What You'll Need to Learn to Become an SEO Specialist

Having skills in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is incredibly important for businesses today, regardless of your career field. Every company has an online presence, leading to a high demand for search engine specialists that continues to grow. One of the most useful things you can do to prepare for the future of business and entrepreneurship is to learn SEO.

Being an SEO expert takes more than just knowing how to create content that people will read, watch, and engage with. It's about understanding the ins and outs of the internet, consumer behavior/psychology, and knowing the appropriate strategies to identify and increase your organizations opportunities.

So, how do you become an SEO expert? What does it take? What do you need to learn? Where can I learn to become an SEO expert on my own time?

Here's everything you'll need to know to become a search engine optimization specialist.

What exactly is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. That means the content is optimized for search engines such as Google and presented in ways that search engines understand (and favor). 

These are tactics that you can use to optimize your content to have higher visibility on search engines. The success of your content stems from your SEO. 

The higher the visibility of your content when people search for things related to it, the more traffic you're going to bring. The more traffic you generate, the more potential sales, leads, and conversions.

SEO works basically by knowing and understanding how search engines like Google comb through billions of webpages on the internet. When a user searches for something, the search engine will go from site to site and rank which content is the most relevant.

As an SEO expert, your goal is to ensure that your content will rank high on the search engine results page.

Is it hard to learn SEO?

No, it's not. It only takes time, practice, and experimentation. You actually learn SEO best by doing it, and much of the education is just knowing what you must do, and try.

You can be well on your way to learning SEO in a single weekend dedicated to using the best online courses and resources.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term for multiple different marketing methods, one of which is SEO. SEM also includes paid strategies, while search engine optimization is entirely about improving organic traffic.

What are the Daily Job Responsibilities of an SEO Specialist?

As you might have inferred, the primary duty of an SEO expert is to organically improve website page rankings on the results page of major search engines.

It entails the very same core of being a marketer —just within the context of the internet. The goal is to increase visibility within search engines, which leads to increased content traffic and sales.

While that may seem straightforward, there are several layers that you need to tackle to reach your goal.

That includes analyzing and crunching relevant data, maintaining your tags, redirects, keeping an eye on Google Search Console or other webmaster tools, and even keeping in touch with other organizations and building rapport.

That's just the basics of it. To become an SEO expert, you need a wide variety of technical and soft skills to be able to drive your organization's online presence to a wide selection of users.

To really understand SEO, you'll need to get right down to the basics.

The 3 Fundamental Aspects of SEO to Learn

Every professional starts with the fundamentals of their craft before mastering the concepts. For SEO, it is a broad subject that falls into 3 separate but highly connected categories: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

We've broken down these 3 fundamental areas of SEO below and provided examples of common use-cases, tactics, and characteristics.

1. On-Page SEO

The very first fundamental of search engine optimization is on-page SEO. This is probably the first practice that comes into your mind when it comes to optimizing your content.

On-page SEO refers to the practice of having your web pages optimized to rank higher on the search engine results page. This includes incorporating SEO into the content itself and the source code of your page.

Having on-page SEO included in your SEO tactics is essential. This will enable the search engines to determine your content and its relevance to a user's search.

The more the algorithm measures your content to be relevant, the higher it will appear on the search page.

On-page SEO includes:

- Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness

Search engines put a lot of emphasis on content that is of high quality. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (or EAT) is a framework that Google uses to assess the content you're putting out and the website where it's hosted on.

So when you're putting out content, regardless of its form, always make sure that you're following the EAT framework.

-Title Tag

The content that you put out is not the only thing that search engine algorithms look at. The code behind your site is also taken into consideration, specifically your page's title tag.

This HTML tag that labels each webpage is a clue to the search engine on the subject of your content.

Although this may have little effect to boost your organic rankings (a.k.a. your position on the search results page), incomplete, duplicate, missing, or poorly written title tags will hurt your results.

So don't overlook your title tags when it comes to optimization!

-Auditing Existing Content

More often than not, content creators are more focused on grinding out fresh and new content. While that itself isn't a bad thing, you should also pay attention to your existing content and check if it is still performing well.

This is the reason why almost every popular page "recycle" or reposts its content. It's a great way to gain traffic without having to produce new things. 

Although, you have to make sure that you're doing this right.

When your auditing your existing content, don't just repost your old things. Make sure that you're actually updating it and still bringing something new.

Also, content auditing is more than that. Here are some things to remember:

  • Identifying outdated information and editing it.
  • Analyzing what content form is working and actively bringing traffic to your site.
  • Following up on engaging topics with more content.

2. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is another integral aspect when optimizing your content.

While off-age SEO might seem not as important as on-page SEO because of its indirectness, this is actually important when raising your ranks on the search result page.

Basically, off-page SEO is an umbrella term for all the activities and engagements you do away from your website.

You might associate off-page SEO with link building, but there's a whole lot more than you can do when incorporating off-page SEO.

Basic tactics used in off-page SEO:

First off, link building is the fundamental concept of off-page SEO. By incorporating links to your articles and having articles link to you, Google can determine how valuable your page is.

