One of jobs that are high in demand now is that of a search engine optimization specialist.
An SEO specialist is a person working as a freelancer or in a company and has the role of increasing the rankings of a website in search engines.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about SEO specialists including their job responsibilities, skills needed, salary and how to get into search engine optimization and start an SEO career.
- What is an SEO Specialist?
- What is the Job description of a Search Engine Optimization Specialist?
- How much do SEO specialists make?
- What skills are needed to become an SEO Specialist?
- SEO Specialist Courses
What is an SEO Specialist?
An SEO specialist is responsible for optimizing a website for search engines with the ultimate goal of improving its rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process to follow to increase the visibility of a website in search engines and get more organic traffic and an SEO specialist is someone who has the necessary skills to make this happen.
An SEO specialist is sometimes known as SEO expert, SEO professional, SEO Marketing specialist or SEO consultant.
You don’t need to go through a formal education and get a university degree to become an SEO specialist, as we’ll see below, there are many online courses and resources you can follow to build the necessary skills.
What is the Job description of a Search Engine Optimization Specialist?
An SEO specialist usually works in an SEO Agency, a Digital Marketing Agency or as a freelancer and a typical job description includes the following activities:
- Knowing the different types of SEO and how to work with each one
- Optimizing the technical infrastructure of a website for SEO
- Improving the site structure and usability of a website
- Analyzing a website’s SEO performance and doing SEO Audits
- Performing keyword research and finding which keywords to target
- Optimizing webpages for on-page SEO.
- Improving the internal link structure of a website
- Optimizing content for both search engines and users (SEO copywriting)
- Running link building campaigns to improve a website’s link profile
- Monitoring the rankings of a website in the various search engines
- Be informed of changes in the SEO ranking factors and new developments in SEO
- Knowing how to create, analyze and interpret SEO reports using Google Analytics and other reporting tools
- Having a good knowledge of various SEO tools like Google Search console, Bing webmaster tools, SEMRUSH, Ahrefs etc.
- Knowing how to work with popular CMS like WordPress
- Having good knowledge of HTML
- Working closely with the other members of the digital marketing team (social media professionals, PPC experts, web designers).
- Designing and implementing an action plan for SEO.
How much do SEO specialists make?
SEO specialists can make from $50K per year to $150K per year. The salary of an SEO marketing specialist depends on three factors:
- Type of job (freelancer or employee)
SEO is not a skill you can master overnight or by following a course. It takes a lot of time, effort and hard work to get a clear understanding on how search works and be able to apply the different SEO techniques to actually increase the rankings and traffic of a website.
This is reflected in the salary of SEO professionals. Experienced SEO’s earn more than beginners (less than 2 years’ experience).
To be more precise:
The average hourly rate of an SEO specialist with less than two years’ experience is $79 per hour (in the US).
The average hourly rate of an experienced SEO, with more than 10 years’ experience is $140 per hour (in the US).
How much you can actually make depends on how many chargeable hours you have available per month.
This has to do with how big your client base is and what kind of rates your clients are willing to pay for SEO services.
Sometimes, depending on the client and current work load, you may have to negotiate the rates to secure a new client.
SEO’s located in Latin America or India earn less than US or European consultants. The average rate in India is $60 per hour with the most common rate between $10 – $25 per hour.
Type of Job (Freelancer or Employee)
The above rates are the typical rates charged by SEO freelancers. When working in a company the average salary of an SEO specialist in the United States is between $51K – $64K per year.
What skills are needed to become an SEO Specialist?
To become an SEO specialist, you need to have a wide range of skills in your resume. These vary from speaking and writing skills to development and reporting.
To be more precise the most common SEO Specialist skills are:
English Reading / Writing skills
Even if you’re doing SEO for non-English websites, you need to have good English reading and writing skills. This will help you optimize content in English and also follow up any changes made to SEO algorithms and industry.
Mastering SEO in an ongoing-process and the majority of courses and learning guides are in English.
Technical SEO Skills
Technical SEO is usually the first process undertaken when starting an SEO project. As an SEO professional, you need to know which settings to check and optimize so that search engines can crawl and index a website without issues.
