How to Learn SEO and Continue to Develop As an Optimizer
For over 10 years I've been performing search engine optimization for organizations
ranging from small family run businesses to some of Australia's largest publishers.
I think I know a lot about SEO, websites, how the web works and have some well
respected SEO friends who would confirm this.
But I'm happy to admit that I need to keep learning if I'm to continue to be good
at what I do. SEO changes and we need to keep learning about those changes. The web
is certainly not standing still. It's an amazing living thing that continues to grow,
augment and develop.
So how does an SEO consultant train?
The amazing thing about SEO is that there is an abundance of free information available
on the internet to help you learn about SEO and subsequently stay abreast of the latest changes.
But Beware! The web is also full of misinformation about the topic. This wrong
information often comes from people blogging and commenting on topics that they know
little about. They quote other people without verifying the information or without testing
these ideas on sites they control.
You won't know all things SEO by just reading what others say. You need to test ideas
to prove or disprove them. With this in mind, here's my top 5 ways of learning SEO and
continuing your development.
1 - Practice what you preach
The first thing I would advise any person who wants to learn SEO is that they must set
up, build and manage their own website. Having access to a number of sites is even better.
This will allow you to test ideas interacting with a range of variables.
2 - Subscribe to newsletters and forums
The web is full of great newsletters and forums. You need to work out who are your
trusted sources and who you enjoy reading. Make sure you use more than one but not so many
that messages are weakened. Most importantly always verify information across sources and
then test it yourself.
Personally my two favorite news sources are Search Engine Land & Search Engine Watch,
Mark Jackson being my favorite author from the latter.
3 - Share knowledge
Several years ago I worked at one of Australia's largest publishers employed to perform
in house SEO on one of its major website properties. Each business unit had a similar person.
If each of these people had to know SEO in isolation it would have been a dead end job
and a risky SEO exercise for the company. But they had two things in place that made this
First of all I had a budget to employ and interact with an external SEO agency or consultant.
Secondly the SEO specialist from each business group attended a monthly SEO knowledge
sharing group that allowed us to discuss our projects, the challenges and solutions employed.
This allowed us to pool our resources and to create the ultimate learning and testing
environment for SEO.