What you need to know
With anything in life, in order to get going, you need to start somewhere. If it’s something that you are unfamiliar with, like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you will need to start with a bit of homework. Firstly, look at what SEO is, what it entails and who would use your SEO skills once you have acquired them. The great thing about SEO is that there is always learning to be done, with Google changing its algorithms so frequently.
Anyone can learn SEO if you are passionate enough to do so and want to grow with the ever-changing digital realm of online presence. There isn’t really a degree you can study that is directly related to SEO and all that it involves, however, some background experience in copywriting, web development and digital marketing, will go a long way in helping you achieve an SEO career quicker. This being said, it is not critical to have this grounding, it is only advantageous – these things can be learned alongside SEO, with some research. Of course, learning SEO first-hand from an expert would be great, and if there is someone that you know who can teach you, then go for it. If not, let’s take a look at a few steps to get going with your SEO career and learning.
Step 1: Learn the Basics of SEO
A great place to start would be to create your own blog or website on a platform like WordPress, where you can get to grips with the basic implementation of SEO on-site. WordPress is super user-friendly with a host of blogs and tutorials available that will help you get started. Have a look at this basic Udemy course for example. WordPress allows you to install plugins like Yoast and Google Analytics to help track your website’s traffic (Google Analytics) as well as apply basic SEO principles to each blog or page on your website (Yoast). Some of these basics include writing meta descriptions for each page on your site, image ALT tags, page titles and keyword implementation on each page – learn more about each of these in the next blog.
Step 2: Become Locally SEO Savvy
Learn about local SEO and how it can benefit a business’s SEO strategy in our blog “Local is Lekker: Attract South African Customers”. Local SEO should start with you registering your company or client’s company with Google My Business – learn how to do that, here. From there, you can start building out directories for the business to be listed and found easily on Google. If you can become locally SEO savvy, you are on your way to expanding your SEO knowledge and being able to build a career in SEO.
Step 3: Learn about Link-Building
Link-building is an important aspect for any SEO guru to learn. Links pointing to your site or from your site are critical in improving your SEO ranking. Of course, it depends on the kind of links that are coming to your site – nobody likes a dodgy link! Original, trustworthy and worth-their-weight-in-gold links are what you are after. These would include links from trusted bloggers talking about your company or other websites sharing your content and linking back to your site. It’s not always easy to gain these links, but if you have a solid content structure in place and write informative, value-filled content, you are sure to be shared. Do your research for what makes a good article; answer some frequently asked questions in a blog; give people what they want to read and soon they will start linking back to you.
Step 4: Learn the Tools of the Trade
Just like a doctor would not be successful if he didn’t have the right tools to perform his role, as an SEO expert, you cannot successfully perform your duty without the proper SEO tools in place. The first tool that you will need to equip yourself with is to learn the basics of SEO as in step 1, so that you are aware of what SEO is and what you will need to get going. From there, you can look at the right software to do what you need to do in SEO effectively. There are a few free software tools available which will help get you started, but once you are offering SEO professionally, you will need to invest in some paid-for software to do the job professionally. Here are a few suggestions for helpful free and paid-for software:
- Screaming Frog
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords
- Google My Business
Some other helpful tools for communication, work scheduling and cloud-based storage are:
- Google Drive: Allows you to create spreadsheets and documents online for all your SEO work.
- Trello: Create to-do lists and assign work to other people.
- Slack: For communication with other staff members or clients.
Remember that SEO is a process and varies from client to client – it’s not a one-size fits all approach to every client or business. There are some great blogs to read about SEO which will help you on your journey to becoming an SEO expert. Take a look at the Moz.com blog for regular SEO tips and updates as well as Backlinko.com for some really useful, basic tips to improve your SEO rankings.