On-Page SEO Skills
The next step is to know how to optimize the SEO elements on a single page. Things like optimizing the page titles, meta description, headings, adding internal links and schema information to a page to make it easier for search crawlers to understand the context of the page and type of content.
SEO Writing Skills
Writing content that keeps both search engines and users happy is an art. It’s not easy to do and it takes time to learn how to keep a balance between what users want and what search engines want.
Link Building Skills
Link building or Off-page SEO is a critical SEO success factor. If you don’t have the skills to manage link building campaigns successfully, it’s very difficult to work as an SEO specialist.
Knowing how to promote a website on the Internet and what to do after you hit the publish button, a very important step of the whole SEO process.
Analytical and Reporting Skills
A big part of your job will be spent on gathering and analyzing data about a website’s ranking, performing keyword research and doing competitor analysis.
This is a lot of data to analyze and you need to know how to use Excel, Google Analytics, Google Data studio and other reporting tools.
Communication and Presentation Skills
While you’ll be spending most of your time working in front of a computer, there will be times where you will have to communicate with the clients to gather their requirements and inform them of the status of the SEO project.
If you work as part of a team, you may have to create a presentation to the management so you need work on both your communication and presentation skills.
Although programming and web development is not a requirement to become an SEO specialist, it is considered a plus.
If you are working as a freelancer you need to know how to edit a page and perform basic programming tasks so you won’t have to pay a developer or wait on others to do your work.
There are no straightforward answers when it comes to search engine optimization.
During your SEO career, you will have to answer a lot of questions. Either from clients, bosses or things that you don’t know and need to find out an answer.
To do this successfully, you need to know how to do research on the Internet. You need to know how to use Google as an advanced user, be familiar with tools that analyze social media networks and in general have the ability to find information on the Internet fast.
Digital Marketing Skills
Digital marketing is not just about SEO. Becoming an SEO specialist is the first step in the career path to become a digital marketing manager.
A digital marketing specialist has to possess a wider range of skills that go beyond SEO.
If your goal is to start a digital marketing career (and not just SEO), you need to start learning about other online marketing techniques like social media marketing, paid advertising and email marketing.
Even if you plan to stay an SEO consultant, having knowledge of how the other channels work, is highly recommended and a great item to add to your resume.
Recommended Reading: How to learn digital marketing
SEO Specialist Courses
I’ve mentioned above that you don’t need any official qualifications in order to work as a search engine optimization specialist but you need to have a good knowledge of how SEO works (including practical experience).
The best way to learn SEO fast is to follow an online SEO course. A reliable SEO course can teach you everything you need to know about SEO without having to spend your time looking on the Internet for answers or losing your energy into SEO practices that don’t work.
The top 3 courses you can follow today are:
The Complete SEO Course – This is our own course. It will teach you everything you need to get started with SEO. It includes step-by-step examples and real case studies to help you understand how the SEO theory is applied in practice. So far more than 3,000 students have enrolled to this course.
Google SEO Starter Guide – A course made by Google with advice on how to optimize your websites for Google.
Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO – Search Engine Land is a great resource for SEO professionals. Besides learning about industry news and updates, they have a guide on how to get started with SEO.
An SEO specialist is a person that knows SEO. He/she has a deep understanding on how search engines work and what it takes to improve the rankings of a website in search engines.
It’s not an easy job, it’s very challenging but also rewarding. As an SEO expert, you don’t only have to do your job right, but you also have to compete with hundreds of SEO’s for a place on the top of Google SERPS.
To successfully build an SEO career, you need to have a number of skills and the best way to acquire those skills fast is to follow an SEO course and start practicing SEO.
Besides formal qualifications and certifications, the best item to add your resume is real SEO wins. Ranking websites high on Google and getting traffic is the best way to prove to your clients or potential employers that you are an SEO specialist they can trust.
Keep practicing and keep learning SEO and as you get more experienced, you’ll be able to charge more for your services or earn a higher salary. It’s a job that is high in demand now (and for years to come) so the sooner you get started with SEO, the better.