103 Experts Explain How to Learn SEO (If They Had to Start Over)

Learn SEOWondering how to learn SEO? Keep reading because 103 legit (and vetted) SEO experts are going to show you how to get started.

But before you jump in, I want you to know one thing:

This isn’t like other “expert” roundups.

Since expert roundups have become an over-saturated content marketing tactic, my team and I wanted to take a different approach.

Before I explain that approach let me explain some common issues I’ve experienced with “expert” roundups.

Why Most Expert Roundups Don’t Work

It seems that whenever a tactic becomes “mainstream” or saturated, the quality of the tactic tends to decrease. Here are some of the qualities of low-quality expert roundups (you should avoid these):

1. Low Editorial Standards

The typical expert roundup process involves sending out hundreds or even thousands of outreach emails. The goal is gather as many responses as possible. There is nothing wrong with that objective. The issue is that every response is usually accepted without editorial discretion. That means many low-quality and low-value answers slip through the cracks. This also means that many of the roundups have excessive amounts of grammar and spelling errors.

2. Duplicate Information

Since most of the responses are published unedited, many of the expert roundups are littered with duplicate information. Reemphasizing points in your content is fine. But saying the same thing more than once is weird. So then why is it acceptable to do it in a roundup? It’s not. Identical information on the same page hurts user experience and reduces the value of the page.

3. Promotion Over Value

Many experts view roundups as freebies for self-promotion, brand promotion, and easy backlinks. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it myself. Whenever someone reaches out to me for a roundup, I know that I can write a quick little paragraph and score an easy backlink. Why would you write more if you don’t have to?

4. Lack of Depth

Since most responses are short, many will lack depth. This is why, despite word count, that many expert roundups are actually “thin” content. “Thin” as in lacking in depth or lacking in detail. Total word count doesn’t excuse lack of depth.

To make sure that our expert roundup avoided the issues above, we vetted every participant based on three KPIs (see below) and we vetted every answer.

What We Learned About the Experts

To make this expert roundup more interesting we decided to pull data on the participants. The results were interesting to say the least.

We analyzed each SEO expert based on the following:

  • Total Twitter Followers (Average = 36,218)
  • Total Organic Keywords according to Ahrefs (Average = 21,509)
  • Organic Traffic Cost according to SEMRush (Average = $17,000)

I was pretty pleased by this data because it affirmed that many of the participants actually “walked the walk”.

This was the first part of our expert vetting process. The next stage was to vet each expert’s response.

Here’s what we did to make sure this expert roundup is actually valuable:

  • We deleted “thin” answers (a combination of lack of effort and lack of value). We kept the best answers (a combination of uniqueness, value, and depth).
  • We deleted answers that were purely self promotional and that had little intent to give value.
  • We deleted answers that didn’t answer the prompt.
  • We deleted answers that were common sense (didn’t add anything new to the discussion).

Before we did any vetting, there were a total of 130 experts and the total word count was 25,402. The vetting process brought the total experts down to 103 and the word count decreased to 22,337. If you’re interested, we sent 700 + email, received 187 responses (26% response rate), and 130 expert submitted their responses before the deadline.

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the roundup.

Here is the question we asked 130 different experts:

“If you had to start over, what steps would you take to learn SEO?”

Out of the 130 answers, there were many common recommendations for learning SEO.

Here are some of the top ones:

  1. Take action by building your own website and/or blog. This is the best to test and improve your skills. Getting your “hands dirty” and getting more real life experience is the best way to learn SEO (and any skill).
  2. Learn the fundamentals by following top SEO blogs, SEO news websites, joining SEO communities, and going to SEO conferences.
  3. Get a mentor(s) or work under an SEO expert with a proven track record.
  4. Focus on your strengths. For example, if you are a good writer, then focus on the content-side of SEO. Or, if you are a social butterfly, then focus on the relationship building and PR-side of SEO/link acquisition.
  5. Invest in an SEO course. Quality courses are structured and easy to follow. This is important when you’re starting out because there is an unlimited amount of SEO information online. That makes it challenging to piece all the moving parts together. A good course can help.
  6. Work at an SEO agency. Working at an agency will help you grow as a professional at an accelerated rate. Not only will you be forced to learn SEO quickly, but you will also get exposure into how agencies operate.
  7. Don’t chase algorithms. Focus on developing timeless skills such relationship building, persuasion, sales, content creation/copywriting, and marketing in general.
  8. Go to conferences. SEO and marketing conferences are the single best way to network with other likeminded individuals. Also, you get to be around people who are more accomplished than you are. This forces you to elevate your gain and to learn.

Ready to learn about how to learn SEO? If that isn’t too meta for you, then keep reading:

How to Learn SEO According to 103 Experts

Aaron Agius

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If I had to start learning SEO from scratch, I’d choose 2-3 really great free resources (probably Moz’s free SEO trainings, Buffer’s “Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and Google’s SEO Starter Guide/Website Performance Optimization MOOC) and learn enough from them that I could get started on a campaign.

Then, I’d put what I learned to work, either on a website of my own or on one I was managing for somebody else.

You’ll learn so much more actually doing SEO, rather than just reading about it.

Too many beginners get stuck thinking they have to know everything before they start, but when you do SEO hands-on, you’ll be forced pretty quickly to develop functional knowledge, rather than theoretical.

Aaron’s Websitehttp://www.louderonline.com.au

Adam Fout

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If I woke up one day and my brain had been wiped clean of all the SEO tidbits I’ve gathered over the years, I pray that only one thing remains:

The knowledge that SEO changes constantly and that any SEO suggestions, or bits of advice, or (god forbid) “rules” should be taken with the heaviest grain of salt you can find.

When I first started learning SEO, I took every bit of knowledge as unquestionable doctrine. If “an SEO” said it was truth, it was truth! I read everything I could get my hands on, and my brain was immediately filled with an absurd amount of contradictory information.

“Expert” SEOs would give me tips and tricks, without batting an eye, that another “Expert” SEO would tell me was total B.S.

If I could start over, I would spend as little time as possible listening to “experts” and as much time as possible reading what search engines themselves have said about SEO.

And then I would take that knowledge with a grain of salt.

Then, I would start experimenting with my own content, seeing what works, what doesn’t, dig into the data, and see if I could figure out what, precisely, was going on when I did this thing or that thing.

Then, once I knew what the search engines were saying and what I, personally, had found through my own SEO odyssey, then I would seek out experts, vet them thoroughly, and see what matched up and what didn’t.

I would discard any information older than a year or two and focus solely on the latest information, the stuff that’s keeping apace of an ever-changing industry.

And even then, I would take all of this with a grain of salt.

SEO isn’t a black box, but it’s very easy to get lost in the smoke and mirrors. There are some general principles that I find guiding, like “Write for humans” and “Your only goal should be to help search engines and humans figure out what your content is about,” but beyond that, things get murky quickly.

The best approach to SEO is one informed by deep skepticism and a willingness to change tactics at the first sign that they’re not working.

If you approach SEO in this way, you might actually get somewhere.

Adam’s Websitehttps://bluesteelesolutions.com/

Adam Steele

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All new recruits at my agency are given the Moz beginner guide, as a place to start and familiarize themselves with the basics of SEO.

What it is, why it is, and simple onsite stuff. So I would probably start there. We make an effort to hire folks who already have their own blogs or websites.

So again if it’s me, I am going to start a blog of some sort. The reason for this is I want to put assumptions to test, outside of client work.

Client work can be very binary at times, whereas running your own site really forces you to understand the larger picture of SEO and how it relates to so many other things. Teaching someone just backlinking and onsite just isn’t going to be as helpful in the coming years.

I would hope I’d find early on some of the great SEO blogs out there. Folks like Brian Dean, Nick Eubanks, and Jon Cooper who’ve published some incredible guides.

I will always be grateful for discovering great local SEOs like Linda Buquet, Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, Mike Ramsay, Matthew Hunt and Darren Shaw.

All of these folks shaped my career. SEOs starting today are fortunate to have so many other SEOs that have been so generous with their time and expertise. So I would point any budding SEO towards these fantastic people.

Finally, I would make sure that any new SEO keep an open mind to SEOs in grey/black hat spaces. They can be found in Facebook groups, private forums, etc. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with their approach.

What matters is that you gain some perspective, and learn how things can be done in different ways. I credit a lot of my success to having been exposed to the world of internet marketing forums, as today folks come to me for my outside of the box thinking – I see a lot of very interesting projects.

Oh, and don’t take yourself so seriously. SEO just isn’t that serious!

Adam’s Websitehttp://www.leanmarketing.ca/

Alan Bleiweiss

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If I needed to start over, what I’d need to do to learn SEO would depend on the year. I got my start in SEO around 2000, 2001. Many of the available resources were a lot different back then than they are today.

However I wouldn’t do much different. I got to where I am in the industry, and my career, not just because of learning SEO specifically. Instead, it’s from a broad range of experiences that come together to allow me to succeed where others often don’t.

True success at the highest levels of SEO, requires a spectrum of capabilities.

You need a deep curiosity to want to figure complex things out. We need to be able to get past the surface understanding of what we think we see, and what we think we read somewhere.

If you want to specialize in technical SEO, you need to have the ability to understand the core of web programming languages at the very least, and you need to know how to interpret a vast range of analytics data.

If you want to specialize in topical aspects of SEO, and truly succeed, you need to understand human behavior, and be able to step into the mind and emotional motivations of someone looking to fulfill a particular task or goal or mission or need or desire, to get at not only their intent, but also to get at how they will perceive the marketing message once they see a search result or click into the site. And you will need to fulfill that emotional need.

If you want to really win in SEO however, you need all of that in your tool set. Because technical issues impact visitor emotion as well. And search engines strive to emulate the human experience through imperfect formulaic processing. So yeah, you need deep curiosity, technical concepts, and the ability to process human emotion from an empathetic perspective, all while juggling each individual factor, and each core factor group of SEO in your head.

So whatever it takes to get training in those things, if you can get it, is what I would get. Like I did my 1st time through.

From being in the Military Police crime prevention unit doing undercover work, to working in marketing itself, to building sites and then being taught programming for shopping carts and more… And by having been born empathetic… Which means maybe you won’t have the ability to learn all of those things.

And that’s okay. If you don’t have the patience, the passion or the drive to learn programming, or conversely, to learn marketing communications, as one example, you can still succeed in some aspects of SEO. Just be sure you then partner with others who have those other things.

Alan’s Websitehttp://alanbleiweiss.com/

Albert Mora

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When it comes to learning SEO, there are certain ways how you can use the Internet to expand your knowledge on this topic.

Internet resources
Internet is full of useful information. You can easily learn SEO by searching the topic in the search engine. Besides useful blog articles and infographics, you will also find various e-books and tutorials that provide useful insights on SEO.

It is even possible to learn SEO using video tutorials and online presentations to learn more about SEO. For example, you can read our SEO tutorial with dozens of practical tips.

Attend seminars / webinars
As SEO is not a subject you will study in high school, but it is rather newly emerging field, where relevant knowledge can be obtained from seminars or webinars.

These gatherings are a perfect way to learn SEO from professionals who will share their experience and their tips and tricks on how to become an SEO expert.

Attend a course
There are lots of different SEO courses that help you learn SEO. They are different depending on the level of knowledge they require, depending on the subjects they cover and the knowledge you are expected to acquire after the course is over.

Follow current trends
Since technology is constantly changing and improving, SEO is the topic that is susceptible to constant changes. Therefore, it is important to keep up with the current updates as they may have a great impact on your SEO strategy.

This means that you actually never cease to learn SEO, but instead you have to be aware of the current trends and changes so that you avoid using outdated strategies. Use tools such as Google Trends to explore the topics that are most commonly used in the search queries.

Ask for help
Learn SEO by asking for help. Join the discussions on social networking sites and forums, and ask any questions you might have.
Since SEO is developing constantly and you have to stay in touch with current trends, it is reasonable that there are aspects of SEO you will find difficult to understand or apply. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask for help from other SEO professionals.

Join the community
Another great way for learning about SEO is to join SEO communities. You might prefer social networks, so you would explore communities on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or you might prefer forums and community based websites, as this format of interaction is something you find more interesting and engaging.

In either of these cases, you will find a lot of support from other people, who have been in the similar situation and who have enough knowledge to help you with the issues and questions you have.

Learn from Google
Google provides plenty of resources for you to learn about its algorithm, recommendations and best practices that one should follow when optimizing websites. We will share some of the most important Google’s resources that will help you learn SEO:

Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide – This guide is the first resource you should use when you want to find out more about SEO, as it starts with the most basic terms and helps you with initial tasks in the process of search engine optimization.

Webmaster Tools Help Center provides support on various issues related to using Webmaster Tools, how Google search works as well as instructions on how to create search-friendly content.

Google also provides a lot of useful videos for webmasters on its YouTube channel. The videos are in different formats, such as tutorials, Google Hangouts, Q&A, etc. They are even available in different languages.

Not enough?
Check this page: how to learn seo for further details and seo resources.

Albert’s Website: http://www.seolution.com/

Aleh Barysevich

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It was 12 years ago when I started my software company, producing SEO software. At that time I was quite inexperienced in the SEO sphere as you’ll soon see.

For starters, it seemed to be a brilliant idea to develop SEO software because there appeared to be no similar solutions on the market.

There were, I just didn’t find those. One way or another, it worked out well, with SEO PowerSuite being the choice of many SEO professional during all these years and today.

SEO is a fast-paced industry, so there’s little point in comparing my route that started in 2005 to what might be helpful to junior specialists today.

