Top SEO Skills Required to Become an SEO Expert

Kaushal Thakkar is the Founder and MD of Infidigit. He has developed award-winning search strategies for various organizations, ranging from large enterprise and e-commerce websites to small and medium-sized businesses. Before Infidigit, he was leading digital marketing, product, and eCommerce initiatives at Myntra (a Walmart Company), Times Group, ICICI Group, Tata Group. Being an engineer and product manager in his earlier days, he loves to hack growth for websites via technical SEO strategies. He is a speaker at various forums and a Pro bono guest lecturer on Organic Search, Digital Marketing, Analytics & eCommerce. In X @

Top SEO Skills Required to Become an SEO Expert

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    Have you been thinking of building a career in Digital Marketing? The Digital Marketing field offers vast career opportunities and diverse job roles such as Social Media Marketer, Performance Marketer, SEO Specialist, and so on. Gaining essential SEO skills can help you land a job as an SEO specialist in no time and make inroads to a lucrative career in digital marketing.

    The Digital Marketing industry is expected to reach a valuation of USD 65.33 billion by the end of 2022. SEO and Search Marketing skills are one of the most sought-after skills in the industry, and SEO jobs are always on the rise. An SEO specialist is practically indispensable for any organization today, as more and more marketing initiatives are solely conducted online. However, you’ll need to gain knowledge of certain SEO tools and SEO specialist skills to acquire and retain an SEO job. What are these? Let’s find out.

    1. Critical thinking

    It isn’t easy to trick Google or search engine algorithms. No two websites’ SEO strategy is alike. Here is where it becomes necessary for an individual considering a career in SEO to have a keen analytical eye and critical thinking ability. What helps your competitor’s website rank might not work for your company’s website.

    How then do you arrive at the right SEO strategy for your marketing activities? You draw up a technical SEO checklist. You assess what errors your competitors are making on their web pages, ensure you don’t make these on your website, and critically examine your SEO campaign to find ways to better it! Without the ability to think analytically and perceive things critically, you won’t be able to conduct these exercises beneficially. Hence, critical thinking is an absolute must-have for candidates appearing for SEO job interviews. Additionally, a problem-solving mentality also helps!

    2. Communication skills

    Any job necessitates good reading and writing ability. An SEO job demands these skills all the more! Besides being able to author SEO-friendly content, one of the more underrated SEO specialist skills is the ability to break down complex SEO concepts for laymen. Imagine that you’re in charge of your organization’s SEO team and have to collaborate with employees from other teams with little SEO knowledge; how do you do this? The answer is, easy. You already have ample understanding of SEO, you only need to be able to convey the technicalities simply. If you can speak well, these collaborative tasks become a cakewalk! As an SEO specialist is often required to work with different teams, recruiters commonly search for good communication skills when interviewing candidates for SEO-specific job roles. The skill becomes all the more important if you’re looking for a job in a digital marketing agency where you will be expected to liaise with your clients. Your communication skills will decide whether you win and retain your client’s account or not.

    3. Technical skills

    Whether you need programming knowledge or not is very much up for debate; still, in SEO circles globally, it is always good to have basic coding skills. SEO professionals work closely with website developers and, so, knowing what the developer’s roadblocks are in implementing your recommendations aligned with your SEO strategy definitely helps. When engaged with optimizing your web products for search engines, you call the shots on rendering, page speed, lazy loading, server-side redirects, basic HTML tagging, microdata tagging, etc. However, it is your developer who takes care of these. You don’t have to learn code, but at least make the effort to get acquainted with the kind of code used to make the development changes you ask for. It will make the overall SEO effort a lot easier.

    Further, search engines are increasingly relying on machine learning and NLP, so knowing your way around these will only help you perform as an SEO specialist better! If you’re still not convinced why having some technical skills up your sleeves is helpful to fulfill SEO responsibilities for your organization, take a look around. Several SEO professionals today have at least basic programming knowledge that they use to gauge which SEO strategies can be implemented and which cannot.

    4. Activity prioritization

    SEO campaigns contain a multitude of tasks that need to be taken care of. You can’t expect to ignore any of these tasks if you want your SEO campaign to be successful. Among SEO specialist skills, activities or task prioritization is paramount. You need to prioritize tasks according to their importance, their deadline, and the uplift they provide.

    Take, for instance, link building in SEO. Link building in SEO entails a number of smaller tasks and can take a very long time to yield results. When you are link building in SEO, you need to identify potential backlink sources, recognize how you might contribute content for these sources, send out a convincing pitch, come up with a content schedule and even hire additional writers if necessary. While these tasks are necessary, you need to complete them as per the client’s requirements and urgency.

    SEO specialists are expected to balance multiple tasks and responsibilities. It only makes sense then that activity prioritization is a skill that would be coveted by SEO professionals. Without the ability to prioritize tasks, SEO professionals would find it extremely difficult to perform their job role as desired.

    5. Analytics skill

    It is integral for SEO professionals to be able to use analytics software and tools to gather insights on their SEO campaigns. However, the ability to use these tools is not enough. If you are considering a career in SEO, you must also have a basic understanding of your organization’s KPIs and then assess your SEO efforts in tandem. If there appears to be a gap between the two, it is your responsibility to devise strategies to fill this.

