Regardless of Your Age, SEO is a Fascinating Field to Learn
SEO is a fast-paced, in-demand field with plenty of longevity ahead of it.
It's not dying any time soon!
And there are many reasons learning SEO will benefit your business or career.
The history of the Web, and digital marketing, is defined by a rapid-fire change.
And just before popular users-focused search engines emerged ...just over 20 years ago, if you needed an answer, you'd turn to people like a teacher, a professional, a friend or a librarian.
Sure, tools like libraries, library catalogues, yellow pages and professional databases like LexisNexis were around to use.
But for most people, getting an answer to many questions meant asking others around.
But now, we are going through an information revolution.
The arrival of blogging platforms and then search engines - a whole new definition for what it meant to communicate online...
And smartphones, which completely revolutionized how we gather information and how we communicate.
...Opening doors for opportunities and a brighter future
Every big change online creates new demand for marketing materials including content.
And that demand translates into a need for new SEOs and digital marketers.
SEOs like you!
No doubt, you've got the ability. And I'm going to show you how to get started, grow to become better ...to be an expert.
Where you can start learning SEO right now!
There are places to start learning about SEO.
Starting from the popular search engines themselves:
To popular blog posts, online guides and tutorials
...And staying updated with the latest news around SEO:
... including following relevant people such as:
Also, if you stay right here on SEO Naija Ninja, you'll be amazed at how fast and easy your SEO learning curve can be.
These are all incredible resources worth checking out.
From the horse's mouth (Google and Bing), to learning the core of Google ranking factors by its patents (SEO by the sea).
And the basics of SEO…from various resourceful blogs.
Including follow-up on news and updates, and also learning more about the kinds of questions that people frequently asked and where other people provide answers to those questions.
Here are how you can learn SEO on your own
1. Start with the Basics of SEO
SEO is not rocket science as most people think.
But there is no fast rule to it.
You just must start from the basics!
You need to learn and understand the best practices, and how search engines and users interact.
Understand what keywords are, how to research keywords and how they tie to users' intents.
A little history can be helpful.
2. Learn How Search Engines Work
There are three main phases you need to know if you want to understand how the search engines work. The phases are:
Learn how the search engines' bots crawl websites, index and rank the content in their search engines results page (SERP).
Understand the various Google algorithms and the factors that control how a webpage shows up on SERP.
Google doesn't release or make public - the secret sauce behind their algorithms including how the system works.
But you can get a sense of that through their patents.
Google usually files a patent each time they invent a new way to improve search.
The patents are documents that contain a detailed description of their search algorithms. And you can access those at SEO by the sea.
Bill Slawski has a number of patented papers broken down that you can read and enjoy.
3. Read Google Starter Guide
There is misinformation around SEO. And a better way to kickstart your learning in the right path is going to the very source - Google itself.
Bing has even MORE advanced resources you can learn from.
4. Learn WordPress
WordPress is the best content management system (CMS) for SEO. And it's a fast way to learn to implement SEO best practices.
Because WordPress powers one-third of the websites on the web.
And chances are high that most of the projects you'll be doing for clients would be on WordPress.
Learn WordPress with this great list of resources from DreamHost.
5. Build Your Own Website (Personal Portfolio/Blog)
Once you learn and understand WordPress, building your personal website is not hard.
In my opinion, the best way to learn to do it for clients is to start doing it for yourself.
Having your own website gives you an opportunity to implement and apply SEO best practices.
I learn most by putting things together...and never being afraid to screw it up.
Ryan Jones of Razorfish advises:
“Don’t just start out trying to do SEO for big brands; start doing SEO for yourself. Make something. Whether it’s a blog, affiliate site, or an app…start doing it for yourself and hone your skills that way.”
6. Learn and apply Google Analytics (GA) and Search Console (GSC)
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are swiss army knives for SEOs.
The analysis on both allows you to optimize the content on your site effectively based on users' information.
Google Analytics allows you to measure and report activities on your site.
7. Understand On-Page SEO
WordPress makes it easy to implement and optimize your web pages. There are tools to do this. And the most popular SEO tools are:
- Yoast SEO plugin (check my Yoast plugin reviews here).
- RankMath SEO plugin (check my RankMath SEO plugin reviews.
On-Page SEO includes:
- Optimizing the content on your web pages with keywords and synonyms.
- Optimizing the title tags.
- Optimizing the heading tags [<H1>......<H6>].
- Writing meta Description and optimizing it with relevant keywords.
Read more about on-page optimization techniques.
8. Learn And Apply Link Building Tactics
Link building can be a broad topic on its own. But you need to understand the basics - covered in this link building guide for beginners.
Crawlers follow links from one page to another as a way to discover web pages/websites.
And this makes links an important ranking factor.
Link building is a means to build relationships with already established, high authority sites within your niche to build links to your site.
9. Study And Understand The SERP
The search engine results page (SERPs) is where all the actions take place.
A fast route to understanding the SERPs is by implementing and changing things on your site while keeping track of how the changes reflect on SERPs.
And also, taking notes of the sites that are ranking high on SERP for a specific keyword.
Play with the content on your site and see how it manifests in SERPs.
Also, learn how the search results change with different keywords or keyword re-ordering.
