I’m not doubting that you are a qualified Expert SEO, but my question for you is, "How do you prove just how qualified you are, especially when attempting to solicit new clients?"
Now before you take the question personally (please don’t!), let’s step back and ask this in a more general, industry-centric way. How does anyone prove that they are an expert SEO? What are the qualifications or milestones and how does one prove that they have earned the title?
Years ago (many years ago!), it used to be that all one had to do is show the results in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and demonstrate to their future clients how quickly they could give them top rankings. (It was also a lot easier back then to get a top ranking!).
However, now there are all of these rules. (Are they really rules, or just a particular entity’s “opinion” and then again, that opinion does, uh, matter quite a bit if one is ranking on that “entity,” if you know what I mean.)
Before I talk in circles more than what I am already doing, let’s just say that results do not always prove capability and capability is not always demonstrated in results.
So, let’s go back to our original question. How can you prove you competence, and more importantly, your expertise in the area of search engine optimization?
Let me offer one way of proving yourself, or at least providing something tangible that your clients may be able to see with their own eyes. That is, certification.
Certification Demonstrates Acquisition (Mastery) of Knowledge
Certification is not a new concept. In fact, there are many different companies who offer certification and offer it for different knowledge areas.
There are many different skill sets for which you can get certified out there in the real, as well as the virtual world. But, there are also other free certification programs (including HubSpot) available to whet your appetite and get you ready for bigger and better opportunities. That is just a mention of two ends of the spectrum of training and certification available on the internet.
Read further down to hear about some of those favorable things that are said about Simplilearn, not just my words, but other learners who have taken the Simplilearn course(s)!
Whichever path you choose, there are quite a few options available when it comes to “getting certified” in your skill set (and new skill sets).
In this case, since we are talking about proving that you are an expert in the knowledge and application of search engine optimization skills and the skill set as a whole, we would be referencing a type of SEO certification. And, I know just the place that offers the training that you need for SEO certification. That place is Simplilearn.
Simplilearn’s Track Record of Excellent Ratings
Simplilearn, with their “Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training” has done very well for themselves, with 1,318 learners and a near perfect star rating. Almost fifteen hundred students can’t be wrong, can they?
Tip: When you are looking for a training company and/or a certification company, be sure to see what others say about them. You want to check out the testimonials, the reviews, the ratings. In this case, Simplilearn has them.
Online Learning at its Best
Online learning has been around for a while. Several universities offer it and have developed ways for learners to incorporate traditional methods of learning in virtual (privacy of their own homes) environments.
Simplilearn has done the same thing and offers it in a self-paced environment. Years ago, before the internet, self-paced courses were offered through the mail and sometimes called “correspondence courses.” Now, with the advent of the internet, it is much easier to go through a fulfilling training process, with access to instructors (who are experts themselves) and to pace through the program at a rate that is comfortable for you, and conducive to your busy schedule (as we all have these days!).
Simplilearn also offers training for certification in other programs, such as their Digital Marketing Certified Associate course.
What Are People Saying About the Simplilearn Training Experience?
Gail Gardner, proprietress of the popular GrowMap.com web site has only good things to say about her experience as a Simplilearn learner.
In fact, she has written quite an extensive recommendation of the Simplilearn programs on her own site, at “Simplilearn Digital Marketing Training: Get Qualified Now for High Paying In-Demand Jobs.”
Need Some More Convincing?
If the provision of a way of proving that you are truly the expert SEO that you know that you are (and have been saying that you are) is not reason enough, there are plenty more reasons why this SEO training is something that is highly appealing to those interested in SEO. (And, don’t forget about the other training opportunities that Simplilearn offers, even though we are talking about SEO here!).
Here is a broad list and I know that you can add to it!
- Proof that you know your stuff;
- No matter how much we know, we can always learn more, and here is your opportunity to learn more about SEO;
- The opportunity to practice your skills while under the tutelage of the masters;
- Becoming a “Master” yourself (maybe teaching someday?);
- Getting up to speed on all of the new information; techniques; analytics; tips; strategies (need I list more?);
- Interactive methods of learning, including workbooks, exercise, and quizzes that help to test your knowledge and give you a feel for where you are in the learning process;
- The knowledge breadth of SEO topics >> start to finish;
- A simulation exam for that practice run at it before the real thing;
- And, bringing it full circle, that certificate of completion of your training.
