Top 15 Skills an SEO Expert Should Have to Be Successful

SEO is an integral and perhaps an inevitable part of digital marketing campaigns these days. If you want your brand to rank high on SERPs, gain expansive online visibility and drive maximum website traffic, you should focus the most on SEO.

To get the desired results throughout, you need highly-experienced SEO experts. When it comes to hiring professionals for dedicated SEO services to conduct your campaigns, you need to look for certain skills among them. If they are successful professionals, you tend to always get optimum success in your SEO campaigns.

Wondering what are the skills that a successful SEO expert should have?

1. Critical Thinking

As websites are different from each other, various factors affect a website’s search engine ranking. Thus, an SEO expert must be able to identify potential issues in your website, perform competitor research, and find out what’s working for your competitors. They need to be a critical thinker who can compare your campaign with your competitors to find out – what happened, why it happened, what are the issues and how to fix those issues.

As there is as such no SEO formula to success, you should have an expert with critical thinking abilities. They should be capable of assessing a specific problem from multiple angles and solving that perfectly.

To evaluate their critical thinking skills, ask them regarding the biggest issues they have fixed and how. The candidate’s replies would give you an idea about their thought process and how they use logic to make big decisions.

2. Analytics

Analytics is the foundation of SEO as that’s how experts evaluate success. They need to understand the data to read and analyze the retrieved data. SEO professionals should take the right actions at the right time and apply analytics to your website to achieve consistent success.

As SEO is a report-oriented process, a professional who has analytical skills can’t monitor your strong and weak points. They save a lot of time logging into Google Analytics or Adobe and receiving data.

To implement potent SEO strategies, the experts need to understand business KPIs. You tend to miss out on important insights if they can’t retrieve and segment data.

3. SEO Tools Implementation

Since the SEO industry is quite complicated, it involves many variables. You need to manage a massive amount of data, including keywords, content, competitors, backlinks, broken links, and duplicated pages. Managing these variables manually gets quite tough and demands the use of the perfect tools and technologies.

In today’s age, you can use cutting-edge SEO tools to perform any relevant task. Even though there are hundreds of platforms available, we can chunk them into four main categories:

  • Research: Tools that help you analyze competitors, keywords, backlinks, and more to find opportunity gaps and develop a solid SEO strategy (e.g. keyword planners).
  • Optimization: Technology that helps you understand how you’re doing and tells you how to improve based on specific benchmarks (e.g. content optimization platforms and speed analytics tools).
  • Monitoring: Platforms that monitor your SEO performance (e.g. rank tracking technology).
  • All-in-one: Tools that combine the three functionalities into a single place.

By learning how to use these SEO platforms, you’ll be better equipped to provide better results to your clients while saving yourself from tons of headaches.

4. Research

Your SEO campaign can’t deliver the desired results without extensive research. SEO professionals should be capable of performing thorough research to run the campaign successfully. They should understand the significance of highly valuable and relevant terms.

If you use keywords, which have nothing to do with your products/services, it turns out to be a black hat SEO and degrades your search engine ranking. The SEO expert needs to be proficient in tools, like Google Keyword Planner. They should be able to do thorough research on the current competition but not copy anything. If a strategy works for your business, it may not work for your company, even if you both belong to the same industry.

Lastly, SEO experts should be able to consistently research Google and stay on top of the ever-evolving search algorithm. They should stay updated with Google activities and read all the latest articles, otherwise, you will lag behind your competitors.

5. Content Writing and Speaking

Writing skills are crucial for professionals to conduct an SEO campaign. As SEO is a content-driven process, you need someone proficient in writing. It’s quite tough to tactfully add keywords to your content without making it seem forced.

Both Google and readers don’t like to read a blog or web page stuffed with keywords. Poor writing degrades your SEO performance.  You need to understand which type of content gets maximum clicks in your industry so you can appeal to both Google and the target audience. There is no benefit in driving people to your website and doesn’t intrigue customers to make purchases.

Your SEO specialist should be able to write enriching blogs and build links. The blogs must not be regarding your specific services, but a general informative piece, which displays your skills and adds a link back to your website. They should be capable of writing blogs, web pages, titles, and metadata.

If an SEO professional can perform keyword research and write content including them, your website ranks high on the SERPs. They should be able to convince clients and internal teams to do the right things from writing case studies to even speaking at meets. SEO demands the ability to transform complicated thoughts and ideas into simple concepts that non-SEO people should be able to understand and make decisions accordingly.

6. Decision Making

You need to make crucial decisions on the go throughout the SEO process. As SEO is a consistently evolving concept, you can’t always wait to discuss the next step in a meeting. Google is constantly evolving the way it checks websites and thus, you should make quick changes, otherwise, you lose the achievements that you have gained until now. So, you should have experts who can make big decisions immediately.

