Digital marketing is expected to have an 11% compound annual growth through 2021. Among the many career paths within the digital marketing industry, Search Engine Optimization is among one of the most important. SEO is the backbone of digital marketing and requires more skill and knowledge than one may think. Beyond empathy and collaboration, SEO is a strategy that takes time and research.
What are some of the key characteristics someone needs for a career in SEO? We asked 11 professionals to share the skills they look for when hiring for digital marketing strategists and SEO careers.
What SEO Is (And Isn’t)
An understanding of what SEO is (and isn’t), first and foremost. Google Algorithms continue to change and it’s important that, if you’re leading the charge for your company’s SEO practices, that you are doing things that will push your progress forward, not back (think keyword stuffing, black-hat strategies, etc).
Hiba Amin, Soapbox
Strength In Numbers
SEO experts are great at math. They understand that search engines are based on algorithms. They understand that Google was named after googol (which is the number 1 followed by one hundred zeroes: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)
The ultimate litmus test for an interest in SEO is this:
If that formula makes you cringe and brings you back to some hateful days spent in Calculus courses, then you probably won’t have the curiosities to carry you through a career in the SEO field. But, if that formula inspires curiosity and makes you want to nerd out, then you have a key element necessary for a career in SEO: a strength in numbers.
Brett Farmiloe, Pursue the Passion
Networking should be a required skill in the world of SEO. It is so important to be meeting new people in the industry and sharing insight on what is working and not working when trying to optimize your site. Not to mention that networking could directly help your SEO by having people you meet link to your site from their own site, and vice versa. Everyone wins when you properly network!
Jon Schneider, Recruiterie
MailNinja is an email agency in the UK, and we’ve seen a steady organic growth throughout 2020, even in these troubling times. We have many partners in the digital marketing space who tell us the same thing. Post-Coronavirus I feel this growth prediction is spot on, as companies will be looking at cost effective ways to drive results.
In SEO, like email, it’s important to keep on top of the latest trends, but it’s clear that content is increasingly becoming important. Fresh, well written, original, longer form content seems to resonate well with both Google and with audiences, as it shows you are the recognised experts in your field. If I had one tip for folks getting into SEO (or email marketing for that matter), I would suggest they learn how to become a better copywriter. This skill will be useful in whatever form of digital marketing you go into.
Doug Dennison, MailNinja
Interpersonal communication is more important than ever – regardless of whether you work for an agency, in house, or freelance, SEOs are commonplace now and you will limit yourself if you can’t talk confidently about what you do. This is especially important if your role will be working with outside companies (for collabs, link building, guest posting, etc) as it will really pay off if you’re personable and can comfortably have a conversation.
Quincy Smith, ESL Authority
Understanding Human Behavior and Human Psychology
Marketing is all about making an impression in someone’s mind. People often don’t choose the better product but the one that appeals to their beliefs, preferences, and lifestyle. Thus, you have to know how to frame the message so your offer is going to be seen in the right way. You can sell the same products in a million different ways. And your job is to know which one is the best one.
Jakub Kliszczak, Channels
The Ability to See Around Corners
In the digital marketing space, analyzing what the data says is often the first port of call in assessing what to prioritize within your strategy. However, the information is rarely perfect, and a lot of the time, you need to figure out how it’s possible to achieve an outcome with a missing piece of the puzzle. The ability to see around corners using pieces of data while making a judgment call is critical for success.
Ahmed Mir, Nature and Bloom
Writing is a crucial skill that has to be present for SEO professionals. Oftentimes the way that clients increase their SEO and brand presence is through article writing and linking within those articles. It is vital that SEO professionals are proficient in written communication because it will often be used as a means of increasing clients domain rating.
Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
Flexibility and Adaptability
To work in SEO, you must be able to be flexible and adaptable. These skills are required because SEO is constantly changing, what might be true one day on the job could be totally different the next. Embracing the ongoing evolution of SEO and staying positive through the changes is critical in this industry.
Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case
Reading Between the Lines
Perhaps the most important SEO skill is the ability to think creatively and read between the lines. Because a lot of SEO is technical, it also requires creating content that people want to consume. If you can’t do that, none of the technical stuff matters. I’ve hired various SEO experts in the past, and I look for this quality above everything else.
James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC
Curiosity to Innovate
Curiosity needs to be at the top of anyone’s list who works in digital marketing. From social media to SEO, the field is constantly evolving and it takes someone with a desire to learn and probe to keep up with monthly changes. Without a curiosity to innovate and keep up with platform updates, you’ll be quickly passed up by others who do have that.
Raquel Thoesen, Markitors