How to Become an SEO Expert: The Definitive Guide

This guide will show you exactly how to become an SEO expert.


  • Learning frameworks
  • Emerging trends
  • Must-read resources
  • Lots more

So if you want to go from SEO rookie to SEO pro, this guide is for you.

Let’s get started.

How to Become an SEO Expert: The Definitive Guide

About The Author

Brian Dean

Hi, I’m Brian Dean.

I launched my first website way back in 2009.

And I quickly realized that SEO was going to be a big part of my site’s success.

So I set out to learn as much as I could.

And thanks to years of reading and experimenting, I’ve had a ton of success with SEO…

…including #1 rankings for competitive keywords like “Google ranking factors”:

"Google ranking factors" SERPs

“YouTube SEO”:

"YouTube SEO" SERPs

And “SEO Campaign”:

"SEO Campaign" SERPs

In fact, Entrepreneur recently called me an “SEO genius”.

Entrepreneur article calling Brian Dean an SEO Genius

And in today’s guide I’m going to reveal how YOU can become an SEO expert in record time.

Chapter 1:SEO Expert Fundamentals

SEO Expert Basics

What Is an SEO Expert?

An SEO expert (also known as an “SEO specialist”) is someone that optimizes websites in order to achieve higher search engine rankings.

Put another way:

An SEO expert is someone that knows how to get more traffic from search engines.

How Do You Become an SEO Specialist?

Because the field of search engine optimization is so new, most people don’t learn SEO from a traditional 4-year college program.

(Although those do exist)

Here are the most common ways that people become SEO specialists:

  • Take an SEO course (or several SEO courses)
  • Learn SEO by optimizing their own website
  • Work at a marketing agency
  • Take on SEO clients
  • Get an online SEO certification or degree
  • Work as an “in house” SEO professional

Here’s a breakdown of each of these six options:

Ways to become an SEO specialist
Approach Learning Speed Ease of Learning Cost Personal Support and Guidance Putting SEO Into Practice
SEO Course 4/5 5/5 2/5 3/5 1/5
Your Own Site 4/5 2/5 4/5 1/5 5/5
Work At Marketing Agency 4/5 3/5 1/5 3/5 3/5
Take On SEO Clients 3/5 2/5 2/5 1/5 5/5
Online Certification/Degree 3/5 5/5 4/5 4/5 1/5
In-House SEO 5/5 3/5 1/5 4/5 3/5

What Skills Should an SEO Expert Know?

There’s a lot more to SEO than optimizing meta tags on a website.

In fact, the best SEO specialists are people that are proficient in a number of different areas of digital marketing. This includes “core” SEO skills (like title tag optimization). But it also includes other digital marketing skills, like writing and web design.

With that, here are the key skills that an SEO expert needs to have:

  • Ability to find high-volume, low-competition keywords
  • Basic understanding of HTML
  • How and where to add keywords to a webpage
  • Intermediate to advanced copywriting skills
  • Proficiency in visual content, like video and infographics
  • Ability to promote and build links to key pages
  • Understanding of how technical SEO impacts rankings
  • Knowledge of emerging SEO trends and Google algorithm changes

In the rest of this guide I’ll dive deeper into each of these. And show you real-life examples of people that have become SEO specialists.

Chapter 2:Understand the Basics of SEO

Learn SEO Essentials

In this chapter you’ll learn the essentials that ANY legit SEO expert needs to know.

These essentials include HTML, how search engines work, and important Google ranking factors in 2020.

And once you master these SEO basics, you’ll be well on your way to mastering advanced topics (like link building and mobile optimization).

Let’s get started.

How Search Engines Work

Understanding how search engines work is a key piece of knowledge for any SEO professional.

Search engines send out search engine spiders to find pages on the internet.

Search engine spiders find pages on the internet

Next, they crawl each page’s code.

Search engine spiders crawl each page's code

Once the page is crawled, the page is added to the search engine’s index, which is a cached collection of pages.

Crawled pages are added to Google's index

In other words: when you do a Google search, you’re not getting back live results. Instead, Google is showing you pages from its index. That’s why you get Google results within milliseconds.

(Fun Fact: Google has over 130 trillion pages in its index!)

When someone searches, Google looks for pages in its index that match the person’s query.

Google finds pages that match search query

And they rank those pages based on hundreds of factors in their algorithm.

Pages are ranked based on hundreds of ranking signals

Resources to learn about search engines

How Search Works: A very well-done visual guide to how search engines work… straight from Google.

How does Google Search work?: This video by former Googler Matt Cutts gives you an in-depth peek into Google search.

You’re probably wondering:

How do Google, Bing and other search engines figure out what to rank on the first page?

Keep reading…

Important Search Engine Ranking Factors

Google uses 200+ ranking factors in their algorithm.

And no, you don’t need to learn them all 🙂

In fact, most of the 200 ranking factors are different ways of measuring 3 things: relevancy, authority and quality.

Relevancy is how well a page matches someone’s search.

For example, let’s say you searched for “grey hoodies” in Google.

Relevancy to search query

Well, Google is going to scan its index to find pages that are about “grey hoodies”.

Google scans its index to find relevant pages

And they’re REALLY good at it. Which is why you almost never see a result for “grey sneakers” when you search for “grey hoodies”.

Authority is how much Google trusts the content on a page.

And they measure authority primarily based on links.

Google – How Search Works

The more links a page has pointing to it, the more authority that page has in Google’s eyes.

Google measures authority primarily based on links

Quality is based on a few different factors, like your site’s online reputation, your content’s structure, and how users interact with your site in the search results.

How Google measures quality

Resources to learn about ranking factors

13 Search Engine Ranking Factors: An updated list of ranking factors that are considered (by me) to be most important right now.

The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors: Very cool visual guide to “success factors” that can help your site rank in Google.

Google RankBrain: The Definitive Guide: Google has said that their AI-based algorithm, RankBrain, is one of their 3 most important ranking signals. Get the lowdown on RankBrain in this guide.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time for chapter 3.

Understand The Basics of HTML

Do you need to be a coding ninja to be good at SEO?


But do you need to understand the basics of HTML?


Why is this important?

Google doesn’t see your site like humans do. Instead, they look at your site’s code. And if you don’t understand that code, it’s almost impossible to optimize it the right way.

Google looks at your site's code

Plus, if you ever run into any technical SEO problems, you’re going to be completely lost.

But when you at least know the basics of HTML, optimizing your site gets A LOT easier.

Resources to Learn HTML

Head First HTML and CSS: A Learner’s Guide to Creating Standards-Based Web Pages: A fantastic guide that pushes you to take action after every lesson. This is how I learned HTML in an afternoon.

Introduction to HTML: An interactive HTML course from Code Academy. Great for picking up the basics.

One Month HTML: A very involved training for people that want to know everything there is to know about HTML.

Chapter 3:Master The 5 Keys of SEO

Master The 5 Keys of SEO

If you’re serious about becoming an SEO expert, there are 5 “Master Keys” you need to know.

These Master Keys are the 5 most important topics in the world of search engine optimization.

And the better you understand these 5 core topics, the more success you’ll have.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Finding and Choosing Keywords

Keyword research should be the first step of ANY SEO campaign.

Choose the right keywords? You’ll see your site rocket to the top of Google’s first page for keywords that thousands of people search for every month.

Choose the wrong keywords? Your site will be buried at the bottom of Google’s 5th page.

