How do I become an SEO specialist? Well, becoming a specialist in this field is no walk in the park. A lot of riding on your skills when a brand trusts you with its SEO strategy.
I know it’s a big decision and I’m here to make sure you feel confident with your choice before taking the plunge into this career path. That’s why I’ve prepared this exhaustive guide to tell you everything you need to know about becoming a technical SEO expert and what it takes to get there.
Let’s get started!
What Is an SEO Specialist?
Let’s start with the basics—what does an SEO specialist do, and why is it important?
SEO specialists offer expertise in all things related to search engines and focus on improving a webpage’s discoverability based on how people search. They analyze the number of visitors clicking through a website, select high-performing keywords, identify relevant search intent, and assess user behaviour to optimize a page for higher SERP rankings—leading to more organic traffic and leads.
But SEO practices don’t just stop at that. Specialists also come up with strategies on how to make the right changes on a website to increase its SEO score.
To put it simply, SEO professionals are like magicians for websites—they can get a webpage out of any jam with the right SEO tools, like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, and then using the insights to make the right changes. These changes could include optimizing content, using link-building tactics, off-page optimization, and more.
Besides creating strategies for businesses and clients, SEO experts also need to know how to execute a given SEO strategy to boost organic traffic. This means staying up-to-date with the latest trends in search engines and knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.
What Is an SEO Manager?
If you’re wondering about the difference between a specialist and a manager, let me break it down for you.
The role of a specialist and a manager is fundamentally the same in terms of what they do. But SEO managers are responsible for an additional layer of managerial supervision for all the functions that specialists perform. This includes:
- Deciding where the specialist(s) will focus their efforts
- Reporting to upper management about what’s happening with the website’s search engine optimization
- Ensuring all of the strategies are correctly implemented
In some companies, an SEO manager has to oversee a team of search engine optimization specialists as well as those who work in digital marketing, including PPC specialists, social media marketers, and content marketing experts. These are just some of the essential responsibilities that SEO managers have.
But, of course, every company has its specific set of duties for every SEO professional, and they can vary from one place to another.
What Are Some Benefits of Being an SEO Specialist?
Now that you know the basics of what an SEO expert does, I want to let you in on some of the benefits that come with this job.
First and foremost, there’s no limit to where your career can take you. A technical SEO expert can either work at a large company or run their own business. The high demand for SEO skills is evident in the global demand for this role.
Besides the low entry barrier, an SEO expert can find work almost anywhere—which means they can work for a global clientele right from their couch! If you want to live near the beach, work in a big city, or anywhere in between, this career path is perfect for you.
Lastly, an SEO expert is always learning new things about searcher behaviour and digital marketing, which gives them an edge in the job market at large.
How do I Become an SEO Specialist?
With all the benefits of working as a technical SEO professional, you’re probably wondering how you can become an SEO expert yourself. This section will answer all your questions.
1. Take SEO Courses
While you can learn a lot on your own through Google, completing specialized courses is a good place to start building your technical understanding. Most SEO courses are typically free or low-cost, so you’ll not have to worry about a huge investment.
You can learn everything from keyword research and link building to on-page SEO and advanced technical SEO through these comprehensive courses. The more courses you take, the more conceptual clarity you’ll have—and then it’ll be just a matter of putting that into practice.
So, if you haven’t already done so, sign up for courses and start learning!
2. Get Certified
Like any other profession, getting certified is the best way to prove to employers that you can talk the talk and walk the walk. But certifications aren’t as easy to acquire as you might think. They require consistency, decent knowledge, and dedicated effort. So if you get a few, it’ll be proof of your technical proficiency.
How to Get SEO Certified
So you’ve done the hard work, and now you’re ready to get certified and become an SEO expert. But where do you even start?
Search for Certifications
There are a ton of different SEO certifications out there—but they’re not all equal. Some require too much time, effort, and money, while others are much more affordable and doable. So before you start looking for certifications, know what you need to achieve first and do your research accordingly.
Popular certifications include Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Bing Webmaster Tools. There’s also the Moz SEO Essentials Certification that comes with a price tag but is highly valued in the industry.
Learn What Your Certification Entails
Just because certification is labelled as SEO doesn’t mean that the exam will be all about understanding how search engines work. Some certifications are more about using SEO to your advantage and just SEO basics, while others focus much more on the technical aspects.
So, learn more about what you want to get out of your certification and what you need to study for it. Don’t waste time studying for something that won’t equip you with the right skills for the long run.
