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 be 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.
If you know how to optimize your website for search engines then you can take advantage of the increase in rankings and search engine traffic to make money online or build a successful online business.
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 consultant.
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.
How to Become an SEO Expert in 2020
Now that you are convinced that improving your SEO skills is not only for SEO professionals, let’s see what’s the fastest way to become an SEO Expert yourself
Step 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.
The resources below will help you understand how Google search engine works, which is similar to how other search engines work too.
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.
On the flip side, it’s also the best way to go mentally insane. I explain a lot of these issues in my SEO agency article. But I will also list a few of the issues of working with clients.
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.
Operations 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.
I believe starting a niche site is the best way to learn SEO. The reason is because you have to figure it out and there isn’t a ton of risk involved. Another reason why niche sites are a good place to start is because they don’t need much capital.
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 loss. 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 grows. 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. You can decrease your niche site’s volatility by creating true value like I explain in this SEO strategy.
An example of an authority website is JasaSEO.be because it focuses on a large topic like SEO.
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 SEO 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.
Step 7: 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 at 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:
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.
Step 8: 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.
Each option has it’s own unique challenges that I won’t get into.
However, let me say that flipping websites is an amazing way to get instant capital. You can then use this capital to reinvest into other income generating SEO projects (recommended).
Or, you can spend your money on some type of depreciating asset like a car (not recommended). To each their own!
Here are some guides to get you started on flipping websites:
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.
Google Webmasters Blog – the official Google webmasters blog. Follow to get news about the latest changes in search.
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.
Step 10: 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.
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.
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.
Creating lead generation websites is a decent alternative to taking on clients. I have never taken this route, but know many that have. In essence, you first identify a local keyword like “Los Angeles plumber”. Then you create a website to rank for that keyword. Once the site is ranking, you can sell the organic leads to actual Los Angeles plumbers. Or, you can sell the website to a Los Angeles plumber.
I know this option isn’t ideal for everyone, but it’s a good way to get your feet wet. There are all kinds of businesses looking to hire in-house SEOs.
Step 13: 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.
Step 14: 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 an SEO blog or a personal 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.
Step 15: 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 into 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.
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.
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