I have been working on SEO for more than a decade now. Part of my experience was teaching SEO to developers, journalists, designers and entrepreneurs. Teaching SEO is complicated because it is very difficult when not all the people do have the same background, knowledge and interests. But also I had to update the learning topics, recommendations and tools very often. Kind of sucked.
So, if you don’t know anything about SEO, it is easy to fall into the trap of doing an SEO course to get started. But after teaching SEO for more than 2 years to 150+ people, this is my Ultralearning method to learn SEO for real.
For learning SEO, you need to get the basics of 3 core concepts. I will cover the first two.
- Content creation
- Build a website
- Acquiring links
1. Creating Content
- Make a list of 15-20 topics that interest you enough to create a website about it. Don’t think about what can make you money, or what it is trending now, or if you feel that you know enough to be considered an expert.
- Rank the topics based on the following criteria:
- Do you like this topic enough.
- Can you have at least 20 ideas to write about that topic.
If you cannot think of 20 potential titles related to this, you are not expert enough, or you have a serious lack of creativity. Drink 2-3 shots of vodka and try again.
Write 10 articles. If you can write 20, even better.
Side note: Don’t worry about niche selection, or keyword research or anything related to that. Just create content as best as you can, with the knowledge you have now. You will improve over time. Don’t go for really long articles, 400 to 1000 words are good. If you can write effortlessly more than a thousand words in a single article, maybe you can divide it in two.
Side note: I recommend creating at least some content before doing anything else, so you can understand the content creation process and have something ready for the next step.
2. Create a website
This could be very easy or complicated, depending upon your actual knowledge. There are many possibilities, but let me be clear: your objective is to learn how to create a simple website, not just having your content published. Take the long road at this time, you will learn.
Side note: Please, do not use any platform that makes creating websites easy, like Wordpress.com, Wix, Squido, Ghost or Squarespace. Those platforms do not let you see and modify the website at the level you need to learn basic HTML/CSS (and they sucks for SEO).
- Add your website to Google Search Console and (optional) Bing Webmaster Tools
- After seeing your website in your own domain, it’s time to tell everybody about your website. Tell your friends, colleagues, parents. Have a drink.
3. Technical SEO
Now you have a website. You need to be sure that all your articles are indexed in Google. Use the command site:yourdomain.com to see how Google sees your website. Are all your articles there? Is there anything strange?
Download Sitebulb. Run it over your website. See all warnings or errors that you see. Fix them. It's complicated to give you any advice because the possibilities are endless, but Sitebulb does provide some information and you certainly can google things like “how to change a title tag”.
This part can be a lot of fun or really tedious. I think this kind of learning is what will tell you if you can be a good SEO or not. Even after years of experience, learning how to solve these things is part of my everyday life. Maybe on a bigger scale or with more complex technologies, the principles are the same.
After you make a serious effort to improve the website, it's time to publish more content. By now, it is likely that you will have some impressions on Google Search Console. See if you have an impression or clicks. What content is having some success? See what kind of keywords are getting impressions or clicks and try to optimize your content. Optimize in this context means that you will modify the original article to include more keywords. Maybe in the text, maybe in some titles/subtitles.
You can rinse/repeat this process a few more times, and after that, move to the next part.
Many of my students were people with little to none knowledge about technologies. They wanted to optimize their websites, but they didn't have any knowledge about how to implement those changes, even less about creating a strategy. I spent a lot of time explaining basic concepts of web development (like using a FTP, installing a plugin, or changing little pieces of HTML) even before saying anything about SEO.
But at this point you will have a website in which you can work on, but also invaluable knowledge about how to do things. You know now how much it costs to create content in the quantity and quality you like. You understand how much time it takes to upload those articles. You know how easy or difficult it is making some little changes of code.
At this stage, you can take an SEO course. You will find you already know many concepts, but it will useful to have a better understanding of basic things, and you will be able to ask more specific questions.
Now you can start using a tool to have better ideas about what content to create, how to get links, or how to optimize different things.
5. What's next?
I'll write a new post regarding what to do next, but with this approach you need to take your learning to a real-world client. This client can be yourself, but with a real commercial need. At that stage, you'll start figuring out how to do what already know needs to be done.
Note: This is the learning path on LearningSEO.io. If you are new to SEO and look at this, the chances are that you will look to do something better with your life. I am certainly happy that you can find some helpful hubs of resources like this one, but I think that can be overwhelming for most people.