Sending your data to our servers, please wait...

illustration of a blog post: Top 4 Skills You Need to Launch a Career in SEO
white rounded rectangle masking image below

SEO 11 min read

Top 4 Skills You Need to Launch a Career in SEO

Ayesha Renyard photo

Written by Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Kat Sarmiento photo

Expert reviewed by Kat Sarmiento

Associate VP of Operations @ Galactic Fed

Published 30 Mar 2022

“When I grow up, I want to be…”

As kids, we all had a dream job in mind. Perhaps it was a rockstar or a pro soccer player. At that age, the sky was truly the limit. (Becoming an astronaut? Easy peasy.)

 Shayne the Train's Food Truck GIF

But as we grow older, we discover the real exciting career opportunities out there—and a career in SEO is one of them. 

SEO means search engine optimization. SEO specialists are marketers who can identify strategies, techniques, and opportunities to increase the number of visitors to a website and obtain a high-ranking placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Forbes shares that the American SEO industry was worth $80 billion in 2020, up from $72 million in 2018. That means there’s a whole lot of company budget dedicated to SEO services. 

Now more than ever, companies are on the hunt for specialists to fire up their SEO marketing. So as part of our SEO Series, we’re outlining four critical skills you need to land your dream gig in SEO. 

1. Research Minded

Research plays many roles in developing your SEO strategy. One of the first things future employers and clients will assess is your use of research: what role does it play in your work, how does it drive success, and what tools do you use to get the job done?

Let’s talk about its role in your work. Here are three core SEO tactics that require research: 

1. Identifying target keywords: Keyword research is one of the pillars of SEO strategy. The goal is to uncover popular search queries (words and phrases) that relate to your brand—so you can target them on your website content. 

Why does this matter? When Google crawlers see that your content is relevant to these searches, your website has a higher chance of surfacing in the search engine results. That means more visibility to your brand. 

Let’s say you sell running apparel. Think about your target audience and what they would search for—perhaps “running gear,” “running shoes,” “outfits for running.” These are short-tail keywords that you could target. It’s also worth targeting long-tail keywords, which are longer phrases, because they demonstrate higher intent of making a purchase. An example would be: “best running shoes for winter.” 

Google Search suggestions for "running gear" keyword

Check out this post if you’d like to learn more about short-tail and long-tail keywords

2. Finding link building opportunities: Link building is the process of creating hyperlinks—within your website or between yours and another website. Search engines use these links to understand the content of your website. 

Link building is essential for acquiring and spreading link juice—a search engine ranking factor based on the idea that certain links pass value and authority. I’ve attached the top five ranking domains on the web. If you scored a backlink from one of these sites, you’d gain some of their valuable link juice! Because they’re linking out to you, Google crawlers would assume that you have credible content.

Top five ranking domains on Google

Source: Moz

Check out the top 500 domains with high domain authority here.  

3. Conducting a competitor analysis: A competitor analysis involves researching your top competitors to gain insight into their products, sales, and marketing tactics, including SEO. 

Investigating your competitors’ SEO strategy helps you work smarter—not harder. If they’re ranking high in the SERPs, they’re clearly doing something right! If you can identify their high-performing keywords and backlinks, you can then leverage them for your marketing. 

To get started, identify which of your top competitors are ranking high in the SERPs. Then, audit their content. What topics are they writing about? What keywords are they targeting? Which websites are linking to them? Who are they linking to? This information will help you develop your own SEO strategy. 

Tool tip: To become a research-minded SEO strategist, you’ll need to be proficient in SEO tools, like Moz and Ahrefs. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to uncover high-performing keywords, authoritative backlinks, and your competitors’ strategies in a fraction of the time!

2. Data Driven

To land a career in SEO, you need to be data driven—no ifs, ands, or buts. Analytics determine how you’ll measure success, so clients and employers will expect you to bring data to the table when you make decisions. 

What type of data do you need to know? You’ll monitor metrics such as organic traffic, impressions, and page rank. To understand these metrics, you’ll also need to track keyword search volume, backlinks, referring domains, bounce rate, time on page, and page speed, among others. 

But let’s be clear—it’s not enough to just track this data. Here are three stepping stones to being a true data-driven SEO marketer. 

