We started Brand Ambition with a clear ideal; Marketing for Good is Good for Marketing.
One of the goals we set when starting the company was to help and encourage the next generation of Digital Marketing professionals as we grow.
Our job adverts for our most recent hiring round generated over 200 CVs and we reviewed every single one. We don’t care about direct experience in digital marketing and SEO, but we do care about passion for the subject.
The biggest thing that stands out for us is when someone has gone above and beyond to make something themselves.
It might be:
- An active YouTube channel.
- A Shopify store
- A website for a parent
- Started a business
- Got to 10,000 followers on a social media channel.
- Started a blog
- Been a contributor to a magazine
But honestly, some of these skills are so rare that even demonstrating a sound knowledge of how the internet works beyond social media can be a fantastic asset.
So you wanna be an rock SEO star?
I don’t believe that anyone growing up dreamt of working in digital marketing, SEO Sam doesn’t quite have the same ring as Fireman Sam, but here we are.
My first ever personal project and learning ground was a “Geek Blog” on the now-defunct blog Battletoys.co.uk. As you will see from the link, it now points to my latest passion project. The blog wasn’t a huge success, but I did manage a few minor successes.
- I blagged a number of products from tech and toy companies to review
- I created connections with other blogs and managed to get guest posts on other websites.
- I earned money (about £5.80) on Amazon Affiliates by creating a Marvel T-shirt affiliate store.
- I taught myself how to use WordPress, how to code, how to read code and also how to utilise plugins to my advantage.
I had hundreds of little learnings from simply setting up a blog and learning how to make it look similar to what was in my head.
So, the Brand Ambition first tip is a simple one.
Tip 1. If you want to learn how to do SEO, start a passion project online and put something on a website. Go through the process of buying a domain, getting hosting sorted and a CMS uploaded and set up.
You do that once. I guarantee you come out the other end of it with a better appreciation and understanding of how websites work.
Unlimited Online Resources but who do you believe?
Understanding theory and application are two very different things. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant mentor in Andrew Ash at Enjoy Digital. He let me apply knowledge, make mistakes and was patient, even when I wasn’t.
One of the things I learnt, very early on, in my career was that everyone in SEO has an opinion on how they think the Google Algorithm works…All of them are right and all of them are wrong at the same time. SEO is a testing process, not an exact science. The technical elements and Google guidelines are open to interpretation and often something that works for one site, might not have the same impact on the next site.
I start every employee off with resources collated by my peers, because it also provides a good list of websites to check in with when you want to learn something new.
Tip 2. Learn and Read. Put what you learn into practice. Here are a few resources to get you started.
The Brand Ambition Top SEO Resources in 2022.
Let’s start directly from the horse’s mouth…
Google SEO Resources
I love this video from Google on how to hire an SEO. It’s exactly right, yet they’ve done it in a way, that makes you not want to trust it.
The 7 Best Beginners Guides to SEO Rated by Brand Ambition.
- Learning SEO – I point every new starter to this ultimate list of SEO resources, learnings and support network. The list, compiled and most importantly constantly updated by Aleyda Solis is the one resource that makes most SEO professionals say “I wish I’d had that when I was starting out”.
- Moz – Beginner’s Guide to SEO – For those just starting out and looking to get an understanding then the Moz guide is a good, simple guide to understanding the basics of SEO. The information is still fairly relevant and the fundamentals are in easy to read chunks.
- The Google SEO Starter Guide – Getting an understanding of how Google talks about SEO is a great way to start out. Google is idealistic in its approach to SEO. Focusing on the user experience and getting people to the right answer in the quickest time. Actual Search Engine Optimisation is a little more complex than that, but it’s certainly a good place to understand the fundamentals.
- Ahrefs – SEO Basics – A simple chapter utilising Ahrefs data to get a clearer understanding of the most important elements within SEO. Definitely worth a read to get an understanding from a data powerhouse whose SEO software powers the analysis of more than 50% of the SEO community.
- SEMRush SEO Checklist – The other 50% use SEMRush and this checklist is a great basics list for ensuring SEO health. Super digestible and easy to understand once the other guides have provided a bit of context.
- Sitebulb Hint Explanations – Our favourite Technical SEO tool belongs to the team at Sitebulb. As well as some truly witty release notes, the team have put together a full list of the hints their software checks for and an explanation of why they look at that hint, whilst providing further reading to give an indication of its importance. Getting a proper understanding of each one of these hints essentially makes you an SEO expert, so it’s a great learning manual. Note down anything you don’t understand, do further reading and some testing and you’ve got a pretty great learning structure to understand and implement Technical SEO recommendations.
- Backlinko’s Link Building Guide – You can’t do SEO without building links and this is one of the most comprehensive guides on beginner link building strategies I’ve found to share with SEO execs.
Find a mentor.
You don’t need to read a thing or start up your own business to be an SEO. Another route is simply to find the right person to teach you. Read that again…I said The Right Person. I’ve worked alongside enough people to know when they’ve had the wrong SEO mentor and it doesn’t turn out well for the websites or the clients that belong to them.
Tip 3. Linkedin can be a fantastic source for discovering talented SEO professionals looking to give back, but the SEO Twitter community is one of the most active online resources. It can be a bit…cutting with embelished opinion sometimes, but through the noise its one of the best places to get insight and news on SEO. Check out @techseowomen & #SEOtwitter to get started.
When looking for a mentor, my advice is to check out their portfolio utilising some of the free tools that are above. If you can see a dip in traffic, or simply a pattern of constant decline, then you know you can speak to the person you’re about to trust to teach you SEO and get them to explain why a website isn’t performing.
We regularly review our accounts, to get a clear understanding and most SEO’s I know would be more than happy to take people looking to learn through the progress, what we are doing to fix issues and when we would expect to see positive results.
Where we love to recruit from
My favourite place to recruit from at the moment is a mixture of journalism graduates, who end up with an incredibly solid understanding of PR and often come ready to learn the basics of SEO and Digital Marketing Apprenticeship Graduates.
I’m increasingly impressed with the quality of the candidates that do a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship, their rounded knowledge often surpasses Degree level marketing graduates for real-world application. So if you’re considering a Digital Marketing career path and want some formal education, as an employer, I’d strongly recommend the Apprenticeship scheme.
I hope this insight into our hiring process helps anyone looking to get into SEO. Of course, this is just our opinion and there is no clear path. If you want to get into SEO as a career, ultimately the key is just to learn and put it into practice. We spend a lot of time talking about what digital marketing is, but the true success stories are those that put their plans into action. You can read all the articles you want to on a subject, but until you apply it, you have no idea how things will play out in reality.