Do you think you have what it takes to make a career in SEO? To achieve success, you will need a particular set of skills. Find out what those abilities are by clicking here. Despite the fact that it has been around for a few decades, SEO is still not taught in many colleges or mentioned in most marketing curriculums (at least consistent with all the interns I interview.)
SEO experts come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are programmers, some are entrepreneurs, some are traditional marketers, some are journalists, and some were even rappers in the past. During the course of my job, I spend a significant amount of time interviewing candidates for open SEO positions. There is no one-size-fits-all list of SEO skills, but there are a couple of things I search for in every candidate – counting on their experience level and position.
Simply put, I’m looking for someone with a background I can build on (development, marketing, content, etc.) as well as a data-driven and results-oriented thought process. That should be obvious if you read the interviewing article above. Anyway, let’s mention the highest SEO skills for fulfillment.
This is difficult to quantify, but it is critical for SEO professionals to have an analytical mind capable of distinguishing between correlation and causation.
I’m looking for an SEO who can analyze data and understand the “3 What’s”: what happened.
Why did “what happened” happen?
What should we do about it?
There are numerous ways to measure this, but I avoid asking them to figure out the shortest route to cross a bridge with a shared flashlight or the classic lightbulb problem.
Instead, I’ll ask hypothetical interview questions to gain a better understanding of their thought process.
Here are some examples of interview questions: “Assume you and therefore the client disagree on what we should always do.” “Can you walk me through your meeting with them and your approach to it?”Another example is “Account just emailed a client about their new website.” They want to know if we can assist them with their SEO. What are the primary few things that come to mind?”
Asking them about the biggest problem they solved, how they identified it, how they solved it, and how they measured success is a good way to gauge this. There are no correct or incorrect answers to these questions, but they do help me get a sense of a candidate’s thought process and problem-solving approach.I want to see that they understand the problem from multiple perspectives and make decisions based on data and logic.
2.Ability to Speak and Write
An SEO professional who can conduct their own keyword research and write content with it is far more valuable.
But we’re not just talking about writing articles like this one or giving talks at conferences.
I’m trying to seek out an SEO who can persuade internal teams and clients to undertake to do the proper thing, which comes from speaking at meetings and writing decks, case studies, POVs, and so on. All of these include communication and writing abilities.
SEO requires not only confidence but also the power to condense complex ideas and thoughts into concepts that non-SEO professionals can understand and use to form decisions.
3.Technical & Programming Capabilities
I’m sure there’ll be some discussion about this. I’m also confident that there is a slew of SEO pros working right now who haven’t any programming experience. The truth is that they could be doing an even better job if they had some programming knowledge. As SEO professionals, we make recommendations on page speed, rendering, lazy loading, server-side redirects, microdata tagging, and basic HTML tags.
All of these conversations will go more smoothly if you can speak with the developer and provide insights rather than demands. Understanding where the developer is coming from when they push back is extremely useful in resolving disagreements. Estimating the level of effort versus the SEO impact is also critical. I’m not saying SEO professionals should be able to code, but they should understand the coding implications of the changes they request and what that entails for the developers, as well as the most common mistakes and objections and how to overcome them.
It is not sufficient for an SEO professional to copy a Google page speed report and send it to the developers. You must understand what those changes are, what they mean for the site, and how much effort is required to implement them.
Technical knowledge also allows you to make your life easier, whether it’s by writing a quick Python script to add hreflang to your XML sitemap or a quick scraper to gather data.
As search engines evolve to use more machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), there are a plethora of cool things an SEO professional can do with our current data sets and some Python NLP libraries. Today’s SEO programmers do incredible things with data and code, giving them a competitive advantage in terms of insights and winning work.
We went into great detail about how to crawl for those signals, index them, and use them in ranking – and it was clear which ones couldn’t possibly work and which others couldn’t really be done at the query or site level.
Our prior coursework in information retrieval and programming knowledge helped us understand what was and wasn’t possible. This is a priceless advantage.
I still see several SEO professionals on a daily basis making claims about how algorithms work that any computer scientist would know are simply impossible to code.
Over the course of my career, I’ve made so many wonderful connections and learned so much simply by attending conferences and socializing with other SEO professionals – even virtually.