Keywords really are that important.

If you want to learn more about keyword research, this guide has you covered.

Backlinko "Keyword Research" post

Content Marketing

No SEO training would be complete without a section on content marketing. That’s because it’s almost impossible to rank in 2020 without awesome content (even if your site is perfectly optimized for search engines).

The Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing from Moz is a great place to start.

Moz – Beginners Guide to Content Marketing

And if you want to see a case study of how SEO and content marketing relate to one another, I recommend reading this case study:

Backlinko "Skyscraper Technique" post

Optimizing Content

Back in the day you could stuff your content with keywords… and it would rank. Flash forward to today, and on-page SEO is much more sophisticated. Sure, you still want to include keywords on your page. But that’s just the beginning.

Use this video to get an understanding of basic and advanced on-page SEO strategies (including tons of real-life examples).

Technical Optimization

Technical SEO is one of the most underrated parts of SEO. It’s important for just about any website. But technical optimization is ESPECIALLY important for big websites with thousands of pages (like ecommerce and news sites).

Whether you run a small blog or a media brand with 500k pages, these resources will help you master technical SEO:

Link Building

There’s no way around it: link building is a HUGE part of SEO. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. That’s why any SEO expert (even one that specializes in technical SEO or content) needs to be good at building backlinks.

These resources will help you learn about white hat link building approaches, strategies, and techniques:

Which brings us to our next chapter…

Chapter 4:Put SEO Into Practice

Put SEO Into Practice

You can read about SEO all day long.

But if you want to become an SEO specialist, you need to actually do SEO.

And when it comes to practicing your SEO skills, you’ve got three main options.

I’ll cover these options (including their pros and cons) in this chapter.

Work On Your Own Website

This is how I got started with SEO.

And it’s how I recommend that most people learn how to become an SEO expert.

Here’s why:

When you run your own website, you can make changes FAST.

No need to ping your boss on Slack to see if it’s OK to change a title tag.

No need to email your client’s web designer to add an image to a page.

See something that needs to be changed. Change it. See the results.

The cycle of test→learn→improve moves 10x faster with your own property than with someone else’s website.

Plus, when you work on your own stuff you get to see the 100+ of factors that go into a successful website (beyond straight-up SEO). I’m talking about things like design, copywriting, email list building, social media, outreach.

In other words, running your own site helps you become a well-rounded “T-Shaped Marketer”.

The t-shaped web marketer

For example, Jerryll Noorden applied what he learned from his time as a former NASA scientist to SEO.

Which helped him take his side hustle into a highly profitable real estate business.

Jerryll Noorden – We Buy Houses In Connecticut – Homepage

Here’s how Jeryll described how his experience shaped his approach to SEO today.

“As an (ex) IHMC/NASA robotics scientist. I am used to figuring things out, analyzing it dissect it and make it better, 10X. My SEO strategies are in house developed and they work better than anything I have seen thus far. My secret is to bypass Google, by figuring out what Google looks for.”

And Jerryll isn’t alone. A few years back, Maaike de Boer’s daughter was struggling with math at school.

And when Maaike looked for resources to help her daughter, she came up empty.

That’s when Maaike decided to launch a website that now gets 200k visits per month.

Wijzer over de Basisschool – Google Analytics

(Which is even more impressive if you consider that The Netherlands only has about 17 million people).

How did Maaike get so good at SEO? She learned as much as she could about SEO (from blog posts, online courses and SEO conferences). Then, she applied what she learned to her website.

And this fast process made Maaike go from SEO newbie to SEO expert in record time.

Or as Maaike told me:

“From the beginning of the business, I trained myself in SEO. I soon discovered that the main competitors focused more on television commercials and social media. I made a difference with in-depth articles with valuable information for involved parents. By constantly optimizing the website and the articles the results got better each year.”

That said, running your own website isn’t the only way to learn SEO. You can also…

Take On Clients

The idea of cutting your teeth on SEO with a client’s site might sound weird. After all: if you’re not an SEO expert yet, why would someone hire you?

It’s a good question. Here’s the answer:

1. The fact that you’ve read about SEO puts you ahead of 90% of small business owners out there.
2. SEO is a lot of work. So even if a client knows more about online marketing than you do, they probably don’t have time to do SEO on their own.
3. Your first SEO client should pay you pretty much nothing (or, some cases, actually nothing). Think of it as an apprenticeship. That way, there’s no pressure to perform miracles.

For example, Backlinko reader Felix Norton got started with SEO when he helped clients with their local SEO.

As Felix puts it:

“I worked on clients sites, testing out strategies, testing different markets and using their existing sites as a foundation to see what works and what doesn’t.
When I found things that worked I built them into my agencies standard operating procedures, so I could replicate them on future client sites and on my own.”

Today, Felix runs a WordPress development agency. And that opportunity wouldn’t have opened up if he didn’t kick things off with client work.

Work Somewhere

Working at an agency or as an in-house SEO is a great way to become an SEO specialist.

The big plus here is that you’re surrounded by people that already know SEO. And it’s their job to help you get up to speed.

So you tend to learn FAST.

In fact, that’s how Backlinko reader Ryan Merabet got his start. Ryan was interested in SEO. And he wanted an environment where he could learn more. So he worked as an entry-level SEO at a big agency.

And the SEO knowledge that Ryan picked up helped him grow his travel blog to one of the most popular in France.

Ryan Merabet – Le sac a dos – Homepage

As Ryan explained to me:

“Naturally, I applied everything I learned about SEO from the agency to my travel blog. But I kept learning on the way and always keep myself updated. That’s how I maintain my top positions.”

Chapter 5:Test and Learn

Test and Learn

The best SEO professionals I know all have one thing in common:

They’re ALWAYS testing.

In fact, I’d say that “testing” is the one thing that ultimately pushes people to the top of the field.

That said: SEO is a tricky thing to test. So if you’re going to run SEO experiments, here are a few key frameworks to follow.

“Your Change Isn’t Always the Cause”

Put another way:

Correlation doesn’t always mean causation.

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm. In fact, according to Google, they make approximately 3,000 changes to the algorithm every year.

As you can you can see in this shot of my Google Analytics organic traffic report, variations in your organic traffic happens all the time… even if you haven’t touched your site.

Google Analytics variation in Organic Traffic

This is a mistake I made early on. I’d assume that a rankings improvement (or drop) was due to a change I made.

For example, I’d add a few keywords to a page. See my rankings go from #7 to #5. And assume my keyword optimization caused the bump.

It might have. But it could also be Google’s algorithm doing its thing.

So how do you know if your change did anything? Well, that leads us to…

Look For Big, Consistent Results

The bigger the result, the more likely your change was behind it.

I’ll explain with an example…

Look at the organic traffic stats for this page on my site over a 30-day period:

Google Analytics 30-day traffic for one post

I didn’t touch the page. But you can see that there are quite a few spikes and dips throughout the month.

Spikes and dips in one-month traffic

If that’s the type of change you’re seeing, it’s probably Google’s normal fluctuations at work.

On the other hand, look at the organic traffic to that same page AFTER I made a significant change to that page’s content:

Google Analytics traffic after content change

Is it possible that Google made a major change to their algorithm that day? Yes. But it’s much more likely that my change caused the traffic to improve.

And if you want to be sure, roll out the same change across different pages. If they all react the same way, you can be pretty sure that whatever you did is behind the improvement.

