how to learn to do SEO

Want to Learn SEO? Here are the Best Ways to Learn How to Do SEO

By | Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 1 comment

If you want to learn SEO (search engine optimization) then you need to be prepared to become a sponge -- and absorb as much educational content that you can get your hands on.

A massive amount of it, actually.

The truth is, SEO requires constant learning and self-education, as the landscape and industry is constantly evolving.

You need to stay current on all of the latest changes, algorithm updates, best practices, etc.

The best SEOs will tell you that they are always learning.

There is no shortage of information related to SEO online -- from SEO blogs to SEO tools. In fact, there is an abundance, but this is the internet after all, and there is little to no barrier of entry. Anyone can post anything online.

So, who do you trust?

Where can you turn to for information that will help you learn SEO?

There is no cookie-cutter SEO strategy that will work for every single website and business, but there are good sources of educational information that can help you better understand it, which you can then use to craft your own strategy and campaign.

Here are several ways you can learn how to do SEO the right way.

Look for top-quality mastermind groups to join.

"If someone’s looking to learn SEO, I’d tell them to look for SEO-focused mastermind groups on Facebook, searching on Google and YouTube, etc., until finding one that suits their needs. There are a lot of people out there teaching SEO -- some are qualified -- others are just people trying to sell you on another course. Look for people that are making money with their own SEO agency or affiliate sites and make sure they are a legit SEO professional running his or her own income stream as well as the course -- or group -- they may be selling access to.

It’s going to take time and it may take some money, but it is worth the investment if you are truly interested in learning SEO.

My experience was learning it by myself, almost 10 years ago. I bought domains, setup websites and reverse engineered what was working for top ranking websites. Then I bought course after course, until finally found the best person to teach me more in-depth SEO tactics than what I already knew. If I were to start over, I’d learn from someone immediately, then test out my own curiosities and knowledge myself on my own sites -- not the other way around like I did, because that wastes time." -- Joe Lawlor, Digital Dynasty

Read and become a sponge -- absorb as much information as possible.

"SEO is the most dynamic facet of digital marketing. There is no rulebook -- or textbook -- that you can purchase that will teach you everything that you need to know about SEO. The truth is, if you were to publish a book on SEO, many of the principles covered in the book would be redundant or outdated by the time it reaches the publisher.

The most important thing you can do is read, read and then read a little bit more. All of the information is available online with case studies and real-world examples to back it up. As a starting point, SEO Moz offers a wealth of resources in their Free SEO Learning Center that covers all of the basics and is suitable for those new to SEO and those who need a refresher -- SEO 101.

If you’re new to the industry and you want to learn about SEO, the most valuable thing you can do is setup a basic WordPress website on a topic you are interested in and try to rank it for competitive key terms. There’s only so much you can learn through theory -- it’s important to implement what you have learned on a live site, monitor progress, and make necessary changes. SEO is a process of trial and error -- learning from your mistakes and understanding your success will teach you valuable lessons." -- Liam Ridings, Safari Digital

Become familiar with Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

"My best advice for someone to learn SEO is to come to grips with Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines. They will tell any webmaster everything they need to know about how Google evaluates sites, and more importantly how to implement E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness). In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do to learn SEO is to learn E-A-T. Every Google algorithm update since February 7th of 2017 has been focused in some way around E-A-T, and I believe Google is now capable of identifying good E-A-T algorithmically.

Industry experts such as Marie Haynes believe that E-A-T is at least as important as link-building in modern SEO, and any site will struggle to rank without it. Learning about E-A-T is going to be much much more valuable to the long term growth of a website than learning about keywords, backlinks, technical SEO, etc." -- Jack Bird, StrategySEO

Learn from legitimate sources that approach SEO in holistic, white-hat manner.

"SEO is no longer link spamming and keyword stuffing. SEO has become a service that begins during the website build and continues even when clients are ranking in the local pack or the top of the search results. An SEO's job is literally never done, which is in part what makes the SEO industry one of the cornerstones of the digital marketing castle.

As someone who literally taught themselves the art of search engine optimization from a couch as an unemployed 24-year-old in a new city some years ago, I can attest to the difficulties there are with determining legitimate training sources online. There's a lot of sh*t out there. Start with weeding out the black-hat resources -- that part of the industry is dead and will not help you learn legitimate SEO skills, which will eventually show when your site gets penalized by Google. Moz offers a great SEO Introduction guide that breaks down SEO by topic (i.e. link-building, on-page optimization, etc.) -- it is a great way to get your feet wet.

I'm also an avid supporter of newsletters. I receive and read upwards of ten newsletters every morning. The SEO industry is in constant change and it can be difficult to keep up with algorithm changes or new ideas -- receiving newsletters in your inbox forces you to acknowledge these changes and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. MarTech, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal are a few personal favorites. Whether you are just getting started in the industry or are looking to improve your skills, newsletters are a great tool.

My final secret weapon to learning SEO -- /r/SEO. That's right, the SEO subreddit. I have found some of my best-kept secrets on here and you can, too. It is a sub-community of self-proclaimed SEO nerds that geek out over algorithm changes, A/B tests, Search Console features, organic traffic, goal conversions and so much more. If you have a question -- especially when first learning SEO -- chances are someone on the subreddit has already asked it. You can search anything in the subreddit and more often than not find your answer -- or a link to a resource with the answer. I cannot stress the SEO subreddit enough -- it's like a treasure trove of SEO gold." -- Lauren Bennett, Wonderist Agency

Just do it.

"Sometimes the best way to learn something is by diving right in and doing it -- and I truly believe that is the best way to learn SEO. Sign up for free trials with the major SEO tools and platforms, like Ahrefs and Moz Tools -- and set up a Google Search Console profile. Explore tutorials they have to offer and other content you can find online -- such as YouTube tutorials and white papers by each platform." -- Alexandra Bohigian, Enola Labs

Launch a test campaign and dive-in.

"The best way to learn SEO in my opinion is to establish a base knowledge and then test what you've learned on a real campaign. That means creating a niche website and turning it into your test project. Nothing will teach more than executing and getting the feedback from your actions. That's exactly how I learned SEO. I established base knowledge and applied what I learned to a baseball pitching website I started. It was a struggle in the beginning, but I wouldn't take it back for anything. The best part is that I eventually went to sell that site because of how well it was performing from an SEO perspective.

I will say though, you can avoid many of the common mistakes if you seek advice from people who have already been in your shoes. That may come in the form talking to experts one-on-one or joining courses created by qualified SEO pros -- for example Gotch SEO Academy or Brian Dean's course, SEO That Works. Joining courses or speaking with experts can accelerate your knowledge and results 10x faster. That's why I never hesitate to invest in courses or call on experts when I'm trying to learn a new skill. It's invaluable." -- Nathan Gotch, Gotch SEO

Read Moz's Beginner's Guide to SEO.

"I have been in this field for well over seven years and I still learn something new every other day. The best way to learn SEO is through experience. You will only learn so much on the internet. But you have to start somewhere, in my opinion the best place for beginners to learn SEO is from Moz's Beginner's Guide to SEO. It's very informative and easy to understand. Always keep in mind that you should follow people instead of websites. People like Rand Fishkin and Brian Dean are experts in the field.

Another good source to learn about SEO is through groups and forums, but sadly most of them get spammed with irrelevant information.

The Reason I am emphasizing on forums and groups is because they get a lot of questions regarding various SEO related problems. You can learn a lot just by going through them even if you have nothing to contribute.

Also, you have to practice. You are going to learn a lot of things on the internet but if you aren't practicing it you will get nowhere. Start a WordPress blog and implement everything you learn on it. This will give you real time experience -- and you will learn what works and what doesn't." -- Faizan Ali, WPBeginner

Learn SEO terminology.

"The first thing to do is learn as much terminology as possible. It is going to be very challenging to learn, and be able to ask the right questions if you don't know what you're talking about. Find a few glossaries of terms and commit them to memory. Laying this foundation will also allow you to gain valuable beginner knowledge, learning about things like Domain Rank, backlinks, redirects, etc.

From there, the best thing to do is subscribe to industry blogs like Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Roundtable, among others. Read articles pertaining to SEO strategies and best-practices to understand the skills needed to become a successful SEO.

Then, build a website and work to improve its ranking. Reading and taking courses will only take you so far -- you've got to actually do the work and track the results to see the fruits of your education and labor." -- Todd Friedman, Kiraly Marketing

Start a blog or side-hustle website as a passion project.

