How did you become an SEO expert? Please share a short version of your career path, and how it helped to make you an expert.
To help other marketing professionals interested in specializing in SEO, we asked marketing professionals and business leaders this question for their insight. From cultivating a healthy curiosity for SEO to embracing the trial-and-error approach, there are several ways to become an SEO expert.
Here is what 10 thought-leaders had to say:
- Cultivate a Healthy Curiosity for SEO
- Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Real Business
- Invest in Classes and Online Courses
- Create and Grow Your Own Blog
- Start With HTML
- Understand the Impact of Content
- Use WordPress to Learn the Algorithms
- Monitor Changes Constantly
- Trust Your Instincts
- Embrace the Trial-and-Error Approach
Cultivate a Healthy Curiosity for SEO
I started off as a content writer at an agency where I quickly began asking questions about SEO. The head of SEO strategy took me under her wing and I shadowed her until I grew into a full-time strategist.
Learning from another expert propelled my knowledge level and equipped me to tackle complex issues for clients. It all started with me speaking up and realizing it’s okay to not know it all. Today, I’m the Senior SEO content strategist and that curiosity remains with me as I consult clients and train colleagues.
Claire Routh, Markitors
Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Real Business
My original background was actually as a pharmacist – however, I always had a personal interest in business, marketing, and especially the role of digital marketing and tech. So I had been stumbling about, learning, and dabbling in various facets of marketing since around 2013. I then fell into the world of SEO around 2014 – 2015 and discovered this curious thing called link building!
I had zero contacts in the industry, had no formal sales experience – but I knew how to do email outreach and get very good links. I slowly picked up clients and started to build a fully remote team.
Since then I quit my job as a pharmacist and have turned my passion for SEO into a six-figure business.
Amit Raj, The Links Guy
Invest in Classes and Online Courses
As the Head of Growth of a marketing company, SEO is very important to our growth. This is why I invested in classes and online courses to help develop my knowledge of SEO. There is always more to learn, so I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but I am certainly very knowledgeable about the topic. I have used the information I have learned through these classes to help grow and improve our SEO for our company. It has been very effective so far and I look forward to continuing this growth.
Chris Gadek, AdQuick
Create and Grow Your Own Blog
One of the best ways to learn anything is by actually doing it yourself. The way I became an SEO expert was by growing my own blog and getting it to show up on search engines. This helped me actually test what was working and what wasn’t.
Valentine Okoronkwo, Passive Secrets
Start With HTML
I became an SEO expert by following the same path that has led me to become a successful entrepreneur. I started my career as part of building websites back when we still used HTML and CSS, then later expanded into search engine optimization through web design projects where there was more room for creativity without being constrained by strict boundaries on what could be done technologically. This gave me experience in both areas which helped make me who I am today – someone able to provide value while also offering their expertise!
Saskia Ketz, Mojomox
Understand the Impact of Content
Earlier in my career, I took a digital marketing role at a company that had recently gone through a rebrand. Though the rebrand was mostly successful, the organic traffic to their website dropped by almost 50%. It was a brutal unintended consequence to upgrading the brand. I spent the next 18 months focused on SEO and how to recover and it meant understanding the impact of content, site structure, page speed, etc. The experience I gained while trying to solve that puzzle has had such a positive impact on my career since that time.
Logan Mallory, Motivosity
Use WordPress to Learn the Algorithms
Learning SEO begins and ends with learning the algorithms and mechanics of WordPress. There are nearly 70 million blogs that provide business content every month, and over 80% of those are published using WordPress as their platform. In addition, WordPress powers 41% of all websites. Simply stated, to understand SEO, you must understand WordPress.
I began my SEO training by designing websites utilizing WordPress. While my on-the-job education continued, I incorporated classes, which taught me how Google and other search engines interacted with WordPress and what cultivated links and references to increase SEO. Through many trial runs and my share of mistakes, I eventually gathered knowledge to be able to consider myself an SEO expert.
Cody Candee, Bounce
Monitor Changes Constantly
I began my SEO career as a “Growth Marketing Coordinator”, basically solely focused on keyword research, content creation, and acquiring backlinks. When this was my primary focus, I made sure to track every backlink I added or every edit I made to a header or meta description and how it affected the target page’s performance. Each week I’d return to the page and see how rankings changed, and edit based on what position movements I saw.
SEO is an ever-changing game and even the experts don’t know exactly what helps or hurts a page, but constant monitoring of SEO efforts and position changes give us the best real-time look at what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to learn over time what’s the most powerful strategy for each page.
Ryan McSweeney, Electric IT Support
Trust Your Instincts
My career in the SEO industry branched out from my knack for digital marketing. It was four years ago when I got sacked for a job because my boss didn’t trust my instincts for our SEO clients. Two months after that, I realized that I don’t need to work for an agency if I can create my own instead. I realized that I had the instincts to make thriving SEO decisions.
Two months after getting sacked from an SEO job, I created my own digital marketing agency with a specialization in SEO efforts. Everything else after that is history.
Brogan Renshaw, Modelers Central
Embrace the Trial-and-Error Approach
I have become an SEO expert by trial-and-error, basically studying the options available that will generate more traffic into my website and incorporating these methods one by one within a specific period and budget. Over time I have gathered enough data to assess what works most effectively for me and have focused my attention and resources on one specific method that gives me the ideal outcome.
Kathryn McDavid, Editor’s Pick