Noticeable change in traffic across multiple pages

Things You Can Test

In theory, you can test just about anything.

But here are some relatively easy SEO experiments to run:

And if you want to get more advanced, you can start testing different link building strategies, search intents, and paid social media promotion.

For example, a while back I wanted to see if interactive content would decrease my bounce rate and improve my time on site.

(Which I believe to be an important Google ranking signal)

So when I launched this mega list of SEO tools, I added an interactive filter to the top of the page:

Interactive filter from "SEO Tools" post

As it turned out, user interaction stats on that page were higher than other similar content on my site:

User Interaction stats for "SEO Tools" post

So I decided to use this same interactive element to all of my long list posts:

Interactive elements from "Actionable SEO Tips" post

And the results were similar:

User Interaction stats for "Actionable SEO Tips" post

This experience taught me: “Interactive filters is one way to maximize user experience signals on super long content.”

This is something that I could have NEVER learned from reading blog posts or watching YouTube videos.

It had to come from experimenting.

Chapter 6:Implement Advanced SEO Strategies

Implement Advanced SEO Strategies

Now it’s time to take your SEO game to the next level.

In fact, if you want to be considered an “SEO Expert” you should learn about the topics I’m going to cover in this chapter.

For example, you don’t need to be the world’s foremost guru on International SEO. But you should at least know what an Hreflang tag is.

And in this chapter I’m going to outline a number of advanced SEO skills… and resources to learn more about them.


When I say “Analytics”, I’m mostly talking about Google Analytics.

Understanding Analytics is important for two main reasons:

  1. Analytics is how you measure the success or failure of an SEO campaign.
  2. Analytics can help you find SEO opportunities that are impossible to find any other way.

Here are a few resources to help you:

SEO Audits

In a perfect world you’d work on sites that are almost perfectly optimized. They just need your magic touch to push it over the edge.

But we don’t live in a perfect world 🙂

In the real world you’ll find yourself battling duplicate content, Google penalties, horrible UX, and lots more.

Enter: SEO Audits.

SEO auditing is important because it helps you break down a site’s SEO in a systematic way.

If you want to learn more about SEO audits, I recommend checking out this SEO audit tutorial.

User Experience

Is User Experience a direct ranking signal?

Probably not.

But user experience indirectly impacts SEO in a major way.

For example, let’s say your site is hard to use. Well, Google searchers are going to “Pogostick” back to the search results, which can hurt your rankings.

With that, here are some resources that will help you get started learning UX.

SEO Tools and Software

If you want to be an SEO specialist, you MUST know how to use tools.

In fact, experience with tools is so important that most SEO specialist job postings list “experience with SEO tools” as a requirement:

SEO Job listing

If you want a crash course on SEO software, this section from the SEO Marketing Hub has you covered.

Local SEO

If you plan to run (or work at) an SEO agency, local SEO will take up a big part of your day. That’s because the vast majority of SEO clients tend to be local businesses, like dentists and lawyers.

This video by Sam Oh is a great intro to local SEO.

Competitor Analysis

In other words: reverse engineering how your competitor is getting their links. This includes looking at the content that’s working best for them and WHERE they get their links from.

Here’s a starter guide to reverse engineering that I recommend checking out.

International SEO

If your site targets more than one country, international SEO is HUGE.

If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend checking out this helpful international SEO guide from Moz.

Mobile Optimization

Google now runs on a mobile-first index. Which means that mobile SEO isn’t optional. It’s required to succeed with SEO.

This mobile SEO guide I published last year (and recently updated) is a great place to start.

Chapter 7:Scale Your SEO Efforts

Scale Your SEO Efforts

It’s one thing to know how to optimize a title tag.

But how do you optimize 50,000 title tags on an ecommerce site?

That’s where scaling comes into play.

Unfortunately, scaling SEO can be tricky.

That’s why, in this chapter, I’m going to show you three real-life examples of SEO tasks done at scale.

Scaling SEO Site Audits

Like I mentioned in the last chapter, audits are a big part of an SEO specialist’s job.

Without a system, you’re going to have to start from scratch whenever you run into a new project.

For example, SEO consultant Felix (who we met earlier) does TONS of audits for his clients.

And to scale up, he created dedicated systems and processes to make the audits faster and more efficient.

Specifically, Felix documented EVERY step of the process.

That way, his team can execute audits without him.

For example, he has an Asana board that outlines every step (with a timeline):

Felix Norton – Asana SEO board

And team members collaborate on each task using Slack.

Felix also has dozens of Google Docs that go into insane detail on how to find and fix technical SEO issues, set up the Google Search Console, and more.

Felix Norton – Google Docs collage

All of which has helped Felix scale up this time-consuming process:

“The hard part has been in figuring out a way to scale this and transfer the knowledge and processes to colleagues. Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) has been critical to delegating and tracking work.”

Scaling Content

Scaling content is easy:

Just hire a bunch of random freelancers on UpWork and hope for the best.

But scaling GOOD content? That’s a different story.

For that, you need a system for coming up with blog post topics, keyword research, writing, outlining, editing and design.

Bob Warfield has this down to a science. Bob’s company, CNC Cookbook, publishes 12 posts per month. And despite being in a boring niche, his content is REALLY good.

CNC Cookbook – "Feeds and Speeds" post

His secret? Bob and his team follow a repeatable blueprint for creating high-quality content:

  1. Find keywords that customers search for (using KWFinder and Ahrefs).
  2. Sort keywords by search volume. Download the list to Excel.
  3. Toss out any keywords with a keyword difficulty of 30 or more.
  4. Use The Skyscraper Technique model to create content.
  5. Optimize the content for SEO.

Here’s a screenshot of Bob’s spreadsheet:

Bob Warfield – Excel spreadsheet

As Bob puts it:

“Once you get used to it, the articles almost write themselves. And I have successfully tested the method on folks that have no knowledge of my niche at all. My daughter wrote a series of posts for me one summer that did well.”

Scaling Link Building and Outreach

Scaling white hat link building is no easy task.

In fact, there’s a fine line between scalable link building and straight up spam.

Well, according to SEO consultant Calin Yablonski, you can scale outreach without being spammy.

The secret isn’t necessarily the process (although his SEO company does have a detailed process using Basecamp).

Calin Yablonski – Base Camp – To-do list

Instead, it’s about guidelines that ensure your SEO team personalizes each and every email that goes out.

And what’s interesting about Calin’s approach is that he actually involves his client in the entire process.

For example, he asks new clients to fill out a brief intake form to get an insider’s look of their industry.

Calin Yablonski – SEO Intake document

Which helps them:

  • Find untapped link opportunities
  • Write scripts that fit the language of that space
  • Understand the types of content bloggers and journalists already link to

As Calin told me:

“Link builders are the air traffic controllers of the SEO industry. Using scalable link building processes is absolutely critical to organizing and implementing a campaign effectively.”

Voice Search

This chart (based on data from Kleiner Perkins) shows you pretty much everything you need to know about the growth of voice search:

Google Trends, Worldwide

As you can see, the number of voice searches is growing VERY quickly.

In fact, I’d say that voice search optimization is one of the most important skills that modern-day SEOs need to have.

It’s still early. So it’s not 100% clear how you should optimize for voice searches.

That said, there are already some voice search best practices out there, which I cover in this guide.

Video SEO

It’s no secret that video is blowing up right now.

