SEO Process

How to Become an SEO Expert in 5 Simple Steps

Nick Eubanks
Last Updated: Apr. 10, 2024
How to become an SEO expert

“If I have five years of SEO experience, am I already an SEO expert?” That’s a fairly common question in the SEO community. You might have even asked it yourself on a Q&A inside TTT Academy. 

It’s a challenging question to answer because SEO expertise doesn’t necessarily depend on years of experience. Instead, it’s about gaining hands-on experience and tackling various SEO challenges as they arise.

To obtain this hands-on experience, it’s essential to start with fundamentals and move on to advanced topics as you progress.

In one of my previous articles, I shared how to learn SEO and build a successful career.

In this article, I’ll cover a step-by-step roadmap of how to become an SEO expert. So, if you wonder what new skills to acquire and tools to use, this article will answer all of your questions below.

Step #1: Learn SEO Fundamentals 

Whether you are a seasoned SEO expert or a beginner, learning the SEO basics should be your first port of call. 

Once you learn these basics, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge to master advanced SEO. 

Here are fundamental SEO concepts every SEO specialist should understand and know how to put into practice.

Keyword Research

If you want to launch any SEO campaign, keyword research should be your first step. 

When I say an SEO campaign, I’m referring to writing a keyword-optimized blog post, launching a brand new website, or developing a content strategy, to name a few. 

If you want to work in SEO, knowing how to find and analyze keywords is essential. 

You can learn more about keyword research in my guide on SEO keywords, where I also teach advanced keyword research techniques.

Link Building

According to Semrush’s Ranking Factors Study 2024, backlinks remain one of the factors closely correlated with higher organic rankings — and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. 

You should be able to analyze any website’s backlink profile, discover backlinks with spam anchors, disavow backlinks, and build new ones. 

Backlink Factors Semrush

High-Quality Content Creation

In 2023, Google released 10 broad algorithm updates. I suspect we’ll see even more algorithm updates and rankings volatility in 2024, especially as more AI-generated content hits the scene.

The content quality bar has also increased. Semrush’s study discovered that content relevance and quality are the top factors influencing the top 20 rankings.

Therefore, every SEO specialist should know what E-E-A-T and YMYL topics are and how to use SEO copywriting to create content that ranks on Google. 

Factors Influence Semrush

On-Page SEO

Gone are those days when you could stuff your content with keywords and enjoy high rankings. Google and other search engines have become more sophisticated.

Now your priorities should be more along the lines of:

  • Optimizing your web page for a particular keyword
  • Using semantically related keywords
  • Optimizing title tags
  • Using alt tags

That’s the bare minimum of what you should know and be able to implement. 

If you want to dig deeper, review top SEO case studies and learn about advanced on-page signals that impact rankings, such as user experience and online user behavior. 

Technical SEO

Unlike on-page SEO, technical SEO covers the technical aspects of your website that affect its search visibility.

Simply put, if your website isn’t in the Google index, users won’t find it. 

As an SEO expert, you should be able to successfully identify and fix indexability issues. That’s why knowing how Google works is essential. The latest Google SEO Starter Guide is a fantastic resource to get familiar with the basics of technical SEO.

Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Whenever you are ready for more, I recommend learning advanced technical SEO strategies from “doers.” This will save you time and help you master the proven techniques. 

If you’re wondering how to get started, check out TTT Academy where you’ll learn from 40+ top SEO experts. 

Local SEO

Local SEO is very different from SaaS and B2B SEO. 

To help local companies go digital, you must understand how local search engine optimization works. 

Local SEO is particularly beneficial for businesses that serve a specific geographic area. These could be restaurants, retail stores, and professional services like lawyers or dentists.

Check out this Semrush beginner guide to local SEO to learn how it works and how to implement it.

Analytics and Reporting

How can we improve the performance of our website?” is one of the most popular questions you’ll hear from SEO clients or your employer. 

This is why you should know how to measure the results of your SEO campaigns and make data-driven decisions. 

I recommend tracking:

  • Organic traffic.
  • Keyword rankings.
  • Indexed pages.
  • Website health.
  • And conversions. 

Your data accuracy will depend a lot on the SEO tools. That’s why using reliable tools is so crucial. Below, I share the best SEO tools for SEO analytics, reporting, and more. 

Step #2: Use SEO Tools

As an SEO expert, I’ve handpicked a few SEO tools that I believe every novice or seasoned SEO specialist should use. 

You’ll likely see these tools in every SEO job description because many companies use them. So, if you want to become an SEO expert, ensure you are a confident user of the following tools:

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools can help you analyze your keyword ideas and identify keywords worth targeting on Google. 

Based on my experience, keyword research is one of the most common daily tasks you’ll encounter as an SEO specialist. So get familiar with all aspects of the art of keyword research. 