An SEO expert should be capable of making the right decision at any point without asking many people about their opinions. They acquire that skill by having comprehensive knowledge of Google processes and staying updated with changes.

7. Content Marketing

Content writing is not enough, marketing is equally important. After drafting the content, you should know how to optimize content to improve SEO. No one wants to link to content that adds no value. When you help your clients to draft better and more relevant content, it simplifies the link-building process and boosts their SEO performance.

When you optimize and upgrade your client’s outdated content, you increase their chance to rank for a specific keyword. As content is a vital element in modern SEO, you need to have an SEO expert with good content writing skills.

8. Coding and Programming

SEO experts don’t need to be web designers but should be able to understand the web design basics and meta tags. They should be able to perfectly merge SEO strategies and web designing. When it comes to designing a search-engine-optimized website, you should focus less on art and more on coding. They should be able to make recommendations regarding page speed, loading, tagging, and HTML tags.

SEO professionals don’t need to be capable of writing code, but they should understand the coding implementation of the recommended changes, objections, and mistakes. Besides copying a Google page speed report and sending it to developers, they should understand the changes, their meaning, and the efforts required to bring them live.

Technical knowledge makes things easier, be it writing a Python script to automatically add a scraper to collect data or hreflang to XML sitemap. With the evolution of search engines, an SEO pro can do many things with current data sets and python NLP libraries.

9. Data Management

SEO properly needs to know how to use MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other tools. Besides acquiring the data, you need to manage it smartly to get the required insights. You should never hire an SEO expert who is not capable of doing even the simplest activity in Excel. Every SEO professional’s toolset needs to have IF statements, Concatenates, Vlookups, and other 473 functions to deliver you the desired output.

You may need to create numerous Excel templates, which help to solve issues every day. Excel is always proving to be a  valuable spreadsheet, be it converting a Screaming Frog crawl into an XML sitemap, assessing algorithm changes and their effects on GA/Adobe data, customizing CTR by position curves, and shortlisting keywords from Search Console into brand/non-brand or depending on product groups. Nowadays, using Excel is not enough to improve SEO performance.  

A highly-experienced SEO pro can easily create dashboards in a data studio, use different APIs to acquire more data (Adwords, Lighthouse, Google NLP, Search Console, and others), and understand enough about databases to do interesting things.

With a basic knowledge of statistical concepts, SEO experts can easily understand what and how to measure things. If you look at clicks every month amidst the Covid19 pandemic than looking only at CTRs during that same period, you get to learn a different story when demand fluctuates because of external forces.

10. Prioritization

To run your SEO campaign successfully, you need to learn how to prioritize things. So, your SEO experts need to have a clear understanding of the required steps to be taken. They should prioritize all these steps depending on their difficulty level and significance.

Generation backlinks are one of the most tricky and time-consuming activities in the SEO process. It is one of the key factors to determine the search engine rank. A backlink is a link to your website from a trustworthy website, which is relevant to your industry. Consider backlink as a recommendation. Whenever a website links to your page, it acknowledges that you have succeeded in your field.

Due to the significance and difficulty level related to link building, you should invest time and effort in this process so you get lucrative results. Basic yet necessary activity, like content editing, takes much less time, and thus, you shouldn’t prioritize it that much.

11. Project Management

SEO is not only about boosting your website loading speed, finding the relevant keyword phrase, and building links, but also planning and managing projects. You should plan your activities, manage your workforce and meet targets. Otherwise, fulfilling targets gets extremely tough for you and your team.

You may handle everything on your own, but need to implement a systematic approach to plan your activities and track progress. In such a situation, you need proper project management. It is the discipline to manage and coordinate all resources (including SEO skills, people, capital, and information) to meet specific goals in the most effective ways.

To satisfy your clients through your services, SEO experts should strengthen the key management skills below:

  • Team Management: Assign tasks and coordinate activities effectively as your company grows
  • Communication: centralize client and team communications in a single point
  • Time management: use time smartly to optimize the approach accordingly
  • Technology: use the most appropriate project management software to manage work and projects
  • Risk management: identify and mitigate possible risks involved in SEO projects

12. Flexibility

A good SEO professional needs to be flexible no matter what happens in your company. Both you and your SEO expert need to understand that “one size doesn’t fit all”. Thus, the strategy which worked well for other businesses may not work perfectly for your brand.

They should be flexible enough to shift strategies as and when required. Moreover, they should also ensure that these strategy changes won’t slow down your SEO process.

13. Drive and Adaptability

SEO is a never-ending process and stays with you in your mind even after you leave your office. To be a successful SEO expert, a person needs to have the internal drive, which motivates them to keep learning. There is always something to learn in SEO, be it a new search engine parameter(like Schema), a new framework (such as Angular, React, and WordPress), a new programming language, or machine learning.