In fact, according to a Cision report, 82% of all traffic will be video by 2021.

Business Insider article on How much IP traffic will be video by 2021

(And a big chunk of that growth will come from YouTube)

Want to learn more about optimizing videos? This library of YouTube SEO resources has you covered.

Google Lens

Google recently reported that Google Lens can identify 1 billion objects.

Google Lens can now identify over one billion objects

(Thanks to AI)

And as AI improves, image search is set to become even better.

How do you optimize a page when the “keyword” is a picture of a cat? Who knows. But it’s an emerging trend to keep an eye on.

Featured Snippet Optimization

According to the latest data from SEMRush, about 13% of the SERPs have a Featured Snippet:

SEMrush – Data on Featured Snippet occurrence

Which is a BIG opportunity for most websites. That’s because Featured Snippets take up A TON of real estate:

Backlinko Google Snippet example for "channel keywords"

Here’s a great video that outlines a handful of best practice for ranking in the Featured Snippet box.

User Intent

User intent is basically what someone wants when they do a Google search.

Do they want information? Or to buy something?

The better your content matches someone’s user intent, the higher it will rank.

Check out this case study to see how optimizing for User Intent boosted organic traffic to one of my pages by 600%.


Now It's Your Turn

I hope this guide helped show you how to become an SEO expert.

And now I’d like to hear what you have to say:

Which area of SEO do you specialize in?

Or what part of SEO do you want to get good at?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

  1. I like the part about starting your own website.

    I oftentimes get people who ask me how to learn SEO and I always tell them to launch a website. Going through that process is just so priceless and gives you the confidence to optimize other websites as well.

    1. Hey Arash, that’s been my experience too. There are lots of ways to learn and master SEO. But nothing beats building and ranking a site from scratch.

      1. Great info. I’ve been doing a lot of SEO on my we site over past 3 months and all of this is extremely useful. I do have one question that hasn’t really been covered though on internal links. Is it better to have all of your pages indexed in one menu or have them clustered by topic with only the intro page for each topic in the main menu with smaller submenus for each cluster? I think an article on this concept would be helpful.

        1. Thanks Michael. As your site grows it’s going to be impossible (or at least not practical) to have all of your pages linked to from one page. That’s basically what a sitemap is for. That said: categories depend a lot on the type of site. For example, ecommerce sites tend to be set up a lot differently than blogs.

  2. Great overview and resources, Brian. I especially like the part about testing on your own site. That’s such an important factor that I think every really strong SEO expert has done, but which rarely gets talked about in beginner’s guides.

    There’s no better way to learn about SEO (as well as principles of marketing, entrepreneurship, sales, etc.) than to apply it in your own sandbox like that.

    And those “test” sites can often either be turned into real businesses or at least used as case studies.

    1. Hey Kyle, well said. Every approach has its pros and cons. I do think there’s a place for learning SEO by working as an in-house SEO or at an agency. In that case, you’re surrounded by experienced people that can show you the ropes. When you work on your own site, you’re kinda on your own.

      Like you, I do think that working on your own site is the best and fastest ways to get good at SEO. But I tried to cover the different options that are out there in this guide.

    2. I second this a 100%. So many SEO professionals and peers I meet (both agency and in house) don’t have their own sites, to test things and use as their SEO playground. I just don’t get that.

    1. Hey Nathan, I agree. To be fair, it can be tough to find time to work on your own site if you have lots of client work. But you’re right: it’s hard to look credible if your own site is a mess. It’s like if Marie Kondo’s house had stuff everywhere 😂

  3. Thanks Again Brian for the awesome piece of content. I have been working as an SEO Expert from last 9+ years but still I learn something new every time I read your content. Also, I’m a student of your STW course, which was the life-changing moment for me. After the course, I started my own SEO agency and it is working very well.

    But here I have one question/request. Being an SEO Company owner, I always feel about the scope of SEO in the future. Would it be possible for you to do a deep study on the future of SEO so that we can plan the scaling of our business accordingly from investment and other perspectives

    1. You’re welcome. And I appreciate your kind words about STW! To answer your question: I might have a post/guide coming up on that. I don’t tend to look too far ahead. But this guide should get you ready for the next year. Also, I did briefly cover some emerging trends in Chapter 7 of this guide.

  4. Great resource for beginners, complete beginner to expert guide! Personally im pretty stuck at the scaling section.. Im ranking good for the pages that I created myself but im not a creative writer so it takes allot of time for me to finish a good page. Still have not found a good writer that I can give a keyword and get content back. I always end up spening allot of my time with rewriting the content..

    So maybe I should give that more priority.. Finding a good writer that understands my niche and knows how to write with seo in mind.

    1. Hi Koen, thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Yup, scaling content and SEO is actually super hard. On the one hand, you ultimately need to scale up to grow your traffic. But like you saw, it’s hard to find someone that can write about your topic as well as you can. So yeah, I’d recommend making that a priority for sure.

  5. Hey Brian, This is a great piece of content for SEOs and has in-depth information to become an SEO expert. I think it would be if you shared some of your favorite excel/Google sheet template for Technical SEO audit.

  6. Looks like its time for me to take video more serious. Im just not a vlogger type myself so I will have to get creative to get good videos. Maybe hire someone who is more comfortable on camera? 82% is so much! Times are changing…

    1. Hi Wim, I agree that video is something more businesses should at least be testing out. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to be in the video. Or, if you do, you can have them professionally shot and produced. Like you, I’m not a big vlogging type. I’m much more comfortable on camera when it’s more structured.

  7. Hello Brian,
    great article. I see you put the author presentation at the beginning of your blog post, and i find it an interesting move for reassuring the viewers.
    Is-it dangerous to do the same for all the blog posts for the seo ?

  8. Thanks Brian to post another great post.

    If someone wants to become an SEO expert then he has to learn SEO regularly. No one can stop learning because SEO is changing frequently.

    1. That’s a good point. I added Chapter 7 at the end for that reason. It doesn’t cover everything new. But I did want to drive the point home that learning and practicing SEO is a never-ending process.

  9. Definitely need to work on testing my site more. I guess its just kind of overwhelming. I just try to focus on getting as much as possible good content out there. But im pretty sure it has allot more potentional if I would test different titles and check CTR. Thank you very much for all this valuable information, I will certainly bookmark this site to check any future posts!

    1. Hi Brian,

      The way you write and present article, I haven’t seen anyone to do so.

      Your visualisation about blog post is totally different and high quality.

      I have a question:

      If I want to rank a local website (local SEO) does backlinks from other country blogs help local website to rank on Google?

      In simple words:

      If I want to rank in London, then do backlinks from Indian, Australia etc. blogs help my website to rank well in London?

      1. Hi Rintu, yes, those backlinks can help a little bit. Obviously, links from London and the UK will help a lot more. But as long as the links are white hat, they all help.

  10. Hi Brian.
    I am a beginner in this industry.. I am trying to become an SEO expert.. Your articles takes too much time to read but it is worth reading always..
    I want to know your point of view on Vlog. Do you think Video will replace Blog in future totally or create a separate audience?

    1. I think that video will eat a little bit into search and other platforms that don’t have a lot of video (like FB). But I’m still bullish on blogs and SEO.

