Giv­en that Google offers no for­mal SEO train­ing or cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and it’s not a wide­ly cov­ered top­ic at uni­ver­si­ties, a lot of peo­ple who enter SEO are self-taught and often fall into this line of work through their careers.

I have met a lot of real­ly great, and some not so great, SEOs and peo­ple through this line of work and I’ve found it to be an extreme­ly reward­ing career choice.

I’ve put this arti­cle togeth­er with con­tri­bu­tions from some of the best SEOs I’ve had the plea­sure of meet­ing over the years, whose expe­ri­ences range from IBM and Just Eat, to Canon and Cloud­flare.

My Advice for SEO Newbies

The SEO com­mu­ni­ty is an active and wel­com­ing com­mu­ni­ty, and there are a num­ber of very active con­fer­ences, blogs and pub­li­ca­tions, and faces to the indus­try. This also means that there are plen­ty of opin­ions and the­o­ries being pub­lished on a dai­ly basis.

Read­ing and keep­ing up with the lat­est indus­try news and the­o­ries is, for me, an impor­tant part in main­tain­ing skills and knowl­edge. That being said, not every­thing you read in SEO blogs and jour­nals is in line with the gen­er­al con­sen­sus of opin­ion or is accu­rate.

My advice is to read as much as you can, but always remem­ber that just because someone’s per­son­al blog, or a soft­ware company’s blog, may have a big read­er­ship and audi­ence doesn’t mean that every­thing they say is 100 per­cent accu­rate.

Gerry White, Take It Offline

Gerry White, Take It Offline

If you want to fur­ther your SEO career, make sure you have a fun­da­men­tal grasp of the code, from the HTML right up to a sim­ple under­stand­ing of JavaScript. It doesn’t have to be too advanced but as more web­sites are tak­ing advan­tage of Google’s abil­i­ty to read the ren­dered page, real­ly get­ting to grips with how the page is ren­dered will put you two steps ahead of the SEO folks who are rely­ing on tools.

If you haven’t got a Word­Press blog or a web­site, when it comes to giv­ing clients advice, what is your expe­ri­ence based on? Ide­al­ly, it will give you access to every­thing from log files to AMP con­fig­u­ra­tion.

In the same vein, Chrome has a lot more hid­den with­in it that most peo­ple will nev­er see – the devel­op­er tools are an SEO guy’s best friend, which lets you do a lot more before you need to install any plu­g­ins.

The oth­er crit­i­cal bit of advice I always have is to lis­ten. Go to con­fer­ences and round­table events. Fol­low the indus­try lead­ers on Twit­ter. Quick­ly you will see what peo­ple are talk­ing about.

Angela Budd, AccuRanker

Angela Budd, AccuRanker

Make sure your hard work is pay­ing off by ensur­ing that Google is index­ing the cor­rect land­ing pages for your key­words.

Land­ing page opti­miza­tion is hard work. Once you have made your sure that your pages are ful­ly opti­mized for rel­e­vance then you can sit back, wait for Google to re-index your new­ly opti­mized page, and watch your rank­ings rise.

Espe­cial­ly when you are new to the game, it’s easy to miss some­thing cru­cial – a miss­ing title tag or a bad­ly writ­ten meta descrip­tion. How­ev­er, some­thing so sim­ple can mean the dif­fer­ence between Google send­ing traf­fic to the right land­ing page.

The right URL is essen­tial for con­ver­sions, for increas­ing dwell time on your site, and reduc­ing bounce rate because if Google deems your page to be rel­e­vant to the searcher’s query then you will rank high­er, but peo­ple will only spend more time on your page if it’s rel­e­vant. If the traf­fic is going to the wrong page then all your hard work will be for noth­ing.

Adam North, QueryClick

Adam North, QueryClick

While it would be great to be amaz­ing at every­thing, most peo­ple aren’t. Work out what it is that you are good at and enjoy, and focus on that.

It’s a bit of a cliché to talk about SEO hav­ing three sub-top­ics (or pil­lars, spe­cial­iza­tions, what­ev­er you want to call them) but broad­ly speak­ing that’s how teams have been bro­ken down in my expe­ri­ence.

Those being:

  • Inbound (or Author­i­ty)
  • Con­tent (or Rel­e­vance)
  • Tech­ni­cal

Find what works for you, and aim to become the “go-to per­son” for that thing, even if that starts off being one deliv­er­able, tool, or process. How­ev­er, don’t be afraid to try out things from the oth­er top­ics to see what works for you.

The more you know about some­one else’s job, the eas­i­er it’s going to be to have mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions with them with little/no mis­un­der­stand­ings. If you can take short cours­es on things like PPC and social media man­age­ment, that will help you.

Learn how to web­sites work, and the under­ly­ing tech­nolo­gies involved. Every scrap of infor­ma­tion you can gath­er will help you have wider con­ver­sa­tions and put your own role into con­text.

Alexandra Tachalova, Digital Olympus

Alexandra Tachalova

Don’t for­get to opti­mize your titles and meta descrip­tions for each page. Users nowa­days select a web­site that deserves to be vis­it­ed based on how your site snip­pet looks in search engine results. If it doesn’t cap­ture their atten­tion, then they sim­ply go on your rival’s site.

Also, remem­ber that a key­word that should be allo­cat­ed in a post’s title and descrip­tion. It is also always worth check­ing what kind of offers and info the sites that cur­rent­ly rank well in Google use, as that will help you build your unique val­ue propo­si­tion that won’t over­lap with already-exist­ing ones.

Chris Green, StrategiQ

Chris Green, StrategiQ

One of the best ways to get the edge in tech­ni­cal SEO is devel­op­ing your under­stand­ing of log files and how log file analy­sis can real­ly aid your own efforts. This can be daunt­ing, ask­ing for log files can be tricky – espe­cial­ly if you don’t know what exact­ly you’re ask­ing for! Until the last few years, the tech­ni­cal bar­ri­er to entry has also been high (unless you have strong excel or GREP skills), but there are a lot of tools on the mar­ket which can cater for most bud­gets.

The largest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of log file analy­sis will be those who are work­ing with more com­plex web­sites (e‑commerce I’m look­ing at you!) – it can pro­vide much more infor­ma­tion than the crawl alone and real­ly help get the most out of your crawl bud­get.