If you ask for my recommendations, I’d suggest to identify your strengths as a professional and focus on those from the SEO perspective.

Do you have a strong technical aptitude and feel comfortable with website development? It would be easier for you to conceptualize technical SEO, basing your strategy on that.

Are you a lucky one with a natural writing style in your DNA? Focus more on content creation and curation to rely on strong content strategies, implemented with proper keyword research.

Are you a people person and a stellar communicator? Chances are, your outreach will be a level up compared to your peers, and your websites will have strong backlink profiles.

SEO is very diverse these days, merging with online marketing, PR, digital advertising, and more. Stay on top of search trends, understand all the aspects of present-day SEO profession, yet have a strong major area of your expertise and work hard to develop it.

Aleh’s Websitehttp://link-assistant.com

Alex Chris

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The best way to learn SEO is to practice it. Reading the theory behind SEO, success stories, step-by-step guides is very important but the most important of all is to setup a website and start publishing content.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, learn from your mistakes and try again. It may take some time until you get your first organic visitor but after a few months, everything will make more sense.

Keep working and be patient. If others are able to do it, so are you!

Alex’s Website: https://www.reliablesoft.net/

Allen MacCannell

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While SEO is my profession and I sell one of the top 3 SEO tool platforms, I have never been stressed out trying to understand what is mostly a straightforward algorithm issue.

There are now more than 200 factors that can affect a website’s rankings in the search engines. It’s not too hard to grasp all 200 and to keep in mind that Google will also ding content for reasons they don’t care to discuss.

There are a number of things in life I’d like to get a “do over” for if I had a time machine. Learning SEO is not one of them.

Neither is relearning how to speak German and Russian or riding a bike. These are all skills that are important to learn but, once you’ve done so, you don’t need to do it over correctly.

That said, anyone learning SEO for the first time now, should be using the WEBCEO tools free version which will help them learn in the most efficient way, with hands on training.

That is precisely how I learned SEO in the early 2000s, with the WebCEO desktop software which was famous that far back.

Allen’s Website: http://www.webceo.com

Andrea Pernici

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The most important things if you want to learn SEO is to start from knowing web technologies and digital design.

This is the only things that we’ll make you able to discern truth from snake oil, and possible from impossible.

You need to understand the logic behind web technologies and all the implications of the tools you use to make a website, app or in general a digital product.

You can learn whatever you want.

From content marketing to user experience, from copywriting to competitive analysis, but if you lack the basic and if you ignore the digital design process you will never be able to make any real difference.

Great minds understand how things work, the mediocre minds simply hope that those things work.

Andrea’s Websitehttps://www.andreapernici.com/

Andrew James

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I’m a huge proponent of learning by doing, so I’d accumulate all the resources I have at my disposal, pull up my keyword research tool and dig in.

You could spend days (months) reading through all those ‘guru’ blogs, trying to learn the SEO, just to find yourself even more stuck and without anything concrete to show for. Paralysis by analysis is one of the most common foes for the SEO world nowadays.

I have no issues with failing – that’s the best way to learn something.

If you succeed all the time, you won’t learn anything new because you’ll feel really comfortable knowing that you can ‘beat’ the system. And then, when you fail for the first time, it’s going to be HARD. Both mentally and financially.

So, test, test, test, fail, test, tweak, win ;).

Andrew’s Website: https://www.brandbuilders.io/

Andy Crestodina

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If today was the beginning, I would put a lot of networking into my plan to learn SEO. In hindsight, some of the best insights came from meetings and phone calls with other marketers.

  • Want to meet someone in person? Go to events where they are presenting and say hello.
  • Trying to solve a specific problem? Reach out to someone who has solved it and ask if you can jump on a short call.
  • Want to speak regularly to a few experts? Form a mastermind group and get together monthly on Skype.

The key to getting peoples time is to be very, very considerate. Use these golden rules…

  1. Give as much value as you get. Share, comment, endorse, refer and recommend them first!
  2. Be very considerate when you ask. Keep the time short. Don’t send long emails. Make it easy.
  3. Say “Thank You” like a champion!

Go way overboard when showing gratitude. It’s a secret weapon. One of my favorites is to help them promote specific skills on LinkedIn. If you notice that their endorsements in LinkedIn aren’t sequential, you can help them promote specific skills.

Great teachers make learning faster, easier and more fun. Just be sure to thank them when they help you up the SEO learning curve!

Andy’s Website: http://www.orbitmedia.com/

Andy Drinkwater

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If I had to start over to learn SEO, there are a number of things i would do.

1) Attend seminars and events and network with those that conduct research and that are considered industry specialists. In any year there are many events Worldwide such as MOZcon, Brighton SEO & SMX (to name just a few). There is a great list of these for 2017 here.

2) Follow industry experts on Social Media and gather as much information from them as possible. Engage in conversations and don’t be afraid to ask questions – most are only too happy to impart their wisdom.

3) Read research studies and whitepapers. You would be surprised at what nuggets of information you can gather from these.

4) Understand that you never stop learning. SEO evolves at a rapid rate, so you always have something new to learn or skill to acquire.

5) Enroll in some of the excellent online training programs that are available online. Both Distilled U and MOZ Training would be great starting places.

Andy’s Website: http://www.iqseo.uk/

Arnie Kuenn

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If I had to start over, what steps would I take to learn SEO?

I would look for in-depth, hands-on workshops on SEO and pay the fee to attend. I am not talking about a half day course or attending sessions at a conference.

I am talking about a minimum of one full day and ideally a course that takes a few days to get through. That is something I would do immediately to take the deepest dive possible into SEO.

After that, I would look for really good online resources, that are frequently publishing to stay up to date.

Examples might be Search Engine Land, Moz and even the resources section on our website. Then it’s all about diving in and doing the work – maybe even on a dummy site that you create.

Arnie’s Website: http://www.VerticalMeasures.com

Arnout Hellemans

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Best thing to do is start working at a big affiliate as a junior SEO. Getting your hands dirty, help others if you think you can add value, and start reading twitter streams and reading stuff like (and participate in #semrushchat or #ecomchat twitter chats).

If you have a global idea on where SEO is and where it’s heading go to conferences like BrightonSEO, Digital Elite Camp and local meetups and don’t be afraid to share you mistakes and learnings (again, it’s all about sharing). And do this while enjoying a beer with like minded people and then practice what you learned.

Arnout’s Website: http://onlinemarkethink.com

Ashley Faulkes

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Today, SEO is not as complex as it once was, at least if you just want to learn the basics.

Why? Because Google is now more focused on the user and less on keywords and other technical factors.

So, if I was just starting out in SEO I would focus on doing more research and worrying less about doing the right things in SEO.

That means, finding out what the best niche is, what people are actually searching for and trying to carve out your place on the web.

This will help you out no end when you do finally get a handle on the more technical aspects of SEO, which do help but are just not as important as great, useful content that helps your target audience!

Ashley’s Website: http://madlemmings.com

Ben Wynkoop

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Coincidentally, this past week I began guiding a friend to learn SEO so he could avoid the frustration I encountered trying to learn SEO over 7 years ago.

Back then there were not many good courses available, but thankfully today there is a variety of training to choose from.

First, I would identify what type of websites you plan on doing SEO for to select the appropriate course.

For example, if you want to get a job at an agency working with enterprise-level corporations or name brands, consider training from DistilledU, since Distilled is a well-known agency that caters to these types of companies.

For other applications, there are several comprehensive courses that focus solely on teaching SEO for local businesses and others for affiliate marketing. Secondly, in my opinion, don’t search for a job or try to take on clients immediately upon completing your course(s).

Get hands-on experience by implementing the methods learned, on your website or a friend’s. However, I know plenty others who believe in “faking it till you make it “ at a job or taking a leap of faith to land clients and figure things out out during the “free fall.” Lastly, be weary of what SEO experts you follow for advice.

There are many posts on the web based on theory versus science. For example, I follow Matt Diggity because his advice is regularly supported by data.

Even if Matt’s practices are too grey hat for you white hat SEOs, reflect on what he says works and apply his recommendations from a white approach. For example, he presents quite a bit of data advocating for PBNs, so outreach to earn editorial links for a white hat equivalent.

Ben’s Website: http://benwynkoop.com/

Brandon Johnston

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SEO is such a wide spectrum that you can easily get lost and frustrated before you really even get started.

If you already understand the basics of SEO and how to rank content in Google, I would say the next important area of focus would be on “niche marketing”. Narrowing down the focus of your niche is key, and is the real secret to ranking content in Google.

Wordstream has a simple 3-step process to explain the process of niching down and targeting keywords that are easier to rank for. Once you’ve mastered this process, you should have no problem with ranking your site content in Google.

Brandon’s Website: http://blogreign.com/

Bryan Adams

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I would take the following steps;

1. Read these blogs every week;

  • Moz
  • Search Engine Land
  • Search Engine Watch
  • Search Engine Journal

2. I’d find a small business that has no SEO strategy at all and offer my services for free so I could see and prove documented tactics in action.

3. I’d start a blog on a topic I loved with the target of attaining high rankings within 12 months and so I could experiment and test more ambitious or untested strategy.

4. I’d start a weekly podcast focussed on interviewing the top SEO experts in the world so I could ask all the questions I wanted (and my audience wantes) and learn from the best.

Bryan’s Website: http://www.ph-creative.com/

Chad Pollitt

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When I started doing SEO mid last decade there wasn’t a lot of resources available online to learn it. It was difficult to tell what information was trustworthy and what wasn’t. There was a lot of trial and error.

That said, if I had to start from scratch today I’d start with Moz’s ever-popular “Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.” In my opinion that content is a cornerstone of the industry today from one of the most trusted names in SEO.

In addition, I would take some PR/Media Relations classes either online or in a class room setting. So much of off-page SEO today is more PR than anything else.

Chad’s Website: http://www.chadpollitt.com

Chase Reiner

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If I were to start over and learn SEO all over again these are the first three steps I’d take:

1. Figure out who the experts are and follow them. Here’s who I like:

  • Brian Dean from Backlinko
  • The Yoast Blog
  • Bill Slawski
  • Alan Blewiess
  • and of course my Youtube channel where I have over 300 SEO tutorials.

2. I would join an awesome Facebook group and interact with other SEO’s here are some great groups:

  • The SEO Network
  • White Hat SEO
  • SEO Signals

3. I’d only learn white hat SEO strategies that actually work. I actually just created a 5,000 + word post I made on underutilized white hat SEO techniques.

Chase’s Websitehttps://chasereiner.com/

Chris Ainsworth

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If I had to start over with no SEO or digital knowledge whatsoever, I’d likely have 3 key starting areas each revolving around online learning and self education. These would be:

1. Google’s SEO Starter Guide – The first point of call would likely be Google!

When I started 10+ years ago there was very little information on the web regarding SEO; but now it’s completely different. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide – https://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf – is a great place to start for anyone new to SEO so I’d read that first.

2. Google Webmasters – I’d also familiarise myself with everything on Google Webmasters – https://www.google.com/webmasters/learn/. From the academy and ‘How Search Works’ through to the individual webmaster guidelines, Google Webmasters is full of great information which I would take time to digest.

3. Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO – Once familiar with Google’s webmaster guidelines and best-practice, I’d also familiarise myself with Moz’s ‘Beginners Guide to SEO’ – https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo – to get a different perspective. I’d also likely take my time to familiarise myself with the Google Algorithm History information provided by Moz so I have a full understanding of the evolution of search.

4. Google Digital Garage – Next I’d move on to Google’s Digital Garage – https://digitalgarage.withgoogle.com.

With Digital Garage, Google provide a number of bitesize lessons for mastering the digital world which is great for anyone starting out in SEO. But the Digital Garage is much more than just SEO, there some great information on related topics such as search ads, analytics, email, social and much more, at the end of which can ‘Get certified by Google’. Best of all, it’s completely free.

5. Finally, I’d probably look to take more of a hands-on approach to education and seek out some relevant training courses.

Although there is no official “Google SEO” training course, courses developed by Google such as Squared Online – https://www.wearesquared.com/ – are important and will provide education on digital marketing as a whole.

There are lots of great courses out there, such as those offered by Brighton SEO – http://www.brightonseo.com/training/ – on various verticals of search marketing; it just depends on what you’re after!

Chris’s Website: https://www.highposition.com/content-marketing

Chris Makara

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For me, I have always felt the best way to really learn something is to actually get my “hands dirty” by doing it. So basically, I learn the most by doing.

Years ago when I was starting out (way back in 2003), there were not a whole lot of options to read up on SEO. It was really a whole lot of trial and error.

But luckily today there are countless resources to get you pointed in the right direction when it comes to SEO.

So if I were starting out today, I would begin with Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO and read all the posts on Backlinko.

Once I understood what SEO is and the different elements that go into positioning a page to rank, I would then put those practices in place for my own website for keyword phrases I have identified.

I would be sure to track what I did (or didn’t do), before and after results, as well as any insights I found from what I implemented.

From there I would look deeper and see what other areas I would be able to improve upon in order better my chances at ranking for my target phrases all while tracking my progress.

Chris’s Website: http://chrismakara.com/about

Clement Lim

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SEO can be confusing and intimidating to anyone starting out. Trying to learn from scratch can leave your head spinning with jargon about anchor texts, keyword density and meta tags.

The thing to remember is that Google wants to help its users to find awesome content. SEO is all about getting you the best results from Google’s algorithms. And the most important factor in SEO is getting high-quality websites to link to your content.

But where to start?

