With the proliferation of Internet connectivity and mobile devices people are increasingly using the web to not only search for products, services and information but also to conduct commercial and social transactions. This has led to the development of whole new field of digital marketing that aims to leverage the web, social networks and other digital media to promote products and services.
This article focuses on one aspect of digital marketing, namely Search Engine Optimization. It provides an overview of what is SEO, what does a SEO expert do, what are the career opportunities for SEO experts, and how you can prepare for a career as a SEO expert.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
You must be regularly using search engines like Google or Bing to look for products, services or information.
Do you remember the last time you moved beyond the results displayed on the first page by Google search? No? Neither do we! That’s right, if any website owner wants his website to be found by people looking for services or products that he is offering, it is essential for it to show up high in the search results.
Simply put, SEO is all about ensuring that your website shows up high in the search engine results, thereby increasing the chances that people will discover your website.
What do SEO experts do?
What SEO experts do, is use various strategies to increase the chances of the website showing up within the first few search results. For this, the SEO expert needs to understand the algorithm or strategy used by the search engine to rank the search results from the most relevant to least relevant. A search engine may use several factors to rank web pages including- presence of keywords on the web page, number of websites referring to the web page (called backlinks), and several other factors.
All this make SEO sound like a purely technical job, doesn’t it? But that’s not true. SEO is as much a creative job as it is technical. SEO requires knowledge, focus, organization and impeccable attention to detail, but if you get it right, the rewards are substantial. There is a major shortage of skilled SEOs in the market right now, and with everybody and their uncle trying to establish an online presence, the demand is exploding.
It is the perfect job for you if you like using data to solve problems creatively.
How to prepare for a career as a SEO expert?
Most of the conventional degree programs will not prepare you for a career as a SEO expert, but the good part is that you can teach yourself. There are plenty of (free) online resources available for beginners. And top most thought leaders in the industry are always willing to share their wealth of knowledge with others.
You can start with the Google’s beginner guide to get an understanding of the long list of factors that go into a website that’s optimised for search engines.
The beginner’s guide to SEO by MOZ is among the most comprehensive and beginner-friendly guides to SEO that you will find online. It is regularly updated to account for the constant changes in search algorithms.
Yes, you have a lot of reading to do.
You can also choose to supplement your reading with online courses for specific skills. SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it. It recommends few organizations that provide SEO training and certification. Some of the organizations recommended by them include Online Marketing Institute, Brick Marketing, Cardinal Path, Google, MarketingProfsUniversity, and ClickMinded.
You can also refer to Top ten SEO certifications for beginners for some of the leading courses and certifications in SEO. Google also offers several highly regarded certifications for aspiring inbound marketers.
Get hands on
While it is essential to learn and understand the concepts underlying search engine optimization, the best way to go about sharpening your SEO skills would be to make a small website or blog of your own to get some hands on experience. It can be a simple WordPress site, about something you are interested in. This will also help you understand basic web development concepts. Read a couple of pages everyday of whichever guide you choose, and apply the new ideas learnt to optimize your website for search engines.
You will get loads of practice optimising your URLs, content, title tags, site structure, etc. to make it easier for search engine crawlers to identify and rank your website. You will research keywords, build links, and a lot more. And all this will keep you on your toes, and engaged with what you are studying.
You’ll be amazed with what you can accomplish with even a little bit of knowledge about SEO. And eventually, when you start applying for jobs, having a website of your own with a great ranking will be a definite asset to your resume.
As you apply SEO techniques to optimize your site, how do you know or measure the impact of these optimizations? Analytics are essential to help you measure the effectiveness of your SEO activities. It’s all about knowing your users and their search behaviour better, so you can address their needs in a more effective way.
Working as an SEO is extremely rewarding. The monetary benefits and the challenging nature of the job aside, the most gratifying part of your job is to see your client’s profits rising as a direct result of your work. And once you’re good enough, you can even go freelance.
The secret is to keep learning. Here is a useful list of resources and blogs to stay on top of the game by updating your skills.