It is very likely that when you have completed this SEO coursework and training (Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training) that you may not even feel the need to actually “prove” yourself. You will have gained so much confidence in what you have already been practicing (and have now enhanced beyond that beginning point) that you naturally exude the confidence and strength in what you are doing.
Your peers and your future clients will be able to sense this and naturally follow your lead. They will likely be moved by your confidence and be drawn to you. It wouldn’t surprise me (assuming you target the completion of your training) if those clients are flocking to YOU as that expert SEO! Once that happens, consider yourself having proven that you know your stuff, and all thanks to taking that step toward SEO Certification and the Search Engine Optimization Training like that which is offered by Simplilearn.
You may have heard that "SEO is dead." Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. The reality, however, is that SEO is far from dead!
In a recent Search Engine Land article, Columnist Stephan Spencer puts it this way:
"While SEO is NOT dead, the way that you’re doing it might be. Does the following describe your approach? You’ve optimized your H1s and meta tags and you’ve built a few (hopefully white hat) links. Now you just sit back and watch your site rise to the top of Google, right?
Wrong. This sort of cookie-cutter approach to SEO — one that equates SEO to tuning a guitar or to following the steps to a pumpkin pie recipe — rarely works in today’s search landscape."
This quote illustrates the ever-changing nature of SEO. As with any industry that changes frequently, SEO is a field you can’t just "learn once" and walk away. Instead, you need keep up with its new developments regularly. And that’s where this list of experts comes in.
If you want to stay on the cutting edge of effective SEO, good teachers and influencers are key. So be sure to follow these experienced practitioners on Twitter, and refer to their blogs, to keep up with today’s leading SEO practices.
1. Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph is an SEO expert and the creator of Content Marketing intelligence software Impactana. Launched in 2015, this software helps marketers find content ideas that make an impact.
He began his work in online marketing back in 2003, when he provided SEO consulting and link-building services. In 2006, Christoph realized there was a need for accurate and reliable SEO software. So he developed the first internal tools. The software he developed became the basis for LinkResearchTools (LRT), a SaaS product containing four tools. It launched in 2009.
Today, thanks to continual research and development, LRT now offers 21 tools. It’s designed with ever-growing functionality that’s adapted to market requirements and Google changes.
Christoph also created Link Detox. Launched after Google Penguin rolled out, this software is designed for finding links that present a risk in a website’s backlink profile. He has written and spoken about link risk management since 2011, and he introduced the technology and process for ongoing link audits in 2012.
Where to Find Christoph:
- Post on LinkResarchTools blog: What you didn’t know about your old backlinks
- Post on Yoast blog: Smart alternatives to dangerous link building strategies
Words to Remember:
"Adding your site to any web directory just to get a backlink will have a negative effect on your website’s ranking. Most web directories out there provide no real value to the Internet users and Google has excluded them from its search results. You don’t want your website to be in there! Search for trusted directories. There are a few for every niche. These directories provide useful information to you, your target audience and your potential customers." (Source)
2. Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the founder/co-founder of several online businesses, including KISSmetrics, Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and Hello Bar. He’s known for his influence as an entrepreneur, SEO expert, and online marketer.
Neil has helped many world-renown companies achieve significant revenue growth. A few brands on his impressive client list include Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom.
Entrepreneur Magazine has said that Neil created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. Forbes said he’s one of the top ten online marketers, and the Wall Street Journal has called him a top influencer on the web.
Neil was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. He has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives.
Where to Find Neil:
- Blog post: A Thirty-Day Plan for Gaining 100 Authoritative and Relevant Backlinks to Your New Website
- Blog post: A Simple Guide to Bing SEO
Words to Remember:
"When we talk about SEO, Google comes to mind for most marketers … Most marketers don’t consider that the second most used search engine can also be a lucrative channel … Since all marketers go after Google, Bing has lower competition. And, it has a decent market share, at 21.3%, in the US (including Yahoo search that’s powered by Bing). Further, Yahoo-Bing network also has an exclusive audience in most verticals." (Source)
3. Sagi Solomon
Sagi is the Head of SEO at InboundJunction. He’s respected as a tireless marketing enthusiast who’s never content with the status quo. Constantly looking for the latest SEO trends and tools, Sagi’s passion is formulating the most competitive search strategies possible. With a mix of technical prowess and creative vision, he has become a trusted problem-solver for his firm’s clients.