The best place to start is to study your top competitors, the ones that rank high in Google’s search results for the same topics you’re talking about. Analyse their best performing content and understand what makes it great.

Learn to use SEO software (such as Ahrefs or Majestic) to find out what websites are linking to your competitors.

Now you should have an idea about what kind of content works for SEO and who you need to promote it to.

Study the blogs of some SEO experts like Brian Dean, Robbie Richards and Mathew Barby.

If you’ve done your homework, you should be ready to start creating your own awesome content and promoting it to high-quality websites.

That’s SEO in a nutshell.

Clement’s Website: http://www.limwriter.com

Corey Northcutt

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I’d have spent more time getting my hands dirty and testing sooner.

Because there are really two SEO industries: the talkers and the doers. I enjoy the “talkers” and respect their role – speakers, bloggers – but their role is really centered in entertainment and inspiring. The fact is, SEO works so wildly different in practice and for brands outside the marketing industry.

The doers have been focused on iterating their complete SEO systems forward over the last two decades. The talkers, on self-serving headlines and hacks to maximize their own reach/selling.

Corey’s Websitehttps://northcutt.com/

David Carralon

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I would:

  1. take a quick, practical course in HTML and web design
  2. start building my own site immediately and add analytics tracking
  3. start outsourcing content alongside the design to build up a site with lots of content
  4. learn to do keyword research watching free resources
  5. learn Information architecture and some UX principles
  6. learn about PageRank distribution
  7. keep iterating an improve my test site (interlinking, content types, images, etc)
  8. start learning all link building guerrilla-base techniques and source links as much as possible
  9. start learning analytics analysis, and do lots of analysis to improve site
  10. start adding monetization

David’s Website: https://davidcarralon.com/

David Jenyns

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If I were to start from scratch how would I learn SEO? I’d start by finding a few reputable sources to learn from. It’s best to focus in on only a couple of sources initially to avoid overwhelm and conflicting information.

Focus in on learning the technical aspects of what Google is looking, then move to onsite SEO (keyword selection and placement) and finally offpage SEO (building links in a white hat way).

You’ll also need to learn about content since, without a good content strategy, you won’t have a good SEO strategy.

Finally, I’d setup a WordPress blog and start applying and testing everything I’d learnt. Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console… and then get to work.

Narrow your focus in on user metrics like bounce rates, time spent on site and number of pages visited. By focusing on improving these numbers, you’ll inevitably improve your site’s usability.

Google is closely measuring user metics and for good reason – here’s why: If the majority of people who click on your website in the Google rankings hit the “back” button (giving you a high bounce rate for that page), that’s a sure sign that either your website is not relevant to the search term or simply that your website provides a poor user experience.

Conversely, if the average visitor spends at least five minutes on your website and the majority never return to Google, this indicates that you’ve helped Google achieve its goal of delivering a website that is relevant to the search term entered by the user.

By focusing on improving your user metrics, the steps you take will result in higher rankings.

Here are a few reputable sources to get you started:

I’m biased but check out Authority Content on Amazon

Other authorities worth keeping an eye on include:

  • https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
  • http://www.moz.com
  • https://yoast.com/
  • http://www.melbourneSEOservivces.com

David’s Website: www.melbourneseoservices.com

David Leonhardt

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I would do exactly what I did the first time around. I experimented on my own sites. That was long before blogging and social media existed. Back then, people interacted in forums. I was active in Jill Whalen’s SEO forum and a few others. This is how I learned SEO.

Today, I would hang out on MOZ and Inbound.org, and get invited to chat groups on FaceBook and Skype.

I would pay close attention to what people are saying who work in large teams with big money and can test things on a large scale.
And then, I would experiment on my own sites.

Interestingly, a few months back, I turned my attention to one of my sites that I was meaning to update and upgrade for near on a year, and I put to the test a few thoughts that had developed from this exact approach.

The graph below reflects traffic only to the site’s service pages. The home page is not included, nor are blog posts.

You can see the steady results of regular blogging, ongoing social media activity and responding to requests to participate in expert roundups, such as this.

You can also see the more interesting results of technical and content changes in the past four months.

I should stress that no change has been made to link-building or social media activity. The sharp increase is strictly the result of technical and content improvements.

I should also say that I expect the slope to plateau in the next month or two. It can’t keep climbing at this rate from changes that are mostly behind me, even if I pray very hard.

David’s Website: http://www.seo-writer.ca/

Deirdre Breakenridge

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If I had to start over with SEO, I would do a lot more research to uncover the trends and then apply what I’ve learned. The one thing that’s apparent to marketers and PR pros over the years is that everything changes.

Just when you think you understand SEO there are new rules being introduced. Being in PR, I remember when Google decided to roll out with its first Penguin algorithm update.

At that point, links in our news releases no longer helped with SEO. PR pros had to learn new ways to optimize content, which didn’t include keyword stuffing either.

Rising in the search engines has always been about really good content that’s relevant and frequently updated. Early on, if I had done more research then maybe I would have received better organic search results.

It’s hard to say what you should continue and what you should “do over.” Technically, every week might be an opportunity to have a “do over” with your SEO.

Deirdre’s Websitehttp://www.pureperformancecomm.com/

Dennis Seymour

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If I had some money to spare, I would go with a video course that comes with private training.

That way, I can learn the basics then jump into actual work while learning the negatives quickly to save time that would cost me months or years to learn on my own plus somebody would keep me accountable.

I’m in the middle of a course (http://perfectwordpressseo.com/) launch cycle that would actually do these.

On the other hand, if you didn’t know about courses and practically zero knowledge of how to search for resources on the internet, I would start with ebooks, join communities (Google+ has some great ones, so does Reddit) and stick with blogs that are from companies that at least look reputable.

There will be conflicting messages and a LOT of FLUFF, some of which I debunk on my blog (https://www.leapfroggr.com/blog/) but the rest you’ll have to learn as you apply and you MUST apply it first hand or nothing really will happen.

Dennis’s Website: https://www.leapfroggr.com/blog

Derrick Hicks

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If I had to start over, what steps would I take to learn SEO?

Generally speaking, I would pursue what was interesting to me. That is what I have always done and, so far, it has served me well.

Let me try to break that down a little more.

Right now, there is A LOT of discussion about machine learning being integrated into Google’s core search algorithms. I’m pretty fascinated by machine learning, so I would study it like crazy (I have).

I’d take online courses about it and see if I could build my own simplified machine learning algorithm.

This insight would give me a better understanding about how machine learning works, the trajectory the technology is on (where it will be in 3-5 years), and also I could see some of it’s potential limitations.

Bottom line, just pursue what is interesting to you and Google it. After you learn something, take action. Just do something with the new knowledge you have acquired! 🙂

All of the world’s knowledge is literally at our fingertips. There has NEVER been a better time in all of history to learn, grow, and develop our skills and abilities.

Derrick’s Website: http://derrickhicks.org

Dom Wells

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I would probably try to get a job with an SEO agency or as an apprentice/employee with an influencer who is looking to hire someone. Kind of like how Perrin became Spencer Haws’ apprentice and then joined him full-time.

At the same time, I would also be just learning as much as I could, reading as many blogs like Gotch SEO as I could, and putting strategies in place.

Most importantly though, I would get started implementing and testing things, because you only learn SEO from experience, and the sooner you start the clock ticking, the faster you will learn.

Dom’s Websitehttp://www.humanproofdesigns.com/

Douglas Cunnington

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If I could start over I would enroll in a premium course that outlines the best practices for certain areas of SEO. Now, I practice White Hat SEO, but I cut my teeth with Gray Hat techniques using Private Blog Networks.

I ran into all sorts of problems, penalties, and loss of revenue due to Gray Hat SEO. I know Gray Hat still works, and I really learned a lot about how Google works buy experimenting with PBNs, but the risk isn’t worth it for me anymore.

I would seek out courses that include outreach and guest posting. Additionally, it’s really important to understand the onpage SEO aspects, including the keyword research. If you can get that part right, then you can rank content without backlinks.

Overall, if you’re trying to learn fast, it’s best to go to the experts and shorten your learning curve.

Douglas’s Website: http://nichesiteproject.com/

Eli Seekins

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SEO is a fickle thing. If you’re a master, it will bring you tons of traffic. If you know nothing about it at all… it’s probably a waste of your time.

If you’re just getting started, and wondering what you should do about SEO, I would read a quick couple blog posts about keywords & keyword research (this one & this one are my favorites). Then do you’re best to implement what you learn.

Other than that, I would forget about SEO (just for now) and focus more on building relationships and connecting with influencers in your niche. Networking and providing value to your audience will naturally and organically give you some SEO juice.

A good strategy for this is expert roundup posts 😉 They connect you with people, build relationships, provide value to your readers, and help you build links back to your site.

If you’re really set on learning SEO I would hire help or take an online course.

Eli’s Website: http://launchyourdream.com/

Eric Gati

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If I had to start over, here is how I would approach learning SEO:

  1. If I hadn’t done so yet, I would create a site from the beginning (i.e. I would not wait until I “learned” SEO to begin creating content).
  2. I would first learn about on-page SEO and work on those principles with my site and content.
  3. Once my site was a little more established, I would begin looking into white hat, off-page SEO techniques like guest posting, round-up posts, and others.
    I would consult some of the top resources online (Backlinko is one that comes to mind).
  4. Overall, I would stay far away from anything that sounds too good to be true – PBNs, paid links, or any system that promises “quick ranking results.”

Good, sustainable SEO takes time and patience. And while it may not come quickly, it’s in the best long-term interest of your site.

Eric’s Website: http://www.cynicalparent.com/

Eric Ward

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If I had to start over today, my answer would be different than if I had to start over back when I originally started in this industry in 1994.

Back in 1994 there were no books or seminars or conferences to learn anything about SEO, until Danny Sullivan created his Webmasters Guide to Search Engines. Danny’s site was the absolute Bible of the SEO industry for all of us early practitioners and early adopters throughout most of the 90s.

So my truthful answer is if I had to start all over back then I would change absolutely nothing, because I learned from the best and it served me well.

Now, if I had to start over today, my answer would be different. I would still rely heavily on everything that Danny Sullivan writes and publishers through his sites www.searchengineland.com and www.marketingland.com.

There are other great sites that cover SEO as well. I would probably also identify the key influencers within the SEO community, but *NOT* just those who are the most prolific at writing and publishing.

I’m not going to name names but there are many so-called SEO experts who seem to be experts only getting their content published and building a name for themselves, but I see little evidence that they’ve actually had success practicing SEO for clients.

I’ve remained a one person business on purpose for all of the 20 years I’ve have been in this industry. By staying one person business and continually practicing my craft, I never lose sight of the most important issues that are facing me today.

In my opinion the quickest way to lose your edge is to stop actually doing and spend too much time traveling and speaking. This is also part of the reason that after speaking for over 10 years at 160 conferences I stopped.

Now, I spend the majority of my time consulting and helping clients, and learning everything I can buy reading content from those people who I know have been successful for clients, not just successful in getting their content published.

Our industry is somewhat unique in the ability to produce mass amounts of content, get it published across a number of different websites, and by doing so give the impression you are an expert.

But…I can tell you from my own personal experience with these experts that many times the people who seem to know the most know nothing at all.

So I guess if I was to sum up I would say if I had to start over today I would very carefully select and curate a collection of practitioners who have shown proven results for clients, and who are not afraid to show how they were successful.

I’d do whatever it took to learn from them, and then I’d once again remain a one person business.

Eric’s Websitehttp://www.ericward.com

Fili Wiese

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Having learned programming and started at Google early on has really helped me getting started on the right path in my SEO career.

If I were new to SEO today, I would start with information science and computer science, in particular machine learning, AIs and don’t underestimate what a librarian can teach you about helping users finding the answers they are looking for.

Be active in webmaster related forums, such as the official Google Webmaster forum, and help others. While helping others you can learn a lot yourself. Also you need to learn programming and experiment a lot, I recommend Python but C++, Java or Go is also fine.

Understand that the user experience is key to your success as SEO and to the websites you optimize.

Understand your user. Learn how to manage their expectations in the SERPs and exceed their expectations when they come to your website.

Fili’s Websitehttps://online.marketing/

Gigi Rodgers

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If I had to learn SEO from scratch, I would hunt down professionals who’s sole job is Search Engine Optimization and work for them – even if it’s for a project.

Reading about the subject does offer insight, but there’s nothing like being on the battlegrounds with them, and not only watching what they do, but being able to ask the “whys”.

This way, I don’t just memorize tactics, I’ll have a deep understanding for the concepts involved. You can describe to me what a Great White looks like chasing down a seal, but it will never compare to watching it, in slow motion, on Shark Week.

Gigi’s Website: https://inbound.org/in/rodgersgigi

Greg Elfrink

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What Would the Steps Be for Me to Learn SEO from Scratch:

I would save up $1000-2000 to buy a course dedicated to building out authority sites. While I could bootstrap it, it would be way more efficient to learn it from a course. The reasoning is that SEO takes SO LONG before you see the results, that if you did something wrong it might push you back by 6-12 months of growth.

Or you may have built using black hat strategies without even realizing it, which could seriously put your entire asset at risk. I know people reading this are saying, “Well how would I go about getting that kind of money to spend just on a course?”

I got two answers for you when it comes to that.

1. Work your tail off selling services, this is what I mainly did and how I became the content manager for Empire Flippers. I wrote a ton of articles for people. SEOs hate writing content, you can find a plethora of them all chomping at the bit looking for a writer worth their salt.

