SEO seems complicated. It’s not. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. With over 85 billion visits to Google a month (that’s 10 Google visits per person in the world every month) SEO is worth learning about if you have a website.
Given that most website owners do not know about SEO if you can learn the basics you are already much more likely to succeed.
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of getting more traffic from a search engine’s results. It includes things like keyword research, link building, and content optimization.
Google and other search engines like Bing and Baidu use 100s of signals to rank content. SEO can improve the signals your website sends to help you get on the first page of search results and drive more traffic to your website.
You might be thinking “why the big emphasis on getting on the first page of results? ”
If you rank after the first page on Google, then you’re practically invisible.
In this article, you’ll learn about SEO basics and how to boost your chances of getting on that first page.
Keyword Research & Why It’s Important for SEO.
In much of the same way as presenting to an empty room is discouraging, publishing content only to see no traffic can be tough.
And that’s where keyword research comes in. You can find topics in your niche that have traffic, determine how difficult it is to rank your content, and publish accordingly.
Keyword research helps you create content that people want to discover.
With good research you can:
- Better understand customer search intent, or the problems they face
- Get more traffic as you rank for better keywords
- Generate more leads as you can target “commercial” keywords
As a 7 figure blogger and affiliate marketer Adam Enfroy covers all you need to know about keyword research in his video below.
What are backlinks? And how to build them.
Backlinks are links from one webpage to a page on another website.
Google and other search engines see backlinks as a “vote of confidence”. As a result, pages with more backlinks typically rank higher in search results.
There are typically a few things that you want from a good backlink, namely:
- A “do-follow” link instead of a “no-follow” link
- The page that links to your website should be relevant and cover similar topics
- Your target keyword is included in the text of the link
- The link comes from a trusted, authoritative site
When you are first starting out it’s daunting to get your first quality link. Going from 0 to 1 is the hardest part.
There’s a couple ways that you can build out your link profile when you are not ranking and do not have traffic.
Create Link-able Material
This can be a stat, image, video, or form that people will want to link to.
In most cases this will need to be an awesome piece of content that you can then pitch other websites to use in their old or upcoming posts.
You’ll see popular figures in the SEO and blogging space such as Adam Enfroy and Brian Dean creating articles with plenty of stats and research that are easy to link to.
There’s a reason these bloggers do this. It works!
Remember… When you are starting out you have a unique angle or unique experience that others don’t. This can really help you stand out.
Create Guest Posts
In order to get a valuable link from an authoritative website you will need to show them how you can create value for their team.
A tried and true approach is… guest posting.
This is where you act as a guest author on another website and write content for them in exchange for a link to one of your pages.
You will want to focus on:
- Topically relevant websites
- Sites with a minimum domain authority (I usually aim for 30+)
- Teams that are already blogging
At first the success rate may be low. Only 1 in 10 may respond and only 50% will say yes.
And those that do say yes you will want to impress them with your content, structure, and ease of working together.
With this approach you can simultaneously build your network while building your backlinks and credibility in your industry.
Replace Outdated Backlinks
With time websites shut down or move to new URLs. With these changes, there are still plenty of other sites linking to these now broken pages.
This is where you come in. You can reach out to these pages with outdated backlinks and pitch them a suitable replacement using one of your posts.
Most people appreciate the easy fix and can then use your newer and better link instead.
Of course, none of these new backlinks wouldn’t be possible without…
Cold Email Outreach
As you begin to learn SEO from scratch it will be tempting to follow the advice of bloggers that say “produce great content and the traffic will follow”.
Unfortunately, without your own outreach and marketing the traffic will be slow to come.
Instead, you can use backlinks as a shortcut to boost your growth as you learn SEO. The best way to get backlinks is to provide value to other people.
You can connect via email and lead with the value that they will receive. If you can make a compelling case it will become that much easier to get a backlink.
If you’re struggling with where to get started you can use my email template below.
This template works because I focus on providing value for the people that I reach out to through: 1. a guest post and 2. a high-quality backlink. Plus I try to remove any doubts about my experience to make this an easy decision.
How to learn SEO from zero (and stay sane).
SEO can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be.
The best way to stay sane while learning SEO is to try it yourself and see what works best for you.
It’s easy to get caught up in case studies and examples as they are easier to follow or replicate. Remember, the most popular ones have been done 10’s if not 100’s of times.
It may not be as easy to develop your own strategy but it can be much more profitable.
Sam from Ahref’s provides a fantastic overview in his youtube video “How to start a career in digital marketing (step-by-step)”
Let’s dive into his recommendations.
Step one: Start your own website or blog
- Choose a niche that you’re interested in
- Invest some $ as you will be more likely to continue
- Get practical experience without the risk tied to managing a client’s site
Step two: Choose your digital marketing focus
- Drill down on your focus area
- Find relevant and reputable creators to learn from (ex. Sam from ahrefs, Glen Alsopp from marketing examples, Brian Dean from Backlink.io, etc.)
- Leverage their content and any beginner guides available
Be careful with consumer content as too much content = analysis paralysis.
Step three: Apply your research
Grow the audience using the techniques you learned. Use free trials of tools that you think could be useful. Experiment!
Step four: Try working in industry
This is where I deviate from Sam’s advice. I enjoy my current full-time role but would like a safety net and hobby that I can run on the side.
As such, I would like to work in industry on the side rather than full time.
My next step is to find a list of local SEO agencies. Offer to work part-time for free. And keep trying until someone says yes.
The goal is twofold: learn the industry and develop a network.
Step five: Consider freelancing
Individual consulting can prove to be lucrative and can allow you to be your own boss.
Of course, this comes with a larger risk and more work. One needs to develop a strong network, brand, and clientele before going full time into freelance.
For this reason, it can be great to start as a side business to supplement your main income.
Wrap it up Alex.
At the end of the day, everyone’s path to becoming a digital marketer will be unique.
Sam’s framework (with a few of my own tweaks) is a great starting point that you can build upon as you first get started.
Let me know how you started your digital marketing path in the comments below!