SEO (search engine optimization) is an important part of brands, whether they're online or off. Maybe you're a smaller brand with a small budget, or maybe you want to learn how to manage your own online presence. This article is here to help! When it comes down to it, SEO is the heart of any online marketing strategy. In fact, SEO is responsible for more than half of the traffic on an average website! In this article, we'll discuss the digital skills you need in order to become a successful SEO expert.
What is SEO and why is it important?
SEO is all about making sure that your website ranks high on search engines in regards to relevant searches. The awesome thing is that if you do this correctly, you can greatly increase your sales. Since SEO is really the backbone of any good digital marketing strategy, it's one of the best ways to generate traffic to your website. Not only is it's pretty much essential, but it'll also let you know how well your website is performing.
Granted there are a variety of ways to drive traffic to your page but SEO really is the king of organic traffic. Think of it this way, it's unpaid advertising at it's finest.
What are the SEO skills that you should master?
The first rule of SEO is to get a good understanding of the core concepts. But to be honest, if you want to take it a step further, it doesn't hurt to take a look at coding or web design too. That's definitely a great way to learn even more about how the backend of a website behaves. Now SEO does require some analytical thought. Mainly because you have to gather, measure, and investigate data on a continuous basis. This is incredibly important if you want to get a clear picture of how to sort, organize, and visualize the different types of SEO data.
How To Become An SEO Expert
If you're interested you might want to check out Google's introductory read on the topic of SEO. The search engine’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide has a lot of insight into what Google (and other search engines) thinks is important for websites that want to improve their rank. This guide will help you figure out how to organize your website, optimize your content, and measure your results. Even if you're not new to SEO, Google's guide provides an insight into best practices.
SEO's Core Concepts
So what about those SEO core concepts I mentioned? The core concepts really are a must-know if you want to become an expert. SEO really is a technical field with its own best practices to take into consideration in order to succeed. These practices can truly influence your website and page visits. Below are some key concepts that you need to master before you can properly build your SEO.
This SEO concept is how powerful and popular your site is when compared to other sites in similar searches. Since getting to the top of the search engine is a never-ending battle, the competition is consistent. Authority is measured through your domain or your site's pages. And if you want to rank higher than your competitors, you need to provide quality content. The content needs to be relevant to your user's search query AND keyword research. This plays a crucial role in becoming an SEO master.
Search Engine Spiders/Crawlers
Different search engines have different sets of "bots" or "crawlers" that are continually searching the net. Their job is to index and analyze websites. Some of the things they focus on when they "decide" on a website's rank thanks to title tags, heading tags, hyperlinks, and keyword tags. They also search for on-page ranking factors as well. They then contextualize your web page (ie. alt tags) in order to define what the site is about.
The main thing to remember about crawlers is that the rules can shift at any given moment. They do this as a way to get rid of people who try to cheat the system. But this is a good thing because websites with quality content are rewarded.
LSI - Latent Semantic Indexing
LSI is the way that Google indexes and searches websites. They take into consideration the keywords and how they fit into the context of a search or a batch of content. Advances in AI make it possible for search engines to better understand the context of specific searches in more detail. For example, long-tail keywords hold a lot more meaning to search engines than they did in the past.
When the goal is to write high-quality SEO you really need to focus on keywords. Writing for high-level SEO value is really all about how to use keywords. If you have a blog, you can use a feature like Yoast for WordPress to help discover the basics of how SEO behaves in the context of content. You can also use something simple like Google Keyword Planner or even basic predictive searches to get a sense of how to use keywords and phrases.
Figuring out the optimal type, amount and placement of keywords, as well as where to place them, is really at the core of making sure your website ranks well. Learning how to research what goes where is crucial. Be sure to check out our Crash Course In Google AdWords for Bloggers for more information.
On-site analysis is essentially everything you have control over on your site. "Offsite" analysis is the data that you don't have control over, like links from other sites. Therefore it's a good idea to understand how each of these types of SEO works both separately and in unison. You also need to know the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. That way you can better assess the actions of your competitors and use it to your advantage.