    Besides knowing how to use these analytics platforms, you should ideally also be able to assess how users are interacting with search engines. User psychology and a keen interest in getting to the bottom of things will let you create more optimized and targeted content to appeal to both your audience and search engine algorithms. In other words, to interpret the analytical data available to you, you need to possess a certain amount of analytical skills. Monitoring your successes and failures is important in an SEO job and the failure to do so will result in the failure of your SEO campaigns.

    6. Knowledge of SEO tools

    As per a study conducted by SEMRush, about 47% of SEO job listings mention that proficient knowledge of everyday SEO tools such as Google Analytics is a necessary skill. HTML+CSS knowledge and Keyword Research follow suit as other desired skills. Google Search Console, which examines whether a website is visible, indexed, and crawlable, is another SEO tool that helps make an SEO professional’s life easier by providing direct insight into search performance. Google Analytics, on the other hand, informs of user traffic data metrics like visitors per month, average session durations, and bounce rates.

    7. Good at research

    Being research-minded and actually enjoying research is another of the several essential SEO specialist skills. As an SEO professional, you need to like the process of research as you will be doing plenty of it at your job – and keyword research isn’t all of it either! While keyword research is crucial, it is time-consuming and can be tedious. Therefore, anyone without the inclination or skill in research will find it mind-numbingly boring.

    If you wish to find the right keywords and the correct keyword strategy for your SEO efforts, you need to recognize your user’s intent and what holds relevance for them. Only then will you be able to perform well at your SEO job. In addition, competitor research is also significantly important in crafting the right SEO campaign. You need to identify the SEO practices that are benefiting and those that are harming your competitors and then mold your SEO strategy accordingly.

    8. Project management

    An SEO specialist’s job isn’t simply restricted to keyword research, link building, and website optimization – the ability to plan, execute and implement projects is also a major responsibility they are tasked with. Besides juggling multiple projects, strategizing how best to do your work independently and collaboratively while meeting deadlines is also important. Project management skills, therefore, are required for an SEO specialist’s job profile. After all, project management is nothing more than the art of arranging and putting all your resources to use to achieve your goals in the best way possible.

    9. Content strategy optimization

    When working an SEO job, you need to understand that your organization’s content function isn’t exclusive to your roles and responsibilities. In fact, both content and SEO are symbiotic functions. For example, nobody will want to link back to content that doesn’t provide value. When you optimize content, your link-building becomes easier. Optimizing your client’s content also helps you with your keyword ranking efforts. You do not necessarily need to know how to create content, although it is always great to have the skill. You must, however, know how to optimize content to make your job as an SEO professional easier.

    10. Link building strategy

    As already discussed, link building is among the top most desired skills in an SEO professional. In order to get your client’s website to rank high on search engines, you need to devise an effective link-building strategy. Links have various uses for websites ranging from helping with content architecture to optimization and user experience. A well-performing SEO strategy will be a mix of inbound and outbound links; inbound links to assist visitors in navigating the page and search engines to crawl it, and outbound links to add value to the website content. Link building in SEO is a skill any SEO professional ought to possess.

    11. Social skills

    SEO is an ever-evolving field, and as such, it is always good to be sociable with other SEO professionals. If you are looking for an SEO role, understand that the best SEO hacks and practices are actually shared at events and conferences. While this might be part of your job role, being open to the experience will definitely help you ace your job responsibilities. Even if you are not the most social offline, you can always sign up for SEO hangouts and meetups virtually to interact and share knowledge with others in your industry.

    12. Decision making

    Decision-making, again, is a valuable skill to have as an SEO professional. After all, when you are done putting your analytical and critical thinking abilities to use, to examine your campaign performance, it is time for you to weigh in on important decisions. Do you eliminate certain SEO practices that do not seem to be working for you? Will doing so harm your SEO strategy in the long run? The onus of all these decisions lies on you and you alone, and you must have the confidence and assertiveness to be accountable for them.

    13. Data skills

    Besides knowing how to use SEO analytics tools like Google Analytics, being acquainted with MS Excel is also beneficial for an SEO professional. Data storage and management are just as important as data analysis and interpretation in an SEO job. MS Excel allows you to do each of these conveniently. All you need is intermediate knowledge of the suite. Being aware of Excel templates and functions such as Vlookups, Concatenates, and IF statements can really help you execute SEO strategizing operations so much more easily! But why data skills?

    Well, because when you are proficient with dashboarding and data management platforms like MS Excel, you can compare algorithm changes, bucket keywords quickly, create custom CTR positions by position curves, etc. Basic math and statistical knowledge will also work wonders for helping you perform your SEO job optimally. In addition, aata analysis is an exercise that SEO professionals need to engage with almost daily and so, having data skills is extremely important if you’re considering a career in SEO.

