Top 8 Skills Every Great SEO Professional Needs to Succeed

Despite being round for a few many years now, SEO nonetheless isn’t taught in lots of faculties or talked about in most advertising curriculums (a minimum of in accordance to all of the interns I interview.)

SEO professionals come from quite a lot of backgrounds. Some are programmers, some are entrepreneurs, some conventional entrepreneurs, some journalists, some even used to be rappers.

Throughout the course of my job, I spend lots of time interviewing candidates for open SEO roles.

There’s no constant checklist of SEO abilities that everyone wants, however there are some things I search for in each candidate – relying on the expertise stage and place.

To put it merely, I’m in search of any person who has some kind of background I can construct on (improvement, advertising, content material, and so forth) and a thought course of that’s data-driven and results-based.

If you learn the interviewing article above, that ought to be readily obvious.

Anyway, let’s discuss concerning the high abilities for achievement in SEO.


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This isn’t an exhaustive checklist, and I’m certain there’s loads of folks on the market who’ve succeeded with out these abilities – however what enjoyable would an inventory be with out some controversy?

Here are the highest eight abilities I search for when hiring an SEO.

1. Critical Thinking

This is a tough one to measure, nevertheless it’s essential for SEO execs to give you the chance to have an analytical thoughts that’s able to differentiating correlation and causation.

I need an SEO who can take a look at knowledge and perceive the “3 What’s”:

  • What occurred.
  • Why (*8*) occurred.
  • What we must always do about it.

There are some ways to measure this, however I cease wanting asking them to determine the shortest means to cross a bridge with a shared flashlight or the basic lightbulb downside.

Instead, I’ll give hypothetical interview questions to assist me perceive their thought course of.


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Some pattern interview questions embrace: “Assume you and the client disagree on what we should do. Walk me through that meeting with them and your approach to it?”

Another one is “Account just emailed a client’s new website. They want to know if we can help their SEO. What are the first couple of things you look at?”

A great way of measuring that is to ask them concerning the greatest downside they solved, how they recognized it, how they solved it, and the way they measured success.

There aren’t any proper or unsuitable solutions to these questions, however they assist me get an concept of a candidate’s thought course of and the way they assault issues.

I need to see that they perceive the issue from a number of angles and use knowledge and logic of their decision-making.

2. Speaking & Writing Ability

An SEO skilled who can do their very own key phrase analysis and creator content material that features it’s extremely extra precious.

We aren’t simply speaking about writing articles like this one or talking at conferences although.

I need an SEO who can persuade inside groups and shoppers to do the appropriate factor and that comes from talking at conferences and writing decks, case research, POVs, and so forth. All of these embody talking and writing abilities.

SEO requires not solely confidence however the potential to distill advanced concepts and ideas down into ideas that non-SEO folks can perceive and make selections with.

3. Technical & Programming Skills

I’m certain there’s going to be some debate about this. I’m equally certain there’s tons of SEO execs doing a kickass job proper now with no programming information in any way.

The reality is, they may very well be doing much more of a kickass job with some programming information.

As SEO professionals we make suggestions about web page pace, rendering, lazy loading, server aspect redirects, microdata tagging, and primary HTML tags.

All of those conversations go simpler if you happen to can converse with the developer and supply insights relatively than simply calls for.

Understanding the place the developer is coming from after they push again is amazingly useful at reconciling variations.


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Estimating the extent of effort vs. the SEO impression can be key.

I’m not saying SEO execs want to give you the chance to write code, however they want to perceive the coding implications of the modifications they ask for and what that entails for the builders, what the widespread errors and objections are, and even how to overcome them.

It’s not sufficient for an SEO skilled to copy a web page pace report from Google and ship it to the builders. You want to perceive what these modifications are, what which means for the positioning, and what effort is concerned in making them.

Technical information additionally offers the flexibility to make your life simpler – whether or not it’s writing a fast Python script to automagically add hreflang to your XML sitemap or a fast scraper to collect knowledge.

As search engines like google and yahoo evolve to use extra machine studying and NLP, there are a ton of cool issues an SEO professional can do with our present knowledge units and a few python NLP libraries.


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Today’s SEO programmers are doing tremendous wonderful issues with knowledge and code which are serving to them acquire a bonus on insights and profitable work.

One of probably the most insightful conversations I ever had was when over drinks a good friend and I began speaking about how we’d code a search engine utilizing solely what SEO execs thought are rating components.

We went fairly deep into how to crawl for these alerts and the way to index them and the way to use them in rating – and it was clear which of them couldn’t probably work and what different ones couldn’t realistically be accomplished at question stage or website stage.

Our programming information and prior coursework in info retrieval helped us perceive what was potential and what wasn’t potential. This is a useful benefit.

