Perfect because this guide will show you everything you need to know. Becoming an SEO expert is not as complicated as you may think. All you need to do is follow the framework that I will show you and take action.
The value of being a true SEO expert
When I say a “real” SEO expert, I mean someone who can consistently increase organic search traffic. The “expert” level also means that you have enough knowledge to combat unexpected results. Getting to this level takes time and effort.
Option # 1: DIY
ANY business can benefit from SEO. Doing SEO for your own business has some advantages.
You don’t need to invest in an SEO expert. A quality SEO expert will cost you at least $ 2,500 / month and will need a 6-12 month commitment.
You are responsible for your own success. You can work as hard or as little as you want on SEO.
You can allocate capital to whatever you want (since you will not be investing in an agency).
You are forced to focus on what will have the greatest impact. You have a business to run and grow. That means you can’t focus long on the minutiae of SEO. This forces you to go into deep thought and figure out what is most important in SEO. More on this in a second.
The beauty of learning SEO is that you can use it to grow every new business you start.
Option # 2: get customers
Getting clients is the fastest way to increase your SEO income. It’s also a great way to get immediate cash flow, which you can reinvest in other SEO projects.
On the other hand, it is also the best way to go mentally crazy. I explain many of these problems in my SEO expert article. But I will also list some of the problems of working with clients.
Unrealistic expectations. This is usually the product of a weak client application or research system. If you don’t set realistic expectations, you’ll be sorry. Don’t overdo what is possible to meet your sales quota.
Customers can be unreliable and can hurt your cash flow. It doesn’t matter how good your collection system is. There will be customers who play when paying.
Operations are a headache. Running an SEO expert is challenging because each campaign is unique. That means that each campaign requires different actions. This makes it difficult to create solid systems, which makes it difficult to scale.
It requires human capital. To scale an SEO expert , you need to hire people. You can only take it so far by yourself. New challenges arise when you attract employees, but that will be a topic for a later blog post.
It is a job with many bosses. Working with clients often feels like a job and not a business. Of course, you can fix this by taking yourself out of the equation. But, that’s easier said than done.
Option n. 3: start a specific site or sites
A niche site is a website that focuses on a single topic, such as “under the counter ice machines” or “baby monitors.”
Niche sites are how I got into SEO. I believe that starting a specialized site is the best way to learn SEO. The reason is because you have to figure it out and there are not a ton of risks involved. Another reason specialty sites are a good place to start is because they don’t need a lot of capital.
Also, if you research your keywords correctly, you can find niches with less competition. This increases your chances of success.
The biggest risk you can run into when creating specialized sites is wasting time. But if you are trying to improve your SEO skills, that time will be valuable in your progression.
But like anything else, there are a few downsides to niche sites: Lower earning potential. That means you would need to create more than one niche site to generate a decent amount of income.
And when you add more niche sites, you add more complexity to your business. Building a successful website is quite difficult. Developing and trying to grow many specialized sites can be an operational headache.
Decrease in profit margins as your portfolio grows. This is because you will either have to spend more time managing your sites or you will have to outsource much of the work.
More volatility than authority websites. Updates from EMD and Panda have shown that Google doesn’t like micro-niche sites. But to be fair, many of the sites affected by those updates gave little value to users. And many had duplicate or thin content. You can decrease the volatility of your niche site by creating true value as I explain in this SEO strategy.
Option # 4: Develop an authority site
I love the authority website model for several reasons:
- They have more opportunities for growth.
- They have less content restriction.
- They are more “linkable”
- They have reduced the risk of algorithm penalty / volatility
- An example of an authority website is Gotch SEO because it focuses on a broad topic like SEO.
- Like the other options, there are also some drawbacks:
Greater investment of time. To create a high authority website, you need to have experience in the niche you are targeting. Producing content at the surface level will not help you build an authority site. You must invest your time to become an expert or at least 25% superior in your industry. Then you can create a site of exceptional authority.
Greater capital investment. This will not affect you if you are writing your own SEO content. If you plan to outsource it then it will be capital intensive. This is because producing “authority” content requires quality writers and more words. Both factors increase your costs.
Option # 5: flip websites
There are two ways to flip websites:
- You can start a website from scratch, build it, and then flip it over.