  11. I am a female 70 year old. I have just become an author and my readers don’t know the book exists, so I am working on my author platform. I also run a glamping Site, we are superhost on Airbnb, but it doesn’t matter how good our site is if we can’t change nectar to our potential customers. I have built my own WordPress blogs for both and also Facebook pages.
    Getting results here I understand is all about SEO. Self publishing my book was a massive learning curve, I just wish I was younger and had the energy to know where to go best from here.

    1. Hi Roslyn, the most important thing is that you’re learning and testing out different things. That’s pretty much where I was when I first started out.

  12. Most amazing is –
    I was thinking to learn HTML to understand website background & coding and you gave the refrences. Thank you.

    1. Head First HTML and CSS
    2. Code Academy
    3. One Month HTML

    My first step to analysis competitors website –
    1. sitemap_index.xml
    2. post-sitemap.xml
    3. Page-sitemap.xml

    I also tried your site. 🙂

  13. Structured Data (schema JSON+LD) is huge for me at the moment and i’ve seen positive ranking benefits from implementing FAQPage specifically, able to get a sites’ page onto page one and obtaining featured snippets.

  14. Wow, dude super appreciative of all you do for us. Shared this with the content and engineering team. I had a question for you actually and was curious what you thought or the community.

    Our site is a video streaming service that provides in-depth mental health education with psychologists and psychiatrists however recently a consultant brought up that we should be blogging.

    Creating good long-form content around mental health isn’t easy at the moment because we built the brand around what wasn’t out there, video interviews as opposed to written interviews or podcasts.

    Do you think that creating written content might actually compete with our video content since we use each series page as pretty much an in-depth overview of the course?

    We publish a new piece of content every Sunday morning so the consistency is there.

    Appreciate your time and thanks again for this extensive actionable outline.

    1. Hi Andrew, you’re welcome. I’d say the two complement each other. Especially if you’re posting your video content on YouTube. If you can swing making high-quality blog content and video content, that’s actually really powerful.

  15. Chapter 5, “reverse engineering”.. is a golden nugget because at anytime and after any Google Algo update you can reverse engineer what changed, what does Google like now, ect.. For example, this content is a perfect example of what is currently ranking for “SEO Expert” and I’m sure soon enough because of the robust, thorough content and people referencing (linking to it) it now and in the future it will rank first page as well very soon.

  16. Brilliant article as always
    which hosting site you want to recommend if a site (wordpress based) is getting 100K views per month?

  17. Hey Brian, a great resource you got right here.

    Will have to come back to go over some of the info to get a better grasp of the concepts in here.

    just wanted to point out a quick error in the third line of the intro “quickly realized that SEO was going to a big part ” I think you miss out the word “be”.

    Just wanna say keep up the awesome work man because I know it takes a ton of effort and time to put out such content this is probably something you often hear but I still gotta say it.

    P.S: Just tweet it out and will share on LinkedIn.

    1. I am fascinated with SEO. I’ve read a few books and been put off. They’ve always said expensive software is the key. I don’t hundreds per month to spend on subscriptions. Without a guaranteed roi. However this post is solid info. I’d love to see an affordable course that would teach the skills once and for all that would guarantee results or your money back.

  18. Hi.

    Norway has not 17 million people, but 5,3 million (2017). The name Maaike de Boer is not a typical Norwegian name, I assume Norway should be the Netherlands?

    Other than that, a very good and informational article. Thank you 🙂

  19. Hi Brian, Good post. I don’t produce video – written posts only with relevant images. I write a travel blog and since I’m hopeless with a video camera I sometimes link to Lonely Planet etc videos for the destination featured in the post. Just wondering if there is an SEO advantage of putting a video link into a post?

    1. Hi Hazel, that’s no big deal in my opinion. I personally like video and think it has a ton of potential. But it’s not a must. To answer your question: I do think that embedding videos can improve dwell time and bounce rate in some cases.

  20. Hey Brian,

    Really awesome job consolidating basically all of your hard work on Backlinko over so many years into one super awesome guide! I should make this my default page in Chrome 😉

    1. Thanks Shabbir. You got it: this is mostly documenting how I learned SEO and what I’d recommend to people that want to get better at it.

  21. You couldn’t let me have the pixels huh ;-).

    I may have missed this but I think it’s really important to accept you’ll likely never be an expert in all facets of this profession.

    The greatest link builder you can think of right now probably knows far less about local SEO than the person who calls themselves a local SEO, even if they’ve been doing SEO for a very long time.

    Recognise that someone else is far more focused on one of them than you can be at both…and that’s OK.

    I would almost go as far as advising some people skip some aspects of SEO (e.g. link building or…technical SEO relating to JavaScript) and hone in on a part of the skillset and try to be the best at that specific thing.

    Finally, be open to accepting when you’re wrong or don’t know something, otherwise it can be harder to learn and find a better path going forward. And there’s no point putting others at risk to make your Ego happy.

    There are lots of people happy to share their advice on the things you don’t know 🙂

    1. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery 😀

      But seriously, I loved’s design since the moment I laid eyes on it. It definitely inspired us to try an 8 bit style here.

      I 1000% agree with you there. For me, technical SEO is one of my weak points. I don’t know a ton of coding knowledge, which is sort of the foundation. Like you, I rely on the wisdom of others to help me understand that stuff.

    2. Glen, some of us know who started the pixel revolution, stay strong! 😀

      I would like to touch on “skipping some aspects of SEO”. I totally agree, to an extent. You need to know which one you can skip, and which you can’t skip under any circumstance. For example, I am clueless about local SEO, but I also think I don’t need it. On the other hand, if I bought some shady backlinks because I didn’t understand backlinking and I thought it was a good deal… that wouldn’t end well for me.

      I also agree on sharing your mistakes (done that here below), that’s fastest way not to repeat them.

  22. Brian, another super useful post. Thank you! There is a never-ending stream of SEO related topics to write about. I have a client that is a large janitorial services company serving multiple cities. How do you come up with content (article/posts/video) ideas for the most boring services in the world?

      1. Thanks Brian, much appreciated, I’ll be checking out those shoulder niches (but Janitorial services still sucks as a topic) 🙂

  23. Nice article. In the introduction you mention frameworks, I didn’t see anything in the article on the different frameworks. Would that be included in one of the articles that is linked to yours?

    1. Thanks Lizzie. By Frameworks I meant the different ways to put SEO into practice. So basically the content in Chapter 3.

  24. Hey Brian, You did mention about top SEO blogs, tools, onsite SEO tips but please tell us little more about backlinks or influencer marketing or local SEO. Would love to hear from “The REAL SEO Expert” 🙂

  25. Hi Brian Dean
    Nice article about seo with resources related to every topic had mentioned by you..
    You are the best seo guide and explain the topics in experiment manner.

        1. Once more great post brian … Your knowledge is helping me a lot grow day by day… I got a lotful of knowledge from this as well ..thankyou brian for backlinko

  26. The tip on learning more HTML/CSS just came on handy. Even with WordPress where users are presented with an enormous amount of themes and plugins, there’s always a need to customize the finer details, but without a solid understanding of the markup languages, it’s easy to make bloated codes or to blow up your website somewhere without even you knowing.

    1. Absolutely, Thomas. WordPress does take a lot of the coding work out of running a website. But like you said: you still need to understand HTML to get the most out of WP.

  27. Thanks for this BRILLIANT guide, Brian.

    I agree that having at least basic knowledge of “HTML(syntax, semantics, structure)” is MUST skill to call yourself the SEO guy.

    Although it’s in my favor, I’m a dev.

