optimization
- Content optimization
- Making proper use of headings (H1 tag, H2, etc)
- Internal and external links
Off-Page SEO – The last process is called off-page SEO. Unlike technical and on-page SEO, Off-page SEO has to do with activities outside the boundaries of a website. Things like getting backlinks from other related websites and promoting your website on the Internet are factors that help search engines during the ranking process.
You can use the resources below to get started with SEO and build the necessary expertise.
Resources you can use:
4. Choose the right SEO Training
Once you start learning SEO, you will realize one thing: There is too much information about SEO on the Internet and so many things to learn, and this in the end creates a mess.
If you decide to do this on your own without any help, you will end up with an endless list of articles to read and things to try out.
It took me years to learn SEO this way because back in 2000 when I started, there were no SEO training courses or guides you could read and have all the information in one place.
Nowadays things are different. People wanting to learn SEO fast can do so by following a reputable course without having to spend endless hours searching the Internet and reading article after article.
Resources you can use:
The Complete SEO Course – Our own SEO course has everything you need to know about SEO. It covers both basic and advanced SEO concepts.
You can take the course online or download the material as PDF and learn at your own pace. It is the only SEO Course you’ll ever need to read.
Google Digital Garage – Google has created a new set of courses covering everything you need to know about Digital marketing. They don’t go into the fine details of SEO but they are a great resource if you want to familiarize yourself with online marketing.
Moz SEO Course – Moz is a company famous for its tools but they also created an SEO course that covers the basics of SEO. It’s not complete but it’s a good start for beginners.
SEO Guide – This is another guide from Google. It covers SEO from Google’s perspective. This means that you will not learn what actually works for SEO but what Google wants you to learn about SEO. Nevertheless, take a couple of hours and go through the guidelines, there are some good pieces of advice worth thinking about.
SEO Certifications – A list of all available SEO certifications you can pursue and become a certified SEO specialist.
5. Stay informed about SEO changes
SEO is not a static discipline. SEO rules and algorithms change all the time. Google alone is making more than 250 changes to their ranking algorithms per year. Good SEO experts need to know about these changes and adjust their SEO campaigns accordingly.
The best way to stay informed is to follow a couple of SEO news websites that are proven to provide information about on-going SEO changes when they happen and not after it’s too late to do something about it.
Resources you can use:
Search Engine Roundtable – A must follow website by all SEO experts. Daily news about everything that is happening in the SEO industry. For me, this is the most valuable and useful SEO news website in our industry.
Search Engine Land – One of the oldest websites in the SEO industry. Previously owned by Danny Sullivan, now he works for Google.
Google Blog – Google recently established a blog for sharing news related to Google products. They occasionally share news about Google search as well.
Google search blog – a blog by Google dedicated to Search.
Google Webmasters Blog – the official Google webmasters blog. Follow to get news about the latest changes in search.
Reliablesoft SEO Blog – Our own SEO blog. It is updated on a weekly basis with guides, step-by-step articles, and resources to help you practice SEO efficiently.
6. Choose the Right SEO Tools
The truth is you cannot do SEO alone. There is so much information to process and decisions to make and if you try to do everything manually, you will spend your precious time analyzing numbers instead of working on tasks that can get you better results.
It’s also true that good SEO tools cost but in the long term the return is much more than the monthly fee you will pay for a good SEO tool.
SEO Tools you can use:
Google Webmaster Tools (Free) – Google webmaster tools is perhaps one of the most useful tools for SEO. It is free and it can give you a lot of information about your website. Read my previous guide on how to use Webmasters tools to improve your SEO.
Google Analytics (Free) – Another free tool by Google. You can use Google analytics to learn a lot of things about your traffic and how users navigate your website. There are a lot of reports to explore and many metrics to analyze. This article, Google analytics for beginners, is a great place to start.
SEMRUSH (Paid) – This is my favorite SEM tool. It’s not free but you can use it for your SEO, PPC campaigns, competitor analysis, keyword research, link building, social media monitoring, and many more. It is updated frequently with new features and it’s one of the best investments you can make for your SEO.