Prepare for Your Exam and Ace It
Once you’ve finalized the certification(s) you’d like to get, it’s time to focus on the coursework and prepare yourself for the exam. Look for practice tests or study guides for the prep. Read, watch, and listen to relevant content to advance your understanding of SEO.
Study Even After Your Exam
Getting certified is not the end of the line. Once you secure the certificate, it’s time to put theory into practice and gain hands-on experience. If you don’t fully understand the material you just covered, it defeats the point of the certification. So if you really want to prove that you’re a master SEO professional, continue learning and practising.
3. Practice by Doing
One of the best ways to learn the nitty-gritty of SEO is to do more. As an SEO newbie, performing simple tasks and analysis is a great way to test your SEO knowledge. Many people also practice by creating their own websites! Optimize your test website for the search engines and see what’s getting the results. Experiment and tweak things to explore more than what you know.
You can also use tools designed to help you understand what you did wrong and how you could do better. Learn from your mistakes and keep practising—the more you do it, the better you’re going to get!
4. Gain Experience
While getting certified can be a great way to prove how much you know about SEO, it may not be enough in the long run—especially if you really want to become an SEO expert.
When it comes down to getting a job as a specialist or working your way up the content marketing industry, having actual SEO expertise is a must.
But how do you get this valuable experience? Here are some best practices to help you on your quest.
Offer Your Services to Friends and Family
If you have friends or family members running their own business, offer your SEO efforts for free! If you’re worried about getting paid, don’t—just provide your services to get the much-needed experience. This can get you some great referrals, too!
Volunteer or Undertake an Internship
You can also volunteer your time at local organizations or participate in internships to boost your SEO training. Volunteering is great to learn in-depth about SEO while earning experience. Many non-profits will appreciate your help since they don’t have money to hire employees or pay contractors.
Internships, on the other hand, can work wonders to enter into the content marketing field and land you a full-time job first or freelance gig.
Both avenues can help supplement your SEO expertise and get your name out there before it’s time to get paid.
Take on SEO Clients
If you have a sound understanding of what SEO is and how it works—after testing things on your own for a while, it may be time to take the lead in the real world. Start by taking up a few freelance gigs to apply your knowledge and scale your way up as you build a portfolio of work.
Freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer can connect you with people who need SEO assistance. You could also create a website dedicated to SEO tasks and services to help you get your name out there.
Apply for a Job
Once you have some case studies to show for your skills, you’re all set to apply for jobs or start a freelance business.
If you’re looking for a job, try to apply for smaller companies and agencies instead of large ones. Although larger organizations tend to offer much higher pay, they also provide much less room for growth.
In smaller companies, you’ll usually have the opportunity to work your way up from entry-level positions to more senior roles over time—something that those working for big businesses simply won’t be able to do.
5. Boost Your SEO Knowledge
As you dig deeper into the world of SEO, remember that this industry is continuously changing and evolving. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, so SEO strategies and tips need to be adapted to cater to the latest algorithm updates.
So, what you learned a year ago may not be relevant anymore. If you really want to excel in this field, you’ll need to know more than just how SEO works—you also have to keep abreast with some of its latest developments.
By that logic, you should always be on the lookout for new updates to search engines and improve your proficiency in Google Analytics while putting your skills to the test! For instance, it’s always good to have a couple of top SEO blogs that you follow or news sites to acquaint yourself with the latest updates in the SEO industry.
6. Network With Others in Your Industry
Lastly, building your network comprising like-minded individuals is always great to scale your career in the search engine market. The simple act of learning more about the industry through constant communication with other professionals should help keep your work fresh and relevant.
Some ways to do this include:
- Joining social media communities
- Attending SEO conferences
- Connecting with SEO experts on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Following newsletters and blogs from specialists
The more you’re around people doing the same kind of work, the easier it’ll be for you to remain motivated throughout your career! And that’s how to become an SEO expert.
Ready to Become an SEO Expert?
Becoming an SEO expert is more than just creating a website and offering services. It’s a long-drawn path that starts with building a strong skillset, completing certifications, and gaining actual experience and results.
Now that you’ve learned more about some of the best ways to become an SEO specialist, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started. If you’re entering this highly-competitive field, you’ll need to prove your worth and stand out from other professionals offering SEO services.
Make sure you have a clear, defined plan in place before beginning your journey. From there, you’ll also need to dedicate yourself to learning—when it comes to dominating search results, nothing is more essential than hard work.
Good luck and enjoy the ride!