SEO is by no means a straightforward topic, but it’s an essential component of digital PR. The good news is that with the right information, you can learn how to utilize it to bolster your online PR efforts.
With good digital PR overall, you won’t only increase your online presence. You’ll also position your business in a favorable light.
Here’s how to learn SEO effectively:
1. Understand the basics
You’ll need to know the basics first if you want to know how to learn SEO. To engage in this digital marketing strategy like the best SEO professionals, you’ll need to learn:
- what SEO is
- how search engines work
- the strategies SEO experts use to rank higher on search engines and receive more search traffic.
The good news is anyone can find pretty much everything online now, from a blog post on how to do intermittent fasting to a review of SEO tools. You can find plenty of SEO courses online if you just do a quick Google search too.
Now that you’re here, let me give you a crash course to get you started on your SEO learning journey.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It involves all activities done to optimize (or prepare) a web page so that a search engine understands what it’s about and shows it to as many searchers as possible.
People use search engines to find information. When they type what they want to know into a search box and hit “enter,” the search engine returns search results from its index.
You can think of a search engine’s index as a library filled with billions of web pages. The web pages end up in the index through a process called “crawling.” The process sees a search engine’s robots scouring the web for pages, learning what they’re about, and indexing them.
There are two ways search engines show the web pages in their indexes:
- As advertisements: Content creators pay to have their web pages shown to searchers.
- Organically: pages are shown through the process described above.
Your SEO efforts will involve getting organic traffic, i.e., the second way.
When showing the search results from its index, a search engine’s search algorithm curates them in order of relevance, a process called “ranking.” The higher a result’s ranking, the more visible it’ll be and the more organic traffic it’ll receive.
So, how do you optimize your web pages to appear higher in the search results? You’ll need to:
- Do keyword research: Keyword research involves discovering the words searchers type into search boxes when searching for information and using them in your content. This process is crucial to a successful SEO strategy because your content won’t appear without it. You can use free or paid keyword research tools to find keywords.
- Create relevant content and optimize it: People search online to find content that’s relevant to their search. Depending on their search intent (e.g., to gain knowledge or find a product), you’ll need to do content marketing, i.e., create valuable content that educates the searcher and isn’t sales-y.
But that’s only half the battle. You’ll also need to optimize your content. Content optimization involves giving search engines as much information as possible and structuring it logically. You’ll need to provide a meta description and title tag, structure your headings hierarchically, utilize internal linking, and more to get a good position in organic search rankings.
- Build links: Link building involves getting links from authoritative websites that point back to your site. These links tell Google your content is trustworthy. You can write guest posts on these websites for link building purposes.
- Optimize your website: Finally, you need to optimize your website so that search engine crawlers have an easier time learning about it while simultaneously giving visitors an excellent user experience. Website optimization involves creating an XML site map, eliminating duplicate content, ensuring fast site speeds, avoiding black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing, and more.
It’s worth noting that the four points above deal with different types and aspects of SEO. Points one and two relate to on-page SEO, point three relates to off-page SEO, and point four relates to technical SEO.
My recommendation is to focus on one aspect of SEO at a time. You can start with onsite SEO followed by off-site SEO, for example. Technical SEO, as the name implies, will require a bit of a technical brain to handle.
2. Gain practical experience
After learning SEO basics, you’ll need practical experience to solidify your knowledge.
For the best results, create a blog or affiliate website around a topic you’re interested in. You might want to establish ownership of the site through domain registration and hosting. This will give you more control over your content than if you use a platform like Medium.
Next, use SEO techniques to convince the search engine algorithms that your content is relevant and trustworthy. Employ keyword usage after doing research with keyword tools. Consult Google Analytics to understand user behavior and learn whether your site can be better optimized to increase its rankings. Also, track your indexed pages via Google Search Console. You might want to guest post, too, for link building purposes.
The hands-on experience you get from optimizing content and analyzing the results will take you closer to being able to do SEO professionally.
3. Stay updated
The SEO industry is constantly changing: new AI SEO tools get introduced, algorithm updates affect rankings, and other changes happen without warning. In other words, the optimization process is never-ending, and you can’t expect constant traffic from search engines in such a fluid climate.
Therefore, make sure to stay updated about industry happenings. Follow industry experts like Brian Dean or Neil Patel on social media. Check out SEO blogs like Search Engine Land or the Search Engine Journal, too.
You’ll better understand SEO concepts like click-through rates and search volumes. You’ll also learn about essential SEO tools to help you reach your business goals (e.g., rank tracking tools) and discover new techniques to help you maintain your search engine rankings.
If you want to engage in digital PR for your business, you’ll need to know how to learn SEO. The good news is there are tips you can follow for effective learning.
Once you understand the fundamentals of SEO, put what you learn into practice as soon as possible. Also, keep abreast of SEO industry happenings.
In time, you’ll find that your SEO-powered digital PR efforts attract targeted and relevant traffic to your business.