If your article doesn't link to others and other articles don't link to you, then it's almost impossible for Google to determine if your content is worthy of higher ranks —regardless of how useful or fresh your content is.

This goes hand-in-hand with their EAT framework.

The search engine has to know if your information is useful for your page to establish its credibility. That means having other sites link to your page as a source. 

Also, when your page links to other pages that are established, it tells Google that your content is putting out reliable information. This is where we can see that link building is a holistic process used to reach the EAT framework's goals.

It's more than just having sites linked to you and you linking random sites.

-Optimizing Internal Pages

The way your website is laid out tells your search engine how cohesive your pages are and how relevant your whole website is.

Optimizing your internal pages and how they link together to make an incredible difference in your overall result rankings. If you go on Google and search for anything, you'll only see websites that are full-blown and well-made.

You'll rarely see a one-page dump of information.

When it comes to optimizing your internal pages, the highest rule you should stick to is that none of your pages should stand alone.

Make the navigation of your website seamless to each other but well-labeled, so you still have boundaries between your contents.

3. Technical SEO

On-page and off-page SEO are the common SEO terms and practices thrown around. But let's get deeper into the fundamentals of SEO and discuss the technical side of it.

Technical SEO encompasses all the technical aspects of your website and improving it to raise your search engine results rankings.

It is essentially part of on-page SEO, but this deserves its own standalone category.

When addressing your website's technical SEO, we're talking about making your website faster, more efficient, and search engine-friendly.

Many developers would naturally make your website the best version that it can be, but incorporating SEO tactics will further up the rankings. 

Technical SEO is significant because search engines don't just look through the contents of your website.

Their algorithm also evaluates how your web pages perform on certain factors. This is based on your users' experiences, such as how fast your website loads or if it's mobile-friendly.

By improving on how search engines can "crawl" through your site, you're essentially giving them a better look sense of what your value your content offers. 

Technical SEO skills might also include basic web development skills, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML and CSS are used to structure and design websites, and they're behind the scenes of basic website template builders.

While not necessary, these are great tools to learn. JavaScript is a little more challenging to pick up, but HTML and CSS can be quickly learned.

Here you can find the best online resources teaching HTML, CSS, Javascript and other web development skills.

Characteristics that a technically-optimized website should have:

-Fast Website Loading Times

This is a no-brainer. There's really no excuse today and age of technology for websites to load incredibly slow unless it's connectivity issues on the user's side.

A minimum target for you to have is for your page to load within three seconds. 

If your site is slow, users will get frustrated and leave. This is why Google prefers to have websites that have a great loading standard, and it's especially important for mobile pages.. 

Google developed a framework called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). You'll see that majority of the highest-ranking pages have this little lightning logo next to them. 

When you click on the page, there's no noticeable loading time, and the page's content will pop up immediately, with text-only reader mode available.

By having this, your users will have a better website experience and, at the same time, increase your rankings on search engines.

Appropriate image and file sizes are also important for reducing your website's load time.

-Make Your Website 'Crawlable'

When a user looks for something, search engines use their algorithm to crawl your websites.

Through this crawling process, they go through websites and follow links to discover the most relevant content that the user is looking for.

This is why you'll want your website to be crawlable. 

It's a must to have a well-thought-out and organized linking structure that eventually leads to your content. That way, the algorithm can easily see what's on your site and how it's all connected.

The easier it is for search engines to crawl your content, the better.

Now you know that search engines crawl every single nook and cranny of your site, you'll want to think about dead links. 

What is a dead link? It's simply a link that does not point to a relative or active site. Avoid them because they will not put you in Google or any other search engines good books. 

Even if it's on places where you think that no user would ever come across (like a sneaky dead About Us link on a random page), your search engine will not miss it.

So make sure that you have as little dead links as much as possible.

This also goes to the links that you source in your articles. When linking other articles, make sure that the third-party site you're linking fits the criteria of a technically-optimized website. 

-Don't Have Duplicate Content

Some people think that the more content you put out on your site, the better. To some degree, that may hold some truth in it because the search engine doesn't respond well when you're duplicating content.

The reason behind this is that it confuses your search engine when crawling through your site.

If they find out that you have duplicate content located across several pages of your website, they won't know which one is best.

In the end, the search engine will choose another websites page.

-Track & analyze data

Once you completely understand SEO and can devise strategies to test, you'll need to learn tools like Google Analytics to track your goals, traffic, engagement, sales, conversions, etc.

Are there other software and tools needed for SEO?

There are more powerful highly effective SEO SAAS companies and products like Moz or SEMrush that give detailed analysis on search engines, keywords, and on-page analysis.

Definitely explore those once you've learned search engine optimization.

There are also highly effective copywriting and SEO tools & plugins like Yoast and Grammarly that search engine optimization specialists might use to help them manage and structure their content.

Where can you learn SEO at your own pace and on your own time?

One of the best things about learning search engine optimization is that the job is never mastered.

It's constantly evolving with digital technologies. If you're looking to learn how to become an SEO specialist, we've curated the top resources and online courses for you to go from beginner-to-advance at your own pace and on your own time.