Ahrefs (Paid) – An alternative to SEMRUSH. It comes with a monthly subscription but it’s also one of the most respected SEO tools in the industry. It comes with a 7-day free trial so you can test it out before buying.
Google Keyword Planner (Free) – The Google keyword tool is a free keyword research tool offered by Google. You can use it to find out what search terms people type in Google’s search box.
7. Practice SEO – Don’t stay theoretical
SEO is not theoretical but it’s mostly practical. The outcome from studying the SEO theory should be a list of actions you can apply to your website and improve your exposure in search engines.
The problem is that each website is unique and what works for one website may not be the best solution for others. That’s why it is necessary to actually practice SEO and not just stay theoretical.
Reading case studies on how others have managed to succeed with SEO campaigns it’s a great way to get new ideas you can use and the inspiration you need to keep trying until you get SEO right.
8. Demonstrate your SEO Expertise
They say that one of the best ways to learn something is to try to explain it to other people. This is true with SEO as well.
I have learned a lot of things and improved my SEO skills considerably when I started writing about SEO.
My recommendation is to start a website or an SEO blog and share your SEO experiences with other people.
Over time you will find that sharing knowledge is a great way to learn new things about SEO and at the same time you help other people, which is a highly rewarding experience.
9. Be Patient
There is no way to talk about SEO and not mention the word “patience”. SEO takes time to work and you shouldn’t rush to conclusions too soon.
SEO is not the quickest way to increase your traffic. If you want immediate results then try PPC campaigns. SEO is about creating a long term sustainable business by building a solid foundation that will get you organic traffic 24/7 for years.
Before making any SEO related change to your website you should take note of your rankings and traffic (for a period of time), before the change and compare it with the same period of time (in terms of duration), after the change.
Monitor your rankings and traffic and give it enough time before taking further decisions.
10. Follow the leads of established SEO Experts
Last but not least, in your path to become an SEO expert, you will face a number of difficulties. There will be times when you will be disappointed, frustrated, and ready to give up.
Don’t worry, this is normal to happen. If you read the stories of other people you will understand that none of them became what they are today because they are lucky. It’s the result of hard work and endless hours of testing and reading about SEO.
The list below includes 5 SEO experts you definitely need to follow for inspiration and for understanding how SEO can be applied on a scale. All 5 have managed to build multi-million businesses and they managed to do it because they know how to use SEO correctly.
Read their stories and spend some time analyzing their SEO practices. You may find that sometimes they do things differently than ‘traditional’ SEOs and this is because they have the confidence and expertise to try new things and experiment with SEO without being afraid to fail.
Neil Patel – One of the most respected SEO experts in the industry. Don’t just read his blog but try to analyze his practices and how he managed to use content SEO in scale.
Brain Dean – He is the expert in link building. His blog is a great resource for case studies and techniques you can use to get fast results.
Eric Enge – Speaker, Founder, and CEO of Stone Temple. An SEO with years of experience in the industry.
Joost de Valk – Founder and CEO of Yoast, the most popular SEO plugin.
Rand Fishkin – Co-Founder of MOZ, great presenter, and entrepreneur.
Everyone that has anything to do with a website or online business should become an SEO expert.
The list includes marketing managers, developers, webmasters, web designers, social media managers, PPC experts, solo entrepreneurs, and eCommerce owners.
Why? Because SEO is at the base of all digital marketing campaigns. SEO principles will not only guarantee the maximum possible exposure in search engines but they can help a website in more ways.
Becoming an SEO Expert is not easy but it’s not difficult either. The process includes a lot of reading, practicing, and testing.
If you are starting out now, the best way is to take a good SEO course so that you have all the information in one place, use the right SEO tools, and above all start practicing SEO. Learn from your mistakes and try again.
Search engines and SEO are here to stay for years to come and this is the best investment you can make for your business and personal skills.