Knowing about search engine optimization or SEO is essential if you want your website to be ranked well in Google and other search engines. There are several obstacles to becoming an expert at SEO, however. If you don’t have a technical background, the rules can seem quite complicated. Additionally, SEO is a field that is constantly changing.
SEO is not a field that most people study in college like most other subjects. Actually, some colleges and universities may offer classes in SEO at this point. However, this would probably be the least efficient way to learn such a fast moving topic.
In contrast to the fast-paced world of the internet and world wide web, academia is slow-moving and conservative. By the time the curriculum and textbook for an SEO course is devised, much of the content could be obsolete. SEO is the perfect example of a subject that should be learned in the trenches, preferably by people who are actually using it. A traditional classroom is therefore not your best choice.
Many business owners and others who want to rank their websites quickly give up on trying to learn about SEO, concluding that it would be too complicated and time-consuming. They decide it’s better to rely on experts. So they may hire an individual or agency that specializes in SEO. There are many options for outsourcing SEO, from virtual assistants to finding a local service in your area.
While there’s nothing wrong with hiring an SEO expert, it puts you at a disadvantage if you know nothing about the field. How do you know that the company you’re hiring is doing a good job? You might think that the results will speak for themselves. Even the best SEO services, however, take time. In fact, if someone promises you overnight results, this is a sure sign that they are probably not trustworthy.
There are several websites that are excellent sources of information regarding SEO. These include Moz, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable. What’s great about these sites is that their information is up-to-the-minute. Some of the writers on these sites have other blogs, which can be useful as well.
Don’t be intimidated if you start reading an article on one of these sites and don’t understand everything. If you don’t understand a term, take the time to look it up. These sites usually have links that explain every term. Otherwise, simply Google every unfamiliar term or concept. If you consistently visit these sites and read a few articles every week, you’ll find that your understanding of SEO increases quickly.
We have our own online marketing blog, and you can find some useful information on SEO there. In addition to SEO, we also post about other online marketing and web design tactics.
One way to jump-start your knowledge of SEO is to attend a live event. This is an environment where you’ll meet lots of people and see a variety of presentations. You should probably be familiar with some of the basics of SEO before you attend an event. Otherwise, you might be overwhelmed at all of the information. The following are a few examples of regular events. Keep in mind that events dedicated to digital marketing, social media and other such topics will most likely cover quite a bit of SEO, as these fields overlap quite a bit.
Mozcon, which is run by the lovely people over at Moz. .
SMX events. These are held all over, with an advanced session in Seattle.
Pubcon. This is a must for most marketers.
The rules of SEO, which are largely dictated by Google, are always changing. While this certainly presents a challenge, there is also good news. Google has been steadily moving in the direction of favoring content that is natural and beneficial to its users – that is, the millions of people who use their search engine every day. This means that the best SEO is found in quality content. The typical tricks of SEO, such as keyword stuffing and using lots of low-quality backlinks, no longer work.
The reason this is beneficial to non-experts is that you can often create the most optimized content without even thinking about SEO. It’s still good to know about what’s happening in the field. However, someone who focuses on creating great content may actually outperform someone who tries to use lots of SEO gimmicks that are now penalized by Google. One of the biggest things that Google now looks for is relevance. Your website’s topic, the headlines of your posts and the actual content should all match. This is an example of something many people do without even knowing about Google’s algorithms.
Like anything else, the best way to learn SEO is by doing it. The downside to this approach is that mistakes can be costly. At the same time, there really is no other way to get familiar with the field. You don’t have to learn everything all at once. Start by browsing some of the websites and social media profiles listed above or ones you find by doing your own research.
Keep in mind that you’re always “doing SEO,” even when you aren’t thinking about it. As mentioned above, creating quality content is the most important criterion for SEO now. It’s also important to be active and to publish consistently. A website that seldom gets updated will have a hard time ranking. You can also learn about SEO while others are helping you. Even if you outsource some or all of your SEO tasks, you can still take the time to learn as much as possible. That way, you’ll either be more qualified to hire the best help or you won’t need help at all at some point.