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How to Become an SEO Specialist

What Does an SEO Specialist Do?

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An SEO specialist (also commonly referred to as an SEO Expert) is a professional that optimizes websites to boost rankings and visibility on search engine results pages.

What is the Work of an SEO Specialist?

The work of an SEO Specialist can involve optimizing copy and landing pages, creating and updating content, performing ongoing keyword research to identify new marketing opportunities, and more. Some of these methods are relatively straightforward; others are much more complex and involve multiple stages and more than a little research, all of which relate to aspects of the website that are under the SEO Specialist’s direct control.

However, SEO also involves a few external factors as well—things that relate to the site’s context, competition, and connections to the rest of the web. Often, SEO is not just about increasing click-throughs to sales pages; it also includes a company’s efforts to build brand awareness and recognition.

Rather than using tactics that have a direct and immediate impact on sales, building brand awareness is a strategy that plays out over the long term. It helps companies create a following and boost recognition among their target audience. Through brand awareness, their audience eventually associates their company with a specific product or service. For example, when many people in the general public think of adhesive bandages, they think of the Band-Aid brand—to the point that the two are virtually interchangeable. Or, consider the way Apple users actively follow the company’s product launches. That’s fantastic brand awareness.

How Do You Use SEO to Build Your Brand?

Building brand awareness may seem like a daunting task, but SEO offers a route to increased brand authority online, and more digital brand awareness overall. While it may be an involved undertaking, brands prepared to engage in it can use a few of the following tactics to begin making an impact.

Develop Hyper-Focused Content

Hyper-focused content that targets your niche better than your competitors do will cater to a specific audience, and allow them to connect better with your brand. Determining which niche that is, and how to direct related searches toward your properties, is half the battle.

For example, if you’re selling custom-designed dresses, you don’t want to target common keywords like “dresses” or “gowns,” which would likely place you in direct competition with companies ten times your size. You’d be better off targeting “custom dresses,” “made to order gowns,” or a similar phrase. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner help conduct research into potential key phrases, to see which keyword phrases best match with your product or service, and strike a balance between specificity and popularity.

You can also try using keywords at every step of the selling cycle; while going after general keywords can help gain new customers at the top of your sales funnel, don’t overlook customer concerns and pain points at every stage of your sales and marketing funnel. Again, this also helps build your brand authority and positions you as a leader in your industry.

Once you’ve selected some keywords, you can begin to clearly define your company’s authority using branded (and keyword-optimized) content. That includes website content and blog posts that follow SEO best practices and speak directly to your target audience.

Leverage Link Building

While paid search is an important part of any digital marketing strategy, link building is an indispensable way to build your visibility online through organic means. Essentially, it means that other trusted sites are linking to your site.

That could include incoming links from bloggers and other company websites, which are indications of trust and authority to Google. One way to increase these incoming links is to ask if someone from your company can supply a guest blog on another site and link back to yours—providing them with additional content marketing material—or simply reach out and propose a link exchange.

Besides link-building for SEO, this is also an excellent exercise in organic brand-building, which puts your company name in front of new eyes—boosting brand awareness while simultaneously driving more qualified traffic back to your site.

To achieve this, begin by identifying the top sites and publishers for the topics people in your industry search for (using a tool like Linkio, Alexa, or SEMRush). You can then engage them and participate in their communities with the confidence that you’re reaching out to the right audience. Offer to do a content swap or contribute a guest post with a backlinked byline or writer profile to their site, then leave comments that include more links back to your site.

Engage in Online Communities

To create additional brand awareness, another effective SEO tactic is to participate in online communities where topics relevant to your industry are discussed—whether that’s the appropriate threads on Reddit, GrowthHackers, and StumbleUpon, or social media channels.

Engaging with other members of your industry’s community again positions you as a trustworthy authority. It also increases your digital footprint and helps your visibility in search as you link to your brand’s site across social platforms and engage users on each site.

These SEO tactics to increase brand awareness are just the beginning—there are many more, but these three strategies are a great way to get the ball rolling.

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