How do you learn SEO?
It’s something I hear quite frequently and something we are continuously figuring out here at KoMarketing as the team grows.
One of the main challenges with learning SEO is the number of facets involved in an SEO program. From technical challenges to writing requirements to communication and project management, an SEO needs to have a variety of skill sets.
Now, it’s worth noting that one doesn’t have to be an expert in everything. However, they certainly need to have knowledge of everything if they want to be successful. Why? Because SEO isn’t just one thing. Each element and each task affects overall performance.
For someone getting into the industry and wondering how they can grow their career, this fact can be overwhelming. How can you possibly learn everything?!?
The truth is, it comes with time and it comes with effort, but there are a few things you can do to ensure you continue learning and continue moving up the SEO ladder…starting with these three:
1. Start Writing. Then Write Some More.
Writing is valuable for so many reasons. On top of simply communicating well, writing has some solid learning benefits.
Additionally, when you are writing a blog post or article, you are likely doing research on the topic you’re covering. I know when I’m writing my post here or on Search Engine Land each month, I’m continuously looking for sources, fact checking my information, and identifying supporting articles. I am learning in the process.
If you are looking to learn more and grow your SEO career…start writing!
“But I have no place to write.”
Bologna! Create your own site. Start writing down what you’re seeing. Discuss your opinions on SEO topics, blog posts, or client programs (names excluded of course).
Having your own blog allows you to find your voice, improve your writing skills, and can help you make a name for yourself in the industry.
Which is the perfect segue into number two…
2. Build Your Own Test Kitchen
Technical skills are an extremely valuable asset in the SEO world.
You don’t need to be a developer but you do need to understand how search engines read, crawl, and index sites. You need to understand basic HTML elements and why they are important. You also need to be able to communicate these things with development teams or IT contacts.
The challenge here is you learn the most by actually doing. Seeing how the backend of a CMS works, creating redirects, modifying .htaccess files, creating structured data markup, etc., are all valuable skills. And whether you work in-house or for an agency, there probably aren’t going to be a ton of opportunities to do these things.
Because no one wants their site to be your guinea pig!
Set up your own site to experiment on. Test out some of the more common CMS systems, create a hosting account, learn about CNAMES, play with the code, change images, change URLs, and so on and so forth.
The point isn’t to become a technical wizard. The point is to better understand the technical elements involved in an SEO program and to improve your overall abilities. Plus, you can use your test site for your writing. Bonus!
3. Find Your Niche
As I noted at the beginning of the post, you don’t have to be an expert in everything. The caveat is you should aspire to be an expert in something. It’ll help dictate your career moves and help improve your personal brand.
Find the element of SEO you are truly passionate about. Find the element of SEO you enjoy doing, you enjoy talking about, and you feel the most comfortable with.
For me, link building was something I was legitimately passionate about and that made it easy for me to talk about. It gave me a voice in the industry. I started writing about it and then speaking about it and once I was able to show that I knew what I was talking about (in most cases), I was able to shift my focus to some of the other things I love (i.e. content and customer experience).
It can take a while and it may evolve but find the piece you love and focus on it. What can you do in your organization? How can you showcase your knowledge on the subject?
Start thinking about what you love and start thinking about how you can make that your niche.
In truth, the career of a SEO can go in a number of directions. There is so much opportunity here and I for one, feel lucky to be a part of it.
That being said, nothing is forever. Technology is changing, business needs are changing, and search engines are evolving. When thinking about your career path, make sure you are taking these things into consideration. Make sure these are things you are including in your skill set.
And on that note…KoMarketing is hiring! Be sure to check out our careers page for open positions and always feel free to reach out with any questions.