First, conduct an SEO audit to benchmark the company website’s current performance. Here are some questions to consider:

Components of an SEO audit

Source: Apptech Systems

  • What is the quality of its backlinks?
  • What keywords are targeted? Do they have a high search volume?
  • Are title tags optimized?
  • What is the internal linking structure?
  • How long do visitors spend on the website? What is the bounce rate?
  • Are there broken links or status error codes?
  • What is the page speed?
  • Are pages optimized for mobile?

Then, read the data. Once you understand the website’s current performance, you can explore your data with an informed lens. If your clickthrough rate is low, perhaps the title tags aren’t optimized. Or if there’s a high bounce rate on a specific page, maybe it has a slow load time or broken links. 

Once you have some hypotheses, it’s time to run some experiments to see if things change. Here are some ideas for experiments: 

  • Republish content with new keywords targeted
  • Add new, authoritative backlinks 
  • Rewrite title tags and URLs

After your experiments run, analyze the data. Did your SEO performance get better? Why or why not? 

Tool tip: It’s pretty tricky navigating data all on your own. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two popular tools for tracking and analyzing SEO data.

Google Search Console performance dashboard

Source: Search Engine Journal

3. Strategic 

After you conduct research, audit the website, and analyze the data, plenty of opportunities will arise. While many wheels will be turning, you’ll need to know how to work these ideas into an SEO strategy. 

To get started, consider these top ranking factors for SEO: 

  1. High-quality content
  2. Mobile-friendly pages
  3. Website experience
  4. Page speed
  5. Internal links
  6. External links
  7. Keyword optimization

Then, consider the ROI: 

  • How long will it take to improve these factors? A backlinking campaign, for example, will take longer than keyword optimization. 
  • What internal resources, such as time and budget, are required to launch this campaign? 
  • What metrics will be impacted? 

These considerations will help you write your goals and plans to achieve them. Don’t forget to attach specific KPIs. 

SEO Strategy identifies specific Goals and Plan

Source: Mangools

When it comes to SEO strategy, it’s always important to keep an ear to the ground. There are also external factors that could impact your SEO strategy, like algorithm changes. Algorithms are what search engines use to retrieve data and deliver search results relevant to an inquiry. Google makes changes to its search algorithm hundreds of times per year, and while most of the changes are minor, certain updates impact search result rankings, website traffic, and SEO.

In other words, to be successful, you need to adapt and re-prioritize as needed. 

Tool tip: With many campaigns on the go, keep your SEO strategy organized and track your KPIs in a project management tool like Asana

4. Tech Savvy

It’s probably quite clear by now that SEO marketers need to have tech skills to be successful in their careers. Let’s dig into it a bit deeper. 

Technology plays a key role in many aspects of your job. In addition to being comfortable with the different tools mentioned throughout this post, you’ll also need tech skills to implement your on-page SEO experiments and strategy. 

On-page SEO focuses on optimizing controllable parts of a website. So you’ll be responsible for: 

  • Working within the company’s content management system (CRM): To update website content, title and header tags, alt text, and URLs, you’ll need to be comfortable with platforms like WordPress.
  • Creating mobile-friendly pages: Mobile-first pages help you rank higher in the SERPs. You’ll need to be able to choose mobile-responsive themes or templates, resize or compress images, and simplify the design and copy.
  • Improving page speed: Load time is another important ranking factor. Some ways to improve page speed are enabling compression, reducing redirects, removing render-blocking JavaScript, and leveraging browser caching. 

While it’s not essential, having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help you do SEO more effectively. For example, you could: 

  • Use CSS to make the page lighter and load faster 
  • Add structured data to tell search engine crawlers what the page is about 
  • Add “nofollow” attributes to low-performing backlinks
  • Add tracking snippets to collect visitor data

Take a look at this video from Ahrefs outlining three more reasons why basic code skills can help you become a standout SEO specialist. 

Man coding for SEO

Ready to Land a Career in SEO?

It may not take you to the moon, but having SEO skills will certainly score you some out-of-this-world career opportunities. This industry is hyper-relevant and continues to grow. As SEO specialists ourselves, we’ve seen the benefits! 

If you’re reading this post, we have a feeling you don’t just want a job in SEO—you aspire to be one of the best SEO marketers out there. With these four skills, you’re on your way to creating standout SEO strategies from top to bottom. 

Looking for more resources on all things SEO? Check out the Galactic Fed Blog—there’s a whole series dedicated to it!

white rounded rectangle masking image below
Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed