SEO has been one of the most talked topics in the last few years. The rise and shine of freelancing jobs have also seen the increase of SEO experts Worldwide. Nowadays, one of the most asked questions is how to become an SEO specialist? And what does an SEO expert do?
If there were some form of payment based on how many times I got these questions, I would be rich by now.
SEO is not easy to explain, and so it’s trying to give people useful information on how to become an SEO expert. If you look online, you’ll find plenty of advice on how to make a lot of money with easy SEO techniques and how to rank first on Google, very often linked to offers of every kind to avail of a consultancy to land 1st position in Google. None of this advice is wise nor valid.
SEO is a hard job, it requires expertise, and it takes a long time. This vision of SEO as an easy thing has lead to a lot of false assumptions and myths about this profession.
It’s my mission to give you a better understanding of what SEO is, what an SEO person does, how to become a reliable SEO expert, and also what are the most famous myths you need to get rid of in regards to Search Engine Optimization.
Use the table of contents below to navigate the guide, or keep reading this in-depth guide to discover if working in the SEO industry may be the right choice for you.
Table of Contents
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization that is the process of getting traffic from search results on search engines. When it comes to SEO, we are talking about organic traffic not paid nor from social media, so it’s basically
how a website or a single piece of content can be discovered online by people looking for that particular topic.
“Optimization” is the key-word because the process of optimizing a piece of content of every type or a web page is the key to bring qualified traffic to your site.
Let me be more precise:
If you have an article on how to book a low-cost trip in Florida, you want the search engine to show it at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) when people search for a “low-cost trip in Florida.” SEO, in a few words, is everything you do to make this happens, both on your website and outside of your site.
What are two types of SEO?
If the word SEO is just one, there are multiple types of SEO to be considered:
- On-Page SEO: everything you do directly on your website or your content, to make it rank better and be found;
- Off-Page SEO: all the activities you perform on third parties’ sites to promote your online content and get recognition so that the search engine will recognize it as authoritative and will give you a better ranking.
Let me clarify it for you: these are the macro-categories in which SEO is usually split, but there’s way more than this when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, and I will touch the subject briefly below.
Why SEO is so important?
SEO isn’t optional anymore because unless you want to create content (where content means everything, from articles to products’ pages to websites, and so on) just for the sake of doing it, you need to be discovered by clients and a target audience. The primary key to this is that improvising is never the way to go, and having an expert is the only thing possible for a company, big or small.
What does an SEO expert do?
Usually, an SEO expert is charged with a different number of responsibilities based on the company and the industry but for sure there are different specializations within the SEO world:
- SEO Content writer
- SEO Analyst
- SEO Project Manager
- SEO Technical Specialist
- Mobile SEO Specialist
And the list is certainly not exhaustive. Very often, these roles are so close and interlaced that one person can be asked to perform all of the duties, especially these times where marketing has become one of the most complex matters on the planet. SEO is becoming more and more integrated within marketing, but a real SEO expert has a certain knowledge of every single aspect of SEO to be able to decide which is the role he/she likes the most.
Remember: every aspect of SEO contributes to the success of a project. And every aspect of SEO requires specific skills.
How to become an SEO Expert?
This is probably the hardest question ever when it comes to SEO. The most common educational requirement for an SEO expert is the experience together with an in-depth knowledge of online marketing and, if possible, technical skills as well. But because the SEO industry changes so rapidly, I think that continuous education and experience are crucial to success.
How and where do you learn SEO?
- On the ground, experiencing and facing issues. Better with the help of someone trained and already expert;
- Attending conferences and workshops;
- Keeping informed reading the most important SEO related sources, Google first;
- Get familiar with HTML;
- Online courses;
- Opening a site where you can practice.
Can You Learn SEO by yourself?
If you want to become a specialist, then yes, you can learn SEO. The most important part of the learning process is that you start applying what you’ve studied to real projects. The more practice, the better you can get; the more you fail, the better you get. The less you cheat on your pieces of knowledge, the better it is.
In two words: precisely like every other job, you can learn how to become qualified, but this cannot stop you from learning always.
Best SEO Online Courses
1. SEO 2021: Complete SEO Training + SEO for WordPress Websites
This SEO training will reveal the 50+ SEO factors to rank on Google. Learn all the 8 Technical SEO factors. SEO your website to bring in more organic traffic from Google & other search engines.
2. Complete SEO Training With Top SEO Expert Peter Kent!
In this course, you will learn how to rank a Web site high up in the major search engines using SEO. The knowledge you need to do the SEO work yourself or supervise an SEO optimization team or outside SEO firm.
