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
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
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
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.
- Inbound (or Authority)
- Content (or Relevance)
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
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
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.