Like all other disciplines learning SEO marketing requires practice. You can only learn with experience. This guide explores how to learn SEO; how you can gain the experience needed to optimise your own and other’s websites for improved search traffic. I will supply you with the resources you need to learn without having to pay for an online course.
There are many expensive courses out there designed to teach SEO. They are often short, impersonal and expensive. Those who can’t do teach – the true gurus work for their money and educate for free. Why would you want to take a three day crash course when you can learn at your own pace with free resources from the best in the industry?
A good place to start is by learning the history of SEO. Google have changed their algorithm massively over the years so you can learn a lot from the mistakes others have made in the past. This guide won’t teach you how to master SEO, but it will point you towards teaching material that can.
The most important lesson I want you to take from this post is to build your own sites to practice on. I have resources which can make this a profitable endeavour – at worst you will break even. While it isn’t required, I ask you to keep an open mind. This isn’t a run of the mill SEO marketing checklist.
To start off you want to get proficient at on site SEO.
How To Learn On Site SEO
The vast majority of SEO guides deal with on site SEO. On a website level SEO is as simple as following a checklist.
- Build a sitemap
- Make your website fast
- Ensure your website is responsive to all devices
- Plan site’s architecture so users can find everything easily
- Plan error pages
- Give your users a great experience
- Blah blah blah
You can have all the technical knowledge in the world, but if you aren’t putting it into practice you won’t know what actually works for the vast array of different businesses out there – and why.
All the points above are important to SEO, but there are thousands of guides out there which tell you how to do achieve these ends in hundreds of different ways. The best way of learning SEO – make yourself a blog or website where you can actually put what you are learning into practice.
That is why a three day course is no good, you want to slow down and see what is working for you. So make a simple blog, choose a theme for it to be about. It doesn’t have to be business related but you want it to cover a niche you have some skill in.
There are so many diary style blogs out there that you won’t have a hope in ranking just writing about day to day things no matter how well optimised your site is. That’s because as ranking factors time and authority are far more important than anything in the brief checklist above.
If you have no knowledge of SEO at all I suggest getting your grounding from my beginner to advanced guide, it will give you a good grounding on the history of SEO, as well as the theory. Technical SEO will only take you so far. It is unlikely that you will find yourself magically generating loads of traffic, even if on page your blog’s SEO is perfect.
As I said, time and authority are both very important factors and these can’t be optimised on page. Even more important is giving your users the best possible experience. When you have a good grounding the basics of on page SEO you want to start looking at how you can give your users the best experience.
How can you keep your users on your blog, visiting as many pages as possible? These techniques translate into optimising conversions on a commercial website.
How To Learn Off Page SEO
When you have built your blog, followed all the on page suggestions you can possibly manage (because no website is perfect and some factors are simply impractical to optimise for) it is time to start practising off page.
Off page is largely about networking. You want to build authority – get a name for yourself. You do this by building social contacts either online or in real life, and creating content that is worth sharing.
If you can’t write anything that makes people think ‘wow that’s interesting I’ll share that’ you are unlikely to be successful. The more authority you build on a subject the more exposure you gain, the more exposure the more likely people are to link to you.
If you are the new kid on the block you will have neither authority on a subject, or the online version domain authority (another important ranking factor). This is why new websites struggle to rank.
There are ways around this, you can create authority by building links to yourself in various ways. Google has got better at detecting this practice but they are still far from perfect. Building links is seen as a legitimate job that SEOs do.
In order to get seen on highly competitive keywords you need to conquer the low competition, easy ranking keywords. You need to build your authority over time – the two factors are linked. A mistake many people make is only looking at direct sales from paid advertising. If you can send a piece of content viral – even if it has no direct income streams – the exposure you gain can be well worth the money spent.
You can practise this by creating a piece of content you feel has the potential of going viral. Setup Google adsense and see how much traffic you can generate advertising on facebook. This kind of practise will help you understand what kind of targeting works best for what kind of post.
If your content is good people will follow you on social media. Every follower has the potential to share your work for free, or even build links to it.
The more experience you gain the more tricks you learn. You start to understand different audiences. If you are successful you will be able to make money from your practice blog – this kind of practice works well with my Flippa Guide. Advertising can be expensive, but if you generate traffic your blog will become worth money. You can learn the ropes of SEO and hopefully at least break even.
In 2016 SEO is hugely competitive. Knowing on page or technical SEO is just one part of the puzzle, likewise link building isn’t everything. It takes time to become good – but it pays off. There are many shills in this industry but building a website the right way is rewarding. You have both the moral high ground and the assurance that your site won’t be sanctioned.
Most of all if you can demonstrate your experience you can demonstrate your value – SEO is all about building your clients profit, not getting a paycheque running.
I have kept this guide comparatively short, if you want to learn more about SEO theory and best practices please explore my site, or sign up to my newsletter.