The thing is, you will be making pennies per word, or $0.15 per word as was my going rate when I first began. Yet, it does not take that much time to add up. I was averaging about $25-30 an hour when I was doing this.

It also allowed me to create a huge portfolio of work that still sends me clients asking to hire me today (for much higher rates), but thanks to this portfolio wa able to land an awesome job and now turn away these clients.

2. Get a second job. There’s no shame in getting a second job because you can’t afford the tools or the knowledge of the trade yet. A minimum wage job in the USA is right around $7.50 per hour for most states. That means you will need to work 134 hours or so to get a $1,000 to invest in your education. Or a little under a month of work.

Seriously, in less than a month you can afford a world class education in SEO as long you bought a GOOD course – or if you went with Route #1 you might have found the perfect client turned mentor for free! Either way, this is a powerful option to supercharge your SEO learning and earning.

Once you know what you are doing, keep the second job and learn to delegate all the tasks. With a $1,000 per month investment, that is a TON of content, link building efforts and so many other things that will give you a huge head start.

While knowing how to do SEO is mission critical, learning how to delegate successfully is even more so. You learn how to delegate your entire SEO work once you know what you are doing, you can scale things to the moon far quicker than if you were doing everything yourself.

Your role as an entrepreneur should be to replace yourself as much as possible in every portion of the pipeline.

Greg’s Website: http://empireflippers.com/

Greg Lee

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It is important to understand the big picture where SEO fits. And it fits right between marketing, web development and design.

To start over learning SEO, I would suggest you start by reading a book on direct response marketing during down time. This is to put you in the right frame of mind about inbound marketing while learning the more tactical SEO.

Next, find a beginner’s HTML course that walks through purchasing server space, setting up a domain name and creating a very basic static website. That should take a week or two at most if you are able to spend a couple hours each day on it.

Finally, you have the necessary framework to apply SEO. But in order to do so, use your web hosting account to create a WordPress website. Just follow the WordPress.org instructions as you go. During your downtime, read up on SEO from the Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Read through the full guide as you create and tweak your WordPress site. You can print off a PDF version of the guide so you can take notes as you apply and practice SEO on your website.

Greg’s Websitehttp://www.bkv.com/

Greg Nunan

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SEO is broad as a topic – we could be talking Local SEO vs Affiliate SEO for example. Each has their own intricacies. The main issue with SEO in general however is that it is continually evolving and for that reason, there is no substitute for experience, and recent experience at that.

That being said, there needs to be a starting point and for that I recommend investing in a quality training course – A course where you can consume some content and then directly apply what you’ve learned to gain that all-important experience.

Hands down, the best course available right now is the Authority Hacker Pro course offered by Gael and Mark from Authority Hacker. So that’s step 1 – invest in some education.

Step 2 – Absorb the information. But don’t over-absorb. Reading and watching is no substitute for activity. Allow a couple of weeks to absorb some information if you’re coming in fresh.

Step 3 – Stop absorbing the information and take action.

Step 4 – Is more of a process than a step, and that is stay the course. In my view, you can “learn SEO” with consistency of applying, testing and tweaking for around 10-15 hours per week over a 12 month period and once you’ve gathered that foundation of experience you’ll be well-positioned to move and adapt with the ever-changing SEO landscape.

Greg’s Websitehttp://www.new-startups.com/

Isaiah Bollinger

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If I had to start over I would look at SEO in several stages. First, I would try and learn all the ins and outs of technical or what is known as On Page SEO including Google Web Master Tools. There are many good resources online for learning On Page SEO.

Secondly, I would learn how to do keyword research and optimize keywords so that I could fine tune the On Page SEO keywords as my business grow and evolved. There are many tools to do this like Google Adwords Keyword Tools.

After that I would study social media and how to effectively promote content and web pages via social media because social media is such a big factor in SEO today.

Lastly, I would evaluate local citations and off page SEO, or link building, as it is mainly known. I would research how to effectively build and grow off page links and local citations.

Isaiah’s Website: http://trellis.co/

Jaaved Khatree

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Looking back at my time in SEO and Digital Marketing (over 10 years now), if I had to start over I’d probably start working on my own sites instead of simply reading up on SEO theory and experiments. I’d also not wait for my boss/manager to allow me to flex some SEO muscle – I’d work on my own, personal sites and keep testing.

The aim is to learn by doing and learn from making all sorts of mistakes without worrying about major repercussions that can come about in a commercial setting (proper online store, big company website).

When I was learning, I just read a lot about it but didn’t feel confident doing my own thing (to test what I had learnt) but if I could start over, I’d take the plunge and learn while stumbling through the SEO minefield.

Practice makes perfect and when you’re learning on the go, you force yourself to keep in mind current trends and best practices and you’re also doing your best to stay within Google’s guidelines.

I recommend starting with an informational site so that you get to try lots of cool things like AMP and Rich Snippets. You could even venture out into multilingual SEO too. SEO has come such a long way that you can try out so many different things to augment the SEO experience.

Jaaved’s Websitehttp://www.jaaved.com/

Jake Bohall

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Learning SEO today is much different than when I first started in the industry 10+ years ago. I took a path of understanding general marketing, business consulting, and web development, before I ever dove into SEO. As a result, I’ve been able to apply a variety of business practices into SEO strategies and in the way I prioritize things for our clients to create maximum impact.

I currently run a bootcamp for SEO through Fortis College / ASPE, and am a firm believer that marketing/business acumen and a functional understanding of the technical goals and history of search engines are the first crucial step to becoming an SEO.

This allows you to always be mindful of user experience and business principals in all your efforts. Anyone new to SEO, should definitely read Moz’ beginners guide to SEO, Google’s search quality guidelines, Google’s quality rater guidelines, and seek out an experienced SEO to be their mentor.

I’d also highly recommend going to PubCon, as it far surpasses other conferences when it comes to distilling/sharing knowledge and creating relationships within the industry.

Jake’s Website: http://angular.marketing

Jamie Spencer

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I kind of fell into SEO as I was working as a web designer and had clients who were keen to get more traffic from search back then there weren’t lots of free guides, resources and blogs out there like there are now.

Most of the good information back then was shared in the early SEO and webmaster forums.

But if I was starting again I would definitely recommend a person to treat everything they read online about SEO with a lot of skepticism.

There’s a lot of blogs out there which means that there is a lot of mis-information.

Some of that mis-information is unintentional but the big problem is that some of it is intentional.

Therefore if you come across a new case study or blog post with some amazing new revelation it’s a good idea to look at who is writing that post, where they’re writing that post and what you think is there motivation.

So to that end a few resources I would recommend beginners reading for a good grounding in SEO are:

  1. the Moz beginners guide
  2. Google SEO Guide
  3. Point Blank SEO’s Link Building Tactics
  4. Backlinko’s blog
  5. Nick Eubanks SEOAuv blog

I am still a firm believer in learning by doing; only once I started applying the tactics I had found online to my own websites and my early clients did I actually begin to understand why I was doing what I was doing.

Even now I am still very dubious of anyone who claims to be an SEO consultant/guru/expert and does not do their own tests or run their own side projects.

So the more data you can begin to get a hold of from server logs, web analytics, crawl reports, link reports and free tools such as Google Search Console they will help you to start making your own recommendations and conclusions and ultimately learn about SEO.

Jamie’s Websitehttp://www.setupablogtoday.com/

Jasmine Sandler

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I have been studying and involved as a professional in the world of SEO and for that matter Digital Marketing since its inception so I don’t think my initial learning would have changed.

I have learned from the best in the industry and have chosen to run an Online Branding and Online PR agency since the beginning because I had my own intuition that user experience, content marketing and technology would all at one point converge to support real SEO.

This is where we are today. Where we are going FAST is working with new technologies and platforms like Mobile, VR and more and we need to now shape SEO to support a different way of serving, testing, manipulating and managing data and its intent.

To be a true SEO practioner and for me a thought leader is to stay on top of what affects it and where it makes it effects. The learning is an ongoing process.

Jasmine’s Websitejasminesandler.com

Jason Acidre

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The one thing that really fast-tracked my growth in SEO back when I was just starting in 2010, was when I decided to start my own website. My own domain where I can freely test any strategy without restrictions/limitations.

This made it easier for me to really understand SEO, especially in knowing what works, and what doesn’t, in determining which tasks/areas of the practice will make the most value – and the time consuming ones that will have no value at all.

The 6 years I’ve spent in this career was mainly a virtuous circle of reading, testing, analyzing, writing about them (so I’d always remember), and repeating.

If I have to start over again, I’d probably do the same steps. But the only difference would be, I’ll start with 2-3 different test websites that aren’t marketing-related (but should be something I’m really passionate about).

Jason’s Website: http://kaiserthesage.com

Jason L Bauman

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That is an excellent question! As someone who’s now trying to train others in SEO, I’ve given a lot of thought to this. Hopefully, you’ll find my answer useful.

I think that, if I had to start again, I’d focus on the technical aspects of SEO first. One popular idea in our industry is that content is king. It’s true that content is vital, but it’s also only effective if you have the foundation right. Technical SEO is that foundation.

When I got into SEO, I spent a lot of time learning about keyword research, optimizing title tags, and how to reach out to bloggers to try and get the content I developed shared.

Learning about content is useful, and necessary as an SEO. But writing the best article in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t get the tech basics right.

I found that my understanding about why content mattered improved once I started learning about the technical aspects of SEO, including pagination, canonicals, equity flow, and server response codes. Thanks to this education, I not only know that content is King, but now I know why.

Content on a site is a bit like furnishing a home. You need to build the house before you worry about filling it. Understanding Technical SEO makes my content approach better and gives me a skill set that makes my agency more valuable to our clients.

Jason’s Website: http://www.trinityinsight.com/

Jeremy Rivera

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If I had to start over and had to learn SEO from scratch I would have bought several domains and setup website hosting on day one.

When I think about how much benefit even my naive capabilities brought to my employers and eventually my clients vs the compensation they provided it puts a lump in my throat.

Having direct control over sites you are optimizing and seeing the impact and feeling it connect or miss is the BEST teaching tool. You can completely destroy them to test radical ideas, or nurse them along with subtle changes over time but the fact that they’re yours makes a big impact.

Being able to synthesize strategies from your own experience will multiply your value to your in-house position or clients in the future. The struggles you overcome on your own sites will prepare you for your most challenging client.

Jeremy’s Websitehttp://www.jeremyriveraseo.com/

Joe Williams

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Let’s start with a thought-provoking question: what skill did you excel at when you were a child? Perhaps it was reading, socializing with others or for me, it was playing football or soccer if you’re from America.

I lived and breathed it.

I’d play it in school, at break time and lunch time. I’d play it at home, both inside and out. Much to the annoyance of my parents. I’d play it on the weekends on the streets or on a pitch.

I play it anywhere I could, and any time I could. And I got pretty good and got to a semi-professional level.

What’s this all got to do with learning SEO? The chances are, like me and football, whatever you succeeded at when you were younger involved practice and probably, a lot of it!

With so much free SEO information, it’s easy to get bogged down by all the theory and never put it into practice. But’s that’s exactly what you need to do, to test out what works and what doesn’t.

If I was starting out, I’d buy a domain name and create a blog in something that I was passionate about, perhaps in my case this would be a blog on football.

I’d try to focus on a sub-topic of football, something specific and more niche, perhaps just the premiere league or a specific team. For me, it might be about Swansea City, the place I am from and the team I support.

I’d learn how to use WordPress, how to use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO effectively and how to write content in an engaging and blog friendly way. I’d probably learn that backlinks were important and figure out ways to acquire them.

After some momentum with my blog, I’d apply to work at an SEO agency. Having the blog would help showcase my SEO skills, show initiative and would likely help me get my first job.

At the agency, I’d likely manage a dozen or more websites and also observe what worked or what didn’t for colleagues, and this would really help in super charging my SEO knowledge. And the reason for this, practice, lots and lots of practice.

Joe’s Website: http://zenoptimise.com

John Lincoln

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Well, I came from a publishing background initially. So I saw the power of creating content, getting it ranked and growing traffic.

After that, I developed my technical skills. I don’t really have any regrets regarding the way I learned SEO. I’m glad I didn’t start doing what was referred to as “SEO” back when I started. There was a lot of nasty stuff going on.

It was really almost all keyword stuffing, buying links, trading links, link schemes, etc. In addition to this, many of the important technical elements of SEO just came about in the last 5 years or so.

What I would say to others, is if you are looking to learn SEO, make sure you have the right teacher. Some people really know what they are talking about in the field and others are operating off total misinformation, using old strategies or blackhat strategies.

Align with someone who has a track record of success, understands publishing, is creative, understands curating content, understands social media very well and also has a technical skill set. Also, they need to have that track record of success sustained overtime for many, many website.

John’s Websitehttps://ignitevisibility.com

Jon Dykstra

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If I were starting over, the steps I would take would be the following:

Step 1: Read and research the topic of SEO. I’d pay close attention to SEO bloggers who actually publish several websites in a variety of niches and achieve decent rankings.

I would not pay all that much attention to bloggers whose only rankings include their SEO blog.

The reason for this is that my main interest in working online is publishing a variety of niche websites and therefore I’d want to learn from people who also publish a variety of niche websites.

The information I’d pay particular attention to is on-site technical set up for optimal SEO and keyword/topic research.

Step 2: Avoid short term tactics: I’ve pursued many short term tactics over the years; some worked while others not at all. Instead, I’d do my best to focus on “good sense” SEO practices that will have staying power.

