SEO ORID – Expert Tips for SEO Beginners, Considering a career in SEO? The sheer amount of information out there can be intimidating when you are just starting out in SEO.
We asked industry experts to share their advice for those trying to find their way into a fledgling SEO career, and here are their top tips.
Build Your Existing Skills & Knowledge
“Most SEO starts with one of these skills: writing, marketing, or web design/development,” says Benj Arriola, Senior SEO Director at Assembly Global.
Once you’ve decided to do SEO full time, “start learning the other two skills that you’re weak at but don’t need to be a master of. This is not your core strength, but this is where you learn to build a team, or even outsource tasks if needed,” he advises.
It’s great to specialize, but having a good understanding of what your coworkers are doing also makes you much more effective at your own tasks.
Sam Hollingsworth, VP of Digital Strategy, suggests that you start with books and blogs.
“There are several official web publications that can teach you a lot about SEO. Mostly free like Google’s SEO Starter Guide and SEJ’s SEO for Beginners to name a few,” he said.
Webinars, social groups and forums, podcasts, and even YouTube videos are other great places to get free SEO education.
However, there is a lot of misinformation and outdated content out there about what really constitutes a ranking factor, which SEO tools and tactics work best in different scenarios, and more.
It is important that you evaluate your educational resources carefully. Seek consensus among experts on what really constitutes current best practice, and know that Google algorithm changes can happen and change things quickly.
You’ll also want to develop your understanding of the most important skills needed to succeed in SEO – critical thinking, analytical knowledge, and your ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations in between.
Learn Website Building Basics
“Over the past few years, I have helped several aspiring SEO professionals start their careers,” says Ludwig Makhyan, co-founder of Mazeless – Enterprise SEO. He usually recommends that everyone “start by exploring HTML and CSS and knowing the basics of a website in any case,” and suggests that the w3 resource is a good resource for this.
“Starting a test mini site is the best approach, where you can code and optimize your own pages,” adds Makhyan.
Whether you are self employed or freelance/agency side, it is important that you have a solid understanding of how the website you are working on functions, whether it is custom built, WordPress based, on an ecommerce platform, etc. .
While SEO best practices are largely the same across websites – links, content quality, and user experience are critical, for example – you might find SEO for Shopify to be quite different than optimizing for a Wix or Weebly site.
Dig into our Web Development archive to explore expert articles on the platform and relevant to your work in SEO.
Improve Your Communication Skills
“The biggest surprise many new SEO professionals get is the lack of predictability and uncertainty,” said Kevin Rowe, Vice President of Strategy & Product at Purelinq.
He advises, “You have to become proficient at operating in this type of environment by communicating, setting goals, being flexible, building proof of concept, and testing and scaling.”
Hollingsworth suggests a similar approach.
“The basics of every job still apply: Use communication to your advantage. Be an interesting person. Motivated with a good attitude, and never stop learning,” he said. Hollingsworth explains and notes that most effective communication comes from clear, well-written emails and posts.
“The other big part is breaking down complex concepts into simplified ideas to better understand them,” he adds.
So-called “soft skills” like communication are often overlooked in SEO professional development because there is so much technical and analytical stuff to learn.
However, your communication style can have a huge impact. It could be the difference between your referrals that client, or not; or get that promotion… or not.
When it comes to the specific communication skills you’ll need in SEO, Adam Proehl cites the ability to listen, think on your own feet, and know how to distill complex information into a format that meets your audience’s needs as one of the most important.
Learn How to Tell a Story With Data
“Get the data well,” advises Lee Foot, Director at Search Solved.
“Learning how to use LOOKUP and COUNTIFS in Excel is a must. Learn how to find stories in data and present them in a way that is easy for stakeholders to understand,” he said.
Failing to use visual cues to accommodate text, trying to tell your story without the necessary context, and lacking confidence and authority are among the biggest mistakes SEO professionals tend to make in their approach to data storytelling, says Justin Lugbill.
You can dig into more of the top errors he identified and how to fix or avoid them here.
Amy Hebdon recently shared an interesting example of data storytelling designed for paid search that you can also customize to meet your SEO reporting needs.
Claudia Higgins, SEO Insights Strategist at Conductor, recently shared some of the toughest lessons she’s learned about SEO reporting. Prior to joining Conductor, he managed SEO data and insights internally with major ecommerce websites.
There, he learned the value of continuing to work to improve SEO reporting.
“Building consistent and accurate data generates trust in business,” says Higgins. He added, “The less labor-intensive I can make the process, the more time we will spend digging deeper into the data and uncovering root causes and emerging opportunities.”
Expand Your Network
Foot also suggests that an internship at an SEO agency will help you develop your skills quickly. “It’s great for networking too if you decide to freelance in the future.”
Chouinard shared the same perspective. He believes, “Most SEO is analytical and learner. SEO is great because you can drive business decisions, build on your specialization, and discover new things firsthand.”
“The hardest part is learning to fail. Not everything works. Be humble enough to accept defeat (or a change imposed by Google) and maybe start over from scratch once in a while,” he advises.
This is a difficult time for many new to the SEO industry to make connections, as the pandemic has seriously affected our ability to get together in person.
However, virtual and hybrid events have become much more common.
It is also a good idea to follow 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.
Don’t be afraid to get involved and be a part of the conversation that takes place online.
When you study and thrive in SEO, trying out new tools and having all kinds of different experiences, you will find the focus area that suits you best.
But when you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to try as many things as possible.
See if you can create some links to your own website.
Set up a site where you can play around, trying different optimizations for size to see what works.
Read SEO books, take the time to visit reputable blogs, and invest in training programs when you find an area you really want to explore.
SEO is a continuous learning industry, where even those who have been in it for 10 or 15 years or more cannot sit still for fear of competitors passing them in the rankings.
If you feel like there’s a lot to learn, you’re not alone – this is part of what many people love about SEO.