Where to Find Sagi:
- SEMrush article: Top 6 Marketing Analytics Dashboard Tools
- SEMrush article: 7 Proven Things You Can Do to Skyrocket Your SEO
Words to Remember:
"The speed of your website is one of the many factors that adds or subtracts to Google’s trust of your website. If your website is fast and error free, it’s less likely to cause any of Google’s searchers problems, therefore, making it more trustworthy and likely to appear in search results." (Source)
4. Jordan Kasteler
A digital-marketing consultant specializing in SEO and social media, Jordan has been avidly involved in Internet marketing since 2001. He has a history of entrepreneurship, co-founding such companies as BlueGlass Interactive – an industry-leading agency in social-media marketing and SEO.
Jordan’s experience includes serving as in-house SEO at Overstock.com, marketing strategy at PETA, and agency-level digital marketing. He’s a regular speaker at various Internet marketing conferences, and he authored A to Z: Social Media Marketing.
Jordan is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Search Engine People, Social Media Today, Addicted2Success, Lead Change Group, and others.
Where to Find Jordan:
- Search Engine Land article: 9 tools to help you succeed with Google SERP features
- Marketing Land article: 5 effective ways to reach customers through live streaming
Words to Remember:
"While your potential customers are less likely to be influenced by marketing campaigns, they’re incredibly receptive to content about your brand that comes from other users. In today’s world, your fans are likely to have more success selling your products than you." (Source)
5. On Yavin
With more than 15 years of experience with online marketing and SEO, On founded Online Performance, a company specializing in SEO, ORM and PPC solutions. As the active CEO, On is always monitoring the recent happens in the SEO world to make sure his clients get the best results possible.
On has a knack for enhancing SEO results with in-house technology tools his company developed to provide better results for his clients. As SEO develops, adding technology to the mix can amplify results and get a great competitive edge, he says.
On also enjoy sharing digital marketing and SEO tips on Business 2 Community, SEMRush, Tech.co and others. Expect to see a whole lot from On in 2017!
Where to Find Ann:
- Blog post: How to Manage Online Reputation Management?
- PR Post: Israeli Partnership Brings Performance-Based Services to the US
Words to Remember:
"Experience shows that even today, there’s great importance to creating links for the purpose of web promotion. Any attempt to promote websites in categories that have medium to high competition without creating a hyperlink strategy is bound to fail. Even after many of Google’s algorithm updates, links have great significance when it comes to rankings." (Source)
6. Matthew Capala
Former New York University professor Matthew Capala is an internet entrepreneur, founder, and sought-after international speaker. According to Matthew: "I believe that showing up is 80% of success. Why? Because in a world where 80% of customers search online before they buy, invisibility is a fate much worse than failure."
Matthew founded the boutique SEO agency Alphametic, which helps clients with SEO, website optimization, Google analytics, and paid search. His clients have included brands such as L’Oreal (and Makeup.com,) Shopkeep, Hoval, Quest Diagnostics, and others. He also the publisher of Search Decoder.
Matthew’s work and ideas have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Digital Summit, Internet Summit, The Next Web, ePharma, Problogger and Huffington Post. He is also an international speaker and trainer. He’s given talks at Social Media Week, Internet Summit, and many others. Matthew wrote the award-winning international bestselling book SEO Like I’m 5, among others.
Where to Find Matthew
- Blog post: 12 Google Facts Every Marketer Needs to Know About
- Blog post: 42 SEO Tools and Browser Extensions for the Pros (Mostly Free)
Words to Remember:
"If you don’t act on the technical audit and content strategies, you won’t see any improvement to your website’s online visibility. You need to get your hands dirty (either working solo or with an agency/consultant /developer/team). Put another way, it’s not enough to read about the history of the tree. You need get out there and pick the fruit!" (Source)
7. Matt Janaway
UK-based SEO expert Matt Janaway has over 16 years of successful digital-marketing and eCommerce experience. CEO of Marketing Labs, Matt uses the latest proven online-marketing techniques to consult high-end brands. His specialties include SEO, link building, PPC, content creation and management, blogging, meta data, and more.