- You can purchase an existing website, improve it, and then flip it over.
- Each option has its own unique challenges that I will not go into.
However, let me say that flipping websites is an amazing way to get instant capital. You can then use this capital to reinvest in other income-generating SEO projects (recommended).
Option # 6: Sell leads
Building lead generation websites is a decent alternative for recruiting clients. I have never taken this route, but I know of many that have. In essence, you first identify a local keyword like “Los Angeles plumber.” Then create a website to rank for that keyword. Once the site is ranked, you can sell the organic leads to real Los Angeles plumbers. Or you can sell the website to a Los Angeles plumber.
Option # 7: become an employee
I know this option is not ideal for everyone, but it is a good way to get your feet wet. There are all kinds of companies looking to hire internal SEOs.
One way to do this is to get hired and gain experience. Then on the side, you can work to grow your own SEO business or work on other projects. This way you don’t have to worry about income.
Also, if you want to take the customer SEO route, being an employee is a good introduction. Your boss will give you the experience and backbone you need to have many bosses at the same time.
Option # 8: diversification
This is my favorite option. Use your SEO skills to earn money in many different ways. This reduces your risk and dependence on any individual method.
For example, if 100% of your income comes from customers, you are playing with fire. In one day, all of your clients could wake up and decide to fire you. What are you going to do then? Even if you have solid lead generation, you will be in trouble.
It’s okay not to have diversification in the beginning. But you need to work towards better income diversification as soon as possible.
Now that you know the value of being an SEO expert, let me explain the most important part of your journey to becoming one.
Start with the right mindset
I’m not going to bombard you with a guru talk about personal development, but there is no denying how important your mindset is to achieving something in life.
SEO is a means to an end
The only reason SEO is valuable is because it is a tool for increasing revenue. Sure, it has other purposes, such as branding, reputation management, and even deception. But most people use SEO to increase organic search traffic and increase revenue.
Never lose sight of the fact that SEO is a TOOL. Sure, algorithms are fun to mess with, but always remember that MORE MONEY is the goal.
But before you can make a little dough, you need to acquire basic SEO knowledge.
If you are an absolute beginner, then you need to get basic SEO knowledge. And even if you are experienced, you still need to study and practice the fundamentals. This builds knowledge reinforcement.
Like any other skill, SEO requires learning some important fundamentals. Master the fundamentals. Let me show you some of the fundamentals you need to learn:
SEO requires you to analyze Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Don’t worry … this doesn’t mean you have to be a technical geek.
You just need: A) to know what data / KPIs really matter and B) how to use the data / KPIs to improve your campaigns.
The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
Get started with Analytics
After that, you need to learn how to use Google Search Console. Google Search Console has a variety of features that Google Analytics does not have.
The final set of tools you need to learn is for backlink management and analysis. The three most popular tools are Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, or Open Site Explorer.
- Keyword research
Identifying the correct keywords is one of the most important skills you can learn. Read this keyword research guide to get started.
- Competitor analysis
Finding possible keywords is just the first step. You have to validate your keywords by analyzing the competitors. Get started with this SEO competitor analysis guide.
- Technical optimization
Technical issues will affect your site’s performance on Google. That is why you must become a master to find and fix them.
- Use these guides to get started:
The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO, The Technical Renaissance of SEO: Why and How SEO’s Forgotten Role in the Mechanics of the Web, Technical SEO Checklist: 7 Essential Tips to Implement Now for 2017
- Page level optimization
You must understand the art of optimizing organic landing pages. These are the keyword-targeted pages that you want to rank for on Google. This is the easiest SEO to learn.
- On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page
- The On-Page SEO Cheat Sheet
- Site architecture
- Understanding how to structure your website is a fundamental SEO skill.
- A well-developed site architecture does a few important things:
- It can help search engine spiders crawl your site more efficiently
- It can improve the user experience.
- You can reduce the number of backlinks you need to rank due to efficient link fairness flow.
Use these resources to get started:
- How to create a site structure that improves SEO
- Site Architecture: 9 Effective SEO Tips
Content asset development
You’ve probably heard that “content is king.” This is true. Content is one of the most important elements of a successful SEO campaign. It’s critical that you learn how to create keyword target content assets.