    Chapter 2- “Master The 5 Keys of SEO”- I actually read it on many SEO guys blog, but you have put them into one place, So It’s good to see those buddies together, Now I’m going after these five keys first.

    Although I’m trying to write remarkable contents, and have written 5000 words blog post.

    Also, it’s true, mountains of research and data proved that video is going to the next big traffic driver like you said 82% by 2021,

    So I have already downloaded your “youtube SEO guide” and planning to record youtube videos by this month itself.

    So brian, is this will be a good idea to record my blog posts first?

    Thanks again brian for this power post.

      1. Wow, thank you so much brian. I’ll Repurpose my blog posts in video formate.

        Your articles are way better than hundreds of dollar of paid courses.

        Your all posts on my todo list now.

        Every night before bed, I’ll read your ONE article.

        Best wishes man. have a wonderful day !!!

  28. Great blog and what is funny: I know Maaike. She is, as I know her, way to modest. Besides putting in the hard work year over year she is really intelligent and keeps on learning the SEO newest things. Of course: mainly from Brian!

    1. Thanks Peter. Small world! I was so happy to feature Maaike in this guide. I’m super impressed with what she’s built.

  29. As Felix said “document everything” this is some of the best advice I’ve heard over the years while running our SEO company. Not just for guiding our employees and new recruits, but for illustrating to clients what is happening on the backend that is propelling them to rank better in search.

    1. Hi Greg, man I’ve been kind of obsessed with the “document, don’t create” approach. It’s been a game changer for me.

  30. I have never opted to become an SEO expert. Infact i don’t need to be one. All is need is knowledge to enable me execute my digital campaigns and achieve the results i want. Unfortunately or fortunately, to get to that level in today’s competition, is really HARD. That’s why am proud to be a passive student of Brian, Glen and Neil. All SEO knowledge i have that has got my website rank within top 300k websites if from those 3 awesome humans.
    Love you all.

  31. I am practicing SEO on my own website. It’s an education and career related local website. But If I target international keywords for this website what will happen? Will the keywords rank?

    1. It’s hard to say without looking deeper into it. But in general, I recommend focusing 100% on on language at a time.

  32. You always rock the free world, Brian!!! You are making me SEO smart and that is saying something. Great article as usual.

    I do local SEO for a bunch of clients and I am finding your advice to be mega helpful. I am wondering about how to do accurate search volume keyword research for smaller markets though…

    Anyway, I’m going to try the HTML advice first.

    Thanks again!!!

    1. Hi Ben, thank you. To answer your question: the Google Keyword Planner lets you drill down to search volumes for specific geographic areas. I think that’s what you meant by “small markets”.

  33. I have seen so many blogs like this where the author is pointing to different resources

    We don’t want resources and links.

    No seo guru including the leaders in the market had given a step by step guide on how to do seo.

  34. Hey Brian!

    Another awesome article by you. You have been an inspiration for all SEO professionals in the space. I think you have some of the best link building guides available anywhere online where a newbie didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollar going to digital marketing schools out there to learn Digital Marketing.

  35. Hi Brian, I am a huge fan of your blog and always anticipate the next post. Keep em coming! 🙂 I do have 1 question within the “Things To Test” section regarding bounce rates and dwell time. The images show a close to 77% bounce rate – would you consider that satisfactory? I was under the impression that would be too high – however maybe in this space that is an acceptable benchmark. Curious as to your thoughts? Best!

  36. That was the valuable post, Brian. You did a great job. I have one question regarding SEO as the entrepreneur point of view. Does SEO really matter when it comes to sale and profit for the company?

    I know that the organic results are always best but what if we rank on main keywords but still not getting sales even the page is optimized according to the customer point of view. May be customer having some trust issues because of the market environment.

    I also observed some companies related to my eCommerce business who didn’t target keywords, they made their own brand with the help of video production, Instagram ads, reputation management on their product reviews. When they made their brand trustful, google automatically started ranking their keywords.

    So, in the near future, what should be our main focus? I will less focus on SEO:

    SEO 10% Focus
    Organic Branding 40% Focus
    Viral Tactics & Social Media Ads 20% Focus
    Video Marketing & Influencer Marketing 30% Focus

    What’s your take on this?

    1. Hey Gaurav, that’s a really good question there. My take is that, yes, SEO is great for sales. The key is to target the right keywords with your content (top of the funnel and bottom) and to get visitors to sign up for your email list.

      99% of visitors won’t covert after reading a post that they found from Google. You need to nurture them via email. That’s the missing link for a lot of businesses that try SEO and content marketing.

  37. Holy moly this is one epic piece of content Brian! Amazing stuff, and really well written because as an SEO expert I tend to think I know everything and skim over this sort of material, but for some reason you had me at “or if you’re really an SEO expert” in the email..I was like #ChallengeAccepted – thanks for the additional information – always learning more and have bookmarked this great article for future reference and to send juniors to when they keep asking me stupid questions LOL

    1. Hey Alex, thanks. I wanted this guide to appeal to people that were relatively new to SEO… and experienced folks like yourself. That’s why I freeloaded a lot of the newbie stuff. Anyway, glad you enjoyed the guide and I hope it helps your staff learn SEO.

  38. Hey Brian,

    Thanks for the in-depth information on SEO. This is a great help for people starting their own website.
    Could you please let me know the tool you used for the interactive filter to showcase the SEO tools.
    Thanks in Advance!

    1. You’re welcome. We actually built that filter in-house as a WordPress plugin. There may be some similar ones out there but I haven’t seen one.

  39. Hey Brian, Every time I read your blog, I found something new, something fresh and exciting. Traffic changes due to the Google algorithm is the most challenging thing to overcome for the client as well as our blog. Keep sharing new tips with us. Thanks

    1. Thank you. Yeah, Google updates are part of the game. There seems to be more than ever. So it’s important to take a big picture look at your rankings and traffic over the course of months or even years in some cases.

  40. Hey Brian, Great content as always!
    I am building my website now and i am following your tips but i need your help:
    How can i build a blog like you? can i know which CMS and whickh Extension are you using? Thank you!

  41. So true about experimenting on your own. A lot of us get far too comfortable burying our heads in learning and NOT implementing. I’m glad I’m able to test in my line of work as a content marketer. As always, fab guide, Brian! The new icons are awesome, too! 😁

    1. Hi Priscilla, absolutely. That’s one of the main reasons that I recommend having your own website. It’s easy to run experiments and learn super quickly.

  42. Hey Brian, this question was asked earlier but wanted some more specific details:

    If I have the option to get a link to a product page or to the homepage, will getting it on the Product Page improve rankings more when that particular Product is searched for? Or would you say the ranking would be the same irrespective of where I get the link?

    Love this blog post though. Bookmarking it for a lot of future referencing!

    1. Hi Jai, a link to a specific page will always help that page rank higher than a link to another page on the site. Hope that makes sense.

  43. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the great content.
    I will go through it again later, but can see it has great value.

    Any chance you could do some kind of map showing internal link best practice?

  44. Brian — excellent guide as always.

    I definitely believe that there is no substitution for getting into a site and getting your hands dirty by building one yourself. Ranking and growing it will help you more than anything else. In regards to the emerging trends, I’m very curious about voice search and how to continue to optimize for the growth that is coming.

  45. Hi Brian,

    What an awesome article about becoming an SEO expert.