Step 3: Focus on building out one site at the start: What I’ve learned as a publisher of several niche sites is that the more you focus on one site, especially in the beginning, the better you get at identifying content ideas that stand the best chance to succeed.

In fact, while I’ve had “happy SEO accidents” with content, I use those happy accidents to direct ongoing topic ideas. Once a site has decent traffic from Google, you can get a sense of the topics and types of content and content quality that performs well on your site.

At this point it’s easier to identify content/topics that stand a better chance of performing well in the long run.

For example, on one niche site with decent traffic, I discovered a pattern of one topic and type of content that tended to outperform many other posts on my site. Consequently I published plenty more of that type of content on that topic. It was not a focus for me until I saw the data.

At the end of the day, while SEO is important for most websites, I really try to take a bird’s eye view of it. It’s easy to get really bogged down into inconsequential details when starting out.

Instead, I find it’s much more enjoyable and effective when I set out to publish content my audience will appreciate. I also find that a great approach is to publish content on very specific topics and to cover that topic well.

Jon’s Websitehttp://fatstacksblog.com/

Jonathan Sackheim

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Here’s what I’d do to learn SEO:

Create an SEO optimization checklist

  • Optimize a website by starting with creating an SEO audit
  • Then I’d do the same process for a website that’s getting a full redesign: do an SEO strategy as part of that and try to align the new site to that strategy
  • I’d do the two above steps internally and then for a client

Do ongoing SEO first for my own site and then for a client:

  • Rankings and traffic reporting, ongoing content and website optimization suggestions
  • Come up with a content plan and start optimizing content and working with content creators such as copywriters, designers, and developers to get it published

Make sure my knowledge is strong across

  • SEO: have a list of what ranking factors make the most difference and focus on those, read a lot online and go to conferences like MozCon and local meetups
  • Analytics: get Google Analytics certified and practice doing reporting on my site and those for clients. Get good at conversion tracking.
  • Tools: try various tools including Moz, SEM Rush, SpyFu, WebCEO
    Understand other parts of marketing by working at an ad agency and client-side
  • Work with other SEOs to learn how they do things: hire one to help on a project and trade tips

Jonathan’s Website: GroundsforPromotion.com

Julie Joyce

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If I had to start over in SEO, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I learned it. I was basically thrown into it with only a couple of weeks of guidance and then the people training me quit.

I had to manage PPC campaigns, write content, work on technical issues, etc and I learned to do it by reading and asking questions.

I’d ask in forums, I’d email bloggers and ask, and I just learned by doing. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned so much from those experiences. I learn best by just doing something myself.

By the time I went to my first conference I was disappointed because I had already learned so much that was being presented. I still tell my team that they will learn more from jumping in, making mistakes, and figuring out the right way to do things.

Julie’s Websitehttp://www.linkfishmedia.com

Justin Herring

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Here is what I would do if I was starting all over again:

1) Setup my own agency or consultant website which will be used to test and do all SEO tactics

2) Subscribe to at least 30+ blogs who teach SEO with daily or weekly emails

3) Join at least 10 Facebook Groups who answer SEO/Local SEO questions (look for daily interaction)

4) Purchase a monthly course which is updated to teach you local or national SEO (Do this as soon as possible. It may not teach you everything but you will learn the basics)

5) Find the #1 expert for On-page optimization and do exactly what they say for your own personal site.

6) Start writing at least 1500 words blog posts answering client SEO questions. Then promote the hell out of them.

7) Learn how to either build backlinks or do outreach

8) Implement everything you learn the same day. #1 reason people fail is because the fail to act on the teaching.

9) Don’t stop too soon.

Justin’s Website: https://yeah-local.com/

Kaspar Szymanski

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Joining the Google Search Quality or Webspam Engineering teams are both great starting points! That’s the path I had the opportunity to follow.

There are alternatives however. Google isn’t the only place to learn how search works.

Joining an agency team headed by some of the established SEO industry gurus is another viable option to learn from the best.

There are a lot of misconceptions in the search and search optimization industry and learning from someone who knows their trade is the best path to jump start an SEO career.

Curiosity and a natural talent for understanding technology and user behavior alike are great advantages.

Anyone keen on learning how SEO really works is well advised to attend major industry events, follow and listen to key players and – most crucially – make up your own educated opinion over time.

Kaspar’s Websitehttps://www.searchbrothers.com/

Ken Lyons

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If I could go back in time, I would’ve built my own affiliate websites earlier.

We currently own and operate a portfolio of publishing/affiliate websites, but it took years to really get serious about those sites and realize their value on a few different fronts. They’ve been instrumental in helping test and explore different SEO tactics.

It’s like having your own laboratory of websites and you can experiment on with SEO, content marketing and link building to see what works and what doesn’t.

What great is you’re your own “client,” so can be as aggressive and audacious as you want, delve into gray/black hat tactics, and push as many boundaries as you want and not have to worry that you’re putting a client’s website/brand in jeopardy.

Case in point, we have had one of our most profitable affiliate sites get penalized because we were taking a lot of risks and really pushing the envelope, which was intentional.

Trying to get a manual penalty lifted was painful and you learn some hard lessons. But it’s fortunate it was a site we own and not someone elses.

Not only are these sites invaluable for SEO testing, but once you get smart about putting repeatable processes in place and getting adept at monetizing and scaling, these sites can become very profitable assets and a great way to diversify your income stream. We recently sold one of our sites for six figures.

Heck, if I’d started sooner, I’d have twice as many of those sites right now 🙂

Ken’s Website: http://www.measuredsem.com/

Kevin Duncan

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One of pros to being a blogger for 12+ years is I’ve had a lot of time to learn from my mistakes. A con, of course, is I’ve had a lot of time to make a LOT of mistakes! And one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is not learning SEO soon enough. I played around with it, dabbled here and there, but I didn’t give it the attention it deserved until I was years into the process.

If I had to start over, I would have found a SEO mentor right away. Someone like Brian Dean. Someone like Jon Morrow. Someone who had been through the grind a time or two and could show me the pitfalls to avoid.

Mentors aren’t free, but the price would have been worth it. Learning on my own may not have cost me any money, but it cost me years of headaches and frustrations.

Kevin’s Websitehttp://beabetterblogger.com/

Kristopher Jones

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The best way to learn SEO is to build your own website. However, prior to writing the first line of HTML I would educate myself on how to properly set-up the site for maximize SEO success.

I’d likely leverage WordPress and a tool like the Yoast SEO Plugin to help automate some of the work. I’d also put in place a content marketing strategy, as well as an offsite link building plan.

Since SEO is a dynamic process I would commit to staying on top of any updates Google makes to it machine learning algorithm, as well as any reprioritization it makes to the most important SEO ranking factors.

Kristopher’s Websitehttp://www.krisjones.com

Lee Wilson

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The first thing I would do is build a website – it doesn’t matter whether this a hand coded, or a WordPress template.
The look/feel is irrelevant as well; it’s about having a live test environment in place where you can screw up, get some results, follow best practice/ignore best practice, and simply learn by doing.

Read lots! Not just restricted to SEO industry blogs and books, but also related digital and wider business areas too. SEO is not as effective when isolated from other mediums, so learn a bit about; paid search, social media, content marketing, offline marketing, and more.

All of this reading will enable you to be far more creative and effective in the approaches you take for SEO.

Look at SEO as every interaction (and potential interaction) with your business online. SEO is not just keywords, or Google, it is so much more. From being seen by the right audiences for every relevant term/topics and content type, to having a healthy website that delivers a great user experience, plus everything in between. If you restrict your view on what SEO is, you stem your personal growth and development in this amazing industry.

Last tip – enjoy the industry. SEO can be anything and everything you want it to be – you can influence and shape the industry too. With the speed that technology changes and the new opportunities that arise every day, you can drive forward new and exciting approaches to SEO.

Lee’s Websitehttps://www.vertical-leap.uk

Lexi Mills

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I learned about SEO without knowing initially that it was called SEO and in some ways I consider that to have been a significant advantage. I was focused on the business objectives and sought out ways to achieve them as opposed to following a known formula.

As I learned more about traditional SEO/ PR tactics and processes it became dangerously easy to default into a routine or prescribed recipe.

I noticed a significant difference in the impact of the work done by those that followed a strict formula as opposed to consultants that viewed their skills and knowledge as toolsets to be applied in a unique fashion.

The former adapted and survived algorithmic change whereas the others did not.

I think if I were to relearn SEO or PR I might spend more time developing my problem-solving skills and perhaps my courage…Courage to fail, courage to try new things as this is where exceptional results often come from.

I would also spend a lot less time ‘looking for the answer’ to SEO problems and far more time looking for importation to help me determine the answer.

Every business, website and team are unique as such you will rarely find that perfect email template or example site architecture to fit your client, no matter how hard you look. It is far better to invest time and energy determining the best was to inform and test a decision.

For example often when I am speaking at conferences or training teams/ agencies I get asked for a standard email template for promoting content. I can provide this, but it won’t have the same results as teaching a team how to craft one unique to their personality, client and project.

I would also invest far more time in learning tools such a Tableu, in-depth google analytics, excel and XML. As these skills help you find answers that others without these skills can not see.

I was fortunate to learn illustrator and photoshop at university, this allows me to quickly mock up creative content, and PR idea’s this has been critical to getting sign off on projects and crafting good briefs for design teams.

You don’t need to be an expert, but a little working knowledge goes a long way.

Over and above anything else it is important to remember that ultimately we are trying to influence behavior. The tools, media and algorithms we work with are forever changing and as such the only consistent element we have to work with is the human.

As such it seems most sensible to invest time observing and questioning people alongside developing an understanding of neuroscience and psychology.

This combined with a focus on the business goals has always been critical to SEO and I suspect will remain so for a long time to come.

Lexi’s Websitewww.dynamopr.com

Lukasz Zelezny

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I think there’s so much information about SEO online these days that it’s hard to get started, especially when a lot of the content is now out of date.

You know I speak at a lot of conferences, and I think they are one of the best ways to get up to date advice about the industry. You get insider knowledge from some of the best in the business who can teach you things that a lot of websites just don’t cover in much detail.

Another thing I recommend doing is using social media. On Twitter, for example, you can follow influencers in the SEO industry as well as people from Google.

These are people that you can trust, so when they share something you know it is valuable. I would suggest following people like this and reading the articles that they share.

Of course, you could also take an online course in SEO (use Udemy, Lynda, Coursera). Just make sure that it’s from a reputable provider – someone who regularly runs courses and that is held in high regard.

General websites can help give you a basic understanding of SEO, but if you want to be really knowledgeable in the field, the 3 ideas above are what I would do if I had to start over.

Lukasz’s Websitehttps://zelezny.uk/

Mandy McEwen

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If I had to start over, I would avoid all complicated SEO courses and stick with the basic fundamentals of SEO.

1. Keyword research – And not just any keyword research but LONG TAIL keyword research. Using a combination of free tools like UberSuggest, Google Search Console, and Google Keyword Tool.

2. Place emphasis on QUALITY, highly optimized content – for readers first, and Google second.

3. Focus more on influencer outreach. Include influential people and companies in your blog posts – link to them, use their quotes, and then reach out to them and let them know you talked about them and linked to them in your blog post.

If it’s a great piece of content, most likely they will share with their audience. Make sure you are tweeting them, emailing them, mentioning them on Linkedin, and wherever else you can get their attention.

4. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive on social media. Spend MORE time promoting your content than creating your content.

In addition to mentioning the influencers you linked to in your blog on social media, share your blog posts often and switch up the posts.

Don’t repeat the same thing over and over again. Use different hashtags, different words, different CTAs – but link to the same content piece.

And don’t be afraid to get aggressive and post your blog posts frequently on social media. As long as you have great content to share and you are posting unique posts, you cannot “post too much.”

At the end of the day – quality, SEO-friendly content that is effectively promoted will increase your chances of ranking high in the search engines like Google, and will increase your digital brand awareness from various channels, including social media.

Mandy’s Website: http://www.modgirlmarketing.com/

Marcus Miller

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As pig headed as it may sound I think my path to learn SEO was pretty much the right one. I started off as a developer around 1999. I was building e-commerce systems on the LAMP platform. As the platform I was working on matured the next question naturally became “how do we get more traffic to the site?”. This drove me towards the sometimes murky world of SEO.

It was the early days and manipulating search results was quite frankly a piece of cake. Yet, there were a few voices of reason out there.

Doug Heil from the I Help You forums and Jill Whalen both preached the value of doing things the right way. And of course.

Matt Cutts became a strong voice in the push to stay on the right side of the track. I had my own little projects and played with everything but for the business sites we worked with it was clean as a whistle.

Then in 2003 we saw the first of the major quality updates – the Florida Update. The blackhat forums all went crazy and many businesses lost their visibility over night.

Then, I basically watched this cycle for the next ten years on repeat. It was too easy (and profitable) to cheat (Google’s fault) and such folks would keep doing it.

This culminated around 2013 with the Penguin and Panda updates that really started to put pay to the dodgy SEO practices and enforced quality.

Four years later not much has changed. You can still cheat. It will catch up with you. Doing things right is far harder. But really the only way if you want to build a long term business.

My own learning has also moved on during this time. I have gone from development and technical SEO through to link building and PR.

I now tend to focus on strategy and after the best part of 18 years helping businesses online I tend to let my digital marketing team at Bowler Hat handle a lot of the heavy lifting whilst I focus on marketing strategy for our clients.

Digital marketing has evolved. Organic search is no longer the only show in town. Digital marketers need to understand the role of organic search, paid search, content marketing, social media and online advertising.

