SEO is a fantastic career path with a lot of opportunities. Despite its widespread use and popularity, SEO is still not taught as part of most marketing curriculum. SEO professionals actually come from a wide variety of backgrounds. In fact, one study found that only 27% of college graduates end up working in a field related to their major. So even if you didn’t major in digital marketing in college, don’t worry! There are plenty of qualities marketing agencies are looking for in new SEOs other than their education. If you want to build a career in SEO, you will need these eight qualities.
8 Qualities of Every Great SEO Professional
These are the eight qualities that every great SEO professional needs to have to succeed. (And not one is a marketing degree! Or, years of experience.) If you have these characteristics, you might be ready for a job at an SEO company.
1. Critical Thinking Skills
All SEO professionals need to have an analytical mind and the ability to think critically. A great SEO pro will look at data and understand the following three things: what happened, why it happened, and what to do about it. A good way to measure this is by asking a candidate about the biggest problem they have solved and how they did it.
2. Excellent Writing and Speaking Skills
Sure, it’s great when an SEO can write content and find their own keywords. Those are great skills for an SEO professional to have. But it’s also critical that any SEO pro can convince intern teams and clients to do the right thing. This means speaking at meetings, writing case studies, and more. This means a great SEO will also have great writing and speaking skills, and be confident at both. It helps if you are an excellent communicator who can break down complicated marketing concepts and make them simple for clients to understand. In some ways, working in SEO is like working in customer service.
If you want to be hired as an SEO expert, you will need to not only know SEO tactics and link building skills, but also have the social skills of a traditional marketing expert.
3. Social Skills
One underestimated characteristic of many SEO professionals is social skills. Those in the search engine optimization business love to help each other out and typically have excellent communication skills, both online and offline. This means you need to have some level of social skills, and we don’t mean just on Facebook. There are plenty of in-person and online conferences for SEO pros, so you will need the ability to network if you want to fit in with your company.
4. Data Skills
In order to be a great SEO professional, you will need to know how to find and manage your data. This means you will need to know skills in Microsoft Excel like VLOOKUP, INDEX + MATCH, and more. There are tons of Excel functions that everyone should know. And in addition to being able to pull data, you will also need to know how to use it to find the insights you need. In addition to Excel, you will also need to know how to utilize other data tools like the Google Search Console, Google NLP, Lighthouse, AdWords, and more.
5. Analytics Skills
While technical skills are a want or more than a need in the SEO industry (more on that later), every SEO pro needs to be able to analyze their own data. In order to create an SEO strategy, you need to be able to analyze data. This means you will need to take the time to learn Google Analytics and other analytics tools that SEOs use on a regular basis. You will also want to know how to measure marketing KPIs so you can track how your search engine traffic is doing, and explain your results to your clients.
6. Drive, Motivation, and Ability to Adapt
One of the best and worst things about working in SEO is that it doesn’t always mean a 9-to-5 workday. And you will never stop learning new tricks. Google and other search engines are constantly adapting, so you will need to, too. You might have to learn a new programming language, a new search engine standard, or learn how to understand machine learning in order to keep up. If you want to stand out as an SEO, you might even be able to create your own tool to solve your own problems, or have your own side project website.
7. Technical and Programming Skills
Every SEO pro should have some level of technical or programming skills, or at the very least, the desire to learn. Though of course there are probably tons of SEO professionals out there with zero programming skills, they would be even better SEOs if they also knew how to code. (At least a little.)
That’s because part of an SEO expert’s job is making recommendations regarding page speed, loading time, schema markup, meta tags, and other factors that apply to the technical SEO side. These are easier to recommend if you actually know what you’re talking about! Plus, if a client calls you about technical issues, you want to know what to tell them. These are easier to recommend if you actually know what you’re talking about! You will also most likely have to work closely with web developers, and it helps if you can speak their language. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be able to write code, but it helps if you have some basic knowledge.
8. A Sense of Humor!
There are a lot of ups and downs in the SEO world. One moment, a trick you tried might work, but it might not the next due to changing algorithms. SEO can be a stressful job. But it’s important to remember in those times that our work isn’t life-saving: it’s just marketing. Some things you’ll try will work, and others won’t. The key is to be able to admit it when you make a mistake and get up and try again the next day. A sense of humor is key for every great SEO professional.
Join SEO Design Chicago
If you think you have what it takes to be a successful SEO professional, SEO Design Chicago is always looking for new SEO experts to join our team. Learn more about our internship program and job openings, and contact us if you think you’re the right fit!
- What skills do I need to be an SEO professional?
- Do I need a marketing degree to work in SEO?
- Do I need to be a programmer to work in SEO?
- Is SEO a good career?
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