Advice From the Pros

What Does an SEO Specialist Do?

SEO Specialists are an integral part of strategic marketing

In the digital age, where most of our world is online, being visible online and getting “a ton of hits” is crucial for any business. This is where an SEO Specialist becomes a game-changer. If you’ve been grappling with why your online presence isn’t drawing the attention you anticipated, it’s time to consider the role of an SEO specialist.

These keyword kings and digital wizards are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, ensuring that your website doesn’t just exist but thrives in the competitive digital landscape. This article will delve into the job of SEO specialists – the modern-day alchemists who turn the lead of obscure web pages into the gold of Google’s first page.

Read on to discover the ins and outs of what an SEO specialist does, their job description, the skills SEO professionals need, and even how you can become one. This is your gateway to understanding one of the most critical roles in today’s digital marketing world.

What exactly does an SEO specialist do?

A search engine optimization (SEO) specialist improves website traffic rankings on major search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing.

The SEO specialist ensures on-page optimization to produce relevant search results and a positive user experience, growing site traffic, lead volume, and brand awareness.

“The primary purpose of an SEO specialist is the same as any marketer: Create more sales for the company,” says Brett Bastello, SEO manager at Inseev Interactive, a digital marketing agency in San Diego.

By employing smart on-page tactics and best practices—keyword tags, internal linking, clean URLs, etc.—an SEO specialist can increase the website’s visibility within the search engines, ultimately increasing traffic and developing more sales.

Other duties include implementing and maintaining title tags and meta tags, site maps, analyzing ongoing internal link health, URL redirects, and 404 errors; analyzing competitors’ web presence; monitoring Google Search Console and similar webmaster tools; identifying link-building opportunities for off-site optimization; and negotiating contracts with agencies and vendors.

There are many technical SEO skills in building organic traffic, but many in the SEO industry are primarily marketers and content experts. Some also work closely with team members in marketing and communications to develop new marketing initiatives, develop inbound traffic through blog posts, and update or manage social media accounts to increase user engagement. Therefore, communication, business understanding, and strong writing skills are some of the most important skills to develop in SEO training.

SEO knowledge is integral to search engine marketing (SEM), which encompasses paid traffic generation. Knowledge of SEM is essential to SEO specialists, but it’s also beneficial to anyone from marketers to freelance writers. SEM serves as a good barometer for the competitiveness of keywords, as the Cost per Click (CPC) tends to reflect the difficulty of ranking for a particular search term.

The evolution of SEO in the digital era

SEO has dramatically evolved over the years, adapting to the ever-changing algorithms of search engines and the shifting patterns of user behavior. In the early days of the Internet, SEO was primarily about stuffing keywords and amassing backlinks from other websites.

Today, it has transformed to the next level – a sophisticated discipline that requires a deep understanding of search engine algorithms, user experience, and quality content creation. The modern SEO specialist must stay abreast of the latest trends, from voice search optimization to incorporating AI and machine learning in search algorithms. This evolution signifies the transition of SEO from a mere tactical approach to a strategic, integral component of comprehensive digital marketing strategies.

The interplay between SEO and other digital marketing strategies

SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Its success is often intertwined with other digital marketing strategies, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. An effective SEO strategy involves a holistic approach that aligns with a company’s broader marketing goals.

For example, content marketing efforts bolster SEO by generating backlinks and enhancing keyword optimization. Similarly, a robust social media presence can amplify content reach, thereby indirectly benefiting SEO. Understanding this interplay is crucial for any SEO specialist looking to deliver comprehensive and effective digital marketing solutions.

What skills does an SEO specialist need?

Communication skills are everything. If a client hires you to grow his site, you have to be able to articulate the best course of action and explain why it’s best for him.

“They have to conceptualize what you’re doing so they can own it and feel confident that you’re making wise decisions for their company,” offers Chris Horton, head consultant at Dr. Rankwell, an SEO consultancy based in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Assessing risks—“knowing the difference between changes that can greatly damage a website’s progress and changes that can move the needle forward”—and forecasting trends and how they’ll affect future traffic are also important, Horton says.

For relevant skills on the technical front, you’ll need to know Google Analytics (or another web analytics tool), of course, and SEO tools such as SEMrush, Surfer, AHrefs, and Moz.

Who is an SEO Specialist’s supervisor?

It depends on the company and its structure. As the owner and head consultant, Horton reports directly to his clients. Others may report to an SEO or CMO, Marketing Director, or even a Director of Sales or CRO.

Are there any jobs similar to SEO specialists?

“Nope,” says Horton. “It is a very specific skill set that requires a lot of detailed focus.”

“This job is really soup to nuts,” adds Bastello. “Oftentimes when I’m trying to explain my job to others, I just say ‘digital PR.’”

