11 Areas of SEO Knowledge You Must Master To Be Successful

11 Areas of SEO Knowledge You Must Master To Be Successful

SEO has become an essential channel in the digital marketing mix for brands, and it’s constantly evolving.

Trying to stay ahead of the times can get overwhelming, especially for those just learning SEO or adding another discipline to their role.

Not to worry, though. Once you’re up to speed on the techniques, the cycle of continuous learning is one of the best things about SEO.

Here are 11 areas of SEO knowledge you must master that’ll benefit you greatly throughout your career.

1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO can be intimidating to those who are more creative and content-oriented. There are many hats that SEO professionals wear, and there are some incredibly successful SEO professionals who aren’t technically savvy.

Even if you are not going to be the one digging into the code, digging into server settings, or configuring plug-ins on a website, you must have a basic understanding of the technical factors that influence SEO.

Page experience, page load times, automation, dynamic tagging, and indexing & crawling are all important aspects of SEO.

Sure, you can have the best content in the world and the most authoritative links in your industry pointing to your site. But this might not be enough to compensate for some minor technical flaws. They will likely remain obstacles at some level or catch up with you later on.

Spend time learning about the technical factors and developing an implementation plan now and in the future.

2. Indexing & Crawling

Google used to take much longer to crawl content and then publish it in search results. The speed of crawl to search results is taken for granted because it is not a ranking factor in and of itself.

It is still critical that you fully comprehend how indexing works. This fundamental understanding leads to strategic or troubleshooting actions on our websites.

Large sites, eCommerce sites, and those with a lot of duplicate content require specific strategies for crawl budget, canonical use, robots commands, and other factors.

Further, international sites and variations add a layer of complication.

3. Audience Research

What was once known as “keyword research” has evolved?

While we still conduct keyword research, it is shortsighted to do so in the absence of personas, customer journey consideration, or topical focus.

Understanding your audience – their demographics and psychographics – and knowing what content will resonate with them through to their end goal (e.g., engagement, sale, lead) is critical.

Whether you work for a single brand or a diverse set of clients, you must master your understanding of your business goals and work backwards to comprehend your target audiences and how to move them from search query to end goal.

4. Web Analytics

SEO professionals are expected to be able to analyze the effectiveness of their efforts.

It is essential to recognize the effect of your strategy and efforts. Inform the stakeholders to whom you are accountable about your efforts. 

Use all of the analytics data you can to get a complete picture that is linked to searcher intent and various personas. This will allow you to fully understand the impact of SEO on your business.

5. Tracking

It is critical to be able to act as the point person for your website with web developers or IT teams to ensure proper tracking script and pixel implementation.

This is why an understanding of analytics, heatmaps, Google Tag Manager, and other tracking mechanisms is essential.

While many tracking implementations and updates are simple, the ability to troubleshoot and collaborate with others is an undervalued skill. Developers and IT professionals aren’t always well-versed in implementing and ensuring proper tracking in marketing tools.


With open source content management systems and tools that show or scrape tags for us, it is much easier to do SEO without extensive HTML knowledge.

However, a fundamental understanding of HTML remains important. You’ll need it to troubleshoot problems caused by a CMS or code that isn’t semantically sound for SEO.

It is critical to be able to diagnose code issues with duplicate tags, track script implementations, and collaborate on AJAX, JavaScript, and other aspects of the site speed conversation.

7. Local Search

The roles and responsibilities for local listings and local search optimization can vary depending on organizational structure.

Local search is complicated enough that SEJ has created an entire guide to Local SEO, outlining the various aspects to master.

SEO professionals should be aware of:

  • The entire ecosystem of local search.
  • Factors for ranking
  • The significance of Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) information.
  • The procedure for claiming and managing claims.

8. On-page SEO

Fortunately, most SEO professionals no longer place undue emphasis on single on-page elements.

While the emphasis has shifted to content and context, on-page factors and ensuring that tags are unique and present on each page remain important. Make sure the content covers the entire scope of the topic, even if it isn’t hyper-focused on the frequency and density of specific words.

It is critical to understand the on-page factors, how they interact to help build context, and what is fact versus fiction regarding their true impact on rankings.

9. Link building

While we all want to create content that naturally attracts links and never have to worry about link building, it is still important to understand how linking affects rankings.

A frequently misunderstood aspect is quantity versus quality, and how focusing too much or too little on links and authority can stymie optimization efforts.

A thorough understanding of link quality, strategies for attracting and gaining relevant and high-quality links, and how to incorporate them into the overall optimization strategy are all essential.

10. Competitor Research

Understanding the competitive landscape is critical throughout the SEO process.

Simply adhering to “best practices” and looking inward at your website will yield mixed and, most likely, underwhelming results.

Profiling high-ranking and top websites and brands that are currently capturing a share of the audiences you seek is a critical skill to master.

Competitor research can range from manually auditing competitor websites – and using tools – to determining the ranking factors driving competitor website success.

This includes both on-page and external factors for competitor sites as a whole, as well as page-by-page for more specific topics and queries.

11. Understanding How Search Engines Work

Spend time learning about the search engines, their goals, who owns what percentage of the search engine market, the various products they offer, and how they display organic search results.

Knowing the evolution of search engine results pages (SERPs) provides context for why they feature the content they do now.

This includes both on-page and external factors for competitor sites as a whole, as well as page-by-page for more specific topics and queries.

And once you’ve gotten up to speed, you can be very successful — but you’re not finished learning. Don’t get too comfortable and become out of date!

Remember to begin by understanding how search engines work as you learn and master aspects of SEO. This will provide an excellent framework and perspective.

Learn what can be measured, how it applies to your role and work in SEO, and then dive deep into specific aspects such as technical, on-page, and off-page optimization knowledge.

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Njoki Karingi

Hey there! My name is Njoki and I'm a writer, content marketer, and all-rounded creative. I love to create unique, fun, and entertaining content whatever the time or weather. Friendly, curious, and fun-loving, find me where the adventure is! You're free to join in!

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