One of the evergreen questions I’ve been receiving for more or less 10 years is easy and simple, at least if we only think to this as a question: how to become an SEO specialist? And what should I choose: freelancing or in house? I’ve been trying to give a proper answer to people for so many years but I’m quite sure I’m not being exhaustive because, let’s be honest, the job itself cannot be explained with a few phrases and while drinking a coffee. SEO has changed so much in the past years that, as for today, explaining what it is and how to become a specialist can be harder than we think.
What is SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is basically the process of getting traffic from search results on search engines. When it comes to SEO we are talking about organic traffic not paid nor from social media so it’s basically how a website or a single piece of content can be discovered online by people looking for that particular topic. “Optimization” is the word to which we need to pay attention because the process of optimizing an online content is the key to bring qualified traffico to your site.
Let me be more clear:
If you have an article on how to book a low cost trip in Florida you want the search engine to show it at the top of the SERP when people search for “low cost trip in Florida”.
SEO, in a few words, is everything you do to make this happens, both on your content and externally.
How many types of SEO do exist?
If the word SEO is just one, there are multiple types of SEO to be considered:
1. On-Page SEO: everything you do, directly on your website or your content, to make it rank better and be found;
2. Off-Page SEO: all the activities you make, on third parties’ sites, to promote your online content and get recognition so that search engine will recognize it as autorithative and will give you a better ranking.
Why SEO is so important and why do companies need a specialist?
Easy to say: SEO isn’t optional any more because unless you want to produce content (where content means everything, from articles to products’ pages and so on) just for the sake of doing it you need to be discovered by clients and a target audience. The main key of this is that improvise is not the way to go and having an expert is the only thing possible for a company, big or small.
What does an SEO expert do?
Usually an SEO expert is charged with a different number of responsibilities based on the company and the industry but for sure there are different specializations within the SEO world:
1. SEO Content writer
2. SEO Analyst
3. SEO Project Manager
4. SEO Technical Specialist
5. Mobile SEO Specialist
Very often these roles are so close and interlaced that one person can be asked to perform all of the 5 duties, especially these times where marketing has become one of the most complex matter on the planet. SEO is Becoming more and more integrated with marketing but a real SEO expert has an in depth knowledge of every single aspect of SEO and it’s able to decide which is the role he/she likes the most.
How to become an SEO Expert?
This is probably the hardest question ever when it comes to SEO. The most common educational requirement for an SEO expert is the experience together with an in depth knowledge of the online marketing and, if possible, technical skills as well. Not to forget a perfect knowledge of grammar rules! But because the SEO industry changes so rapidly I honestly think the importance of appropriate courses is questionable but it’s not questionable at all the need for an ongoing education which has to be fundamental to constantly update skills and competencies.
How and where do you learn SEO?
* On the ground, experiencing and facing issues. Better with the help of someone trained and already expert;
* Attending conferences and workshops;
* Keeping informed reading the most important SEO related sources, Google first;
* Get familiar with HTML;
* Opening a site where you can practice.
But can you really learn SEO?
If you want to become a specialist then yes, you can really learn SEO but what the most important part of the learning process is applying what you’ve studied to real projects. The more practice the better you can get; the more you fail the better you can get. The less you cheat on your knowledges the better it is. In two words: exactly like every other job you can learn how to become qualified but this cannot stop you from learning constantly.
What kind of SEO do you want (and can) to be?
1. The Pro
A Pro is a person able to answer questions, provide examples of past works and he/she is always honest and reliable. He/She is always ready to step back, to accept defeat and learn from mistakes. He/She knows how to network and if necessary moves his/her work to others for further opinions. The Pros don’t consider themselves Guru but people who constantly learn from what they do.
2. The Average, without infamy and without praise
You can try and succeed once and then drastically fail later. You can be lucky once, are you sure you can always be lucky?
3. The Cheater
If during an interview or an assessment you can’t answer to the questions:
How will you improve my search engine rankings? Can you make my site rank in the first position in one week?
then direct your efforts to something else to avoid being ridiculed and also making the company you work with waste time and money.
In house SEO or Freelance Consultant?
This is really a personal choice: some people prefer to get paid every month and go to work 9-5 to be happy and safe, others prefer to become freelancers and risk every month. Surely the competition is stiff and both choices have their own risks and problems today. Working as a Freelance SEO Consultant surely gives more freedom and the opportunity to work on different projects at the same time.
What’s the average salary of an SEO Specialist?
There’s no average salary for an SEO Specialist because a lot depends on years of experience, qualifications and age. Some consultants work for a few $ but I’m quite sure the output a company gets from them has zero value. Some newbies do the same but again, their value is pretty much equal to zero. There’s always a mid range price between the so-called Guru and the Average and that’s where the Pros stand. Of course there are differences between in house SEOs or Freelance SEO Consultants.
1. I’m blogging for a long time, can I start referring to myself to a SEO specialist?
No, you can’t. Where’s your experience? And where have you been trained? Blogging can be part of the learning process but bloggers, unless with a specific background (a set of skills and the necessary experience), are not SEO specialists.
2. I’ve worked on my cousins’ friend website, I think I’m ready to jump and become an SEO specialist for a big company
No, having worked on your cousins’ friend website doesn’t qualify you as a Specialist. It gives you a little bit more but you surely can’t refer to yourself as a specialist or an expert.
3. I’m offering low rates to be known, am I doing the right think?
It depends by the companies you get in touch with but the most common situation is that you will probably attire just low level companies, not interested in a professional service and only interested in saving. An experience like that could bring you a bad reputation, difficult to manage.
3. I go working for a company as a Specialist and then I’ll learn. How does it sound?
If you go to work for a company as a Specialist without any knowledge than it’s your boss’ fault. Probably the same boss will make a lot of other mistakes and you won’t learn anything from this person, professionally speaking.
* Top Questions to be asked to an SEO Specialist
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* 58 Resources to Help You Learn and Master SEO
* 6 Must-Have Technical SEO Skills an SEO Professional Should Have
* 7 Tips to Become an Expert SEO