Successful digital marketing campaigns work in synergy rather than silos.

Businesses need to get strategy, digital marketing tactics and measurement 100% dialled in or results are hard to come by. It can be hard to learn all of these disciplines but it is essential to at least understand how they all interact.

To learn SEO today – you just have to get stuck in. Starting with local is a good shout as it is narrow and more mechanical.

Mastering technical SEO is important and of course, learning how to safely build links and authority is critical. Lots to do and the only real way to learn is to get stuck in.

So from development to SEO to strategy – it has been quite a journey. 18 years in the trenches also helps heaps.

Marcus’s Website: http://www.bowlerhat.co.uk/

Marko Saric

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I would experiment. A lot. Most of the SEO articles, tips and rules you read about online are inaccurate, outdated, irrelevant to your situation… so I would just jump into a project and experiment with everything in order to learn what actually works right now and what doesn’t.

Rather than focus on technical aspects such as keywords and tags too much or on acquisition of random links such as through comments, forum etc, I would test publishing different types of content including various formats and lengths.

I would syndicate my content to the different websites to see what results I would get. I would join the most fitting social networks and see how I could get my content to be shared. I would reach out to the journalists, bloggers and other influencers to start relationships with them and see how we can collaborate.

All this is bound to teach me many lessons and it would help me learn what is SEO in the year 2017.

Marko’s Websitehttp://howtomakemyblog.com/

Martijn Scheijbeler

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Start with finding out what is all part of SEO, these days SEO is getting bigger and bigger as a subject. As more and more people say it will also be quite useful to be able to code, know some things about User Experience and also know how a search engine works.

It can be quite hard to figure out where to get started. So first of all try to figure out the scope of what you’d like to learn.

I know a lot of people within SEO who tend to focus on certain aspects of SEO (technical, content, links) and tend not to focus on the others so they can mostly figure out what they need to know to become a specialist in certain areas.

In my opinion, being able to code will make your work much easier in the long run. It will allow you to talk to developers but also on smaller sites to work on implementing SEO changes yourself.

Also in most cases I would suggest not working to much on being able to create great content but mostly working on how you can leverage that content for it to be promoted.

There are thousands of people who are going to be (or think they’re) better at copywriting, creatives, etc. So having your time wasted on these just from an SEO perspective is gonna leave you with a lot of time wasted on areas that you won’t become best in.

If you want to become the next SEO superstar, mostly working on bigger sites, you have to select carefully what you’d like to learn and what not. Focus on your strengths as a person, that will guide the way to learn SEO.

Martijn’s Websitehttps://thenextweb.com

Martin Zhel

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Learning SEO is hard. Simply because there is no simple 1 place where you can go and learn it all. There is also a lot of non-sense out there that’s written so people need to be careful.

I’d start with these 2 beginner guides: SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide and The Advanced Guide to SEO (both written by Neil Patel). This pretty much covers the basics.

Then I’m going to read more about specific aspects of SEO such as “keyword research”, “on-page optimization”, “site speed”, “link building”, etc.

The key is identifying the best blogs and websites that cover this information. The information is available out there for free but people need to know how to find it.

You can even ask other SEO experts “what are your top blogs that you’re following” and that way you can quickly learn where you need to pay attention.

I suggest people check out: Backlinko, Ahrefs, Quicksprout and Positionly.

It’s also good to check out for changes in the search engine ranking factors. Industry specific sites like Search Engine Land covers those things. Search Metrics makes an annual report each year on the search engine ranking factors. It’s worth checking it out!

It’s important to notice that every single thing that you learn about SEO you must try out and see how it works. There is no way to LEARN SEO without DOING SEO.

The process of learning requires testing, failing, analyzing results and doing it all over again until you find out what works.

Martin’s Websitehttp://oriorcreative.com/

Mary Fernandez

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If I had to start over, I would invest in a really good, reputable SEO course. Reading up on SEO is a good way to get started, but there is a lot of misinformation out there and it can be tough for a beginner to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The #1 thing that you should remember when optimizing any page or post is that Google’s job is to serve the best results for the user.

Trying to cheat the system by “tricking” Google into serving mediocre content is never a good idea– you’ll risk getting penalized by Google and, more importantly, your reputation.

Instead, keep in mind the intent behind any keyword: why is the user searching for that?

One user may be looking for “healthy recipes” because they want to lose weight for a wedding, whereas another user may have the same query because they just learned that they are diabetic.

You’ll need to decide which user(s) you are going to serve with your content, and then ask yourself, “How can I make my content the most useful for them?” That is the key to any successful search marketing campaign.

So, to learn how Google serves the best results for the user, I would take a good search marketing course. But before I even did that, I’d take a good content marketing course.

The truth is, you can optimize your content until the cows come home, but unless your content is worth serving to the user, you won’t get anywhere.

So Step 1: learn how to create useful, high-quality content.

Step 2: learn how to optimize that content so Google can find it and serve it to the right people.

Mary’s Websitehttp://maryfernandez.co/

Matt Banner

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If I was starting a brand new blog or business from scratch, I would start from a broad perspective and work my way down. My original steps to learning SEO started with the concept of keywords and how to properly research them.

This is a great step, but it shouldn’t be your first. If you start with a granular aspect of SEO, then you miss out on the big picture. You have the “how” but you’re missing the “why.”

I would start by looking at SEO’s purpose and its reason for existing, which is of course, to drive the user experience by providing search users with the most relevant content that meets their needs.

Knowing this, I could then learn about specific tactics and understand how they fit into the big picture. This would give me a subconscious understanding of my purpose when optimizing content, and therefore result in better content overall.

Matt’s Website: http://www.onblastblog.com

Matt Parker

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SEO is obviously evolving at a faster pace than ever before. This makes it crucial to adapt and constantly learn new skills and techniques. That being said, there are a core set of fundamentals that would provide the strongest knowledge base for any new SEO.

If I had to start over again, I’d take some of the following steps (in no particular order) to learn SEO…

Learn to code.

Even at a basic level it’s important to understand the structure of the web and how it can be leveraged for SEO. And programming language like Python can help automate potentially overwhelming tasks.

Get a jump on Schema.

Markup has been around for some time, but the explosion in influence and demonstrable use cases of a markup language like Schema makes it absolutely indispensable for SEOs. Knowing how to construct effective markup is a tremendous advantage, so I’d recommend learning this skill as early as possible.

Break down the wall between PPC and SEO.

Paid search was typically a separate frontier from organic, and SEOs dealing purely in organic search didn’t spend much time in the realm of PPC.

This is a big mistake. Data from the paid side can be crazy useful for developing organic strategies, from getting more accurate search data to leveraging click-through improvement for your organic landing pages.

Matt’s Websitehttps://gofishdigital.com/

Meghan Furey

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I wish I engaged much more with the large community of SEO enthusiasts on Twitter.

Recently, I have seen firsthand how algorithm updates and changes to the search and paid results have initially been brought to the SEO world’s attention via tweets from members of this strong online community (see this article from Search Engine Roundtable about February 7th’s algorithm changes – http://bit.ly/2n4tjp8).

If I used Twitter more often, I would have been much more aware of how frequent things change in our industry and how others were reacting to these changes. Not to mention, the most brilliant SEO minds are always on Twitter available to answer any questions that individuals may have, so someone would be crazy to not take advantage of that type of access.

Now Twitter is on my nightly reading list and it should be for all people who work in SEO, whether you are a novice or supposed “guru”.

Meghan’s Website: http://www.knucklepuckmedia.com/

Michael Fraser

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I would focus more on how the “everyday” person is actually searching, and work on crafting a compelling story that would attract rather than trying to strategically place keywords throughout the post or page.

Next I recommend using the publishing platform WordPress and their premium SEO plugins. With a few tweaks you can optimize your site very quickly for publishing.

Also I feel it’s good to not only run Google Analytics, but also a plugin like JetPack that offers their own stats, security, backups and more. Last, it’s crucial to syndicate everything you’re publishing.

Avoid syndication shortcuts and post natively to each social media channel taking advantage of the different benefits each channel provides. Be patient, consistent and relevant.

Michael’s Websitehttp://avalanchemediaworks.com/

Michael J. Kovis

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In all truth, that’s a tough question to answer for me. When I got my first taste of SEO, the internet was still in it’s infancy and it was by chance that I learned it. This is going back to the mid-to-late 90’s.

At that time, I was in my teens and attending high school. With the internet being such a “new thing” I didn’t really have a lot of people that directly influenced me.

My real focus at the time was web design and development. I learned HTML all by myself by studying the elements and how to markup a website with them. It was fascinating… Then I started working with some other guys on a few websites and how to attract more visitors.

What I didn’t realize was that the things I was doing to the site, was actually optimizing the site better for search engines! #MindBlown

In the late 90’s there were obviously far fewer resources related to SEO on the internet compared to now…

What I didn’t realize back then was that there actually WERE resources out there to learn from! I think going back, I would have tried harder to find those resources. I would have started educating myself sooner and kept up with all the changes.

It wasn’t until around 10 years ago or so when I began to focus more on online marketing, as opposed to building websites. It was around then when I started keeping up with search engine related websites and industry news on a more regular basis.

I felt like after I finally started really learning SEO, that I had could have done so many things differently and been far more successful with some of the freelance projects I had done.

I do apologize about the long answer… I wanted to “set the stage” for my answer to give it more context. 🙂

Thank you for the opportunity. I am going to be looking forward to the final publication of this round-up! Very interested to read other answers that you have received.

I did take a quick moment to follow you on Twitter. I’m not as active as I used to be, but if you follow me you might catch a rant every now and then.

Michael’s Website: http://tk421digital.com/

Michael Pozdnev

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#1. First I’d study the basics of SEO with the help of Beginner’s guides by the monsters of this industry. It’s critical to get some basic information on how it all works.

You can start by studying the articles by such monsters as MOZ, Ahrefs, SemRush, and sure Brian Dean.

#2. I’d only read SEO case studies, but not simple articles with SEO tips. Good examples are such bloggers as Ashley Faulkes, Matthew Barby, and Glen Allsopp.

It’s very important to study using the information which has already been checked by someone. Where there are some results, where some personal experiments and research have already been done.

#3. I’d begin experimenting myself. Since there’s no clear formula for SEO success, you’d want to try everything yourself.

Michael’s Website: http://iwannabeablogger.com/

Mike Allton

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When it comes to SEO… and specifically, what would I do differently if I were to start over… it all boils down to proper research and audience fit.

You see, installing the right plugins and making sure the right tagamathingies are tagamafied really doesn’t have the same impact that, say, having the right piece of content in place that your target audience is actively looking for.

Therefore, my biggest mistake early on was failing to properly research and consider who I was writing for and what questions I would be answering. And in fact, it’s taken me 4 – 5 years to really evolve my understanding and begin to target the right audience!

Imagine how profitable and busy my site and business would be if I had been writing for the right audience all this time.

Since 2012, I’ve been creating a lot of content. But when I first started, I wrote about topics relating to social media, blogging, online marketing, SEO, email marketing, business technology, offline marketing, and business in general.

My thought process was that if I wrote a piece of content that would be interest to general business owners, I’d gain more traffic, leads and sales.


All those other random pieces of content did was to gum up the machinery and dilute my content. I can say without a doubt that my articles summarizing the 2013 and 2014 Apple events resulted in exactly 0 leads or sales.

However, over time, as I wrote more and more about social media & blogging, my audience began to resonate more. In fact, as I review the past year’s performance, I can see that it’s truly social media that my audience is interested in, and some select networks specifically.

Out of the 500+ pieces of content I’ve published over the past 5 years, less than 40% are related to social media. Just imagine if the other 60% had been about social networking or social media marketing!

This is why we spend so much time at SiteSell teaching our Solo Build It! (http://buildit.sitesell.com) members how to research their niche and take their time to explore and narrow before committing to a business model, or even a domain name!

There are, of course, some basic principles of SEO that every business and blogger needs to learn and implement, like proper usage of H1 tags for content titles, and so on. But it’s clear to me that if a business, whether new or old, really wants to succeed at SEO and online in general, their best tactic is to finely hone their focus so that they have a laser target on their audience and content needs.

Then it’s simply a matter of executing.

Mike’s Website: http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com

Mike Kawula

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When it comes to SEO, today I am much better than I was yesterday, smarter this month than the month before, and 10X greater this year than last year – but I know I’m not as good as I will be tomorrow because SEO best practices change so often.

If I had to start learning SEO over today, I’d definitely continue what I’m already doing:

1) Every Friday watch Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday

2) Set up an SEO RSS feed in a favorite aggregator (mine is Feedly) to keep up and review daily each new blog post from the following (to name a few) pros who constantly keep you updated on what works and doesn’t in SEO:

  • a. Brian Dean
  • b. Robbie Richards
  • c. Andy Crestodina
  • d. Neil Patel
  • e. Mad Lemmings
  • f. Search Engine Journal
  • g. Marketing Land

3) Set up a Twitter list of SEO pros to review on Twitter frequently. Sites like Buzzsumo, Right Relevance and Onalytica can help you find Top Influencers on Twitter.

4) Pick up a few good books on SEO to familiarize yourself with the topic. This will help you when speaking with consultants who want to offer their service to you. I recommend the following two:

a. SEO for Growth by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton
b. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

5) Know what you don’t know. At the very least, hire a pro to audit your site. If you’re not a professional SEO, you can’t possibly know everything. Have someone review your site and your Google Search Console set up. Yes, this will cost you a bit, but it will can cost you even more in lost opportunities if you have just one thing set up incorrectly.