Nothing is more important than studying how to create effective content. Study everything you can about content marketing, copywriting, and sales writing.
Use these guides to get started:
- Convert keywords into SEO content
- 22 ways to create engaging content when you have no idea
- The nine ingredients that make great content
- Relationship building and outreach
To elevate your SEO performance, you must learn to build relationships. Yes, you have to communicate with real people to be successful in SEO. I know this is a difficult pill to swallow if you are an introvert, but it is necessary. You can’t get very far in this world by being a loner.
The # 1 tactic you need to know to build relationships online is how to exchange value. Value comes in many different forms, including content, money, physical products, etc. If you try to get something for nothing, then you will probably fail.
Here are some guides to help you understand this concept more deeply: A Model for Link Building: Beyond “Great Content” – Read, Study, and Reread This Guide. It is the basis of an effective link and value propositions.
Relationship-based link building
9 Habits Of People Who Build Extraordinary Relationships: A General Guide On How To Improve Your Relationship Building Efforts.
After content, backlinks are the second most important ranking factor. You can create the most beautiful content, but without backlinks, you will fail.
Knowing what a quality backlink is and then knowing HOW to get it is the key to becoming an SEO expert. Our guide on backlinks is the best way to start learning this important element of SEO.
Understanding how to drive organic search traffic to websites is a valuable skill. But knowing how to convert that traffic into revenue is even more valuable.
Every SEO expert needs to know how to conduct SEO audits. Audits help you identify issues that may be hurting a site’s performance. As I explain in this SEO audit guide, you should perform an audit at least every quarter. This will ensure that you stay on top of everything.
Those are all the fundamental skills you need to learn to become an SEO expert.
If you are a beginner, then you should spend 80% of your time trying to understand the fundamentals. Then spend 20% of your time taking measurements. This 80/20 split should move to 20% learning and 80% action after you understand the fundamentals.
How to take measurements
If you are new, I recommend that you start a specialized website. As I mentioned before, it is easy to start a niche site and it carries the least amount of risk. Here are some guides to help you get started on your first specialized website:
- How to build a niche site
- Ultimate 11 Step Guide: How to Create a Specialized Website That Can Make $ 2,985 a Month
- How I Made $ 32,000 In 12 Months With Amazon Niche Sites
- Analyze your results
- After starting your niche site, you need to analyze your results.
But before doing so, you need to understand one of the most important rules of SEO analysis:
Correlation is not causation.
Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. The Google algorithm uses more than 200 different ranking signals. It’s easy to jump to radical conclusions without looking at the big picture.
For example, you can say, “My ranking for (KEYWORD) dropped because I changed the title on the landing page.”
While this may be true, you don’t want to come to a conclusion so quickly. You must examine all the factors before concluding. And most importantly, you need to let the data guide you.
Whenever your organic search traffic increases or decreases, you should follow this simple five-step analysis:
1. Ask “why”?
It’s important to question increases and decreases because you can learn from both. Ask some of the following questions:
- Do we acquire new backlinks?
- Do we modify the SEO on the page?
- Do we change the architecture of the site?
- Do we add or subtract any internal links?
- Do we have tracking problems?
- Have there been algorithm updates?
- Is our range tracking software accurate?
2. Develop a hypothesis
Once you have identified a few possible culprits, you must develop a hypothesis. This does not need to be rigid.
That’s how it is. You shouldn’t take action on your hypothesis right away. That’s because Google’s algorithm can be volatile. Sometimes waiting and doing nothing is the best solution. I usually wait a week or even a month to see if the problem corrects itself. If the decline continues, then it is time to act.
4. Try it
Only take action on your hypothesis if you are at least 90% certain. Take one action at a time if you have identified more than one. For example, take one action and wait at least a week before taking another.
5. Always use annotations in Google Analytics
Always, always, ALWAYS record your actions in Google Analytics. This is a check against your hypothesis. That way, you can go back and see the exact action you took that improved or hurt your results.
You should audit your SEO campaign quarterly. This will ensure that you stay on top of everything. It will also help you identify ways to improve your campaign on a more regular basis.
There is no set “way” to do SEO, but you can build a loose system. For example, this guide is the culmination of years of experience, testing, and understanding of which factors have the greatest impact. But I would never pretend that ANY system, including my own, works 100% of the time.