One of the hardest aspects of SEO is to effectively link build. Good link building will continue to give you value over time. These links can come naturally from those who feel your content is valuable and want to link back to it. Others can come from "outreach" link building efforts. This task is a little hard since you have to approach bloggers and other sites. Obviously, the goal is to persuade them to link back to your site. This type of link building is beneficial since it lets Google know that your website IS valid and viewed as an authority within your niche.
Dive Into the Numbers
No matter how many SEO concepts you master, you really can't do SEO without numbers. An estimated 76% of B2C and 88% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing for their business. This means that competition is fierce for the upper slots on the SERPs. Numbers and metrics hold the key to truly becoming an SEO expert. Mainly because it gives you a better understanding of how people behave on your site and what interests them. It also gives you insight into how your SEO efforts impact your overall success.
Take A Look At Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the starting point for uncovering a lot of valuable site statistics. This platform will help you figure out behavior patterns, gain a better understand your demographics, and show you where you need to improve to see some success. Given the value of Google Analytics, it is easy to see why the Google Analytics Academy is such an important asset in becoming an SEO expert. The lessons taught here will help you gain a better grasp of SEO metrics and how you can use numbers to create a more efficient, effective campaign.
Experiment With Your Blog and Website
Maybe you're wondering what the best way to master SEO is. The best way is to just start experimenting. If you don't have a website or blog yet, there are a lot of platforms out there where you can easily build one. It's a great way to hone your SEO skills. WordPress is one of the easiest and reliable places to do it - plus it's free! Go ahead and spend some time to optimize your site and see what happens. This really is a necessary part of the process. It will help you grow your knowledge of SEO.
SEO Tools That Can Help
- Google has a lot of tools that you can use (like Google Keyword Planner). This will help you analyze your site's traffic patterns AND rank keywords.
- SEM Rush and MOZ are some of the best tools that will help boost your SEO. In fact, both sites are extremely easy and informative for people on all SEO levels. Especially if you're looking to get a better hold on SEO.
- Wordtracker Keyword Suggestion Tool gives you a wide range of SEO data specifics that you really won't find anywhere else. However, it does cost a little extra if you want the premium package. Thankfully you can try it for free before you decide whether or not it's something you want to invest in.
Take It One Step At A Time
Becoming an SEO expert can be overwhelming. The algorithm to rank search results is always changing And the best practices are continually adapting too. There are even a variety of confliction opinions on what the most effective SEO practices really are. But the thing is, no one really knows the algorithm. Effectively doing SEO also requires knowing how to run metrics and analyze sites so you can actually see your efforts.
Something to Consider: SEM VS SEO
Maybe you want to learn a little more and determine if SEM is better than SEO. It's up to your brand to find out what works.
Your business has a unique audience. And yes, you might be able to reach them with SEO or SEM, but the results depend on your business and marketing goals. For some, SEO makes a lot of sense, whereas SEM is completely out of the question. This is why it’s important to analyze your existing goals and how they relate to your overall objective. Your best bet is to create an online marketing strategy that clearly guides you towards the right method for your business.
If you’re a business that really wants to create a strong online presence, you could balance both SEO and SEM together. Your SEO efforts could make up for the shortcomings of SEM and vice versa. However you need to incorporate both the marketing methods into your business, you just might end up getting the best of both worlds.
Don't forget to take a look at Meta SEO strategies. SEO keywords really are a great way to truly personalize your search engine optimization.
Whenever you’re active in both SEO and SEM, you’re able to reach more potential customers and build even more brand awareness. Subsequently, you’ll get higher visibility and better returns on your investments. But honestly though, choosing what works best for your company is key. When it comes to creating an online marketing strategy you need to know your business and its long-term goals.
Get started today!
The best way to become an SEO expert is to start today. The more practice, the better. Yes, it takes time but with the right knowledge and tools, you'll find what works best for your brand. Are you just starting out with SEO? Have you been at it for awhile now, do you feel like you're getting the hang of it? Let us know in the comments below, so we can discuss!