3. SEO Training: Get Free Traffic to Your Website With SEO
With this course, you will learn how to Get Hundreds of Visitors from the Search Engines Every Day for FREE. Avoid Dangerous SEO Myths That Can Hurt Your Business. Help Clients Increase their Search Position, Traffic, and Sales.
4. SEO Specialization
If you want to learn everything about Search Engine Optimization, this specialization can be a good starting point. This specialization is constructed as a series of 5 courses (+ 1 recap) that help you master this skill. You can enroll in the specialization directly, or just choose the one you’d like to start with.
Modules of the SEO specialization:
- Introduction to Search Engine Optimization
- Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals
- Optimizing a Website for Search
- Advanced Content and Social Tactics to Optimize SEO
- Website Optimization Client Report Project
SEO Training Courses by SEMRush
If you are looking for more specific SEO courses, SEMRush is an incredible resource. SEMRush is also one of the most used and most loved tools for SEO specialists and consultants. If you want to learn how to do SEO properly, how to create reports, and how to be sure you’re on top of the game, this is a tool you should invest in, sooner than later.
Check all of the SEO courses offered by SEMRush, and get certified.
How to identify a good SEO expert?
On a high level, it is possible to identify three types of SEO people.
1. The Pro
A Pro SEO Consultant is someone able to answer questions, provide examples of past works, and he/she is always honest and reliable. He/She is always ready to step back, to accept defeat and learn from mistakes. He/She knows how to network and, if necessary, moves his/her work to others for further opinions. The Pros don’t consider themselves Guru but people who continuously learn from what they do.
2. The Average, without infamy and without praise
The average SEO person is the one that can try and succeed once and then drastically fail later. One can be lucky once, but are we sure one can always be lucky?
3. The Cheater
If during an interview or in the middle of an assessment or project the SEO person can’t answer to the questions:
- How will you improve my search engine rankings? Can you make my site rank in the first position in one week?
then it’s time to look around and find someone with real skills, or willing to learn.
Is it easy to become a freelance SEO Consultant?
Competition in the SEO industry is high, and even if there are a lot of people without experience out there that sell their services as experts, there are also a lot of companies that want to save money and decide to hire inexperienced freelancers.
There’s space for everyone; the goal is to find your niche, get specialized, find clients, get your name known, and start working.
What’s the average salary of an SEO Expert?
There’s no average salary for an SEO Consultant because a lot depends on years of experience and qualifications. Some consultants work for a few $, but I’m quite sure the output a company gets from them has zero value. Some newbies do the same, but again, their value is pretty much equal to zero, at least at the beginning.
There’s always a mid-range price between the so-called Guru and the Average, and that’s where the Pros stand.
Make sure you evaluate your experience, your situation, and your knowledge and act accordingly: it won’t be hard to decide what’s your value and what’s your fee, and you can always review it from time to time.
Becoming an SEO Consultant: Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the common questions asked in regards to becoming an SEO freelancer.
1. I have been blogging for a long time and my site is quite good, am I an SEO specialist?
No, you can’t. Where’s your experience? And have you been trained? Blogging can be part of the learning process. Still, bloggers, unless with a specific background (a set of skills and the necessary experience), are not SEO specialists, and they shouldn’t sell their services as SEO experts.
2. I’ve worked on my cousins’ friend website, can I become an SEO specialist for a big company?
No, having worked on your cousins’ friend website doesn’t qualify you as a Specialist. It gives you a little bit more, but you surely can’t refer to yourself as a specialist or an expert. And it doesn’t qualify you for a position in a company unless you want to make a fool of yourself.
3. I’m offering low rates to be known, am I doing the right think?
It depends on the companies you get in touch with. Still, the most common situation is that you will probably attire just low-level companies, not interested in professional service, and only interested in saving. An experience like that could bring you a bad reputation, challenging to manage.
4. Can I go to work for a company as an SEO Expert and learn how to do my job?
If you go to work for a company as a Specialist without any knowledge, then it’s your boss’ fault. Probably the same boss will make a lot of other mistakes and you won’t learn anything from this person, professionally speaking.
If you want to work for a company in the SEO field and you start from ground zero, first of all, you won’t call yourself an expert or a specialist, and then your duties will be to learn and eventually become specialized and expert.
Is SEO easy?
SEO is not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. Otherwise, it would be something that everyone could do. SEO requires patience, an analytic mindset, and flexibility. No matter if you do Technical SEO or SEO Content Writing, or Link Building or any other thing within SEO. You need to understand that behind every SEO choice, there’s a reason, and you have to be able to link an opportunity to a goal backed by data.
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