How to Gain SEO Experience & Improve Your Skills

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With organic and paid search

Build your SEO portfolio

Trying to land yourself an SEO job can be a chicken-and-egg situation. For example, when looking to work as a freelancer, no one is willing to give you work without proven experience. But how do you get experience without doing the work?

Well, there are some ways you can enhance your skills and work on sites that can become part of your portfolio without landing freelance clients.

Personal projects

The easiest way to get started is to build your own digital assets. With as little as a domain and hosting, you can get started building a site and optimize it for search engines. 

This can be a way to try every aspect of SEO. You can even make mistakes and learn without sending someone’s online business crashing. It also lets you see which areas you prefer to work in and which aspects you may have a natural talent for. 

Even after years of working in the industry, I still use several sites solely for testing purposes. This allows me to try new things, see what works and doesn’t, and hone my craft. 

Skill exchanges

Skill exchanges are not something new. Often, it’s a win-win situation for both parties because both get what they want simply by offering their time or services as repayment. 

In fact, a good example is Skill Harbour, a skill exchange platform. It allows you to post your needs with the offer of exchanging them for your skills. 

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Is there a personal trainer at your gym who needs a website and can give you some PT sessions in exchange? Or maybe a local dance studio’s website needs on-page optimization and, in return, the studio is willing to give your kids some ballet lessons?

Skill exchanges are a great way to build experience and add to your portfolio. Plus, as the other party is not investing their hard-earned cash, they are more likely to give you a chance even if you have little to no proven experience. 

Charity work

Similar to skill exchanges, offering your skills and services as a volunteer to different organizations allows you to build your experience and portfolio. 

Websites like Devon Voluntary Action allow you to search for volunteer opportunities based on your skills. 

You can also contact charity organizations that could use some SEO assistance. You can simply perform a Google search for charities in your area (or further). With Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar, it’s easy to see the metrics for each site directly on the SERPs.

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This can help you identify which websites could use some additional SEO help to narrow down a list to reach out to. 

Further reading

Internships

There is no better way to gain experience in SEO than actually doing the work. Internships allow you to work on real-world projects while gaining training from a team of experts in some of the biggest, industry-leading companies. 

Internships are rarely paid positions. Much like a skill exchange or charity work, they let you build your skills, experience, and knowledge in return for your time.

On-the-job experience

Although working freelance or in-house is probably not an option for SEO newbies, there are some SEO agencies that take junior-level SEOs and offer on-the-job training. Unlike internships, these are paid positions, but you can expect to be at the bottom of the ladder.

This gives you first-hand experience working on multiple websites and the opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals. Many agencies also have career progression opportunities, allowing you to work your way up the ranks as your skills progress. 

Continuing education and staying up to date with SEO changes

One thing about SEO is that it is constantly evolving. This is one of the best parts of SEO for someone like me who loves to learn. However, it does mean that if you want to be (or remain) an expert, you must continuously stay up to date with what is happening. 

There are always new algorithm updates to navigate, tools to try out, and what works today won’t necessarily work next year. 

Following industry leaders and blogs, as well as the illusive “SEO Twitter,” all help you to keep your finger on the pulse with the hottest conversations. Also, following SEO podcasts and newsletters helps you to gain insights from top experts every week. 

Final thoughts  

Gaining experience is the first crucial step to pursuing a career in SEO. Getting to grips with the fundamentals and gaining real-world experience are key aspects of improving your skills and knowledge. 

If you’re looking to get started with SEO, a great place to start is with our free SEO training course.

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