According to Matt on his Marketing Labs site: "There have been multiple studies which have found that SEO is the soundest long-term marketing strategy and can have a higher ROI than any other strategy. Our clients have seen a growth of over 1000% in 3 year periods."
Where to Find Matt:
- Blog post: How to improve your website’s conversion rate in a day
- Blog post: How to Create a Profitable Content Marketing Business Model
Words to Remember:
"Growth hacking is a term that’s thrown around a lot, and many people are confused by it. Growth hacking simply refers to doing anything you can do to grow your business. It differs from marketing in the sense that you use any means necessary. I’ll be telling you how you can ensure that your business sees substantial growth, fast!" (Source)
8. Matthew Barby
Award-winning digital marketing consultant Matthew Barby is the head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. Specializing in developing growth strategies for businesses of all sizes, he’s worked with Blue Chip companies and local businesses across a range of industries.
Matthew is a regular columnist for a number of marketing publications – including Marketing Land, Moz, and Search Engine Journal. He’s also been featured in Forbes, Social Media Today, TechRadar, Entrepreneur.com, The Guardian, and many more.
Also, with the Digital Marketing Institute, Matthew has been a speaker and lecturer. He’s lectured
across the SEO and social-media Professional Diploma certified courses, including the creation of course material, mapping of the syllabus, and recording of video lecture content.
Where to Find Matthew:
- Blog post: Zero to One Million: an SEO Campaign Blueprint
- Blog post: Growing a Social Following from Nothing: My Social Media Strategy
Words to Remember:
"…It’s really easy to get disheartened during the early stages of your social media campaigns. Things are slow at the beginning and it can feel like you’re running in circles a lot of the time.
The reality is that most social media campaigns won’t really deliver any real results until you’ve got a fair few months into them. Even then, depending on what niche you’re in, it can take much longer. The most important thing to remember is to keep focused.
Have a strategy and stick to it – even if it feels like you’re going nowhere." (Source)
9. Christine Churchill
With over 15 years’ experience in Online Marketing, Christine specializes in organic SEO consulting, web site audits, PPC management, content marketing, holistic online marketing, and keyword research.
Christine is the president of KeyRelevance. The company offers results-oriented marketing programs for businesses of all sizes. Services include organic SEO and PPC management.
Christine has written on SEO and SEM topics for Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, MarketPosition, SearchDay, Wilson Web, SitePoint, NetMechanic, and SearchEngineGuide. She’s also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies, Webmaster World Publishers Conference, Search Marketing Expo, and other Internet conferences.
Also, Christine has taught many online marketing classes through the International Association of Webmasters, Search Engine Strategies Seminars, Search Marketing Expo Bootcamps, and the Direct Marketing Association.
Where to Find Christine:
- Blog post: Stretch Your PPC Budget By Optimizing Landing Pages
- KeyRelevance Article: Keyword Analysis & Ranking: The Value of Brainstorming
Words to Remember:
"You are never done fine tuning your landing pages. As you put out new pages, learn what worked on earlier pages but continue to try new things too. In this competitive market, getting even another percentage better can make the difference between success and failure. Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that allows the webmaster to perform multivariate testing. Software that did this used to be very expensive. Google provides the tool without cost and has made it straightforward to use." (Source)
10. Rae Hoffman
Rae has been an SEO specialist for over a decade. She’s the co-owner and CEO of PushFire, a full service digital marketing agency founded by industry veterans. The agency focuses on producing ROI for SEO, PPC, and online promotions.
Rae is also the CEO of Sugarrae. The company publishes various websites across several topic areas that are monetized by advertising avenues such as CPM, affiliate marketing, contextual advertising, and others. She’s also the primary author of the often-controversial (but well-regarded) Sugarrae Internet marketing blog.
Also, Rae is a frequent speaker at PubCon, Affiliate Summit, SMX, and other events. She’s also been a columnist for publications such as Search Engine Land, Amex’s Open Forum, and more.
According to Rae, "I often refer to myself as a ‘White Collar Redneck’. I’m a serial entrepreneur, proud born and raised Jersey Girl, an Honorary Canadian, an avid fundraiser for the AHA and am known for calling things as I seem them and never being afraid to speak my mind.
