How to become a professional SEO expert
Why should you become an SEO expert?SEO is a highly rewarding profession and well skilled strategists are always in high demand (just do a search on any job listing website). To some degree it’s also a recession proof business, or rather, one that is the first to receive marketing budget following businesses releasing cash again into marketing (this is the experience of SEO following the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020). Further, there’s really no ceiling to where you can go with SEO and for many companies it’s such a high value marketing channel you can find yourself part of the C-Suite. Becoming an SEO expert gives you the power to connect the most relevant searches to your business – the searches that will lead to more leads, sales, and revenue – to your website and your brand. Rising the search engine results page ranks and increasing your visibility for the search terms that matter increases brand awareness and, when done well, will bring high-quality visitors to your content in the moment of their intent. This can also reduce or remove the costs of other marketing acquisition channels. Mastering SEO means being able to capitalise on searches made by people who are looking for the products or services you sell. It will take time, effort, and a proactive approach to learning to become an SEO expert, because there is a lot of technical understanding involved and the search engines are forever changing their algorithms. It’s a fast-paced, dynamic and ever changing channel that is well worth the investment and commitment of your time to learning. You might feel overwhelmed or daunted at the thought of getting started with learning SEO, but we can assure you that once you get the ball rolling, you’ll find it difficult to stop.
Getting startedNow you’ve made the commitment to becoming a professional SEO expert, it’s time to get started. First, it’s important that you understand how SEO works in its simplest form and what the key performance indicators are. Search engines – like Google and Bing use robots (sometimes just called ‘bots’) to crawl pages on the internet. They move from website to website, collecting information about the pages they crawl and putting it into an index. Once the information is indexed, algorithms analyse these pages based on hundreds of ranking factors or signals – these factors determine the order pages should appear in the search results for a given query. SEO is the opposite of paid search, where you can bid on the top advertising spots for your target keywords typically within an auction model. With SEO, you must earn your place and show Google and the other search engines that they can trust you and you are worthy of ranking in the best positions. Some of the key ranking factors include having a secure and accessible website, having a mobile-friendly website, optimised content including page titles, technical SEO including internal linking, links to the website from other authoritative websites with high editorial integrity, and effective keyword targeting. Once you get started with SEO, you know you’re doing a good job when you start to see wins across these KPIs:
- Website rankings (rankings help click through rate)
- Brand awareness
- Search engine visibility and traffic to your website
- High-quality leads
- Conversion rates and sales
- User experience and website performance
- Mobile-friendliness and loading speed
- Market share
- Visit to your physical store (if applicable)
Your step-by-step education path
Step 1Google currently has 86.86% of the search engine market (Statista), so your first step on your education path should be with them. Google’s starter guide for SEO is the perfect learning tool for beginners who want to nail the fundamentals of search engine optimisation. Their guide includes a handy glossary, insights into best practice, practical advice on creating SEO content, the importance of website hierarchy, and much more. Google also provides lots of free and short online courses via their Google Digital Garage, which has been created with beginners in mind. They’re perfect for getting to grips with the fundamentals of digital marketing, content, and customer behaviour.
Step 2Once you’re feeling confident that you’ve mastered the fundamentals of SEO and the role it plays in digital marketing and the wider customer experience, it’s time to push your learning further. The Blue Array Academy offers training and support for anyone wanting to take the next step in their SEO education. It weaves together the many years of experience from the team of experts at Blue Array – including their proven tactics and strategies for real-world success – into a learning experience that meets the highest industry standards. You can choose from a variety of courses to suit your learning goals and status, and you’ll make progress with your CPD points too.
Step 3This step should run alongside steps 1 and 2. The best way to practice what you’re learning is to launch your own website. It doesn’t really matter what the website is about, although it’s better to choose a topic that you’re interested in and are ready to write about on a regular basis. One of the most popular website CMSs is WordPress, so invest time in learning as much as you can using a resource like Kinsta. Once you have your website built and ready to go, take everything you’ve learned so far and get practising. Learn about HTML and tweak the content on your website to see how it affects the search engine results.
Step 4Track your progress with digital tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Screaming Frog. All these tools are invaluable for measuring SEO performance and the KPIs we listed above. You cannot do SEO well without having a strong grasp of the data. Numbers and metrics are your key to becoming a professional SEO expert and understanding how people behave on your site, what interests them, and how your SEO efforts are impacting your overall business success. If you choose one platform to start with, it should be Google Analytics. It will help you to uncover and understand behaviour patterns, your demographics, and where you need to improve to boost success. The Google Analytics Academy is an important asset in the learning path to becoming an SEO expert. The lessons taught here will help you gain a better grasp of SEO metrics and how you can use numbers to create more efficient, effective SEO campaigns.
Step 5Keep your learning going by reading about SEO every day. Sign up for the Blue Array newsletter, we curate all the news that matters in the world of SEO and you’ll soon start to learn which blogs, publishers and sources are worth reading. The newsletter releases every Sunday at 20:00 GMT.. Publications we recommend reading on a regular basis are Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, and Marketing Land. A few experts on Twitter we recommend following are Barry Schwartz, Glenn Gabe, Lily Ray, Marie Haynes, Aleyda Solis, Eric Enge and most importantly from Google, John Mueller and Danny Sullivan. Twitter is without a doubt the best social network for keeping up to date on SEO. Finally, if you have a small business Claire Carlile gives great advice related to ‘Local SEO’. Search engine algorithms can change at any time, often unannounced, so keeping abreast of the latest changes and staying on top of news and trends will help you become a smarter SEO expert. Keep a calendar of upcoming SEO events and webinars to attend, so that you can surround yourself with like-minded people and be part of challenging conversations with SEO thought leaders.
Step 6Study Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines religiously. Google hires people to rate websites and this guide covers the factors they’re told to look for. There is a handy simplified version that is aimed at beginners and intermediate SEOs, known as E-A-T: