How Long Does It Take To Learn SEO?

To learn SEO and become really good at it, it takes normally 10,000 hours, depending on many factors like speed of learning, experiments, location and website types.

So it takes a very long time to become really good at SEO. Yes, that is true, as SEO is very complex and it requires a variety of skill set like copywriting, maths, programming languages and a deep understanding of Google ranking factors.

You want to know how long does it take to learn SEO? In this article you’ll find the answer.  In short, learning the basics of SEO takes about 3 months. But you can’t say you have fully learnt the job without having some experience under your belt, which could take 2 to 3 years.

Let’s take a closer look at SEO and what it brings to the table, as well as how you can approach the challenge of learning SEO to kick-start your career.

What is SEO exactly?

Search engine optimisation is the process of improving traffic to a website or a specific web page. That’s the basic definition, but it goes far beyond that and delves deep into the processes, tools, and key objectives we use to achieve various SEO goals.

SEO doesn’t just aim to drive more traffic to a website from search engines, it aims to drive more quality traffic.

Implemented properly, SEO sends numerous signals to search engines that your website is relevant to a specific audience and that you are an authority in your industry.

To achieve this monumental task, the website needs to be optimised for:

  • On-page SEO- Quality content, relevant keywords, optimised headlines, images, headers, and meta descriptions.
  • Technical SEO- Includes website and server optimisations to ensure stellar website performance as well as easy crawlability and indexing.
  • Off-page SEO- Includes the tactics applied outside of your website like link-building, social media posting, mentions, podcasts, reviews, and guest posting.

If you are going to learn SEO for your website or to turn it into a profitable career, you need to learn all three of these SEO pillars.

You don’t necessarily have to specialise, master, or do all three, but you need to have a high degree of understanding of these pillars to be a well-rounded SEO expert.

Average time to learn SEO

The amount of time it takes to learn SEO principles will vary from person to person. That said, the average time to get acquainted with the core principles can take anywhere from one to three months.

That said, it will take more than a year of education, training, and trial and error for you to become an SEO specialist.

You’ve probably heard of the 10,000 hour rule, which was made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book “Outliers.”

As Gladwell tells it, the rule goes like this: it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin or getting as good as Bill Gates at programming.

I tend to agree with this statement, because SEO is an extremely competitive field and if you want to become the best, 10,000 hours is your learning goal.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the learning ever stops for someone who wants to become an SEO expert and an authority figure in the industry.

The speed at which you learn SEO will depend on a myriad of factors, however, particularly how you choose to learn it.

here is how you can speed up your learning.

Learning SEO with a dedicated mentor

Enrolling yourself in SEO classes and workshops is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to take a structured approach to mastering the art. You can also go for one-on-one education and hire a veteran SEO consultant to teach you everything you need to know and devote all their attention and resources to you and your needs.

There are many advantages to working with an experienced SEO mentor, but if that’s not a route you can take, there are other options.

In my career, I didn’t have a dedicated mentor, but I was following a few authority figures in the space such as Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, Eric Enge, Barry Schwartz, Eli Schwartz and Matt Cutts to name just a few. Some of them are not in the industry anymore, as Rand Fishkin started his own social analytics tool, Sparktoro, and Matt Cutts retired from Google.

Learning through podcasts and instructional videos

The online world is replete with comprehensive guides and free learning resources on almost any topic imaginable—SEO included.

You can find authority figures in the SEO space, read their blogs, follow their social accounts, and watch their YouTube tutorials to learn SEO at your own pace.

Learning SEO by implementing and practicing

Remember that you won’t get very far if you don’t implement what you learn. Whether you’re taking SEO classes and workshops, if you’re working with a mentor, or if you’re going it alone, understand that implementation is a crucial part of the process.

Make sure to implement everything you learn by creating mock SEO strategies for clients, come up with SEO problems to solve, and then have someone check your work to get honest and professional feedback.

Once you’ve practiced enough and have made it a habit to stay on top of the latest SEO trends, you can put yourself out there and start working with clients.

5 Tips to Speed up Your Learning

Learning SEO can be a time-consuming process. Here are some tips to help you speed up your learning.

Set realistic goals

Learning SEO takes time, effort, and a lot of consistency. With that in mind, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and what you can achieve in a specific timeframe.

This is not about your talent for SEO or how motivated you are, this is about making sure that you cover all the bases and internalize the knowledge rather than skipping ahead to get as much done as possible.

In the long run, setting realistic goals will help you to focus on what you want to achieve and stay motivated. Learning how to do keyword research and pick the right keywords for every project, mastering the basics of technical SEO, learning link building – all of this takes time and must be broken down into learning blocks.

Take the time to break these blocks down into realistic goals that take into account your availability, resources, and the amount of mental energy you have to devote to the task every day.

Take breaks

Taking breaks is an instrumental part of learning SEO and mastering it over the long term. This is about avoiding burnout and the inevitable onset of stress when you start to realize just how vast the field is, and what you need to master in order to become an authority in the field.

While all of this is manageable, stress is unavoidable if you try to learn SEO as quickly as possible, without taking breaks. You need to divide the breaks into micro and macro breaks to be successful.

Micro breaks are the daily breaks you take to reset, decompress, and let the information you just consumed settle in. You need to take these short, 15-minute breaks multiple times a day, even if you feel like you can keep going.

Macro breaks are the breaks you take during the week and throughout the month. These are the days when you decide not to touch your SEO learning material. It may sound counter-intuitive, but having a day in the week when you’re not even going to think about SEO is going to help you avoid stress and burnout.

Practice regularly

Becoming an SEO expert requires you to not only consume and internalize the learning material, but also to practice regularly. You can do this alone, in a group class or course, or one-on-one with an SEO mentor.

Practicing SEO regularly will help you to become an SEO expert, but it will also let you define your niche and figure out what aspects of SEO you want to master. With regular practice you will define your SEO talents and interests, and you will decide what you want to outsource to partners and other experts.

You might figure out that you want to specialize in technical and on-page SEO, but that you would rather outsource link building to a reliable company than doing the added work of connecting with other editors, getting backlinks, and submitting guest posts.

Regular practice will tell you where your true SEO passions lie.

Ask questions

Another powerful way to learn SEO faster without burning out is to ask as many questions as possible. Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question, and the online community can be extremely helpful when you’re struggling with some SEO concepts and practices.

Don’t be afraid to join dedicated SEO groups on social media and online forums, discord servers, and the like. When you’re watching YouTube videos from SEO experts, don’t hesitate to post your question in the comment section – they’re likely to respond or someone else from the community will help you out.

Asking questions regularly will help you to understand the concepts better and learn faster.

Stay organized

Lastly, it’s imperative that you stay organized, both with your SEO courses and material, and with your goals, time, and the effort you have to put in to keep progressing. If you’re following a specific curriculum make sure to keep up with the steps and the learning materials for that week.

If you’re learning SEO in an asynchronous way, meaning that you’re consuming the material in your own time and at your own pace, you have to develop a strict studying routine.

It’s best to boost your routine with some form of synchronous learning, like a live online class or an in-person workshop so that you can complement what you have learned on your own and get some additional motivation to stay organized.

After all, staying organized will help you to stay on track and make sure you don’t miss any important steps.

Are you ready to learn SEO?

Search engine optimization can be a wonderful career path for many, but it’s important that you’re aware of the challenges and everything you’ll need to learn in order to become a well-rounded SEO specialist.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go about it, and you can choose a path that suits your needs and aspirations.

Now that you know how long it takes and what it entails, go ahead and start learning SEO in order to one day soon become an expert in this ever-growing industry.