Key skills for SEO professionals

Search engine optimisation is one of the biggest games worth playing in business. 

 

The risks and rewards are huge. There’s a lot of head-scratching, occasional sleepless nights, some incredible eureka moments, and plenty of scope for amateur soothsayers. It can be hard work and it seems to be getting ever more difficult, but it is a lot fun.
What I find amazing is that most of the people I have worked with – and also those who I respect and trust within the industry – are self-taught. They have a natural aptitude for SEO based on a number of key skills which they possess, rather than the niche academic qualifications you often need to rise to the top of the tree in other industries.
Many of these people have more than a decade of experience, and can remember when keyword stuffing actually worked. How times have changed!
There are lots of different roles within search, and as such, the industry welcomes people with a variety of different skillsets. I thought I’d explore this in a little more detail, for anybody looking to forge a career in search.

What flavour of SEO will you be?

There are various types of SEO professional, but for now let’s focus on two broad types: the all-rounder, and the specialist.
In a small business there might be one SEO bod doing all manner of things, wearing many hats, and often undertaking wider digital marketing and CRO work. The SEO all-rounder is – or certainly should be – a prized asset in these companies.
The SEO all-rounder can do everything, of course, but time is finite and some projects are absolutely massive. They’ll need help, and will probably need to work with other teams. Delegation may come into play, even if they can do it all.
In bigger companies (and agencyland) you often find specific people doing specific SEO tasks. Some projects are vast and take an age to complete, as anybody who has experience of a site migration with gazillions of web pages will tell you.
Broadly speaking, I think there are three areas of focus – technical, analytical, and creative. There is a great deal of overlap in a lot of specialist roles, whereas others are more skewed towards one or two of these areas.

 

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