    Recently I noticed that having videos on YouTube and linking back to the original article improves its rankings significantly which is amazing.

    Video traffic may even be more than 82% by 2021 which calls for more videos to supplement our content.


    1. Hey Tony, oh nice. I’ve actually seen similar results (but I honestly haven’t tested it in a while), which is weird considering that YouTube links are nofollow.

  46. Another well written resource from the master of the game of SEO. I have been trying to put into practice most of what I have been reading on your blog on my own personal website, which I am using to learn SEO, however I have a some challenges. Just yesterday I typed (replacing with my url) to check if the website is indexed. As it were, my website was on top but also appearing on the page, are URLs preceded by my domain and in foreign languages. I don’t have an idea how to resolve this issue. Thank you for your anticipated prompt response.

  47. Hi Brian,
    Superb article as always, so as per my understanding for this article, let me ask you this, if I use the main keyword that I want to rank for as the H1 Tag for the page and even hyperlink it,will this help with SEO terms and for that matter other keyword with H2 tag?

  48. Great post Brian!
    I’d have to say that above all, I struggle with link building. I’ve sent over 100 emails using your skyscraper technique template but most people ask for payment, or simply ignore my emails. I’m focusing on finding low competition keywords, and creating comprehensive and concise content to target those keywords.

  49. The real value here is not necessarily the information, it’s having the links to all Brian’s guides in one place! Thanks B. Here’s an idea for a new piece. Is it time to update the Google Search Console Guide? In the guide, you reference the old search console which is not available any more. Just a thought.

    1. Hi Jody, you’re welcome. I am looking to give that guide an update. I’m waiting for them to fully retire the GSC first so I know what features got moved over.

  50. Hey Brian,

    Dude this is soooooo good!

    I don’t know how you make money giving away all your best info for free; but I appreciate it.

    I’ve actually got web development high on my priority list because I want more micro-control over my websites design. So great to know how important it is for SEO too!

    Legendary stuff!

  51. Hey Brain,
    Thank you so much for the great content. right now my browser has more then 20 pages opened, and i think it will take atleast 3-4 days to read and learn from them (due to internel linking). but seriously i must say that the concept of seo by you is phenomenal.
    thanks once again.

  52. I already lead some people that I coach to your article. It basically covers everything you need to know about SEO. Have to admit it makes my life easier and I can focus on what I am good at haha. I follow Glen about that we can’t be an expert on everything. It took me time in the beginning to realize. Once I started SEO I wanted to be good at everything to get all the clients I could get. Go niche, and be the best at it.

    1. Hi Charles, as usual, Glen is spot on. The key is at least understanding the basics of every part of SEO. For example, I’m not a technical SEO expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I still know how a sitemap works, what a canonical tag is etc.

  53. Great article, Brian. With the help of your techniques, our team getting the most significant results. Thank you for always sharing the incredible content to the people.

  54. It’s precisely due to in-depth guides like these that SEO has becone synonymous with the name of Brian Dean. Great stuff as usual and I really learnt a lot to take my SEO skills to the next level.

    Thank you Brian!

  55. Hi Brain,

    If you are based in the UK and have a domain but want to target international clients, is it worth having a .com and a for local rankings?


    1. Hi Gareth, there’s two different approaches (both have their pros and cons). Some use a subdomain or subfolder ( and others use a separate domain. Apple does the former and Amazon does the latter.

  56. You’re awesome Brian. The way you teach the people are fantastic. I always wait for your updates and regularly check your blog for new blog post. Your each blog post provide very useful information.

  57. This article was so complete and good. Especially about the Scale Your SEO, I learned a lot. Is there any free course or samples 0 to 100 for analyzing and just seeing the a complete project.

    1. Hi Jan, it takes 20-25 hours per post (not including design and coding of the actual guide). I plan on covering my exact process in an upcoming course.

  58. Hi Brian,
    Is there any SEO penalty because of multiple versions of your content per one page? The multiple content versions comes from for example responsive design versions like same title for desktop, tablet and mobile, etc.?

    1. Hi Gabor, there’s no “duplicate content penalty” perse. But it can definitely drag down your pages. In your case you want to use a canonical tag.

  59. First of all, this post is amazing! Where was this when I was starting out?! 😀

    I wish you wrote at least one sentence explaining what technical SEO was, or how do you see an SEO expert work on, or improve their technical SEO game.

    For example, I hate it when Google ranks my “tags page” ahead of the page of the content page itself! Obviously, that’s a big mistake on my end for letting WordPress control this part of SEO.

    What I am trying to say is that my mistake sounds like the one a newbie SEO would make. But at the same time, it has to do with canonical and technical SEO. Both you Brian and Glen Allsop mentioned how you could be great at one part of SEO, but lousy at another. For example, if you search “canonical” on this “SEO Expert” post, there is only 1 mention of that word. Anyway, I thought it was important to mention because even if your content and on-page SEO is great but if the technical SEO is not there, your post will not rank properly. Something every SEO expert should know, but people seem to forget this.

    1. Hi Goran, first of all, thank you. And I’m glad you enjoyed the post! This is definitely the guide I wish I had when I was first starting out.

      Fair point there. I did touch on technical SEO but I didn’t really talk about how to get better at it (besides reading the resources mentioned). I totally agree with you though: without technical SEO your SEO it toast… even if you everything else right.

      1. Hey Brian,

        Thank you for finding the time to reply, and for sharing my concern. I’ll definitely look into the resources you mentioned (already have the first one on the list). I suppose I don’t really enjoy doing technical SEO, and thought I could somehow get away with it 😀

  60. Hi Brian Dean,

    This is the ultimate guide for all kind of SEOs, whether beginner or experienced. Obviously search will end when someone find this post if want to become a SEO Expert. Thanks a Lot

  61. Hi Brian,
    What an excellent combination of all in one. It’s a document to go on for the next challenge. All the key point touched brilliantly. Thanks for your effort in making SEO expert. I am here asking to know regarding an indexing issue if you kindly think about it. I have published a blog on my site and my page is not indexed for long. I have published it on After a few hours, I have seen that my page has indexed and also ranked from I was really happy to see this. But after two days I have experienced another sorrow that my site has disappeared from the indexing list and also from the ranking list. Now it is still un-indexed. What can be the matter relating to my page?

    1. Hi Mohan, it’s hard for me to say without digging deep into your site. But if the page wasn’t indexed on your site first, it could be that Google considers the medium version the main “canonical” version.

  62. Hey Brian, No words to say..! for this post. You are my SEO guider your articles are most helpful and useful for me to improve myself in SEO and it’s working. I read at least one blog daily from your posts. As of now learned many new lessons from you. This article helps to become an SEO expert. Thank u very much.

  63. Brian, Really nice work. My wife and son are getting on board with SEO and I brought them over to your website to get them started – couldn’t have made a better choice. You’re always spot on and you teach from the ground up – many thanks! (long time follower 🙂 )

  64. This is the definite SEO expert guide. Whenever I think learning about SEO the only one name comes in my mind is backlinko or Brian Dean because you always do a great job and your news latter email is one of them I read every time without skipping any single post. Thanks for your great effort.

  65. Hi Brian,
    Whenever I stumble, some of your great posts come in hand to assist me. This one is not an exception! At this moment, I’m facing two major issues…
    1. Two of my URLs are almost same. eg. a) b)
    URL b) has got no 1 position, but URL a) got vanished. How to solve it?
    2. Some of the urls are getting SERP box and some are missing. How should I optimize?
    Thank you…

    1. Hi Sayem, It depends on what keyword you’re talking about. To me, /best-electric-bike-handles/ should be ranking for “best eclectic bike handles” not “best electric bikes”. But I’d have to see the pages to be sure.

