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It may seem like a straightforward proposition to want to become a search engine optimization (SEO) professional, because there is no industry standard when it comes to education. Starting a successful SEO business, however, requires a great deal of knowledge, skill and business acumen. Aside from a strong knowledge of SEO techniques, those wanting to become an SEO professional should understand web programming, have a clear business plan and be able to effectively promote the business.
There are very few accredited courses designed for those wanting to become an SEO professional. This is partly because it is a relatively new field and partly because the subject changes rapidly. It is estimated that major search engines change their algorithms several time each day, so any course would quickly become outdated. Instead, people who wish to become an SEO professional are usually hired based on their ability and track record.
The first step for a person who wants to become an SEO professional is to spend time learning about how search engines work. There are a wide range of techniques and tactics used by existing SEO professionals — some more effective than others — and it can be difficult to know which information to trust. There are two broad categories of SEO techniques — on page and off page. On page refers to changes made to the website itself, while off page involves building backlinks. Strong knowledge in both areas is essential to become an SEO professional.
Aside from SEO techniques, it’s also important to have basic web programming skills. This is because a large part of SEO involves editing and maintaining websites. Knowledge of HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and a basic understanding of hypertext preprocessor (PHP) is essential. A rudimentary understanding of web design principles also can help improve conversions once a visitor lands on the web page.
If you understand the logistics and techniques behind SEO, then the next step is to work out how your business is going to run. The ability to become an SEO professional doesn’t just depend on SEO skills, but also on the ability to manage a business. SEO professionals are potentially required to manage hundreds of websites, which is why a solid plan and a repeatable system are important.
Once you are ready to start performing SEO for clients, you need to begin promoting your business. Newspaper advertisements and fliers are two examples of how to do this. SEO has become a competitive industry as more businesses create websites and want to promote them, so it’s important to work out a competitive pricing structure that leaves enough room for acceptable profit margins.
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