"I got my start in SEO building websites for my agency at the time and the hands-on experience of building or redesigning a website from start to finish was invaluable. The technical aspects of SEO came naturally to me given my background, while I absorbed as much knowledge as possible by reading articles from Moz and Backlinko. After I had progressed beyond the fundamentals I breezed through The Art of SEO, and sought out videos and decks from conferences like SearchLove.

Even though all of the reading material and information out there about SEO was extremely helpful for me getting to where I'm at today, the majority of my learning has come from my own experience and testing. To truly understand SEO you need to build your own site(s) from scratch and optimize it on your own -- otherwise you will only ever be as good as the information industry influencers put out there." -- John Caiozzo, PACIFIC

Seek experts who are engaging and fun to learn from.

"The best way to learn SEO is from someone who's actually engaging to learn from because SEO can get complex. SEO training videos are most effective -- you can see firsthand what the programs and tools you're going to use look like and so you can see SEO concepts and research in action. Not to mention you can go back and rewatch whenever you need to be refreshed.

The Content Factory's SEO 101 Video Training Series was the best investment I made in my business so far. Not only did I learn SEO well enough to design a complete SEO and content strategy for my own business, but I felt confident enough in what I learned to start offering SEO services to my own clients. Kari DePhillips, The Content Factory's owner, is a powerhouse and they actually made watching the training videos fun.

Learning their highly successful agency's exact methods for keyword research, building out SEO strategies, writing blog posts, technical SEO and backlink generation is made easy because you watch exactly what they do and they provide you the templates to get started. Rather than searching all around trying to piece together information from dozens of different sources, invest in one comprehensive training that will teach you everything you need to know." -- Samantha Pennington, Oree Virtual

Read Google's guidelines.

"My piece of advice for learning SEO is to read Google's guidelines. Everybody wants to rank well in Google, which is by far the leading search engine worldwide, so nothing is better than learning the tips straight from the source.

I suggest two guidelines specifically:

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide, which provides a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to Google's best practices. Following these best practices will make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.

The Search Quality Raters' Guidelines is a document that explains what high quality pages should look like and how the relevance of search results should be assessed by Google human evaluators. By understanding how the evaluation process works, you can create content that is more relevant and of higher quality in the eyes of Google." -- Danilo Godoy, Search Evaluator Partners

Understand how to process data and convert it to information.

"Most of the early days of search were reliant upon hierarchical or arborescent structures. However, as technology has advanced, so too has our conception of said data and how it's structured and presented. It's not about 'what came first,' or relying solely on some sort of canonical bedrock. It's multifaceted, multi-directional, and downright rhizomatic in its fullest form.

Therefore, in regards to SEO, the first thing you can do is not panic or lock up in the face of gigantic, sudden masses of data. Understand that this data is moving. Take snapshots if you must. But realize also that how you are converting and understanding this data/information is more key than trying to find one solitary 'correct' answer. It's probably going to change tomorrow. Being able to learn while in motion is how you'll be able to not only teach yourself how to process it more efficiently, but also you'll learn to keep up with the changes and maybe even predict its activity within a certain margin of success as well." -- Cary Haun, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Understand (and master) the four SEO pillars.

"SEO has four main pillars, what we like to call the 4 C's. Content, credibility, conversion and coding. If you can learn these four concepts then you'll have a good grasp on SEO.

Content is what most people think of when they think of SEO strategy. This includes having unique content with depth and relevance and having proper titles, headings and descriptions.

Credibility refers to your website’s reputation of being a high-quality site. Google judges this through citations, links and social influence elsewhere on the internet. Just like any reputation, site credibility -- often called website authority -- takes time to build.

Conversion is the most 'human' aspect of these four as it measures how users interact with a website. High conversion and high engagement means having good conversion rates, session length and clickthrough rates. These don’t directly affect SEO rankings but will have a big impact on whether or not an SEO strategy is successful and effective.

Lastly, coding encompasses the technical aspects of a site. Website speed, accessibility, cross-browser and cross-device compliance all play an important role in how Google ranks a site." -- Matt Brooks, SEOteric

Image: Pexels

Author Bio

Jonathan Long

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand development agency located in Miami, focused on building e-commerce brands in the health, fitness, lifestyle and beauty industries.

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