  66. I came across this awesome post after seeing a retweet of this article from Google’s John Mu and Now I understood why it was retweeted.
    Brian you did an awesome job and it was totally worth reading every second. Every beginner must go through this article.
    By the way may I know how you implement the custom color layouts present in the article with beautiful illustrations.

  67. I recently found in the Google Search Console about “Google Discover”, that sometimes, it was promoting certain posts of my blog, and it was giving me a lot of impressions with extremely high CTR.
    But I’m not familiar with this “discover” feature, I don’t even know what it is, or how to access it, and even less, how to optimize for it.
    Do you have any info on that? Or any resource out there that I can read to take advantage of it?

  68. For me, Chapter 4 is by far the most important.

    It’s easily the one that gets missed.

    You get to a certain stage where you know a lot about SEO and you are getting good results from the SEO knowledge that you have accrued – and at some point you stop ‘testing’ and ‘learning’ as much.

    And the second you do, that’s when you start to fall behind. I try to schedule a part of my week purely to self-study. As always Brian another great article!

    1. Thanks Harry. I 100% agree. Personally, I love SEO so I don’t mind reading about it. But even if you don’t, it’s important to keep on top of things, learn and test. SEO changes so fast.

  69. Thanks for sharing,

    It’s very informative and profitable for me.

    I have a quick question for you.

    Can you send me the SEO Audit Template?

    Again Thanks.


  70. Brian Dean, you said, “And they rank those pages based on hundreds of factors in their algorithm.”

    but most of the SEOs know about approx 200 search engine ranking factors. Please explain.

  71. I agree. In my personal opinion, the best way to learn SEO is to read some articles in the internet, launch own website, do stuff, and then read all the articles once again, because you will have more knowledge and it will be easier to understand things. Great article by the way Brian!

  72. I love how so many of today’s SEO experts didn’t start out in marketing, but were trying to solve a problem or help people, and ended up in digital marketing.

    I finished your SEO That Works course yesterday, and learned that you started out as a Registered Dietitian, Brian.

    I started out as a Registered Nurse, started a nonprofit, and started learning SEO to help the nonprofit, and eventually started an SEO agency.

    Thanks for helping me as much as you have through your blog and course!

    1. Hey David, it’s really interesting how often that happens. The world of digital marketers seems to be filled with people like you and me: we started doing something totally different and somehow ended up here. Life is funny like that.

      also: I hope you enjoyed SEO That Works!

  73. Killing it mate, top tier content! I also love the retro graphics 😛

    Any advice on where I can get/create graphics like the ones you use in your posts?

  74. Hey, Brian Dean, You have published a complete guide on how to become an SEO expert. I shared this post to my friend and he asked me about your SEO training. Do you provide any SEO training course?

  75. I totally agree that it’s best to practice on your own site, i have become quite obsessed with doing my SEO lately that it’s become everything i do from the moment i wake up to the time i sleep. Thanks for all your great articles and Youtube videos. They are extremely helpful.

      1. Although, like I mention in the guide, there are other ways to approach things (work as an in-house SEO etc.). Although even then it’s helpful to have your own site too.

  76. Great content Brian, in depth as always, and plenty to implement. This, like your other articles needs to be read three times over to really absorb everything.

    Great work.

  77. Hey brian, Great guide.

    Noticed a typo here and wanted to let you know.

    “Here’s how Jeryll described this experience shaped his approach to SEO today.”

    I think you meant to say something like “Here’s how Jeryll described *HOW HIS* experience (at NASA) shaped his approach to SEO today.

    I always appreciate when other people let me know about typos to improve my SEO so im paying it forward.

    Thanks for your knowledge.


  78. Like you, Brian, I stumbled onto SEO after launching my own website. I made a sale and couldn’t figure out where it came from. That was it. I was hooked! Turned 6 figures quickly. I have years of trial and error. It has paid off big-time. I think all SEO companies need to have employees who live SEO and are never satisfied with their current results. We are problem solvers that figure stuff out! Love creating seo strategies for the clients at my Sacramento SEO agency.

  79. Thank you Brian for this great write up. I haven’t even read up to half of this article yet I’m feeling like an SEO expert already. I don’t know what I’ll become when I finish reading the whole thing.

    Very resourceful article, well illustrated and given for free

    You are a great guy. Keep up.

  80. Hi Brian, Another Great Article.
    I have been working on SEO from the last few months. And when I started doing SEO, I searched some SEO experts on google and you know what google showed me. Google showed you in the top SEO experts so I decided to follow you.
    I have read lots of your blogs and whenever I’m out of ideas I just open your blog start reading which gave me new tactics every time.
    Today I have a question in my mind regarding voice search. You talked about voice search SERPs in your blog several times I just wanna know that how I optimize my website for voice search SERPs? Yes, I know that schema tags will be used for this. But is there anything else which we should do to optimize my website for voice searches.
    Please let me know.
    And again I appreciate your work.

  81. Hi Brian,

    at the first, many thanks for your blog. all of your articles are GREAT!

    and then i have a question. in your video you have talked about [bracket] and using it in Title Tag.

    so i have a question. we work on a Persian Blog. and our content are in Persian (Farsi) . we don’t use bracket in our language. can we use parentheses instead of bracket? is the function same?

  82. Hi Brian,

    Long-time reader here on Backlinko, but never felt the need for a comment. But now I thought it was time to give you some credit! I like to learn though taking action, that might be one of the best ways to start with SEO.

    Keep on the good work!


  83. Wow! Just Wow.

    I launched my blog just two weeks back and was in desperate need of some amazing resources like this.

    I will be spending lots of time reading this masterpiece for a week or two.

    Thanks, Brian.

    May God bless you with lots of success and happiness.

  84. This is a really great “how to” SEO resource. Agencies can literally use this to help train new employees, it’s that in depth. I recommend this to people who ask me about learning SEO often. Thanks Brian, nice work!

  85. Love the in-depth guides you provide Brian. A lot of marketers tend to over-complicate SEO but forget the 2 ranking factors your mentioned above; relevance and authority. Mastering those 2 along with basic SEO will help you go a long way.

  86. Brian, what a great write up! I always find your guides and case studies to be a useful tool as an SEO. By the way, compliments on the clean site, as a visitor for years, I have always enjoyed the simplistic layout! Looking forward to the future content that you produce!

  87. You nailed it Brian.
    This is the BEST article that explains what an SEO expert is and all the bases an SEO expert covers. Every business looking for a specialist should read this to know all the hoops and ladders aka tons of work that’s needed.


  88. As someone who was recommended this article after publishing their site, I always come back to this regularly. Deserves to be titled a “Definitive Guide”.

    Reminds me of how Apple changed the instruction manual to be a simple, easy-to-follow, heavily-illustrated guide, and changed the game!

    Great work Brian!

  89. Awesome Post Brian! Good to see how you started in 2009 and built the blog. Great to see the valuable resources which you have added in this article. Very informative!

  90. Wow, this is the best seo post I’ve read. Even more so I love the layout, graphics, etc. It’s must easier to digest than just a bunch of text. I need to setup my blog posts. SMH

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