6) Listen to a Podcasts from entrepreneurs who interview SEO experts. Recently I listened to Noah Kagan interview Brian Dean (mentioned above). It was an amazing 30-minute case study podcast with tons of useful nuggets for even the SEO challenged.

7) Avoid like the plague anyone or tool that guarantees you page one placement. Definitely avoid any email (mark as spam) that sends you a message guaranteeing you page one. Following good SEO practices, providing good content and structuring your site properly is what you should really focus on.

Your big take-away should be, learners are earners (yes, that’s a tweetable). SEO is always changing and if you want to receive your fair share of love from Google (which you should), always remember there are no short-cuts, overnight hacks, or voodoo magic tricks. Just keep learning from the pros and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly.

Mike’s Websitehttps://www.socialquant.net/

Mindi Rosser

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If I had to start over, here’s what I would do to learn SEO…

Start with Moz – everything Moz! Many beginners struggle to find a trustworthy source of SEO information. I think Moz is a one-stop-shop for all things SEO.

Head to Moz and subscribe to the newsletter, read The Beginner’s Guide to SEO and work through the rest of their Beginner’s Guides.

After soaking in a lot of information about SEO, I would start running experiments to put into practice what I learned. There’s no point in learning all this great SEO stuff if I’m not actually using it.

Choose 1-3 SEO experiments to run. Set a timeline for each experiment. Measure results at end of timeline. Take notes on what worked and what didn’t.

Once I felt confident in the SEO basics, I would start taking more advanced courses, along with taking on a small SEO project on Upwork. This would allow me to learn the subject matter at a deeper level and get the working knowledge necessary to start becoming an SEO pro.

Mindi’s Website: http://www.mindirosser.com/

Nadav Dakner

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If I had to start over I would do the following:

1. Finish the whole (or at least important parts of) Moz guides and resources:

  • https://moz.com/learn/seo
  • https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
  • https://moz.com/academy
  • https://moz.com/training

2. I would then buy a domain, install WordPress and start experiment with plugins, on-site optimization and outreach templates/guest posts to build links.

3. I’d continue to educate myself with writing 2-3 articles a day from SEJ, SEL and SEW. Would also read up on SEOroundtable and BHW forums.

SEO is an ever-changing landscape and you really need to know which techniques belong to the past and whats working today. The key is research and implementation.

Nadav’s Websitehttp://inboundjunction.com/

Nicholas Scalice

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The very first thing I’d do to learn SEO is to make sure I have a test environment that I can experiment with. So often I see marketers (myself included) try to learn new tactics or strategies in concept only.

This is never as effective as being able to implement what you’re learning in a hands-on way. So for SEO, that could be as simple as setting up a WordPress site and turning out some blog content.

Then I could implement the latest SEO tools, tactics, and strategies right away. Once I have my test environment set up, I’d look for a relevant course, probably starting with the courses offered from Udemy and DigitalMarketer.com. Both of those sites offer great training options.

Udemy courses are fairly inexpensive and quick-to-complete, which DigitalMarketer offers a more in-depth course along with a certification for SEO professionals. Lastly, I’d be sure to find a community of fellow SEO professionals to bounce ideas off of and ask questions. There are several fantastic Slack and Facebook groups for SEO.

Nicholas’s Websitehttp://earnworthy.com

Nick Cuttonaro

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If I were to start over I would look at SEO as more of a business development practice than algorithms, link building, technical implementation, and on-page updates. I wouldn’t try to compete for ranking positions as hard as I did with properties I created from the ground up.

Instead, I would invest time in developing relationships with the sites and webmasters who are currently ranking for the search terms I’m targeting or seek to acquire sites which could enter a SERP with less resistance than creating my own, being patient, and hoping for the best.

Creating as much leverage as possible is winning formula in any industry. Today, I play SEO like chess. I’m trying to win in the least amount of time, with the fewest number of moves, and minimizing risk by never putting all my eggs in one basket or a single website I own.

Nick’s Websitehttp://www.thelinkbuilders.com/

Nick Schäferhoff

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If I had to learn SEO all over again, I would do it the same way I did the first time around, which is by blogging about it.

I find that blogging is one of the best ways to force yourself to research a topic very thoroughly. To deliver value to your readers, you need to dive really deeply into what you are talking about.

That is only possible if you follow industry leaders and stay on top of your industry. It’s the best education you can go through. From there, you can then put what you have learned into practice on your own websites to see it in action in real life. This will further refine your knowledge.

Nick’s Website: http://nickschaeferhoff.de/en/

Patrick Coombe

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I’d like to say I’m somewhat of an authority on learning SEO, I’ve even written a book on it! For those looking for more info, I have a huge section on my website about learning SEO.

To answer your question, when I first got started I focused on server side stuff way too much, I probably would have focused more on content creation / curation, etc.

Time after time the great results I see from SEO are not from the on-page or speed tweaks (not downplaying them, at all) but are from content strategies implemented with proper keyword research.

For instance, recently I made some major changes to our website, none of which were technical in nature.
I’ve been focusing on removing content cruft, optimizing title tags based on advanced keyword research, creating separate title tags for different types of acquisition channels, and much more.

Yes, while learning from the technical masters has definitely made me quite knowledgeable in the area, but I would have chosen a different route to learning SEO in general.

An example, I recently have been working on a website with about 500 blog posts. I’d say 70% of them got less than 10 visits for the entire year. Essentially, wasted space. We removed all of those posts, and left them alone.
From there, we optimized the top pages, and re-titled and described them based on the keywords we were “almost” ranking for. Within 30-60 days, we saw an increase of around 40-60% in overall organic traffic.

SEO isn’t all about reducing page size, speed, HTTPS, semantic markup and other technical things. The human element of SEO simply can’t be ignored. In short: focus more on people, not search engines which is what Google has been trying to get us to do all along!

Patrick’s Websitehttp://patrickcoombe.com/

Ramsay Taplin

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One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years about SEO is that you have to have some level of bravery, while also not being reckless. That might sound a little bit strange – after all, we’re talking about Google, not a boxing match! I’ll try to explain

When you first start learning about SEO it can all be so overwhelming. Google’s rules are never ending and, what’s even worse, they are always changing.
Every little algorithm update threatens to derail all of your efforts. For example, I wanted to rank this post a few years ago but was so scared about making mistakes.

Should I build backlinks or just focus on good content?

What about the anchor text? And should I target short or long tail keywords? Should I update the article or let it age? Oh wait, I forgot to focus on local! It can be a bit stressful.

But what I’ve learned is that the changes and ups and downs aren’t as big as you think. Sites like ViperChill and Moz have helped me to see that you need to look not only at what Google says are its best practices, but what also works in practice. And that means experimenting.

That is the crux of SEO to me – being brave enough to experiment, while not putting all your eggs in one basket. Read and learn as much as you can from quality sources, but then go out and do most of your learning by doing.

Ramsay’s Websitehttp://blogtyrant.com/

Ray Hiltz

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SEO has changed so much in the last five years.

Then I would have suggested starting with a basic SEO 101 book or course.

While the basics are the same i.e. keywords & links, tody’s SEO is a holistic mix of web design best practices, content quality, formatting, and relevancy.

In addition to SEO 101 (The Beginner’s guide to SEO from Moz is a good place to start.)

I would then recommend following Eric Engles and Mark Traphagen from Stone Temple Consulting on all your social channels.

They frequently post the latest updates from google and are especially good at getting past the algorithms to explaining what the changes mean to you and how to optimize your site and content to benefit the most from them.

The most important thing to remember in today’s SEO world is to put yourself in the mind of your audience.

  • Do you answer their questions clearly and succinctly?
  • Do you make navigating to different pages your site seamless and uncluttered?
  • Do you make it easy for Google or Bing to know who you are and what you do?

Ray’s Website: http://rayhiltz.com/

Rick Ramos

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I started working on SEO back in 1995 so things were a little different then. You didn’t really have as many resources to turn to as you do today.

It felt more like a mystic art than something you could really learn and master. It was also constantly changing so you needed to constantly visit forums and learn techniques.

These days, it seems things are way more stable (in general).

I think today you can quickly learn the basics of SEO by reading something like Moz’s “The Beginners Guide to SEO” and if you are running a site based on WordPress (27% of all websites), I would use something like Yoast plugin and read all the documentation. If you don’t have you website, get one today.

You can get one for $4 a month on a web host like SiteGround and play around with everything.

Rick’s Website: https://HealthJoy.com/

Robbie Richards

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If I had to start over again, I would get “started” sooner. There is so much SEO information online, it can be paralyzing when you’re just getting your feet wet. Here are three things I would do:

  1. Ask other credible SEOs in the space what resources they recommend for someone starting out.
  2. Start reading those resources and implementing them on a site you create (blog etc).
  3. Study the SEO job descriptions of other sites to see what skill sets they value and center your learning around those broad topical areas.

Following those three steps will help you work smarter, not harder.

Robbie’s Websitehttp://www.robbierichards.com/

Robert Jones

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I started SEO back when only content mattered, and to a large extent it’s going back that way. I soon got the hang of meta tags and learnt the formula needed to rank well.

If I was to do anything different, I would have focused on creating content that was shareable and enjoyable to the reader instead of a page of content that read like something from Wikipedia.

The second thing I would do differently is try to make every page a landing page. Have a contact form, something to download, and testimonials, etc and begin the process of making contact and building relationships.

Robert’s Website: http://www.exodus-digital-marketing.co.uk/

Ross Taylor

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I’d likely go the same route I did when I started 8 years ago… read and reread the blogs and ebooks of the people who are real experts in their field. Unfortunately, back then it was much more difficult to find any practical knowledge from trusted sources.

You had Warrior Forum filled with info products that were usually garbage, and Rand Fishkin of Moz, who’s advice was always good in theory but not necessarily effective.

Aaron Wall was the best source of real actionable info back then, and I suppose if I could go back in time I’d tell myself to learn there and shut out the noise from online forums completely.

A budding SEO apprentice today can learn how to do their work very effectively from trusted sources like Brian Dean and Christopher Cemper that will be very effective.

An SEO Apprentice would also do well to look at the more creative side of SEO from Charles Floate and Glenn Allsop to get a look at SEO from all angles.

Ross’s Websitehttp://alamedaim.com

Ryan Biddulph

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I’d learn the basics about how to optimize blog posts. From how to find the right plug ins, to learning the in’s and out’s of meta tags, keyword frequency and header usage, getting down the fundamentals of optimizing my blog would be paramount to me.

The thing that shocked me was that for a stretch in 2016 I ranked #3 on all of Google for 2 heavily competitive keywords. And I did little SEO work, save following the advice of the Yoast plug in. Which takes like 30 seconds.

Other than that I just wrote a 1,200 word, in-depth, informative post detailing practical steps to achieve this end.

I’d dig deep into what types of posts rank well on search engines, from the post length, to the formatting style, to image usage and all those little juicy details that make all the difference.

Ryan’s Websitehttp://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/

Sam Hurley

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The 3 steps I would take if I was starting SEO afresh:

#1. I would launch my own website ASAP. Nothing beats experience and when it’s your own domain with no added pressure, you are able to continuously experiment, make mistakes and learn SEO by doing…much more effectively than treading on eggshells with client websites.

#2. Next, I would heavily research the top players in the industry and modfiy / apply their methods. Moz is a great overall learning resource and Brian Dean is THE go-to for SEO, if you ask me.

#3. Finally, I would attend as many top-tier search events as possible. More often than not, great amounts of insider knowledge can be acquired from such global events – weeks before such tactics are widespread. Think State of Search, Pubcon and SearchLove.

Sam’s Website: https://optim-eyez.co.uk

Scott Sery

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If I could go back, I would buy a relevant course on SEO. There is a lot of information out there, and much of it is wrong (especially after major Google updates).

Buying a training course from a respected leader in SEO would put me far ahead of others, and it would save hours of time on ineffective methods in the future.

In addition, I would dedicate a couple hours per week to reading, practicing, and deeper learning on the subject. But most importantly I would keep in mind that high quality content, that earns organic backlinks, will always fare the best.

Scott’s Website: http://serycontentdevelopment.com/

Sean Smith

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This is an interesting question because I’ve been training people lately and trying to find the best way to impart knowledge in the best way possible.

I think I would go through all of Moz’s beginner’s guides, then DistilledU, then read Moz as much as possible about the three main sectors of SEO: technical, content, and off-site.

Then I would either get a client or job at an agency, and learn on the move, while also tinkering with my own site or blog to see what really works and create processes that way.

That’s essentially how I learned but before DistilledU existed and I read a few books instead of it. But that’s likely how I would learn today.

Sean’s Websitehttp://www.simpletiger.com/

Shari Thurow

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Since I am a SEO pioneer (in a group that includes Danny Sullivan, Jill Whalen, Heather Lloyd-Martin, and a few others), my answer is likely to be different than most SEO practitioners.

I helped design and develop a school bus website in 1994-95. We were introducing a crossing-control arm on the front of all our school buses (in the U.S.) The website was introduced to the public at the same time the company ran other marketing and PR (public relations) campaigns.

Parents, educators, and basically anyone who wanted to learn about our nationwide safety initiative could go to the website and read/print the information.

I learned about SEO from Danny Sulliivan. John Audette started a company called Multimedia Marketing Group , and I learned from (and contributed to) many of the email digests that he started. Eric Ward, of course, is THE link-building expert. 3 great minds…I was an attentive, diligent student.

