Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March of 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Whether you’re going to hire someone to run your SEO campaign or you’re going to take a stab at it on your own, there are certain skills that help the optimization process happen smoothly. The skill set for SEO experts is typically quite broad, but there’s normally a baseline of traits that contribute to their digital prowess. In considering how you or your SEO service provider handles your optimization, keep an eye out for these ten skills.
The Must-Have Skills in SEO
- Problem Solving – Every website is different and thus every SEO plan is different to get the desired results. When performing SEO, you perform a great deal of problem solving (think: finding potential issues with sites, competitive research, finding ways to strategically out-optimize competitors). Having a knack for identifying and solving problems goes a long way when it comes to SEO.
- Prioritization – There are many different levels to SEO, and an expert should know what website changes need to be done and in what order they need to be done in. The order in which you execute your SEO plan can be largely dependent on what you choose to prioritize, so you want to make sure the most important, impactful tasks are getting done first.
- Research –Comfort and confidence are crucial when it comes to researching skills. Whether it’s researching keywords, analytics, or competition, any search engine changes. If you can’t research correctly and successfully, then you can put an effective plan together to get top rankings.
- Analysis – Analytics are at the core of SEO, because every action taken can be measured. That’s why every expert should know how to pull analytics, read and interpret data, and know how to use it for future planning. SEO is extremely report-based, so an expert without the ability to understand different data software will be struggle.
- Decision Making – You are constantly making decisions as an SEO professional, because things are constantly changing. SEO is never consistent, and when you first start creating an SEO strategy for a company you are going to have to make assumptions quickly. You won’t always have the statistics needed to make a perfect, confident decision, but you should have the know-how to make the best decision for a given situation.
- Flexibility – An SEO approach has to change with each new website because each website is different. You must be able to switch strategies at any given moment without slowing down, while also having flexibility to adjust website plans as needed, because SEO does not have a one size fits all solution.
- Content – It’s important that an SEO expert understands what makes great content. Even though most SEO experts hire writers, they have to have an idea of the type of content that will earn clicks in order to delegate work to the writers.
- Coding – An SEO expert will need to at least be familiar with Meta tags and the basics of web design. Web designers don’t always worry about SEO, because SEO isn’t always “attractive,” so it is the job of the SEO expert to help figure out a way to mesh the two aspects of the site.
- People – Having people skills will help an SEO expert in the communication department. Many clients and company owners get upset with SEO experts because they don’t understand how it works and feeling comfortable and confident explaining and working with such people is an invaluable skill. You don’t just want to communicate your point effectively, you want to do it in a way that can really reassure people that SEO results will happen in time.
- Desire to Learn – SEO and the digital landscape in general is constantly changing, which is why it’s so important for those in this field to be naturally curious with a desire to learn. Believe it or not, this is a skill. Some people simply prefer to learn what they can to do their job, then go home and do other things. For an SEO expert, work cannot be something to just “get through.” You will want to have that rare skill of figuring out ways to learn more.