No matter the company or the industry, brand identity is integrally connected to a company’s online presence. And when it comes to interacting with new potential customers online, a brand lives or dies by an its placement on a Google or Bing search page. This need to stay at the top of the search page has brought a new breed of digital marketer: the Search Engine Optimizer (SEO). Recent college graduates and young professionals alike find exciting growth and opportunity in Search Engine Optimization. It promises a blend of technical and creative opportunities in an environment that constantly presents new challenges and opportunities. If a career in SEO interests you, it’s important to compare your strengths to the essential skills that lead to a successful career in SEO.
In today’s digital economy, customers demand relevant and engaging content and they want it as quickly as the question can be typed into a search bar. The companies who satisfy these demands are rewarded handsomely. There will never one-size-fits-all approach to a successful SEO campaign, but there are always qualified SEOs at the root of every success.
So, what are the skills you need to have a successful career in SEO? Here are 7 that will jumpstart your career:
Basic Coding Knowledge
Before you think that an SEO requires you to get a degree in computer science, know that you don’t have to have professional coding experience to succeed as a digital marketing professional. Most of the systems that manage digital content have all the functionality an SEO needs right in the platform. Having said that, it is helpful to have basic programming skills so that you’re able to make small changes to your site (see skill #4 for more on this). Most of the coding work that SEOs do revolves around identifying key information that will aid an upcoming SEO campaign. Being able to do this quickly and accurately will set you apart and make sure your site is never down unnecessarily.
Mastery of SEO Tools
What is a craftsman with his or her tools? An SEO must have firm grasp on tools that will help augment their efforts and reduce tons of manual effort. This article isn’t meant to provide a comprehensive overview of each available tool, but a prospective manager can’t help but pass up on a new hire that knows their way around these tools:
• Google Search Console
• Bing Webmaster Tools
• Google PageSpeed Insights
• Kill Duplicate
There are many more tools available to the search engine optimizer, but knowing your way around the above-listed tools will open the door to a great career and help the rising SEO stand out from the crowd.
Good copywriting is a skill sought after by almost every organization. But even the best of copy can get lost in the millions of search results if it isn’t structured in ways visible to Google or Bing. SEO writing sets your website apart with engaging content that drives your content to the top of the search results. Good SEO writing focuses on what the reader wants to know and displays it in the most clear and concise manner possible. They embed SEO keywords naturally within the text and use deep knowledge of their target audience to reach them in a tone that is familiar.
SEOs seek credibility. Credibility with search engines, credibility with developers, and credibility with their customers. Just like SEO writing ensures that the copy is optimized for a search engine, technical SEO ensures that the website is optimized for the human that visit it and the bots that crawl it. An SEO that understands how search engines and site visitors interact with websites can pair that knowledge with engaging content for powerful results. For those who enjoy the blend of the technical and the creative sides of marketing, a knowledge of the principles of technical SEO will be rewarding and help push your resumé to the top of any pile.
Professional Communication Skills
An SEO is as much a restaurant manager as they are a chef. That is to say, an SEO must be able to effectively communicate with both team members and clients on a daily basis, each with different levels of familiarity with search engine optimization concepts and each with different concerns. An SEO is expected to be an effective collaborator between these groups, to know their customers and then to work with their teams to create content that they can relate to. This is a skill that cannot be overemphasized in SEO.
No, your future employer doesn’t need you to be able to run fast. But as an SEO, you’re representing your employer in one of the most rapidly changing fields around. While this isn’t technically a skill, being able to identify new information and effectively deploy new strategies make or break your content’s ability to rise to the top of a results page. Because new tools and updates are constantly being released, being a fast learner and quick to recognize the need to adapt is a key skill behind sustained SEO success.
Like communication skills and agility, being self-driven cannot be taught in a 60-minute seminar or gained through a paid certification. But, when an individual is armed with the above skills AND is self-driven, they are set up to succeed as an SEO. Many times, your hardest efforts will be met with low returns, your assumptions will be incorrect, and your problems will be ever-changing. Having the internal drive to push through these moments, learn from your mistakes, and adapt to the new environment is crucial to success.
If you feel like you’ve mastered all of the 7 skills listed above, congratulations! You’re the ideal SEO candidate. If you feel like you haven’t fully mastered the skills necessary to start down your career path in digital marketing, don’t be alarmed. Like this article, there are volumes of free e-content to help you sharpen your skills.
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