How to increase conversions by 785% in one day (the content update)
Please note that Brian does not frequently post new content. It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because Brian went out of his way to promote and enhance his content assets. Analyze how your own blog operates. Do so and it is almost guaranteed to improve your content creation ability.
Glen’s SEO philosophy is a perfect balance between gray hat and white SEO. While advocating PBNs (a gray hat tactic), Glen also promotes the importance of creating valuable content.
Here are some of my favorite Glen items:
- 13 advanced link building strategies you (probably) haven’t used
- How 16 companies dominate Google search results in the world
- 51 profitable SEO niches to dominate with low competition
- Take a look at the way Glen creates content. Its headlines are powerful and it takes advantage of the concept of “length implies strength.”
Neil PatelNeil is the king of content-based SEO. Although he is now focusing on digital marketing as a whole, he continues to release SEO knowledge bombs on a regular basis. Keep an eye on it and don’t just read its content… Watch how it creates content and try to learn from everything it does.
Here are some of my Neil favorites:
- How to generate 20,000 monthly visitors through long tail search
- How to build high-quality backlinks in a scalable way
- How to attract more repeat visitors through SEO: what we learned from analyzing 114,871 keywords
Ross Hudgens If you are looking for content with a high level of thought and SEO, then Ross is your person. Its content forces you to elevate your game and think big.
I get a lot of value from all of Ross’s content, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Content Marketing in Boring Industries
- 13 practical SEO tips you can use today
- The advanced guide to content curation
How to reach the “next level”
At a certain point, you’ll need to stop doing time-consuming SEO tasks if you want to scale or expand your efforts.
I remember when I first got into SEO, I did EVERYTHING. I quickly learned that there was no way I could take my business to the next level if I tried to do everything.
Doing everything yourself is a good approach at first if you don’t have capital. But as soon as you start making money, I recommend that you start delegating time-consuming tasks.
From day 1, analyze every task you do. You will see overtime doing the same tasks all the time. These are the tasks you must learn to delegate. That is, as long as you have the correct systems in place.
At some point, you likely want to go from being an SEO expert to being a true business owner (AND an SEO expert).
Quick checklist on how you can scale your SEO efforts:
1. Create processes, procedures and policies for EVERYTHING you do in your business. It is impossible to climb without taking this step.
2. Test your processes, procedures and policies. Have someone with little knowledge of the industry work through your processes, procedures, and policies. Why someone with little knowledge of the industry? Because your systems should be easy to understand.
Complicated procedures lead to confusion. Confusion leads to wasted time due to unnecessary clarification or explanation. Bringing in an outside perspective is key to improving your systems. What makes sense in your own head may not make sense to others.
3. Hire someone to fulfill your systematized tasks. Use Upwork, hire an intern, or hire employees if that’s the route you want to go. Give this individual their task and the corresponding procedure on how to complete it. If you are bombarding with questions, then you need to improve your procedures.
4. Create backup systems. At this point, you should have been removed from many time-consuming tasks and delegated them. But, you should always prepare for the worst case scenario.
For example, the person you trust to do this job might disappear. This is why you should always have a backup solution. Keep a few freelancers on your “on call” list. These are people you have built relationships with and know you can trust.
Another backup method is to avoid relying on just one person. Hire two, three, or even four people to complete a group of tasks.
That way they have to compete. And even if one falls off the map, you still have the backups. And don’t forget that you have already created the systems at this point.
So even if all your help disappears, you still have your systems. That means you can quickly hire someone and get back to normal.
5. Focus on the actions that have the greatest impact. High-impact SEO actions are creating incredible content assets, building relationships with key influencers, and promoting your content (link acquisition and social media).
For example, I write the content on Gotch SEO because it requires my experience and my knowledge. I could outsource the writing, but no one could replicate my unique perspective. I know that writing content is the action that produces the most SEO results.
You must discover in which actions you are best. Maybe you excel at building relationships. Or maybe you are a master promoter. Either way, identify which actions have the biggest impact on your SEO performance. Focus on that and outsource everything else.
Here are some SEO tasks that you can systematize and outsource:
- Keyword research
- Competitor analysis
- Technical optimization
- Page level optimization
- Content writing
- Creation of infographics
- Blogger reach