And take notes of all the components including featured snippets, people also asked, and so on.
How To Become Better Everyday...Doing SEO
SEO isn't what you can learn and then put aside. And expect to grow to the level of an expert. The field is dynamic and is constantly changing every blessed day. And so, you need to be committed to learning new things every day.
"Search isn’t static. We’re constantly improving our algorithms to return better results and Search Quality Raters play an important role in the launch process. In a side-by-side experiment, we show Raters two different sets of search results: one with the proposed change already implemented and one without. We ask them which results they prefer and why."
10. Read About SEO Everyday
It is important that you develop an attitude to read about SEO every day. That way you can learn and grow your skills.
As search engines update and make changes to their algorithms, you'll need to set ALERTS to keep yourself informed about the latest changes.
What works today may no longer be applicable tomorrow.
You'll need to keep an eye on your site's rankings because most updates do affect rankings. And sometimes could have a drastic impact on many sites.
Search Engine Journal is a good place to stay updated with the latest news and happenings in SEO.
Google makes thousands of changes to its algorithm every year.
And in 2018, Google published the following statistics about quotidian updates in search:
3,620 Live Algorithm Launches
17,523 Live traffic experiments
That’s over 20,000 tests. When divided by 365, the number of life changes and live search tests is about 58 search changes per day.
With that, you can see why It's important you read about SEO every day.
You don't want to miss out on important information regarding updates.
And you can easily set alerts with:
Google Alerts (free) or
Ahrefs Alerts (try it for 7 days).
11. Read The Google Search Quality Rater's Guidelines
Google employs people who're not SEO professionals to perform underground studies to rate websites.
And so, your site's performance can be influenced by bots and Google quality raters.
You'd want to know what they're told to look for before rating any website. So that you can optimize your site.
Although keeping to the Google Webmasters Guidelines is a way to avoid any negative ratings.
And if you can align your website goals to that of Google, you won't have a problem.
The quality rater's guidelines are about 160 pages but a good way to start is with the simplified version on E-A-T… put together by SEJ.
E-A-T stands for:
Here's what Google says about quality raters:
"We work with external Search Quality Raters to measure the quality of search results on an ongoing basis. Raters assess how well a website gives people who click on it what they are looking for and evaluate the quality of results based on the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content. These ratings do not directly impact ranking, but they do help us benchmark the quality of our results and make sure these meet a high bar all around the world.
To ensure a consistent approach, we publish Search Quality Rater Guidelines to give these Raters guidance and examples for appropriate ratings. You will see that while evaluating the quality of results might sound simple, there are many tricky cases to think through, so this feedback is critical to ensuring we maintain high-quality results for users."
12. Learn Technical SEO
Your primary assignment as an SEO will be to make a site easy to crawl and then get the necessary web pages indexed by search engines.
That way, the content on the pages can rank for the chosen keywords or keyphrases.
And that's what technical SEO does.
And to all the mechanisms which influence the visibility of a site on search engines.
You can have quality, original content with lots of backlinks to it.
But if that page is slow, difficult to render or confuses search engines, you may struggle to rank on the top page of Google.
You can start here: technical SEO guide, to learn more.
13. Follow SEO Experts On Twitter
Reading blog posts would not be enough to keep you abreast with the latest information.
You can accelerate your learning by following SEO experts on social media (especially Twitter) and participating in the conversation and getting opinions on SEO topics,
Twitter is a great way to follow up and hear directly from Google's search engineers such as John Mueller.
Following the right people opens up unlimited opportunities to connect, grow, get recommendations and even get hired.
14. Attend SEO Events Or Digital Marketing Conferences
Not only SEO conferences, attend digital marketing events.
Virtual conferences, webinars or seminars are all great ways you can level up your skills.
You'll get a chance to learn directly from experts in various digital marketing specialities.
15. Join relevant SEO and related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn
Facebook and LinkedIn are full of active, helpful groups for SEO professionals or practitioners.
The groups give you access to a ready-made network of peers and a chance to grow your networks and connections.
In addition to joining SEO groups, you can join WordPress groups, blogging, or content marketing groups.
This will broaden your knowledge of SEO and make you confident.
An important reason why you should build your personal connection is that, at some point, you’re going to need help from someone else in the industry.
Because no matter your level, you still wouldn't know all or have answers to pretty much every question.
So start using social media to build relationships.
Share useful information that you think might be of help to someone else.
And take part in the conversation.
16. Learn From Your Mistakes And Celebrate Your Successes
Professional SEOs ain't born with the skill.
They learn through trial and error. When they lose, they admit it.
And when they win, they celebrate the successes.
You won't be able to learn anything from a mistake until you admit that you've made it.
Mistakes are inevitable. And So, take a deep breath, admit it and learn to move on.
And, when you do something that works, make a note of it.
Do it again.
And then again. And again.
Until it no longer works.
If you want to start and build a career in SEO, you must be patient, committed, and be hungry to learn something new every day.
I hope you'll find SEO fascinating and enjoy a career as a professional SEO.
If you ask me… I've never regretted taking the path to build a professional career in SEO.
There's a lot to learn and you can start here at UpbeatSEO.
Keep learning and experimenting.
Welcome to the world of SEOs.
Got questions? Ask right away!