Why SEO Skills Are Valuable,
and How to Quickly Acquire Them

See also: Strategic Thinking Skills

Whether you are looking to work as an SEO in an agency environment, work internally for a company as their in-house marketer, or if you wish to grow your own business online; learning SEO is a guaranteed way to improve your marketing abilities and give you the competitive edge you need in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape. It will also empower you to make informed decisions, optimise your content for better visibility and audience engagement, and ultimately, drive meaningful results to your business or your future client’s businesses.

What to expect in this guide?

This comprehensive guide is brought to you in collaboration with Distl, a reputable SEO Agency in Perth, Western Australia. Alongside Distl, we have worked to ensure that once you have read this guide you will understand the following:

  • What SEO is
  • Why learning SEO could be a game-changer for your career.
  • The key responsibilities of an SEO specialist
  • How to quickly learn SEO
  • The tools you will need to be a successful SEO

You will also find practical advice on how to speed up the process of learning SEO, including a range of online resources and tools that can assist you on this journey. Whether you're a seasoned professional seeking to upgrade your skills, a beginner stepping into the digital marketing world, or a business owner looking to boost your online presence, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to succeed in the dynamic field of SEO.

Let’s start with the basics!

What is SEO?

According to Distl, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website to better met the users' needs by providing high-quality, relevant content that answers their queries, thereby improving the site's authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines. Websites engage in SEO so that they may rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPS), thus boosting their organic traffic from organic searches on sites like Google and Bing.

SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy that involves two main approaches:

  1. Onsite Optimisations:

    This involves making incremental improvements to a website's content, site structure, and performance on both mobile and desktop. These enhancements ensure that search engines can more efficiently crawl, understand, and index your site while also making it more accessible to users, regardless of their intent, their device, or their internet speed.

  2. Offsite Optimisations:

    Offsite optimisations are - as the name suggests - optimisations done outside of your website that increase your search visibility by method of increasing the trustworthiness of a website in the eyes of search engines. Offsite optimisation techniques include link building (through guest posting and outreach), social media engagement, influencer outreach, press releases and forum and community engagement. Together they can have a dramatic impact on your sites ability to rank.

Why learning SEO could be a game-changer for your career.

Since its inception around the mid 90s, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has emerged as an indispensable skill set for anyone looking start a career in digital marketing. It is a channel that can see huge long-term returns, as well as being a foundational pillar that that all facets of digital marketing rely on. Whether a business engages in Google Ads, Facebook Ads or Organic Social Media Management, due to its synergies with all marketing channels, SEO will greatly help any business engaging with some form of digital marketing.

For the reasons stated above, by learning SEO, you will excel in any marketing role, as you will deeply understand the fundamental goal of marketing – To better understand your audience and so that you may better serve their needs.

Additionally, you will also become an expert in a suit of soft skills that greatly benefit digital marketing. These include:

  • How to work with a range of website content management systems such as WordPress, Squarespace and Wix.

  • How to read and react to analytics data and set up advanced tracking to assist with your SEO strategies

  • How to find online opportunities using your understanding of how customers search for products and services online.

  • Due to the skillset of an SEO being so valuable, you will not only increase your career opportunities, but also find a skill that works great as a side hustle whether that be through freelance clients or developing personal projects such as an online store.

Key Responsibilities of an SEO agency

  • Conducting SEO audits on websites. Often the first step any SEO agency takes when taking on a new client, an SEO audit involves analysing a website from a technical standpoint, to find issues with its current state that may be negatively impacting its ability to rank. After an SEO audit, you will have a checklist of tasks that once fixed, will lead to a website with better foundations for your future SEO efforts.

  • Conducting keyword research. This involves identifying the keywords and phrases that potential customers are using to search for your client’s products or services. After keyword research, you will better understand the way users search for your clients and see opportunities that were not previously apparent.

  • Creating an SEO strategy: This involves taking the knowledge you have acquired through both your SEO audit and keyword research and finding a solution that will take lead to rankings improving. In the earlier stages of a client relationship this might include building out landing pages for services that they offer, in the later stages this might include creating a blog strategy that focuses on a specific service in-order to show search engines that you are an expert on the topic.

  • Optimising website content. This involves optimising specific pages, chosen due to their value or prospective value. Tasks associated include:

    • Natural insertion of relevant keywords throughout content
    • Organising content to clearly answer individual intent of each reader in distinct sections.
    • Improving the descriptiveness of on-page headings to allow readers to more efficiently find information they are interested in
    • Adding internal links that guide users around a website seamlessly.
    • Optimising Meta Titles to better match search queries and clearly indicate what readers can expect on the page.
    • Optimising meta descriptions to enhance click through rate.
    • optimising URLs to help search engines and readers understanding the page and how it fits into your sitemap.

  • Content Creation. This involves planning writing new landing pages to capture traffic searching for your client’s service, or writing blogs to assist readers with questions they may have that are related to your service. Good content will be helpful for the reader, whether they are a paying customer or simply looking for information. By focusing on content creation, you will be demonstrating your client’s expertise and building trust between your client’s site and search engines.

  • Building links to your website. Building links from other websites to yours can help improve your website's ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) through outreach, guest posting and natural linking. In the same way that citations improve the credibility and trustworthiness readers have for research a paper, links from other authoritative sources will increase the credibility and trustworthiness search engines have for a website.

  • Monitoring, analysing, and reporting on results. This involves using keyword rank trackers, Google analytics and Google Search Console to track the performance of your client’s website. A skilled SEO will adjust their strategies as needed to ensure they are getting the best possible results for their clients.

  • Staying up to date on algorithm changes. A big part of being an SEO is understanding what Google defines as the “ideal” website. About four times a year Google releases a “broad core update” which causes a dramatic shift in search results. This means following any new guidelines and applying them to your clients’ websites is the key to success. It also means you will be following influencers in the SEO space and keeping up to date with strategies that work well, and avoiding strategies that will get you penalised.

