(SEO) Search Engine Optimization as a profession has never been in higher demand. And it pays well. In fact, we surveyed 357 SEO professionals and 50% of respondents said they charge $75-$200 per hour.
Well, just because you do SEO doesn’t mean you can charge a lot of money for your services. You need to have experience producing results and be able to replicate those results over and over.
These things will make you an SEO professional for clients and employers. So if you’re ready to start your journey to become an SEO expert, keep watching, because, in this article, I’ll show you six easy steps to building authority in a competitive and lucrative industry.
It is important that we discuss perception versus reality. The word “expert” is a relative term. For example, this person considers me one of the top SEO experts on YouTube. But this man apparently didn’t. Now the view on paper may be more nebulous. For example, Inc. Magazine calls me an SEO expert in this article.
The reality is those true SEO experts are those that have actually gotten results and consistently replicate success through a deep understanding of search engine optimization. And in my opinion for you, that’s what you should strive for over mentions and accolades, which tend to come as a result of sharing your (SEO) Search Engine Optimization experiences publicly.
So, for the rest of this article, I want to focus on six key steps you can take to become a true SEO expert, whether silently for your own projects or in public.
Learn how search engines work.
Google’s search index contains trillions of web pages. And this index is mainly built by crawling the web. This is basic SEO 101 knowledge. If you don’t understand how Google discovers, indexes interpret, and ranks pages, then you should start there. A thorough understanding of these sections will help you diagnose the problem and rank your site with a certain level of confidence. If you choose to ignore these basic but essential technical details, you will have difficulty throughout the journey. If you only know how to use a hammer, it’s like trying to build a deck. You may make progress, but you won’t get very far.
Learn enough about the four main buckets of SEO.
These are keyword research, on-page SEO, link building, and technical SEO.
Everyone should at least have a working understanding of these things because they are the foundation of SEO. We have a complete SEO course for beginners that dives into these areas and should be enough to help you get organic traffic month after month.
So, why do you know when you’ve “learned enough”?
Well, a good measure is whether the blog posts you read and the videos you watch on those topics are repeating. This is a good sign. But that doesn’t mean you should start looking for advanced tutorials.
Put what you’ve learned into practice.
The knowledge you gain while learning SEO is conceptual. This means that if you’re actually doing SEO, it doesn’t always translate the way you envision it.
So pick a niche, create a website and start putting what you’ve learned into practice because knowledge and experience are two completely different things. The experience you gain is critical in building your expertise as you understand what actually works and what doesn’t in practice.
Additionally, you start building processes that can be reused across different domains. But this step isn’t just about processes, case studies, or self-building. It’s about learning what you’re good at and what you like.
Niche in one of these areas.
Since SEO is quite broad in scope and contains so many moving elements, it can be difficult to be an expert in every part. That’s why it’s important to focus on a single SEO area to really build your expertise. For this, you should focus on becoming a T-shaped SEO expert.
Becoming a T-shaped SEO professional means you have broad skills in all areas of SEO but excel in one specific area. The field you choose should be one that you are good at and enjoy the most. Well, some examples of T-shaped SEO you may know are Marie Haynes, who specializes in recovering Google penalties, Nick Eubanks, who became a keyword research expert early in his career, and Jon Cooper, who only focuses on links put up.
Another option is to become an industry guru. So instead of doing SEO for lawyers, you can do SEO for personal injury law firms.
Now you need to decide and weigh the pros and cons. moving into more general SEO fields like keyword research or technical SEO will make your journey to becoming an SEO expert longer and more competitive than going into very specific niches like page speed optimization.
But this comes at the cost of smaller market size. So you have to make some personal and professional decisions that no one else can make for you.
Systemize and delegate.
By now, you should know how to plan and execute your chosen area of SEO as your specialty. But, of course, many fundamental parts of SEO require time and effort.
For example, if you decide to build expertise in link building, you probably don’t want to be looking for emails all day. This is something you can easily systemize and delegate to others. Also, systemizing and empowering is a great way to test your knowledge as you need to break down each final step when training employees or creating SOPs.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein,
While this step doesn’t directly build your expertise, it creates time and space for you to focus on the next step.
Building your adaptation and innovation skills
An expert is basically someone who knows a lot about a topic. But her professionalism will certainly be tested throughout her career. In SEO, it often comes down to the ability to adapt and innovate.
When you ask someone a question about SEO, the answer you’ll often get is, “it depends.” And while this might seem like a cop-out answer, there’s a lot of truth in it because SEO is nuanced. Other times, you’ll be offered an alternative solution to what you actually want to do.
For example, if we asked 10 link-building experts how they would build a link to a page, and how to assemble a box, some would say, “You can’t do that.” Others would say, “Build a link.” To other websites. Worth linking and using internal linking. “And there may be someone with higher expertise and creativity who can come up with a good plan and, more importantly, be able to implement it. Well, when it comes to bringing innovation to your niche, it can come in many different forms. This can be a new strategy, new idea, new research, or creative improvement of a process.
For example, Brian Dean created a popular link-building tactic called the skyscraper technique. It’s not innovative because he gave it a catchy name. That’s because it works, others have proven it works, no one has really talked about it before, and his technique is widely used.
Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson famously theorized that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to expert a new skill. Whether you need 5,000, 10,000, or 100,000 hours, if you want to master SEO, you need to immerse yourself in the process, focus on getting results, and learn how to adapt and improve your skills.
Then again, things like recognition and rewards are often a byproduct of demonstrating your expertise and sharing your knowledge openly