My personal favorite is the Semrush Keyword Research Toolkit

It has the most extensive keyword research database on the market, which you can use to analyze your keyword ideas, check competitor keywords, and quickly find millions of keyword suggestions for your SEO campaigns. 

Semrush Keyword Overview

Link Building Tools

Link building is one of the most expensive and time-consuming SEO tasks. Your success and progress will depend on leveraging the outreach, link analysis, and link-building tools

If you are looking for the best tool for link-building campaigns, try Semrush. It includes various link-building features, such as finding broken links, tracking your competitors’ backlinks, and monitoring your website backlinks over time. 

Furthermore, Semrush has a built-in link-building tool to find donor websites and run bulk outreach campaigns. 

Semrush Link building tool

Google Analytics 4

If you wonder which tools are essential for website owners, I’d say Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Google Search Console (GSC). Depending on your coding skills, I would also recommend Google Tag Manager (GTM). 

These tools are developed by Google and provide the most accurate data about your website’s health and performance.

As an SEO specialist, you won’t need to set up goals and tracking in Google Analytics 4. However, you should be able to track and analyze website traffic and user behavior.

Google Analytics 4

Google Search Console 

If you work in an SEO team or manage your website, ensure you can access Google Search Console. I recommend checking this tool daily since it provides a lot of valuable information about your website’s performance.

Google Search Console will help you answer the most burning questions about your website, such as:

  • Are all pages in the Google index?
  • What pages aren’t indexed and why?
  • What are the best and worst-performing pages based on impressions and clicks?
  • Is the website penalized by Google? 
  • Does the website comply with Core Web Vitals?
Google Search Console

Step #3: Gain Hands-on Experience

Becoming an SEO expert requires hands-on experience in different niches and industries. 

Furthermore, you’ll always face new challenges and previously unknown issues, no matter how many years of experience you have. 

Below, I share strategies that have worked for me and will help you keep up with the latest SEO updates.

Offer Your Service Pro Bono

If you want to make your resume more attractive but don’t have enough projects to showcase, offer your services pro bono. 

Pro bono SEO is a win-win. You gain valuable experience while helping other companies with limited resources for free. 

Imagine a local animal shelter struggling to attract adopters online. Their website is buried in search results, making it difficult for potential families to find them. 

With your SEO expertise, you can offer a free website audit, identify key areas for improvement, and optimize their content for relevant keywords like “cat adoption” and “dog rescue.” 

This simple act of generosity can significantly increase their website traffic, leading to more adoptions.

Moreover, you can later showcase your pro bono work in your portfolio and resume to attract new clients.

It’s an excellent way to gain priceless hands-on experience and create a positive impact.

Launch Your Own Website 

Growing your website is an excellent opportunity to understand the entire process of creating, launching, and optimizing a website for rankings.

Based on my experience, you’ll stumble upon many unexpected issues you otherwise would not have experienced elsewhere. 

Furthermore, you can experiment with various SEO strategies and techniques to discover which ones work best.

Join an SEO Team 

Growing professionally alone is hard. Instead, you can join an SEO team and see how the entire SEO machine works from the inside.

Working in a team of experts gives you an excellent opportunity to observe how link building, on-page optimization, and consistent content creation work in practice. 

You can also share your experience with the team, ask questions, and learn faster by learning from others. What’s better than a supportive team of like-minded professionals? 

Work at an SEO Agency

Working at an SEO agency is the best way to accelerate your SEO career. 

SEO agencies usually work on various projects from B2B and SaaS companies and startups from different backgrounds and industries. It gives you an excellent opportunity to understand what SEO strategies work for other clients. 

I can speak from my experience since I’ve launched and grown a 7-figure digital marketing agency called From the Future. 

If you want to learn how to grow from personal consulting to a $1 million agency revenue, check my 7 Figure Agency course in TTT Academy. 

7 Figure Agency course in TTT Academy

Step #4: Network Like a Pro

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”

This famous quote is attributed to different leaders, highlighting the importance of surrounding yourself with people who can help level up your life.

That’s also the case in SEO.

Knowing everything about SEO is impossible. However, you can create a great network of like-minded professionals to share ideas and learn from each other. 

Attend SEO Conferences

Offline SEO conferences are an excellent opportunity to forge valuable connections with peers, potential clients, and future employers. 

You can dive into the industry trends and emerging technologies before they hit the mainstream. Learning from the mistakes and successes of seasoned professionals can help you accelerate your path to SEO mastery.

Remember that attending SEO conferences is just the first step. The true magic lies in implementing your learnings and continuously seeking new knowledge to solidify your position as an SEO pro.

Join Slack Groups

There are many ways to network with SEO experts worldwide without even leaving your house. 

