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Skills You Need to Become an SEO Expert
As advertising rates are getting more expensive, there is an increased demand for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.
There is plenty of information available online about SEO and every aspect of it. However, for anyone who is looking to learn SEO from scratch, too much information may do more harm than good.
Rather than spending years trying to read every single article online and structure the knowledge yourself, it makes sense to consult with an expert like Sasha Matviienko, Head of SEO & Digital at growth360.
Based on Sasha’s years of experience in the industry, here is how he recommends structuring your approach to learning SEO.
Understanding the SEO Process
Structure is the vital part of the learning process. There so many resources dedicated to search engine optimization out there, that it’s easy to get lost among the countless advice.
This is why it’s important to understand the SEO process before you dive into getting actual skills. The goal is to identify the general process for SEO, which you will be able to improve as you advance your skills and gain more knowledge.
Here is a brief outline of SEO process most experts follow:
- Resolve technical SEO issues
- Improve content for existing website pages
- Take advantage of the “low hanging fruit” opportunities
- Develop best-in-class content
- Go after cross-channel opportunities
In this article, we will cover the skills you need to be able to execute every step of SEO process and get results.
Skills You Need to Resolve Technical SEO Issues
Analyzing the backend of a website will allow you to see it “with Google’s eyes”. This is the most important part of the project as it sets the stage for the future work by SEO, content, and development teams.
At this stage, SEOs gather information from a variety of sources and organize it in order to prioritize pages based on impact vs effort.
Tools and skills that are recommended at this stage of the process are:
- A site audit tools like Screaming Frog, SEMRush, or Ahrefs
- Technical SEO knowledge
- Access to Google Analytics to prioritize pages (recommended)
- Access to Google Search console to get the real-world data on current SEO performance
Improve Content on Existing Pages
Once pages are prioritized and developers are addressing the technical SEO issues on your website, it’s time to move to the next steps in the process.
Improving content is crucial for any website. Yet, this is where I see most websites make mistakes. You may have a beautiful website and fast loading pages, but this means little if it can’t be found. To be found, you need to understand that Google is looking at the content (and keywords to understand what the page is about).
To adjust the targeting of your pages, I recommend using tools like Keywords Everywhere, SEM Rush or Ahrefs to understand what consumers are searching for and the content you need on your website in order to give the best answer to a user’s query.
Take Advantage of the “Low Hanging Fruit” Opportunities
This is a fairly broad category that requires a lot of SEO knowledge and where an abundance of SEO-related tips and articles will come in handy. However, knowledge of the issues and opportunities you need to prioritize is vital as many issues may not need to be fixed at all.
This skill comes with experience. We recommend starting with the “Why” every time you make an SEO recommendation as this impacts the work of multiple specialists on your team, strategy and development.
Continuous learning and experimentation will help you get better at identifying and prioritizing SEO issues as you go.
Develop Best-in-Class Content
Once you have the basics covered and your existing pages are in a good shape, you will start seeing first results of your search engine optimization efforts.
However, with SEO there are always bigger and better opportunities out there. To take advantage of these opportunities you need to understand what content Google wants to serve to their customers.
There are over 200 criteria Google uses to prioritize websites. However, one of the most important parts is having the best answer to users' questions.
To help create the best answer to the question, you need to have the following skills:
Keywords research - from variety of sources - SEMRush, Search Console, Google Search, Google Image search etc.
Understanding user intent and the types of content Google thinks answer user’s query the best (e.g. video, blog post or a how-to articles).
An ability to quickly analyze content of your competitors and see what is missing on your pages compared to theirs.
Go After Cross-Channel Opportunities
SEO is an excellent channel to drive interested users to the website, at every stage of the funnel. While visits from organic search channels tend to be more engaged compared to other awareness channels, such as display and social media, it’s important to remember that you need to put in active effort to get that sale or lead.
When working with client’s SEO, I recommend adding cross-channel efforts for your campaign. Often, our SEO work also includes Conversion Rate Optimization services and remarketing. The skills you need to execute this stage of SEO process are:
Conversion Rate Optimization marketing allows companies to maximize sales from existing website visitors, no matter how they find you. This way you will see results of your SEO efforts improve your performance across the board.
Remarketing – a crucial part of any digital marketing effort. Most website visitors won’t buy after the first visit. That’s why staying on top in consumer’s minds is important. Adding remarketing to your SEO campaign will help drive more leads and sales from your website as a whole.
To be an effective learner, you need to approach your education in a structured manner. In this article we outlined a generic structure of an SEO campaign. We also mention a number of tools and specific skills you will need in order to execute each specific stage of the campaign.
By following this structure, you will be able to navigate through all the information available online about SEO and this will make your progress faster.
About the Author
Sasha Matviienko is a man of ideas, creativity and data-based precision with ten years of digital marketing, analytics and conversion optimization expertise. Sasha leads the SEO and digital team at growth360 and helps clients of sizes, from pre-revenue startups and local businesses to Fortune 100 brands, to find the best revenue-driving solutions.