To do so, you must not be a creep and must be able to get along socially with others.
Some of the most interesting conversations take place in conference hallways, events, and meet-and-greets. Some of these events involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
If you choose to attend these events, you must maintain control. We’ve all heard stories about that one person who was inappropriate. Don’t let yourself become that person.
Many brilliant SEO professionals have sabotaged their careers by misbehaving in bars or on social media.
Reminder: never try to find a date at a conference event or in a hotel bar.
It’s a great place to discuss SEO theory and tactics.
Because of the relaxed and private setting, without live blogging and tweeting, SEO professionals may share tips and tricks that they would not share publicly.
Most people attending an SEO event aren’t interested in debating politics or hearing about that one specific problem that only applies to your site and takes 10 minutes to explain (unless you’re buying food/drinks). They will, however, be interested in hearing about new and exciting things you’ve seen or done.
Is it necessary to be a public-facing SEO who attends conferences or events in order to be good? No. But if you choose to do that (or are assigned to be present at these events), you can’t be a jerk about it.
5. Analytical Ability
If SEO professionals can log into Adobe or Google Analytics and pull their own data, they can save a lot of time.
Proper SEO strategy also necessitates a basic understanding of business KPIs.offer my teams the opportunity to become Adobe and Google Analytics certified because even if they aren’t pulling the data, the understanding helps – but also because we end up pulling the data most of the time. You’re probably missing out on some insights if you can’t pull and segment data.
This section was originally titled “excel skills” when I first wrote this post, and it is still true today, but it goes beyond that.
Obtaining the data isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to tinker with it a little to get the information you need.
I’ve met a lot of SEO professionals who can’t even do the most basic tasks in Excel.
Throughout my career, I’ve created countless Excel templates to aid in the resolution of everyday problems. Excel is invaluable when it involves converting a Screaming Frog crawl into an XML sitemap, measuring algorithm changes and their impact with GA/Adobe data, creating custom CTR by position curves, or quickly bucketing keywords from search console into brand/non-brand or product groups.
However, simply using Excel is no longer sufficient.
A true SEO professional is going to be ready to create dashboards in data studio, use various APIs to tug more data (search console, Google NLP, lighthouse, AdWords, various tools, etc), and understand databases well enough to do cool things with that data.
It’s also worth mentioning R, Python, and Tableau.
Math is also included in this category! I’m still seeing a lot of bad correlation studies and statistical analyses that don’t say what the author thinks they say. A basic understanding of statistical concepts can help an SEO determine not only what to live, but also “how” to live it.
Looking at clicks month after month during a pandemic may tell a different story than looking at CTRs over the same period when demand fluctuates due to external forces.
7.Motivation, drive, and adaptability
The thing I both love and despise about working in SEO is that it doesn’t end at 5 p.m.
Marketing isn’t one of those jobs that you leave at the end of the day. It sticks with you in your mind.
To be truly great at SEO these days, you must have an internal drive that forces you to continue learning.
There’s always something new to learn, whether it is a new programming language, a replacement (WordPress, React, Angular, etc.), a replacement program standard like Schema, or understanding machine learning.
Candidates who have their own side project websites or who create their own tools to solve their problems are at the top of my hiring list.
For example, you could use the webmaster tools API to automate data extraction and report formatting. I recently hired that individual.SEO necessitates adaptability and a thick skin. Our industry evolves, and we sometimes have to tell clients that directory submissions, PageRank sculpting, link disavows, and other things we once recommended are no longer the best option.
I’m looking for a candidate who is willing to leave their ego at the door and admit when they’re wrong. We’ve all made mistakes, and that’s okay. It does not diminish our status as a guru or expert. That is simply how science works.
It is about prioritizing the client’s objectives over SEO revenue opportunities. (I warned you in the tweets preceding this article that I was going to start an argument.)
8. A Good Sense of Humor
In the SEO industry, we deal with a lot of ups and downs – and often at a rapid pace.
It’s important to take a step back and remember that we’re not saving lives; we’re just marketing.
As stressful as the job can be, the majority of it can be put off until tomorrow. A good sense of humor can make our jobs much more enjoyable and productive.