    14. Tenacity and humility

    As already discussed, SEO is a dynamic operation. Search engine algorithms are a tough nut to crack. They are always changing and for SEO professionals, this is a crucial lesson to learn in humility. Some strategies work, and some don’t. SEO professionals cannot afford to lose sight of their goal and let these ups and downs affect them. They need to know how to take failure in stride and return to the playing field with new ways to up their SEO game. Tenacity and humility are qualities that separate SEO enthusiasts from experts. You need to not only constantly innovate as an SEO professional, but also be fearless in your innovation.

    15. Motivation and adaptability

    Following in close suit of tenacity and humility, motivation and adaptability are also essential qualities that qualify an SEO enthusiast for an SEO job. When an SEO campaign fails, SEO warriors dust off their failure and get ready to test new SEO practices. There is no place for demotivation in an SEO job. The same goes for adaptability. High adaptability is a quality that talent acquisition teams search for in candidates hopeful for SEO jobs. Being able to keep pace with the in-transition SEO industry and its best practices need an equal amount of motivation and adaptability.

    What Does an SEO Professional Do?

    An SEO expert tests, analyzes, and modifies a website to optimize it for search results. The expert uses SEO knowledge to achieve a higher ranking for websites in the search results of major search engines like Bing and Google. 

    SEO focuses on attracting organic traffic. It helps brands drive more visitors, leads, and conversions. SEO specialists optimize pages to ensure search results are relevant. They perform keyword research and use various SEO tools, such as Google Analytics, to deliver a positive user experience. Their focus is to grow website traffic, improve lead volume, and establish brand awareness. 

    An SEO expert is like a traditional marketing or digital marketing expert. It is their responsibility to drive more sales for their company or client. 

    The job responsibilities of an SEO specialist vary depending on whether they are working as a freelance consultant for a client, in the digital marketing division of a company, or with an outsourced digital marketing agency.

    Detailed Knowledge of Search Engine Algorithms and Ranking Factors

    Search engines release algorithm updates on the process and criteria of page evaluation. SEO experts must know how search engines check pages. Furthermore, they must know the factors that determine rankings. As search engine algorithms change, experts must update their strategies. Ranking factors also play a crucial role. They guide you on how you can improve your page’s position in organic search results. 

    Such comprehensive SEO knowledge helps in developing effective SEO strategies. These strategies improve visibility and make your website rank higher than your competition. 

    Content Marketing

    An SEO strategy is incomplete without good-quality content. But writing content isn’t enough. SEO efforts will show results only when you understand the role of content and its appropriate utilization in the overall marketing strategy. 

    While you may not be producing the content yourself, you must know what elements it should contain and how optimizing the content strategy can result in better SEO results. For example, a piece of content will receive backlinks if it provides value to the users. A content piece without originality, research, and insightful information will not get any links. Focusing on the quality and relevancy of the content can help simplify your link-building process. 

    Writing Skills

    Search engine optimization is a content-driven strategy. Writing SEO content requires adequate knowledge of search engine algorithms and keyword usage. An SEO marketing manager is expected to coordinate with content writers to produce content as per search engine guidelines. Thus, SEO experts must master the skill of writing and editing good content. 

    SEO specialists must know about the different content types and lengths. You must identify the content angle of a blog post, social media post, or website content and determine if it is right or requires improvement. It is also crucial to check that keywords are not stuffed and weave into the content naturally. 

    Basic Coding

    SEO specialists need not have hardcore coding skills. However, having basic knowledge of coding and associated technologies is an added advantage.

    SEO specialists must know how to stitch web design and SEO strategy in a way that’s beneficial for the company. A website designed with SEO knowledge keeps the overall strategy in mind. It relies more on cold hard data instead of artistic elements.

    An understanding of how code works can also be beneficial for technical SEO. You can spot technical SEO concerns that even crawling tools can miss. Moreover, you can identify the causes of page speed-related issues and resolve them at the earliest. 

    Flexibility

    An SEO specialist needs to be agile in order to thrive in the digital space. There is no room for complacency, as the SEO expert must constantly review their website’s content to ensure it is aligned with the ever-changing SEO best practices. 

    Every company needs a unique SEO strategy. An SEO manager who does not change the strategy based on business goals can ruin SEO campaigns. The expert must adapt according to changing scenarios. For instance, if a particular SEO strategy doesn’t deliver the desired results, the SEO expert must take timely action to course-correct. 

    Every SEO manager must be flexible enough to revise strategies when required.

    Refine These SEO Skills to Become an SEO Expert

    SEO jobs have been experiencing a boom ever since the advent of digital marketing, and SEO professionals will only grow in demand. SEO is not the most difficult subject to learn and can have you earning up to $86K a year! If you want to foray into Digital Marketing and build a career in SEO, there’s no better time than now. SEO professionals are commonly required to have certain skills to perform their job well. As you have seen in this article, these skills range from data analysis and project management to content writing.

    Infidigit is an SEO company that encompasses all of these skills and more. Our SEO professionals are proficient in SEO and digital marketing skills that can help brands in improving their online presence and rank high on SERPs. Our SEO services include technical SEO, SEO audits, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and much more. Want to learn how these SEO skills are put to use to empower your website and rank high? Contact us today to learn more.

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