You can join specific Slack groups dedicated to your area of interest, such as technical SEO, content marketing, or local SEO.

For example, we run an exclusive Slack community at TTT Academy, where our students, aspiring SEO professionals, actively engage in conversations, share their knowledge, and learn from others. This two-way exchange fosters growth and strengthens your understanding of the topics at hand.

Our Slack community unites people from different backgrounds, but everyone can ask specific questions, get feedback, and gain support to keep growing.

If you want to accelerate your SEO career and become an SEO expert, join us in TTT Academy.

Participate in Conversations on Social Media 

Social media isn’t just for cat videos (although that’s a pretty nice part of it).

Engaging in SEO conversations can help you learn from others and become an SEO thought leader. Follow industry influencers, participate in live events, and contribute to discussions on trending topics. 

Social media isn’t always about sharing knowledge and being helpful – it’s also about having fun and connecting with people on an emotional level.

You can experiment with content formats like Twitter threads, LinkedIn articles, or YouTube SEO tutorials. Below, you can see how well Semrush leverages X (former Twitter) to connect with people.

Conversation on X

Contribute on Quora

Quora is a question-and-answer platform where you can ask questions on any topic.

You can engage in Quora discussions on SEO best practices and attract potential clients. 

Focus on providing genuine value to the Quora community, not just self-promotion. Answering questions related to your SEO niche, building authority, and sharing your insights will help you engage with others and become a thought leader. 

Remember that creating a strong SEO presence on Quora takes time and consistent effort. Keep providing valuable content and engaging with the community.

Quora

Step #5: Never Stop Learning 

Rankings algorithms shift, user needs change, and new trends emerge. That’s why stagnation in your SEO knowledge leaves you vulnerable compared to your rivals. 

The journey of learning SEO is never-ending, but the rewards of higher rankings and improved visibility are worth it.

Here’s how you can keep up with the latest SEO trends.

Learn From Top SEO Experts

Follow industry blogs of SEO thought-leaders to stay ahead of the ever-evolving algorithm curve.

Top SEO experts constantly adapt to search landscape changes, evolve, and publicly share their knowledge with people. 

You can follow them on social media for real-time updates, discussions, and experiments. 

For example, Aleyda Solis frequently shares SEO tips and the latest industry updates on X (formerly known as Twitter). Furthermore, she manages two newsletters — SEOFOMO and MarketingFOMO — to help SEO experts grow. 

Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, uses X and LinkedIn to share short videos on SEO and digital marketing. Each video is up to one minute, covering Brian’s insights from growing Backlinko.

You, too, can become an SEO expert and a thought leader if you consistently share what you learn and contribute to the SEO community.

Take SEO Courses

There are plenty of SEO courses for beginners and professionals on the web.

If you are just starting, look for courses covering keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building — the SEO basics. 

Popular platforms like Coursera and Udemy host free and paid SEO courses from universities and industry experts.

For deeper dives, consider our TTT Academy, where we offer 200+ hours of lessons from world-known SEO experts, a network with engaged professionals, and regular knowledge-sharing webinars on important topics like SEO migration

Follow SEO Blogs

If you are into reading, many professional blogs can help you stay ahead in the SEO game. 

Bookmark SEO blogs specific to your niche and set aside time for dedicated reading. I do it weekly to keep up with SEO trends and news. Otherwise, it could take you hours to review the latest SEO updates. 

You can dive into the Google Search Central Blog for official updates. Backlinko’s data-driven insights and Semrush’s guides turn complex concepts into practical strategies.

I also recommend checking our Traffic Think Tank blog. My colleagues and I regularly share exclusive insights to help you improve your SEO knowledge.

Read SEO Books

Even though digital addiction makes people read less, it’s still a great way to learn less-known SEO strategies from other experts. Unlike blog posts and videos, books can cover various SEO-related topics in detail. 

As an avid reader of SEO books, I recommend checking when a book was issued and whether it shares any actionable examples and strategies. 

Check out my list of must-read SEO books I recommend for SEO professionals like you. 

Learn How to Become an SEO Expert with TTT Academy

SEO is a journey, not a destination, which is why it’s critical to keep learning and growing in an ever-changing SEO world.

The easiest way to become an SEO expert is to learn from industry leaders who’ve cracked the SEO code and continue to do so.

You can start today with TTT Academy’s course How to build a successful career in SEO.

TTT Academy offers an extensive library of SEO courses created by 40+ experts. You’ll find more than 200 hours of SEO lessons and monthly Q&A sessions in your membership.

When you sign up for The Full Accelerator plan, you’ll also get access to our exclusive Slack community of like-minded students and SEO experts ready to help you with any SEO challenge. 

Learn more about joining TTT Academy today!