If you are looking for a SEO job yourself, the position is many times referred to as a Digital Marketing Specialist or an Online Marketing Specialist.

How can someone break into the SEO field?

A degree in marketing is helpful, but because SEO is so specific, there aren’t a lot of college classes that’ll give you the skills you need, explains Horton. He recommends studying the abundance of material available online.

To get started, try Google’s or Bing’s online certification course, community resources, and industry keynotes at sites like QuickSprout and AHrefs.

Is an SEO Specialist paid well?

Glassdoor pegs the upper range for SEO Specialists at $91,000/year. However, we would anticipate a high degree of variability in this figure, as the job function of an SEO expert is tied directly to revenue. For example, many companies may offer bonuses on product sales goals, achievements, or certain quotes for traffic generation. So, while the range appears to be $53 – $91K, successful SEO Specialists can certainly make much more than that. Additionally, SEO consultants are often freelance, getting paid by the hour or upon performance, which may not accurately reflect the average salaries.

Career path and progression for SEO specialists

Embarking on a career as an SEO specialist can open up many opportunities. Beginners in the field often start as SEO assistants or analysts, learning the ropes of keyword research, on-page optimization, and analytics. As they gain experience, they can progress to more senior roles like SEO Manager or Head of SEO / Digital Marketing, where they strategize and oversee SEO campaigns.

The versatility of SEO expertise also allows for transitions into related fields such as content marketing, digital marketing strategy, or even freelance consulting. For those passionate about continuous learning and adapting, a career in SEO offers a dynamic and rewarding trajectory in the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape.

SEOs: The architects of digital identity

The world of SEO is dynamic and ever-evolving, essential in the digital era. An SEO specialist does more than improve website visibility; they are the architects of a brand’s digital identity, ensuring your business finds its voice and is heard loud and clear in the vast internet space. Whether you’re aspiring to become an SEO specialist or looking to hire one, remember that this role is pivotal in bridging the gap between a great product and its potential audience.

The path to mastering SEO may not be linear, but it’s undeniably rewarding. For businesses, investing in a skilled SEO specialist can mean the difference between being a hidden gem and a shining beacon in the digital marketplace. For those embarking on a career in SEO, remember that your work can shape the digital landscape, one click at a time.

As we continue to navigate the digital world, the importance of SEO specialists cannot be overstated. They are the unsung heroes of the internet, turning the gears behind each search query to connect people with the right content. The world of SEO is not just about keywords and links; it’s about understanding the pulse of the internet and using that knowledge to light up the path for businesses and users alike.

Find your next role on Mediabistro’s job board

FAQs: Exploring the Advanced Aspects of an SEO Specialist’s Role

Q: What emerging trends in SEO should specialists be aware of for future strategy development?

A: SEO specialists should stay informed about trends like voice search optimization, AI and machine learning integration in search algorithms, and the increasing importance of user experience, including accessibility and site speed, in search ranking strategies.

Q: How do SEO Specialists adapt their strategies to changes in search engine algorithms?

A: SEO Specialists adapt by continuously updating their knowledge, testing new optimization techniques, and closely monitoring the performance impacts of algorithmic changes in website traffic and rankings.

Q: Can SEO Specialists improve a website’s mobile optimization, and how does this impact search rankings?

A: Yes, SEO Specialists can enhance a website’s mobile optimization. This is crucial as search engines increasingly favor mobile-friendly websites in their rankings, making this a key factor in improving online visibility.

Q: In what ways do SEO Specialists collaborate with content creators and marketers?

A: SEO Specialists collaborate with content creators and marketers to ensure content is keyword-optimized, aligns with search trends, and supports broader digital marketing objectives, enhancing overall online presence and engagement.

Q: How important is local SEO for businesses, and how do SEO Specialists execute effective local SEO strategies?

A: Local SEO is vital for businesses targeting local customers. SEO Specialists execute local SEO by optimizing for location-based keywords, ensuring accurate business listings on directories, and focusing on local search engine features.

Q: What role does data analysis play in an SEO Specialist’s daily tasks?

A: Data analysis is central to an SEO Specialist’s role. They regularly analyze website traffic, keyword performance, and user engagement metrics to refine SEO strategies and make data-driven decisions for optimization.

Q: How does an SEO Specialist balance the need for technical optimization with the quality of content on a website?

A: An SEO Specialist balances technical optimization and content quality by ensuring that while the website is technically sound for search engine algorithms, the content remains engaging, informative, and valuable to the target audience.

Q: What are some online resources to learn about SEO?

A: Recommended resources about search engine optimization include Moz, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Journal. The links are included to some example content for those websites.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get our best career advice and job search tips.


Advice From the Pros, Be Inspired