I implemented what they did into what I did: web design & development. That is how I pioneered search-engine friendly design. Danny called search engines the “third browser.” Well, out of the starting gate, I designed/developed websites that always accommodated that “third browser.”

From that point forward I have viewed both qualitative and quantitative data on how web (and site) search engines interact with code, scripts, style sheets, animation, images, and so forth. My approach to search-engine friendly design is focused on 11 critical items, what I call the “Foundation.”

To this day, I still focus on these 11 items. The content of each critical item has evolved since 1995, of course, but the 11 items still remain…even in the mobile universe.

So the step I choose is learning the QUALITATIVE side of SEO much earlier. In other words, I wish I met Dr. Susan Weinschenk (a.k.a. The Brain Lady, https://www.blog.theteamw.com) in the mid to late 1990s instead of the early 2000s.

Ironically, I met Dr. Jakob Nielsen at the very first SEO conference. We were both on the metadata panel. He certainly made an impression on me.

I eventually became one of his (and Nielsen Norman Group’s, http://www.nngroup.com) students. I regularly read content on his website. His books were even required reading in one of my graduate programs.

I don’t know if the SEO industry were ready for the connections between website usability and SEO…and also when usability and SEO principles conflict…back in the 1990s. I think both industries were still evolving.

Nevertheless, I am glad to have met Dr. Nielsen and Dr. Weinschenk. Danny Sullivan and John Audette helped me pioneer search-engine friendly design in the 1990s. Susan Weinschenk and Jakob Nielsen helped me pioneer search-engine friendly website usability.

Who knows? Had I met both of them earlier, I’m sure I would have been a better SEO professional earlier in my career.

To this day, I learn from them. Their breadth and depth of knowledge about usability and human factors is AMAZING.

Shari’s Websitesearch-usability.com

Simon Penson

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SEO is now a very different discipline than it was 15 years ago when I started. While you used to be able to deliver results as a consultant you must now involve multiple professions to create consistent growth and ling term value.

For me that means that I wouldn’t learn SEO’ at all, rather become an expert in one of the many valuable specialisms that go into delivering organic search visibility and traffic.

This requires an evaluation of your natural skill set; are you more left brain and logical or right brain creative? If it’s the former then go away and lan technical SEO.

Follow the very best proponents of that discipline, learn to code and how to build websites and how they work.

If you are more creative then you should look into a career in content design, journalism, social or PR and, increasingly, videography. There is no doubt that those that get how to create engaging video are the superstars of the future!

Simon’s Website: http://zazzlemedia.co.uk

Steve Wiideman

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If I had to start over, I would have spent the extra money to attend more formal training and would have volunteered a full year to apprentice under Bruce Clay, Aaron Wall, and Bill Hunt.

My career in search started with a solid 3 years of trial and error, even though I referenced quite a bit of documentation from the thought leaders at the time, many ideas and experiments came from untested techniques that often blew up in my face.

Eventually I built and organized best practice lists for technical, contextual and visibility strategies that stick, all of which abide by Google Webmaster Guidelines.

My recommendation to newer SEO’s would include:

  1. Take the list of SEO’s on this page and put them all into a Twitter List (or subscribe to mine); scroll the stream every morning
  2. Grab the top industry blogs and organize them by vertical in Feedly, view by title (or import my OPML file here); study daily
  3. Pay the top consultants in the industry for a 90-minute consult to understand their process, tools used, and best advice
  4. Write documentation based on what you learn and keep it well organized
  5. Make friends with Google, seriously get to know them as people not just liaisons
  6. Schedule 20 hours per month to test SEO focal points and share your results on a blog

My final recommendation would be to have a transparency mentality. There’s plenty of business for all SEO’s, so share and collaborate with everyone.

You’ll build great friendships and people will hold so much more respect for you than someone who is secretive in an industry where there should not be any secrets, only awesome practitioners.

Steve’s Websitehttp://www.top10seotips.com/

Steven Macdonald

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If I had to start over, I would have launched my own website from day one…

I started working with SEO in 2007, but didn’t launch my own website until 2013. Instead, I learned SEO best practices through working on client websites where there’s limitations on what can/ cannot be implemented due to bureaucracy, system limitations and resources.

This meant that a lot of new SEO strategies were long-delayed in being rolled out, which negatively impacted traffic and keyword rankings.

By launching your own website you learn how to conduct keyword research, create engaging content and optimize pages for search engines.

You learn how to promote content, build your email list and track visitor data using web analytics. This hands-on experience is incredibly valuable for anyone new to SEO (or marketing).

Plus, with your own site, you can take bigger risks, test new tactics and find new (white-hat) ways to increase traffic!

So, if I were to speak to travel back in time and talk to a younger Steven Macdonald, I’d tell him to launch his own website. Immediately!

Steven’s Website: SuperOffice.com

Stuart Walker

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Because of the ever changing nature of Google Algorithms and the fact rankings are not guaranteed I would not make SEO a focus on any new business as you just cannot be sure you’ll ever rank well or stay ranked if you do.

Sure you can do it all whitehat (as I recommend) and focus on great content, skyscrapering it, outreach for links etc and chances are you’ll probably get some traction eventually.

However it’s very time consuming and still there’s no guarantee as I mentioned.

So I would recommend instead focusing on creating high quality content for your readers, that really solves their problems, and not keyword based stuff.

Then get your on page SEO good so that Google can show you love if it chooses to and see Google traffic as a bonus.

Then focus on some of the 100s of other traffic sources out that you have more control over and use them.

My favorites are my email list, Facebook Ads, Facebook Group (my own) and push notifications right now.

But also picking up links from other bloggers though featuring them in my content and networking with them.

That way traffic will come without sitting around praying for Google to send it.

Stuart’s Website: http://nichehacks.com/

Tim Bourquin

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Understanding the basics of SEO is key to a long-term strategy for ranking in the search results.

This is something that most people often do wrong. If you want to learn how to do SEO correctly, then you should be learning from anyone who currently ranks at the top of Google for such related terms.

If you search “seo basics” in Google right now, you are going to see content from names like Moz, Search Engine Watch, SEOBook, Kissmetrics and Neil Patel. All of these sites and experts are great places to start.

Visit each of their sites and search for their latest and greatest SEO guides, then implement these same methods into your own site and content creation. There is a reason why all of these sites are ranking at the top of Google, and that is because they know what they are doing.

Tim’s Website: http://afteroffers.com

Tom Demers

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I still think Moz’s beginner’s guide is the best single free resource to get started with (I also wrote something on SEO basics for WordStream). Beyond that I think it depends somewhat on what area of SEO you’re looking to learn about. Some good resources include:

  • QuickSprout’s technical SEO overview
  • Nick Eubanks writes a ton of great stuff about keyword research, including his course

This is a little more advanced, but this post on increasing website traffic from Siege Media is a great long-form post on how to drive more traffic with content that takes you from topic ideation through promotion

  • Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique is also a great post on how to promote content assets (see also this post on common mistakes with that technique)

My business partner and I also wrote up a few posts on specific content types that people / businesses can create to drive organic traffic (specifically glossary style posts, list posts, and group interviews / expert roundups like this one!)

Beyond that I’d also recommend following a somewhat small list of smart people on Twitter.

Following everyone related to SEO will get you a lot of “noise” and redundant information, but look for people who seem to consistently write and say smart things and give those folks a follow.

I have a Twitter list for this purpose – check out some of those folks and build your own list. Dan Shure’s podcast Experts on the Wire is also a great SEO / online marketing podcast worth checking out.

More importantly than all that, though is to do SEO! Work on a live site, try to drive traffic to it, see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s cliche at this point but it’s very easy to start your own blog, add a blog to a relative’s business and work on it for free, get an internship / entry level job at a local agency or working remotely with someone you respect, etc.

Tom’s Website: http://www.cornerstonecontent.com/

Tommy Landry

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If I were aiming to learn SEO anew in 2017, I’d start by blocking off dedicated time each day to absorb content.

When I first learned the discipline, I dove in head first and attempted to adjust course as I progressed. Back then, it was less risky. Google hadn’t started the barrage of penalties and hand slaps we’ve witnessed going back to early 2011.

Key point: Get informed first; start practicing afterward.

There are so many quality sources of information out there today that this should be a standard practice for anyone interested in learning SEO. In fact, start with the very basics via Google’s own SEO starter guide.

Some of the top sources for more advanced training include Moz, QuickSprout, Distilled, and our own blog at Return On Now.

Once you are clear on the basics of SEO and how technical, on-page, and off-page all fit together, then you’ll be ready to start dabbling with real websites and content. And while studying up, make it a point not to overlook the importance of off-page.

A lot of folks are calling link building “Dead” in 2017, but that’s nowhere near accurate. Off-Page is still more than half the game, so study accordingly.

Tommy’s Website: http://returnonnow.com/

Vahe Arabian

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If I started again, the main thing that I would have done to learn SEO actually tests and form structured a process of doing SEO (like I know now) and actually setup a few sites in a few industries and test it out.

Over the years you develop an instinct of what works and doesn’t and from there determine the best course of action for your clients. The mindset of agencies back in the day for junior SEO’s was to help senior SEO’s complete tasks.

These days with the pool of talent a lot more spread (meaning there is demand for SEO’s in agencies) which means junior SEO’s are actually being put in front of clients much sooner.

So allowing them to develop a palette for the process and understanding of what works in niches will help them become intermediate SEO’s sooner and give them a more practical skillset.

Vahe’s Website: http://www.vahearabian.com/

Vijay Khandekar

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If I had to start over, things I would do first are:

1) Learn Basic Programming Before Starting The Actual SEO

Having a basic foundational understanding of programming is the difference between a good SEO and a great SEO professional. Though it’s not essential but super helpful. Had I been knowing web development basics, it would have taken me from good to great.

Right now, when it comes to doing basic programming, this is who I am.

Most of the times, I’m reverse engineering what I need to know for SEO.

2) Start with an agency Initially

I would start my SEO career with an agency (preferably small), even if it is an internship. Not against self-learning at all, but working at an agency usually starts with formal training and provides exposure to tons of clients with complex sites.

One gets to do a lot more audit work and for different objectives like traffic vs. revenue vs. lead generation. One also gets a network of experienced SEO practitioners sharing their ideas, experiences, successes and failures.

Agencies usually have paid subscriptions to best in class SEO tools that make life easier.

Not just these, good agencies have professionals specialized in niche areas of SEO – such as local SEO, technical SEO or On page SEO, Backlink building – to learn from as well. It saves a lot of product time one spends in searching for resource otherwise.

Vijay’s Website: http://serped.net

Wojciech Cebula

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If I would have to start learning SEO from the scratch, I would start my own SEO project. This would allow me to test various options and get to know new SEO techniques.

I would also learn from the best blogs that I have heard about (ahrefs, hubspot, Search Engine Land, etc.) to get familiar with news from the SEO world.

Then I would use my SEO project in the recruitment process. I would try to get a job in the most experienced agency on the market. Working there would give me an opportunity to exchange the experience, gain access to dozens of clients sites, and give me a huge amount of cases to learn.

Getting hired by the well-known SEO agency is the best thing that can happen to you.

Wojciech’s Websitehttp://instream.io

Zac Johnson

Click to See Response
As someone who has done quite well with SEO over the years, I would have to say it’s all about keeping up with the latest trends and knowing what’s working and what doesn’t.

This actually comes down to a few different factors, such as where you are getting your content from and how outdated it is.

Sure, Google will provide you with great resources, but they might not always be as accurate as they could be.

In the SEO space, I particularly like to follow names like Neil Patel and Brian Dean — who have both have massive success with content creation and SEO.

Simply follow the best guides posts on sides from industry experts, make sure they are all updated and then do your own research and testing to see how your own SEO efforts pan out.

Zac’s Website: http://zacjohnson.com/

Have some questions about this roundup? Leave them in the comment section! Thanks for reading and thank you to all the experts who participated.


  1. One more epic post….you nailed it this time…again 🙂 I knew about Moz’s beginners guide but wasn’t aware of Buffer, will have a look at it. And loved your podcast on LionZeal, thanks a ton!

  2. Hi, Nathan

    Can’t believe you make a so amazing roundups with true value. I am not an Expert, but if I have to start over, I will firstly buy a SEO course and then set up a site to take action to test and learn in action.

    If I can only choose one, that’s TAKE ACTION!

  3. Yes you are right!
    This is the only way newbies can learn SEO and as usual this is another great post.
    Well I can say this technique is good because in this way you can also pitch the link offers to the Experts mentioned in this article.
    You are very clever Gotch, love to read your guides, Thanks 🙂

  4. Hi Nathan,
    Way cool round up! Thanks for sharing my thoughts.
    I love that Sam popped up on my heels up top 😉 He’s Da Man.
    As for Zac’s advice he is dead on with following trends. We spoke about this during lunch last year. Fabulous session and hey; he’s had immense SEO success for over a decade. So listen to him, and to wizards like Neil and Brian. These guys are current, helpful and on the money so follow their lead and prosper
    Thanks again 🙂

  5. Doesn’t look like all of the anchors are working properly, might want to check that out! Also, love the criteria for narrowing results, there’s some REALLY rich stuff in there!

  6. You should take part in a contest for onne of the highest quality sites on the internet.

    I will highly recommend this web site!

  7. It is amazing that every experts have their own views about SEO, just read about 2 of them and I can get more value added to my SEO knowledge.
    Unbelievable when we have 100+ experts sharing their experiences and knowledges. Gotta sign my name in here one day.
    Fabulous job! Thanks

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