I nonetheless see a number of SEO professionals each day making claims about how they assume algorithms work that any laptop scientist would know simply aren’t potential to code.


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4. Social & Drinking Skills

Over the course of my profession, I’ve made so many nice relationships and discovered a lot simply by hanging out on the convention bars.

To try this, nevertheless, you may’t be a creep and you’ve got to give you the chance to get together with others.

If you spend your bar time arguing about politics you’re going to miss out. You’ll additionally want to give you the chance to maintain your liquor or respectfully decline – as many nice SEO professionals love to drink.

Reminder: the convention bar is rarely the place to search for a brand new girlfriend/boyfriend nevertheless it’s a nice place to discuss SEO concept and ways.

Nobody needs to hear about that one particular downside that solely applies to your website and takes 10 minutes to clarify (except you’re shopping for the drinks). However, they’ll love to hear about new and thrilling stuff you’ve seen or accomplished.

5. Analytics Skills

SEO professionals can save lots of time if they’ll log into Adobe or Google Analytics and pull their very own knowledge.


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A primary understanding of enterprise KPIs can be required for correct SEO technique.

I supply my groups the chance to get Adobe and Google Analytics licensed as a result of even when they aren’t pulling the info, the understanding helps – but in addition, more often than not we find yourself pulling the info.

If you aren’t in a position to pull and section knowledge, you’re doubtless lacking out on some insights.

6. Data Skills

When I first wrote this publish I referred to as this part “excel skills” and that’s nonetheless true immediately, nevertheless it goes past that.

Pulling the info isn’t sufficient. Sometimes you want to manipulate it a bit to get the insights you want.

I’ve met lots of SEO execs who can’t do the best duties in Excel.

Vlookups, Concatenates, and IF statements (amongst actually 473 different capabilities – severely there are 476 built-in Excel capabilities) ought to be a part of each SEO professional’s toolset.

Over the course of my profession, I’ve created numerous Excel templates that assist resolve on a regular basis issues.


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Whether it’s turning a Screaming Frog crawl into an XML sitemap, measuring algorithm modifications and their impression with GA/Adobe knowledge, creating customized CTR by place curves, or shortly bucketing key phrases from search console into model/non-brand or by product teams, Excel is invaluable.

These days, it’s not sufficient to simply use excel although.

A really full SEO skilled shall be in a position to create dashboards in knowledge studio, use varied APIs to pull extra knowledge (search console, google NLP, lighthouse, adwords, varied instruments, and so forth), and perceive sufficient about databases to do cool stuff with that knowledge.

It’s price mentioning R and Python and Tableau right here as nicely.

Also on this class is math! I nonetheless see so many unhealthy correlation research and statistical analyses that don’t actually say what the creator thinks they are saying.

A primary understanding of statistical ideas can go a great distance in serving to an SEO decide not simply what to measure, however “how” to measure it.


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An excellent instance: Looking at clicks month over month throughout a pandemic would possibly inform a distinct story than taking a look at CTRs over that very same interval whereas demand is fluctuating due to exterior forces.

7. Drive, Motivation & Adaptability

The factor I each love and hate about working in SEO is that it doesn’t simply flip off at 5 p.m.

Marketing isn’t a type of jobs that you simply depart on the workplace each night time. It stays with you in your mind.

To really be nice at SEO lately you may have to have the interior drive that forces you to continue learning.

Whether it’s a brand new programming language, a brand new framework (WordPress, React, Angular, and so forth), a brand new search engine normal like Schema, or understanding machine studying, there’s at all times one thing to study.

The candidates who bounce to the highest of my hiring checklist are those who’ve their very own aspect mission web sites or who create their very own instruments to resolve their issues.


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For instance: utilizing the webmaster instruments API to automate knowledge pulling and formatting for reviews. I simply employed that particular person.

SEO additionally requires adaptability and thick pores and skin. Our business modifications, and generally we have now to admit to shoppers that listing submissions, PageRank sculpting, hyperlink disavows, or different issues we as soon as really helpful aren’t actually the very best concept anymore.

I need the candidate who’s prepared to put verify their ego on the door and admit after they’re unsuitable. We’ve all been unsuitable, and it’s okay. It doesn’t make us much less of a guru or knowledgeable. That’s simply how science works.

It’s about placing the consumer’s objectives first – generally forward of SEO income alternatives. (I instructed you I used to be going to begin an argument within the tweets main up to this text.)

8. A Sense of Humor

We cope with lots of ups and downs within the SEO business – and sometimes at a quick tempo.


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It’s essential to generally take a step again and keep in mind that we aren’t saving lives, we’re simply doing advertising.

As nerve-racking because the job could be, most of it could possibly wait til tomorrow. A humorousness goes a great distance towards making our jobs much more fulfilling and productive.

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