In today’s volatile job market, it’s now more than ever important to keep your skills up to date. There are a number of factors worth considering when it comes to deciding on what skills to learn or what skills you need to brush up on – current and future relevance in the job market; investment in time and money required; the level of difficulty; and your personal appreciation for the skill and the tasks it implies.
In this article, we will make an attempt to convince you that search engine optimization (SEO) is a thriving sector of activity now and will continue to be well into the foreseeable future. We will make the case that SEO skills are applicable to a wide variety of fields, that they are among the top skills to keep you employable, and achieving a certain level of mastery of these skills is not incredibly difficult, nor does it require a tremendous amount of time and money.
Additionally – should you be persuaded by our argument in favor of SEO – we will highlight a few tools that won’t cost you a penny but can help you on your journey to mastering SEO.
What Exactly Is SEO and What Does It Entail?
When someone conducts a query on their search engine – Google, Bing, or Yahoo, for example – they are far more likely to click on the top results. Rarely do uses go beyond the first page of search engine results in order to find the answer to their query.
This is why any company, brand, or online community that wishes to be visible – and for all intents and purposes that describes almost every company, brand, or online community – wants their webpage to feature on the first page (preferably at the top of the first page) of search results that relate to their company, their brand, or their product, service, or community.
Search engines use a complex algorithm in order to rank the results they display on the browser. This algorithm takes into consideration several factors, including:
- The authority of the website – this is determined by factors such as the age of the URL, its page speed, and level of mobile-friendliness
- The amount of traffic the site generates
- The number and quality of links that send traffic to the site
- The number of words and images (more isn’t necessarily better)
- The number and frequency of keywords
- The number of headers and the number of keywords in those headers
- Meta information
What Are the Applications of SEO?
There is virtually no sector of activity, no business, product, or service that does not benefit from implementing SEO best practices. Any business that wants to be more visible to their customers (current and prospective), or to potential investors, needs to incorporate some level of SEO strategy into their online marketing efforts.
While SEO is intimately linked to content creation, its principles and practices are employed in all sectors of activity – from health to fashion, home repair, legal counsel, entertainment, and beyond. Most companies expect their marketing department to have a keen understanding of SEO, but its reach extends to knowledge managers, sales, even design and budgeting.
Learning Platforms – Get In-Depths SEO Training for Free
Like many other fields that are technology-dependent, there are a number of software packages and online platforms that SEO professionals rely on. While these programs and platforms may not always be free, it is customary for software developers to provide free training and tutorials on their software. This is a great place to start when you want to get a clear understanding of a certain field of activity, its aims, and the techniques used to achieve those aims.
When you learn about the tools the professionals use to carry out their tasks, you not only learn how to use those tools like a professional, but you gain insight into what the goals and priorities are of these professionals, what they hope to achieve, the mindset they adopt, the potential problems and challenges they are likely to face and what steps they take to meet those challenges or solve those problems.
Ahrefs is a powerful and popular online tool that SEO professionals use to evaluate and analyze websites. Ahrefs helps marketing managers and content creators understand the elements of a website that contribute to its high search engine ranking and, conversely, why a particular site is not faring as well as expected.
Ahrefs Academy offers a free 7-hour course on their platform and how to use it to analyze the search engine rankings of websites and how to shape your site and its content in order for it to rank high in search engine results. After completing the course, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the metrics search engines use, the importance of internal links and backlinks, and many other helpful insights.
Udemy is an online platform that hosts thousands of courses for students and professionals. Some of the courses they host come with a cost while others are free – yet, many of the non-free courses allow course audit, which means you can take the course for free but will need to pay if you wish to receive a certificate.
From the courses related to SEO that Udemy currently offers, we can recommend SEO Training Course by Moz – 3 and a half hours, mostly an overview with some basic tips and advice.
While HubSpot is more widely recognized as marketing and customer relationship management software, they do have an excellent catalog of tutorials and courses that cover the range of customer experience and marketing, including SEO.
HubSpot Academy offers a few SEO courses. They are free, and unlike on most other sites, the certification is free, too.
Free SEO Tools
While the 2 most popular SEO tools are Ahrefs and Surfer, they work on monthly subscription plans. In addition to these tools (or, instead of) here are a few free tools you can start using today in order to improve your site and its content’s visibility:
To a large extent, this is a scaled-down version of Ahrefs – and without the hefty monthly subscription fee. By entering a keyword or a domain name, you can reverse engineer a competitor’s SEO performance. Find out what they’ve done to rank so high in search engine results so that you can incorporate a similar strategy in your online marketing or content creation.
This free online platform can help you gain insights into what specific queries users are entering in their search engines. It is a particularly helpful tool in generating ideas for content and targeted online outreach.
In order to rank high in search engine results, backlinks – or the external web pages that link to a particular site – are extremely important. But not all backlinks are created equal. With this free Chrome plugin, you can benefit from a redirect path analyzer, HTTP headers, robots.txt, link power, trust, and more.
You can perform an advanced analysis of links, redirects, and REL-canonicals. Learn from your competitors and get valuable information you can then implement in your backlink SEO strategy.
SEO is a field that is valuable to virtually any company or brand – regardless of the sector of activity, they are operating in. The skillset of an SEO professional is in high demand now, and that trend is not likely to diminish any time soon.
As you can see from the links and information provided in this article, getting a comprehensive understanding of SEO, its aims, techniques, and challenges do not require a tremendous commitment in terms of time – and there are many resources available free of charge.