What Is an SEO Specialist?

A Search Engine Optimization or SEO Specialist tests, analyzes, and changes a website so it is optimized for search engines, and the website subsequently ranks higher in the search results on major search engines such as Google and Bing.

An SEO expert performs page optimization across a website to ensure search results are relevant and to create a positive user experience, growing website traffic, lead volume and brand awareness. In other words, an SEO Specialist is no different from any other digital marketing or traditional marketing professional: they’re ultimately trying to create more sales for the company they’re working for.

By conducting keyword research and leveraging SEO tools, such as Google Analytics, an SEO Specialist can increase the visibility of a website on Google, which in turn has major benefits for any company. Some might also work closely with other members of a marketing team to develop new initiatives or better manage social media accounts to boost user engagement and traffic.

Characteristics of a Successful SEO Specialist?

Here are some of the key characteristics that successful SEO experts must have to thrive in the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization:

1. An understanding of the three levels of SEO

There are three tiers to search engine optimization and any good SEO Specialist should be keeping all three in mind in developing a marketing strategy:

  • Technical refers to the non-content elements of your website. This section includes strategies to improve the backend structure and foundation of a website. Part of this job will involve performing a thorough website analysis, which can uncover opportunities for technical SEO to improve website speed, indexing, mobile friendliness, crawlability and website architecture. Technical SEO will also crucially improve the readability of a website, which in turn improves user experience and shows search engines that the website is a good one.
  • On-page SEO relates to the content on your website and optimizing it to help search engines understand the topic of your content and see the website as a valuable resource. On-page SEO includes the use of such elements as keywords, meta tags, internal links and HTML title tags in ways that help increase search engine traffic and make sure it’s near the top of the Google results.
  • Off-page optimization is about creating a stronger relationship between your website and other websites through a variety of link building tactics. Off-page optimization also includes strategies to build the reputation of a website to show search engines that a website is a trusted source and therefore should be positioned near the top of search engine rankings.

SEO experts need to know how all tiers of search engine optimization contribute to how prominently your website is ranked amongst Google search results.

2. A savvy mind for marketing

The technical aspects of SEO are obviously a huge part of the job, and understanding the issues that could be causing Google to bury your website in the search results is crucial. But once you’ve overcome that, jobs in the SEO industry tend to have a lot in common with other digital marketing or even traditional marketing jobs: ultimately, you need to create and position content so that it outlines the benefit of the consumer while nudging them closer to a sale.

The tricky part is creating content that will be compelling both to the people at the other end of the search engine while also pleasing a Google algorithm. That comes with experience.

But the SEO expertise required to really connect as an SEO Specialist and digital marketing professional more broadly goes deeper than that. To really succeed in an SEO role, you must always consider content marketing at a deeper level, as well as consumer psychology and, the target audience to whom you’re marketing, the social media landscape, web design and development, viral marketing strategies, and overall business goals that help drive brand awareness and conversions.

3. An ability to think big-picture

As we’ve established, everything is affected by SEO. Company websites are so important, SEO must be connected to the rest of these considerations around a site.

It helps to have specific goals around SEO campaigns. As an SEO Specialist, it is your goal to focus on search engine rankings, driving traffic, increasing brand awareness, or conversions (turning someone who visits your website into a customer)?

Defining those goals and then being able to keep the larger goals of the organization in mind while executing an SEO strategy will set an SEO Specialist up for success.

4. Top-notch communication skills and a collaborative spirit

An SEO Specialist will work with a wide variety of departments in a business, including sales, customer service, web development, analytics, IT, marketing and more. And it’s not always easy to explain why making changes to a website will boost SEO and ultimately result in more traffic and conversions. That’s where your communication skills come into play.

SEO Specialists need to know how to explain in a persuasive and accessible way why certain changes are necessary and how they will benefit the website and the company’s bottom line. Further, part of your job is being able to do that with teams of many different backgrounds and perspectives on the website.

Not only that, but you could be involved in the specific content that is being developed for the site, so you have to make sure your writing skills are excellent for SEO jobs.

5. Curiosity and Adaptability

Google changes its algorithms for how it ranks search engine results constantly. The fact that search engine algorithms change so often without warning or explanation could either be frustrating or exciting for you, depending on your perspective — but a good SEO Specialist takes this challenge on with enthusiasm.

You’ll need to be agile to thrive in the SEO space. Many professionals would benefit from continuous learning, but an SEO Specialist needs it to survive. Further, if you’re responsible for the website of a single company, you can’t afford to be complacent — as an SEO expert, it is your job to constantly review its content to see if it aligns with ever-changing SEO best practices.

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