August 15, 2012

How to learn about SEO

Published: 15 August 2012 

Being a ‘newbie’ to Search Marketing many people have asked me how I learned about SEO and digital marketing. The answer is self-taught and from your team. Of course, you can learn aspects of digital, business and marketing through courses and universities, however SEO is ever-changing and the rules of the game can change drastically overnight. Being in an industry where the textbooks would be out of date by the end of the term means you have to research, experiment and learn from each other.

Will Critchlow from Distilled wrote an excellent article this week about effective methods to learn about SEO. His methodology includes the following steps:

1. Curiosity

A curious person will always want to know more about a subject, problems and solutions. Asking questions and wanting to know more will help you research more constructively about SEO. You should conduct your own experiments, such as build your own small website to understand the fundamentals of web design, development, coding and then move onto on-page, off-page SEO, Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Having a better understanding of the whole picture and gaining technical skills will help you be a successful SEO specialist.

2. Learn skills using a scale for steep learning curves

Will has devised a scale model for learning, where each level is a higher knowledge of the subject it also gets much harder to achieve:

  •  Beginner-no experience
  •  Basic competence – you can perform  and complete basic tasks
  •  Core competence – you can complete and have knowledge of all tasks in this area
  •  Distilled expert – people in the same industry come to you for help and advice
  •  Renowned expert – came up with the theory or known

So even if you only want to learn enough to perform basic tasks you are moving up a level in knowledge. Apply this to everything you want to learn in digital marketing and SEO.

3. Trivia can help marketers realise the subtleties of problem-solving

Trivial information and knowledge can help improve problem-solving. If you can recall the trivial and subtleties of a problem then it will be easier and quicker to find the answer to achieve goals in SEO. One way of improving your trivial knowledge is to read a wide variety of articles daily.

4. Interact with smarter people than yourself

A well-known saying is “you become the people you hang out with, so chose carefully”. Surrounding yourself with smart, interesting people will help you further your knowledge and will encourage idea generation. Conferences and events are a great way to meet and interact with like-minded individuals. You could also use online channels such as LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter to converse with leaders in your industry.

5. Focus on transformational learning

Learn something that can transform your skills set rather than ‘’polish’ it up. As an SEO specialist you could learn web developer skills such as HTML, which will help become more successful in SEO. In other words, prioritize your learning! “Eat that frog” and learn what might take the longest but will be the most beneficial skill for you.

6. It is ok to fail!

You are learning, you are trying new things-of course you are going to fail at something along the way. But, do not let it harbour your improvement. If you are in a position of authority then be seen to fail-leaders take risks and should encourage their team to do so too-failure does not mean the end, it just shows what you should focus on next.

7. Write online-engage with people with the same interest

Writing online will help you structure and analyse your knowledge of a subject. It will help you discover gaps in your research.  Feedback from other bloggers and internet users will help you further your knowledge of SEO and will encourage engagement with people who are smarter than you in the industry.

8. Gain a wider knowledge of marketing, business and ‘people‘ skills

Being good at SEO means having a wider knowledge of marketing, digital, business, time management, client management and communication skills. A successful SEO specialist is an all-rounder with a wide-range of these skills.

Finally, I would add to Will Critchlow’s methodology on how to learn about SEO by advising learners that you must be passionate and dedicated to learning about SEO. As mentioned before it is a continual learning process-just when you think you have the ‘’name of the game’’ nailed, Google changes the rules again! So, if you are passionate about SEO then the above methodology by Critchlow will come easy to you. “

As Confucius said “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life...”

Ben Maden

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