07 Sep 2014

How to Teach Yourself SEO – for the non-SEO Marketer

Rewind the clock back to 2010. Ke$ha was crushing the charts. Kobe was still a Laker. And I didn’t know anything about Search Engine Optimization.

I had lots of misconceptions that had stopped me from learning about Search Engine Optimization. I thought it was slow – and it would take forever before my website would ever see any results from it.

What if I told you that you can teach yourself #SEO - even if you're not a marketer? Learn how to get up to speed with these resources on this post Click To Tweet

Flash forward just 90 days and I had a pretty firm grasp on the subject of SEO. In fact, I was able to outrank some local agencies that were offering SEO services in Sacramento where I lived, and leads were calling in to hire me to optimize their websites. That’s the quick story of how AdInfusion was born. I didn’t go to school for this, and I never bought any e-books from gurus, I figured if I wanted to teach myself SEO I would go straight to the source – and started Googling and reading every free guide and resource available.

I sorted through hundreds of forum posts and blogs and guides… and in this post I’ll show you where to go to do the same.

Why Should I Even Bother Learning SEO?

I’m sure your first question is probably “why should I bother learning SEO if I don’t plan on being in charge of the company SEO campaigns?” That’s a fair question since learning about Search Engine Optimization takes patience and time. There’s a reason why SEO is a full-time job and it’s a field where lots of training is required. Considering this case, even learning the SEO basics is important for everybody at your company for a couple of reasons:

  • A basic understanding of how SEO really works will not take very much time if you commit to learning it.
  • SEO has an affect on many different departments including PR, IT, and Sales. I suggest reading this article to discover more about how SEO connects to each part of a business.
  • If you’re planning on hiring an SEO expert or an agency, it will help to know what kind of questions to ask and how real professionals will give you answers.
  • SEO insights help  you understand what your visitors online are searching for

There’s more formal and high cost ways of learning SEO, like participating in online SEO training courses or talking with your internet marketing agency, but those may be challenging for a new business. If you are really at the first stage of your business and your SEO knowledge, then the best method for learning SEO (oftentimes the only option you have) is just teaching yourself.

how to teach yourself SEO
NEO learned Kung Fu, and so can you. Google Kung Fu that is!

How to Learn SEO When You’re First Starting Up

Here are some of the many ways that I’ve gone about teaching myself SEO in the past accompanied by some resources that will help you get going ordered by how much benefit you’ll get:

Phase 1: Reading is Crucial

Reading is crucial. Really you should begin with reading as step one. Jack in into the Matrix and start absorbing all that information. Grow comfortable with the current landscape of the SEO industry by reading blogs and then do a search for “basic SEO guides”. Don’t think that you must read it all, simply check out a basic, trusty worthy guide or two.

Resources: The Beginners Guide to SEO from Moz; SEO: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners from the KISSmetrics blog; Search Engine Land’s Guide To SEO from Search Engine Land.

Phase 2: Start Practicing SEO Tool Usage

Free tools:

A big portion of SEO involves the use of various tools that do keyword research, gather and analyze data, etc. If you haven’t set up a Google Webmaster Tools account yet, first make this free tool yours. There are lots of free tools out there, so I suggest you download a couple and check out all their options and tabs. You probably won’t understand how everything works in the beginning, but getting some hands-on experience offers good a way of getting an idea of what you’ll read next.

Resources: Google AnalyticsGoogle Keyword Planner, and Google Webmaster Tools.

Paid tools:

Once you start getting your feet wet and learning the ropes… there are some great paid tools you can use that will save you time. Things like keyword research and competitive analysis can certainly be done by hand and I would even recommend starting by doing it manually so you actually understand what these tools do.

Resources: Ahrefs and SEMRush I use these every day.

Phase 3: Joining the Online Community

There are lots of various SEO forums and groups online that you can join when you get comfortable (including discussions for SEO newcomers). Look at what discussions are happening and see if you have any insights to share. This is an awesome way to ask questions and learn about internet marketing.

Resources: Groups on LinkedIn like Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Watch, and much more. There’s many forums too like Moz Q&A Forum and the Google Product Forums.

Phase 4: Talk to Professional SEOs on Social Media

It may be tough chatting up SEO pros with social media if you don’t know anyone, but you shouldn’t be scared of trying. Begin with meeting people online in groups and forums, then connect with them with messages about an article they wrote that you read or a group where you learned from their post. That could help you in getting a mentor, which is an awesome way to get direct answers to your questions once you start to get a little more subject knowledge.

Resources: While I won’t give any direct recommendation on the blog, you can always connect with me on Twitter and Google+!

Phase 5: Write about Search Engine Optimization

I’ve found that writing on the subject of SEO is one of the best ways of really learning about different topics. There are lots of researching and checking facts, which are what you need as a beginner… and explaining your ideas will require your complete grasp of the topic. Sharing your blogs on your websites and social media really displays your knowledge and allows you to generate feedback.

Like I’ve explained, trying to teach yourself SEO is bound to take a long time, but that doesn’t really mean you don’t have to seek help from an expert. Hiring an SEO agency or someone who can focus just on your SEO is important because there are so many things that fall under the scope of Search Engine Optimization — keyword research, on-page optimization, creating content, guest blogging and publishing, social media marketing, and much more. Basic SEO knowledge won’t turn you into somebody that can build and then execute SEO strategies, but having more knowledge definitely facilitates a better partnership between you and whoever is doing your online marketing and SEO.

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