How to Become an SEO Expert in 2021
SEO 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. Now, just because you do SEO, doesn't mean you can charge a ton of money for your services.
You need to get experience that produces results and to be able to replicate those results over and over again. And these are the things that are going to position you as an SEO expert in the face of clients and employers.
So if you want to kickstart your journey to become an SEO expert, then keep watching because in this video, I'll show you six simple steps to build authority in a competitive and lucrative industry.
Stay tuned. [music] Now, before we get started, it's important we talk about perception vs. reality. The word “expert" is a relative term. For example, this person thinks I'm one of the best SEO experts on YouTube.
But this person clearly does not. Now, perception can be even more clouded on paper. For example, in this article, Inc. Magazine referred to me as an SEO expert. But again, this is just one author's opinion – nothing more.
The reality is that 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, that's what you should strive for over mentions and accolades, which tend to come as a result of sharing your SEO experiences publicly.
So throughout the rest of this video, I want to focus on six important steps you can take to become a true SEO expert, whether that's silently for your own projects or in the public eye. The first step is to learn how search engines work.
Google's search index contains trillions of web pages. And this index is built primarily by crawling the web. This is foundational SEO 101 knowledge. And if you don't understand how Google discovers, indexes, interprets, and ranks pages, then that's where you'll want to begin.
Having a broad understanding of each of these parts will help you diagnose issues and rank pages with a level of certainty. And if you choose to ignore these basics, yet foundational technical aspects, then you'll have a hard time throughout your journey.
It's like trying to build a deck when the only thing you know how to do is use a hammer. You might make some progress, but you won't get very far. Alright, the next step is to learn enough about the four main buckets of SEO.
And these are keyword research, on page SEO, link building, and technical SEO. Everyone should have at least a working understanding of these things because they're fundamental to search engine optimization.
And we have a full SEO course for beginners which actually goes pretty deep into each of these buckets and should be more than enough to help you get organic traffic month after month. I'll link up the course in the description.
Now, how do you know when you've learned “enough?" Well, one decent gauge is when the blog posts you read and the videos you watch on these topics start to feel repetitive. That's a good sign.
But it doesn't mean you should start searching for advanced tutorials. It means you should move on to the next step which is to put what you've learned into practice. The knowledge you gain when learning SEO is conceptual.
Meaning, it won't always translate as you envisioned when you're actually doing SEO. So pick a niche, start a website, and start putting the things you've learned into action because knowledge and experience are two completely different things.
And the experience you'll get will be critical to build your expertise because you'll learn what actually works in practice and what doesn't. On top of that, you'll start building processes which you can reuse across various niches.
But this step isn't just about processes, case studies or building your ego. It's about learning what you're good at and what you enjoy. Which brings us to the next step, which is to niche down to one of the buckets.
Because SEO is quite broad with a lot of moving pieces, it's tough to become an expert in every part. And that's why it's important to niche down to a single area of SEO to truly build your expertise.
And to do that, you should focus on becoming a T-shaped SEO expert. Being a T-shaped SEO expert means you have broad skills across all things SEO, but excel in one particular area. And the area that you choose should be one that you're good at and ideally enjoy.
Now, some examples of T-shaped SEOs you might know include Marie Haynes, who specializes in Google penalty recovery, Nick Eubanks, who became an expert in keyword research in the earlier parts of his career, and Jon Cooper, who focused strictly on link building.
The other option is to become a master of one industry. So instead of doing SEO for attorneys, you might niche down as far as SEO for personal injury law firms. Now, you're going to have to decide and balance out the pros and cons.
By choosing a more general area of SEO like keyword research or technical SEO, your journey to becoming an SEO expert will be longer and more competitive versus choosing a very specific niche like pagespeed optimization.
But that comes with the tradeoff of a smaller market size. So you're going to have to make some personal and professional decisions that no one else can make for you. Alright, the next step is to systemize and delegate.
By now, you should know how to plan and execute the area of SEO you've chosen as your specialty. But naturally, a lot of the basic parts of SEO are going to be a time and mind suck. For example, if you've chosen to build your expertise in link building, then you probably don't want to spend your time finding emails all day.
This is something that you could easily systemize and delegate to someone else. Also, systemizing and delegating are good ways to test your knowledge because you'll have to break down every last step when training employees or creating SOPs.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Now, while this step isn't so much about directly building your expertise, it'll create time and space so you can focus on the next step.
Which is to build your skills in adaptation and innovation. An expert is basically someone who knows a lot about a topic. But their degree of expertise will definitely be tested throughout their career.
And in SEO, this will often come down to one's ability to adapt and innovate. Let's talk about adaptation first. 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 were to ask 10 link building experts how they would build links to a page about how to assemble a cardboard box, some might say “you can't." Others would say “build links to other pages that are more worthy of links and use internal linking.
" And there might be one person with a higher degree of expertise and creativity that would come up with a good plan and more importantly, be able to execute on it. Now, as for bringing innovation to your niche, that can come in many different forms.
That might be a new tactic, new ideas, new research or improving processes in a creative way. For example, Brian Dean created a popular link building tactic called the Skyscraper Technique. And it wasn't innovative because he attached a catchy name to it.
It's because it worked, others affirmed it worked, no one was really talking about this method before, and there was widespread adoption of his technique. Swedish psychologist, K. Anders Ericsson famously theorized that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a new skill.
Now, whether it takes you 5,000, 10,000 or 100,000 hours, you need to stay committed to the process, focus on getting results, and learn how to adapt and level up your skills if you want to master SEO.
And again, things like recognition and accolades will usually be a byproduct of demonstrating your expertise and sharing your knowledge publicly. Now, this is just my take on what it takes to become an SEO expert.
Let me know in the comments what an SEO expert looks like to you and if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials. I'll see you at the next one.