How to Become an SEO Expert: Skills, Training, and Career Path


As the need to attract highly targeted website traffic arises, the demand for high-level search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists continues to grow. It won’t be easy, but it’s a path filled with rewarding challenges and opportunities.

Whether starting from scratch or looking to sharpen your skills, becoming an SEO expert is more than just technical knowledge. You also need to develop other skill sets that will let you dive into the core of digital marketing, where every click counts and every keyword you choose to optimise matters. Let’s begin by discussing what SEO is about.

Understanding the Basics of SEO

In a nutshell, SEO (or search engine optimization) helps websites appear on top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for their target keywords. The higher you appear on SERPs, the more clicks your web pages generate. 

According to Advanced Web Ranking, the top three SERP positions currently generate 46.83%, 12.01%, and 12.25%, respectively. If the keyword has a search volume of 1,000 (or people search for the keyword on Google 1,000 times a month), the top result gets almost 470 clicks, while the next two get around 120 clicks each. 

So, how can you make your web pages appear on top of search results for high-volume keywords? Keep reading to learn the next step in this process.

Developing a Solid Keyword Strategy

Crafting a robust keyword strategy is a cornerstone of becoming an SEO expert. 

Key to this process is understanding search intent and selecting relevant keywords that align with your content’s goals. You’ll need to dive deep into keyword research, utilising tools like Ahrefs, LowFruits, and others that offer insights into keyword volume, competition, and relevance.

Start by identifying broad keywords related to your niche and then drill down to discover long-tail keywords. These longer, more specific keywords are crucial because they cater to more specific search queries and often signal higher intent.

For instance, instead of targeting “digital marketing,” aim for “digital marketing agencies for small businesses.” This specificity boosts your chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting more qualified traffic.

Creating High-Quality Content

The way search engines work is that they rank web pages containing useful content that satisfies the intent of the target keyword and covers the topic in depth. 

Regarding the latter, you must master the art of crafting content that responds to the needs and questions of your audience while embedding relevant keywords naturally throughout your text. As an SEO specialist, you must learn content tools that can identify which words and phrases are relevant to your target keyword you must include in the content. Examples include Surfer SEO, Clearscope, Frase, and others.

Creating this type of content for blog posts and landing pages provides real value to users and is what Google, Bing, and others prioritise to appear on top of SERPs.

Mastering On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

When diving into how to become an SEO expert, understanding the difference between on-page and off-page SEO is crucial. Both SEO skills are pillars in your strategy that can significantly boost your website’s visibility in search engines.

On-Page SEO Tactics

This aspect of SEO involves optimising elements on your website that you have direct control over. Aside from conducting keyword research to identify which search queries to optimise for your web pages (both of which are part of your content marketing initiative) you need to mention the target keyword in crucial page elements like URL, H1, and SEO title. 

Other on-page SEO techniques include improving website speed, internal linking, and image optimisation.

Off-Page SEO Strategies

On the other hand, off-page SEO focuses on external factors influencing your site’s authority and trustworthiness. 

Link building is a fundamental SEO strategy here, where acquiring backlinks from reputable sites within your industry signals to search engines that your content is valuable and credible. That said, building authoritative links is the most demanding aspect of SEO, as the degree of difficulty increases when trying to secure backlinks from such sites.

Focusing on learning how to develop and execute successful link outreach campaigns will make you a very profitable SEO professional. Your ability to find link prospects and send them emails that encourage responses from them is a highly valued skill in the SEO industry that you should try and cultivate.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO, another critical component, ensures your site is accessible and understandable to search engines. Utilising tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Sitebulb, and others lets you monitor and improve site structure, making it easier for search spiders to crawl and index your site.

Part of technical SEO is to monitor the results of your campaign to see if your campaign helped you achieve greater organic traffic. SEO tools like Google Search Console and  Google Analytics provide you with data to help make sense of your SEO efforts and determine what changes you need to make in your upcoming campaigns.

Keeping Up with SEO Changes

The best SEO experts stay ahead of the competition by keeping their finger on the pulse of algorithm changes. This ever-changing industry constantly undergoes changes in how search engines, in particular Google, rank pages on SERPs. This means that the tactics that worked before won’t work anymore or are no longer valued after the update, causing a website to drop in rankings.

To keep up with the industry news and updates, stay informed by following reputed sources on X like Charles Floate, Lili Ray, Marie Haynes, and Google representatives (John Mueller and Danny Sullivan). Also, consider subscribing to publication sites like Search Engine Journal and Google’s own blog. They break down algorithm updates to help make understanding and reacting to them easier. Some of them also share the latest tactics that work on Google so you can tweak the strategy for your upcoming campaign.

To help boost your SEO knowledge, you must join online communities with members passionate about SEO. One of the best places to join for free is the SEO Signals Lab Facebook Group. It has some of the best and most well-reputed SEO professionals in the industry to learn your SEO fundamentals and discuss the most recent algorithm changes. You can also get in touch with people who can provide you with SEO training to help fortify your SEO expertise.


Becoming an SEO specialist takes time, dedication, and interest. It’s one thing to know the best SEO techniques that all websites should consider using. It’s another to identify which among those tactics a website must actually implement to increase its traffic and conversions. You, as an SEO expert, should determine these for your clients so you can build a profitable and sustainable career in this industry.

If you’re looking for more opportunities as an SEO professional, SEO.Careers can help. We connect you with companies looking for talented people to add to their SEO team. What makes us different is we ensure that you and the organisation are a mutual fit based on both your characteristics and specifications.

Join us now by uploading your resume so more potential clients can hire you.

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