  • Technical fixes and optimisations. If content optimisations are changes to what users see, technical optimisations are changes to what users feel. As an SEO you will want to ensure readers have a smooth, frictionless experience on your client’s websites. This means optimising site speed through techniques such as image compression and code compression, as well as things like improving mobile usability with support from web designers and web developers.

How to quickly learn SEO

Learn the basics with SEO Guides:
Familiarise yourself with essential SEO terms and concepts with comprehensive guides like "The Beginner's Guide to SEO" by AHREFS. Most SEO agencies around the world agree that Ahrefs is an authority in the space of SEO, there is no better place to start your journey. You’ll want to focus on the key topics of keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, technical SEO, mobile SEO, local SEO, content marketing, and link building. Following that, you can dive into "The SEO Starter Guide" by Google to start building an understanding of what google wants, straight from the horse’s mouth!

Follow reputable SEO YouTubers for practical tips you can apply:
There are so many talented content creators in the space of SEO, but as a beginner you can’t go wrong with SEO YouTubers like Brian Dean and Nathan Gotch. Both are excellent sources of current and comprehensive information, and what sets them above the others is their ability to break down and explain complex SEO strategies so that you can apply them right away.

Grow your knowledge through deeper online courses:
The next step of your journey should be to build a wider understanding of SEO as a practice. If you are new to digital marketing, start with Google’s free Digital Garage to get a base level understanding of how SEO integrates with other digital marketing roles, and then move into a deeper course like the fantastic SEO Courses from Click Funnels. Here at Distl, several of our SEO Specialists started with Click Funnels SEO course and highly recommend it for its thorough coverage of each area of SEO.

If you are on a budget, platforms like Coursera and Udemy will give you some tailored SEO courses and are often heavily discounted.

Practice SEO through a personal project or an internship with a local SEO Agency
While there is a lot of theory involved in SEO, the main thing that separates a good SEO from a novice is their time in the industry. Your own personal experience with a problem becomes a big part of future solutions making it far more valuable than any blog or course.

If you want to apply what you learn, you can start a project blog or reach out to a family member or friend with a small business that could use more customers. Better yet, if you just want to try your hand and learn from professionals, put your hand up for some work experience with an SEO agency in your city. At Distl, we have an internship program that takes interns through a program to get them geared up for a career in one of our specialist roles, many other agencies do something similar.

Listen to case studies and find innovative SEO strategies through SEO Podcasts:
Unlike blogs and courses, podcasts often give you case studies other real world examples of SEO in practice, some of which will give you great new ideas that you can use in your own SEO strategies. They are also more likely to follow recent trends and keep you up to date on current SEO best practice.

Podcasts like "The Search Engine Journal Show" and “How the Fxck SEO Podcast” can provide valuable insights and learning as well as give you up to date news on the Google algorithm.

Follow SEO thought leaders on twitter for current SEO news:
SEO is an ever-changing field, with search engines regularly updating their algorithms. Keeping up to date with SEO influencers like Oliver H.G. Mason, Barry Schwartz, Lily Ray, or Googles own; John Mueller will ensure that you know exactly what is going on in the world of SEO. Why not start your morning with a coffee and some fresh SEO news.

SEO Tools you will need to become familiar with

There is a plethora of different SEO tools out there for an SEO take advantage of, but most SEOs agree that there are some tools you cannot succeed without.

Google Tracking Suite:

If you want to excel as an SEO you will need to familiarise yourself with Googles suite of tracking tools. This includes Google Analytics 4, Google Tag Manager, and Google Search Console. A great resource for learning how to use each of these tools is Measure School with Julian Jueneman. Measure School also have a fantastic YouTube channel with all the guides you need to become a master of tracking.

All-in-one SEO tool.

The next tool you need to have on your belt is an All-in-one SEO tool, aka AIO. The most popular AIO tools for SEO are Ahrefs and SEMrush, or the more budget friendly option, Mangools. Many of these have free versions or trials that you can use to get started.

These tools are the pocketknives of SEO and all SEOs agree that they couldn’t do their job properly without them. Most AIO SEO tools offer the essentials such as a keyword research tool, backlink finder, ranking tracker, and website auditor. Then you will need to get familiar with an all-in-one SEO tool.

Screaming Frog:

Screaming Frog is an essential tool for any SEO looking to assist clients with technical issues preventing them from moving the needle on search rankings.

Screaming frog crawls a site and returns useful reports that will help you identify faults that affect your website’s ability to rank on search engines. The free version will be enough to get started, it’s 500 URL limit provides plenty of room for smaller websites. Once you have bigger clients you will need the paid version for its enhancements.

The best time to start SEO is now!

The ever-evolving field of SEO is more than just a skill—it's a vital cornerstone of digital marketing. Mastering SEO not only enhances your understanding of the digital landscape but also equips you with the tools to connect with your target audience, communicate your value proposition effectively, and measure the success of your strategies. As you embark on your SEO journey, just remember that the key to SEO is not just about pleasing search engines—it's about delivering value to users and creating an exceptional online experience. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned professional, we hope this comprehensive guide helps you navigate the dynamic world of SEO, amplifying your career opportunities and enhancing your ability to make a meaningful impact in the digital space. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Start your SEO journey today!

About the Author

Alistair Hinchliffe is a seasoned SEO Specialist at Distl, a renowned Perth SEO Agency. With a career spanning 6 years in the industry, Alistair has honed his skills primarily in technical SEO and content strategy, achieving significant results for numerous clients by securing top rankings on competitive SERPs. A regular contributor to Distl's SEO blog, Alistair is passionate about providing actionable and pragmatic advice to newcomers in the field.