Make sure you choose an SEO professional who can build their tools to fix issues. For instance, a candidate who can use webmaster tools API to automate data retrieving and report formatting can be a good addition to your company.

SEO also demands adaptability with the consistent changes in the industry. Sometimes, you may need to admit to clients that PageRank sculpting, directory submissions, link disavows, and other recommended elements are not that beneficial options

As the SEO world is constantly evolving, even the most experienced professionals can stay far behind in the rat race if they don’t stay updated with Google’s changing algorithms. Humility is a skill in the rapidly evolving SEO world.

An SEO professional with decades of experience can never know everything. If you think so, you have over-expectations from them. They should identify their mistakes, accept and implement new ideas, proceed fast and effectively without feeling sad about the previous failures.

You should welcome humble candidates and admit their mistakes. Your expert should put your client needs first over other SEO profitable opportunities.

14. Socialization

An SEO expert with excellent people skills can improve your client communication. Sometimes, your clients may get very upset if they don’t understand the SEO process’s functioning. Your SEO expert should know how to effectively communicate and fulfill client expectations in the most difficult times.

SEO is a time-consuming process. Most of the SEO campaigns can even go on for more than six months without a little ROI. If you fail to communicate about the slow progress to your clients, they may get frustrated after one or two months.

Besides communicating your point clearly to clients, you should do that in a way that reassures them to get the desired results on time. During your career, you should try to attend conference events where you can meet and interact with other business owners and SEO experts.

However, you should not come across as a creep and know how to socialize with them smartly. Many smart professionals have destroyed their careers because of their creepy behavior in official events and on social media platforms.

Conferences are a great event to discuss SEO theories and strategies. You can have the best of conversations in such a private and relaxed setup. The tweeting and live blogging lead to the professionals sharing tips and tricks that they would not have shared publicly.

Most of the people attending an SEO event tend not to be interested in discussing politics or listening to a specific issue, which only works on your website. But, they will like you to listen to your latest and innovative strategies that they haven’t heard before.

So, you should always have SEO experts in your team who love to socialize with people and learn from them. Socialization helps you to meet new people who can help you to improve your SEO and grow your business.

15. Humour

Wondering why an SEO expert needs to have a good sense of humor to be successful? Well, your SEO professional doesn’t need to be humorous but having that skill helps.

You tend to experience a lot of ups and downs when performing your SEO campaign. Whenever you don’t get the desired results, your SEO expert should take it lightly and keep on working seriously to get the desired results later.

You can wait until tomorrow regardless of how tough and stressful your job gets. A good sense of humor can always help SEO professionals to enjoy their work and get more productive.

In a Nutshell

Before adding an SEO expert to your workforce, you should know what you want them to do perfectly. You may require critical thinkers who know how to prioritize and implement strategies effectively. You may also need an expert with excellent researching skills who won’t mind spending long hours preparing a list of valuable relevant keywords.

Your SEO professional should be able to analyze your website, make beneficial decisions on the go, and is flexible enough to shift from old to new and better strategies as and when required. Many businesses also look for a talented content writer with proficiency in web coding, who understands what functions should occur on the back end for the success of their SEO campaigns.

Furthermore, your SEO expert needs to be able to clearly explain the process to you anytime, manage client expectations, stay humble and implement the most effective strategies. Well, it gets quite tough to find a person who has all these qualities discussed above. So, you can always hire a leading SEO agency rather than hiring an in-house employee to do your SEO activities as and when required.

An SEO agency puts its team of experts at your disposal. They work together to fulfill your expectations, taking your website to the tip of SERPs and retaining the high search engine ranking. SEO can and always work if you implement the right strategies.

You should never feel discouraged with a few dissatisfaction experiences and slow progress. Just make sure you look for the discussed qualities that a successful SEO expert should have before hiring them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I become an SEO expert?

SEO is a popular career choice but there is a definite skill set that every SEO professional must possess. Some of these include critical thinking, data management, analytical mindset, a bit of coding among others.

Is SEO highly technical in nature?

Yes, some parts of SEO are technical. To be successful in today’s competitive SEO landscape, you need to master a wide range of skills and knowledge. You should have an understanding not just web analytics but also technical optimization such as keyword research or link building.

Do I need coding skills to become an SEO professional?

Sure, you can do a great job of SEO without touching code. But it is always useful to have some programming skills or even just an understanding on how things work behind the scenes is a great skill to possess!

What are different types of SEO?

Primarily, there are seven different types of SEO. These include, on-page, off-page, technical, grey hat, white hat, black hat and negative SEO.

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