How to Get Into SEO
While there are many ways to get started in SEO as a career, one thing is for certain: there’s no direct route to becoming an expert. SEO is an ever-changing field. Sometimes changes can happen week to week, so anyone starting out in SEO (or anyone who’s an SEO veteran) needs to constantly learn and relearn what makes search engines tick.
BUT, if you’re hoping to get started in SEO and you feel a little daunted by the sheer number of things you need to get your head around, we’ve got you covered. We have a fair few SEO experts who make up a good chunk of #TeamEmbryo and no two of them had the same experience or way into the industry. So, while there is no tried and tested way of getting into the SEO space, there are some things you need to know to become the next Neil Patel or Seth Godin.
Here we go over the key skills you’ll need to get started in SEO but first, it probably makes sense to go over what search engine optimisation actually is!
What is SEO?
Our first port of call should be to cover the most basic bit of knowledge you’ll need before expanding your SEO skill set. And that’s: what is it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and put simply, it is the act of improving where a website ranks in search engines like Google. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well while SEO sounds straightforward it really isn’t. There are many, many factors that contribute to how well a website ranks and search engines like Google don’t tell you what they are. That means that SEOs are always working together to better understand these ranking factors and how they work. And it means that you’re going to have to get a basic understanding of the majority of them.
Thankfully, most of these ranking factors can be bucketed into three categories; technical SEO, content, and authority.
Technical SEO is all about ensuring that your website can be crawled and indexed (read: ‘found’ and ‘shown in search engines’) easily and efficiently. If a search engine can’t find your website or travel through it then it isn’t going to rank your web pages.
Content and on-page work relates to everything you can see on a given URL. This content helps give search engines a clear indication of what the page is about, which helps them understand the types of terms to rank it for. I.e. if a page has a boatload of content about how to fix a leaky tap, a search engine like Google will likely rank it for searches that relate to fixing a leaky tap.
So now we know that a search engine can find your website and you have lots of relevant content on it but how do they decide whether they rank you at the top of page 1 or the bottom of page 50? One of the ways they do this is by looking at page authority which is gauged through how many other relevant sites are linking to it and how many internal URLs on our website are linking to it.
The Three Key Skills Required to Get Into SEO
Really an SEO can specialise in any of the three categories mentioned above and you’ll often find that agencies split their SEO departments into similar categories. There are teams who focus on content, teams who focus on acquiring links, and teams who focus on the technical side of search engine optimisation. But it’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of each.
Key Skill One: Tech
The most important thing to know when you’re looking to get to grips with technical SEO is understanding how search engines work. There are three phases to this; crawl, indexing, and ranking. Crawling relates to the crawl bots that search engines send out to traverse your site. They look for all the pages they can find on the site. Indexing is how search engines store the pages they find. When you or I do a Google search, for example, they’ll dip into their index and find the most relevant results. And finally, ranking relates to where search engines display a page in their search engine.
A good tech SEO can review a website and quickly get a picture of whether Google is able to crawl a website and index its pages. Tools like Screaming Frog are great for this and will give you a clear list of more technical issues that are on-site that can be fed back to developers.
We’d advise learning how to assess a website’s page speed and performance. It’s a huge ranking factor and the slower a website loads, the lower it’ll rank. Learn to highlight the key issues impacting page speed with tools like page speed insights and don’t be afraid to lean on developer help to actually implement the fixes.
- How to review and fix page speed issues – Moz
- Reviewing page speed – Screaming Frog
- The ultimate guide to tech SEO – Hubspot
Key Skill Two: Content
At its core, good content SEO is about good writing. If you can write unique, useful copy that educates or informs then it should rank. But there are a few other skills that’ll help make your role as a copywriter easier.
A key element to a successful SEO campaign is good keyword research. As a copywriter (or SEO in general) you need to know the sorts of keywords your client should rank for. You’ll also need to learn how to look at search volumes for those keywords and how difficult they are to rank for. A keyword research document will help inform every SEO decision you make and the type of content that you write.
When writing copy for a website (whether it’s a blog like this one or product page/service page content) internal links to relevant pages are vital. Internal linking is an undervalued part of SEO and it’s an area we’ve seen great success with here at Embryo. Always look for opportunities to link to key pages within your content. This will give search engines a clearer indication of how important you consider them.
- A guide to keyword research – Moz
- Copywriting tips to help your content rank – Search Engine Journal
- A guide to internal linking – Backlinko
Key Skill three: Authority
The best way to think about link building in 2023 is digital PR. Old-hat link-building tactics like cold emails requesting a link just don’t work anymore. You need good PR skills to build relevant, authoritative links. Using polls to create data, creating interesting, controversial content that’ll gain press – these and many more methods are now the best way to build links.
- Link-building resources that work in 2023 – Sendible
- Haro link building – Ahrefs
SEO Tools You’ll Need to Know How to Use
You should also take time to learn how to use a few fundamental SEO tools:
Google Analytics – Use this to track the performance of a campaign. There are great courses you can take supported by Google here.
Google Search Console – Search Console will help you understand which search terms are driving traffic to your website and see if Google are able to index and crawl your site.
Ahrefs – Ahrefs does many things but at its core it allows you to review a domain to see A) the keywords it ranks for and B) how many websites are linking to it. You can also use this tool to get an idea of how competitors are performing.
Screaming Frog – This is a must-have tool if you’re interested in tech SEO. With it, you can emulate a ‘crawl bot’, and it’ll give you a clearer picture of the main tech-related issues your website is facing.
Response Source – Looking to build links? Response source is home to hundreds of journalists looking for experts to comment in a huge range of fields. Have a property-related client? Hook them up with a journalist writing on the property market for a link/mention in the national press.
Looking For An Exciting Career? Jump Into Search Engine Optimisation!
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of getting started in SEO it should serve as a great jumping-off point. The resources we’ve linked to will enable you to learn and get the fundamentals of SEO right. After that, you can select a field of SEO to focus on and really hone your skills. Remember though, the key to being a great SEO isn’t about becoming an expert in just one area. It’s about being willing to constantly relearn what you know and adapt to the constantly shifting sands of SEO.