Where to Find Rae:
- Blog post: Understanding Affiliate Marketing Lingo (Glossary of Terms)
- Blog post: How to Create a Clickable Affiliate Ad as a Backup for an AdSense Uni
Words to Remember:
"I’ve become obsessed with site speed over the last six months, systematically working through each of my sites to improve their speed. Supposed SEO benefits aside, the faster your site is, the better the user experience. And the better the user experience, the higher the conversion rate – sales, leads or newsletter subscribers; whatever a conversion for your site may be. And that’s a good thing for your business – no matter what type of business model you have." (Source)
Every SEO has had the dream of putting up a website and it ranks with little effort, we know that we certainly have.
Well Chedders and I are trying to achieve just that. Our goal is to build a platform that provides a quality experience to the user yet we never touch a single specific page. We’ve had some great progress so far, but we’ve certainly got an interesting challenge ahead of us.
Before we get into the details, here’s a bit about us:
Chedders (Chris Chedgzoy):
Currently has 2154 posts on the SEO Chat forums.
Has been a developer since the 80s, ran a large directory site and a few other projects of scale.
He’s made tools such as Page Explorer and generally is up for giving anything a go.
Myself (Thomas Harvey):
Currently has 1186 posts on the SEO Chat forums.
I’ve been working with most aspects of websites/digital marketing for about 6 years.
Currently working with a tv shopping channel advising on their SEO campaigns and helping their international presence.
- Conversion Optimisation
- Affiliate Marketing
- Social Media
Now that the introduction is out the way, lets get on with the interesting stuff.
Chris loves working with data, he’s the kind of guy that the bigger the problem the happier he is. So, after talking a lot we wondered if we could rank for as much as possible with as little work. I’ve personally always meddled with affiliate marketing. So we thought, well how could we combine the two. After a while of brainstorming we settled on a product searching site.
It was the perfect thing for us. We would be able to utilise our skills and also be able to do tests on a massive scale. Such as changing thousands of pages to see if there’s a change in rankings, for example, removing the h1 tags on every single page, and seeing the impact. It’s a great way we can test any theory we will have, it will also mean that any of you interested we’ll be able to test your theories and report back on them too.
With the idea being decided upon, Chris got to work coding, we decided to go with the domain zebo.co.uk because it’s short and memorable.
After tying it up to a few product feeds (and a small site called eBay) we then had to tackle the problem of how we were going to actually get the pages indexed when we had no form of navigation through the site and we could search for any product in existence and we would have results.
So we used a feature that isn’t utilised a lot and really is an afterthought for a lot of people. We used a sitemap, after playing with a couple of tools to generate a small sample (2000 keywords) from a few sources (serpstat and semrush). We uploaded the sitemap.
We saw results within 24 hours. We had gone from no pages indexed to 371 pages. It hasn’t stopped there, this is what we see now for a site:zebo.co.uk query in Google.
It’s started to drive small amounts of traffic (~50 users in a few days) which we were expecting the numbers to be small for this sample. As after all, the query page currently looks like this:
We know, it looks horrible. We’re actually working on improving the quality of the data and making the search results more relevant (due to multiple sources etc). It will be improving quickly, here’s a link for this page if anybody is interested: https://zebo.co.uk/q/mountain_bike
We’ve launched, we’ve got some data and we’ve got some rankings. Here’s a few hurdles we’ve got to overcome:
- Is it possible to scale this while still getting a good indexation rate.
- What’s the best way to find new things to add to the sitemap
The Interesting Bits:
These are the parts that I think a lot of SEOs will be interested to know. These are things we don’t know ourselves but we’re looking to answer.
- Can automated pages rank in search engines?
So far, we’ve been indexed and had some rankings. So yes, they can. Scaling and improving rankings however, that’ll be a whole different story.
- Can we add value to these pages on a large scale?
We’re looking into adding things for specific brands. So if a search result has a specific brand it pulls up specific content to display underneath the filters.
- Does site speed really have an impact on ranking?
We’ve had a lot of debates on this over the past couple of years. We’re looking for an answer to this.
- How much impact does the h1/h2 tags actually have (and other things like that)
We want to know how much the "standard" SEO techniques have an impact
- Is there really a difference between underscores and hyphens in urls
Again, it’s discussed but never really seen any tests.
We’ll be trying to do as many of these tests as possible and updating them here. Got anything you want us to try just let us know in the comments.