These days, the average customer journey begins and ends with a Google search. No pressure, but as an SEO specialist, where your client features on these SERPs depends on you!
Generally speaking, Google update it’s search algorithms 500-600 times each year. More often than not, these changes are so minor, the average user wouldn’t even notice them. However, such changes are necessary. The internet remains a level playing field; ensuring equality amongst web search results and allows each service and product to be found.
Whilst being an SEO specialist doesn’t mean that you have to “see and raise” your skills every time Google update their algorithms, it does mean that you have to stay on your toes, be agile and open to change.
Will & Skill
Successful SEO candidates are always a double-headed spear. They must possess both the will & the skill in order to stand out from the crowd.
The job of any marketer is never one that lies dormant, and in my experience, the best SEO specialists are those that eat, sleep and live their trade.
Side projects driven by a willingness to learn will demonstrate that you are adaptable; aware of those changes within the industry that allow you to stay on top of your game.
Looking at the bigger picture, understanding how and when users navigate the internet is a must for the modern SEO marketer. Changes in Google algorithms over recent months have highlighted the need for SEO marketers to be skilled in both CRO and mobile usability. Not only this, SEO has evolved. Content has been reformatted over time. Levels of written content have decreased with video content via platforms such as YouTube on the rise. Most recently, we are about to witness the importance of voice search in marketing. All of this will require the modern marketer to upskill in order to remain relevant.
Having the will is one thing. Having the skill is quite another!
The skills an SEO specialist need to succeed are diverse and far-reaching. Whilst having technical & programming ability is not 100% necessary, a skilled SEO professional will have some of this in their locker. SEOs make “recommendations” about lots of things…page speed, rendering, lazy loading, server-side redirects, microdata tagging, and basic HTML tags are just a few. Being able to offer insight and not just issue demands around these will set you in good stead and allow you to work cohesively alongside your colleagues. Quite apart from that, it’s easier to push back and fight your corner if you know what you’re talking about!
SEO Skills in Demand: Data
Excel skills should head up the arsenal of any SEO marketer. Being able to “pull data” is one thing; manipulating it to garner your insight is another. Excel skills will also allow you to track your data in a meaningful way. Whether it’s turning a Screaming Frog crawl into an XML sitemap, measuring algorithm changes and their impact within Google Analytics or Adobe data, creating custom CTR by position curves, or efficiently loading keywords from search console into brand/non-brand or by product groups, Excel is invaluable.
Once you have your data, analysing it and developing a sound strategy is the next step on the path to greatness. Being able to use Adobe Data or Google Analytics to extract your own data is a must. Other analytical tools that will add significant weight to your skill set are platforms such as Moz and SEMRush. Software like Google Tag Manager and products such as Google Data Studio and Google Optimize will give you extra points when applying for jobs.
Once you have your data, a next level SEO specialist will be able to demonstrate a truly analytical mind…one which is able to distinguish correlation from causation. A basic but sound understanding of business KPIs will enable you to understand what it is your client needs from your work; helping you to work out those all-important keywords…ones that you know to pepper strategically into your prose!
SEO Skills in Demand: Content
Worth their weight in gold are those SEO marketers with both speaking and writing ability. Professionals who are able to conduct their own keyword research AND scribe author content which include it, offer significantly more value than a one trick pony.
Writing articles or speaking to like-minded professionals is one thing, but being able to translate your ideas down the food chain to lay people is another. Are you able to distil your ideas; however complex? Can you turn your industry led thoughts and ideas into ones non-SEO people can understand and make decisions from? If so, your value is immense.
SEO Skills in Demand: Networking
Lastly, but by no means least a stellar SEO marketer must have significant networking ability. This is especially true if you happen to work in a freelance or contractor capacity. Many meaningful professional relationships are established and developed over a handshake at a meet and greet. Never underestimate the ability to get to the heart of a clients’ needs in a social setting.