How to Become an SEO Expert [3-Step Guide]

We live in a digital world. Everything from shopping and entertainment to health care and education lives online, which translates to a seemingly limitless audience all located in one place. As marketers, this is the dream, but understanding how to effectively reach and convert these digital audiences is another matter entirely.

Enter SEO, one of the most important tools in the repertoire of any marketing professional. If you’re looking for a way to grow your skill set and advance your career, use these tools to become an SEO expert.

What Is an SEO Expert?

As the name suggests, an SEO expert is anyone who is highly knowledgeable about and skilled in all things SEO, so it helps to understand what SEO is. SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is “a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results.” 

As an SEO expert, you either work in a role that specifically deals with SEO tasks or one that utilizes SEO best practices to improve your outcomes. This can include things like website optimization to improve online rankings, traffic, and ultimately leads and conversions.

Skills & Requirements for SEO Specialists

To be considered an SEO expert, there are a number of general and technical skills that you should have. Some of these can be acquired through experience, while others will require more specialized training or education to gain the necessary competencies. Here are the top skills to focus on in pursuit of an SEO career.

  1. Critical Thinking: To construct an effective SEO strategy, one must be able to mix the technical with the creative and the data-driven with the more open-ended. This requires critical thinking and the ability to understand human behavior while balancing goals and data insights.
  2. Analytical Skills: SEO is largely data based, and is the key for determining how well or how poorly your strategies are working. Analytical skills will allow you to collect and interpret data to improve your own recommendations, and it will also help you complete competitive analyses of other companies so you can outperform them.
  3. Industry Knowledge: SEO experts should be well versed in all things digital marketing — the jargon, tools, technologies, algorithms and strategies will be important parts of your day-to-day work. 
  4. Technical Skills: You will need to know all about the programs and software used by all SEO specialists. This includes Google Analytics, SEMrush, Moz and more.
  5. Communication Skills: Having excellent insights and ideas is one thing, but they’ll only be as effective as your ability to communicate them. As an SEO expert, other decision makers will defer to you and your expertise, so being able to share your recommendations effectively will be key. 
  6. Marketing Skills: This may seem obvious, but SEO experts should also have general marketing knowledge. Understanding basic strategies, best practices and more will inform a well-rounded SEO plan.

From a technical perspective, SEO experts should also have knowledge about the following:

  • Adobe Analytics
  • Data Analytics
  • CSS
  • Content Management Systems
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • HTML5

Salary Outlook for SEO Experts

The following is a general breakdown of common SEO-related job titles and their corresponding average salaries.

SEO Job Title

Average Salary

SEO Specialist

$56,210

SEO Manager

$85,000

Marketing Strategist

$100,015

Marketing Analytics Manager

$124,997

Digital Content Strategy Director   

$152,000

What Companies Are Hiring SEO Experts?

SEO experts are in demand in nearly every industry, from eCommerce and manufacturing to technology and finance. According to career research website Glassdoor, the top companies hiring SEO professionals are:

  1. Amazon
  2. Google
  3. IBM
  4. Barclays
  5. Pearson
  6. Disney
  7. Aquent
  8. ThermoFisher
  9. ADP
  10. Starbucks

3 Steps to Become an SEO Expert

Becoming an SEO expert or transitioning to an SEO-focused career isn’t as difficult as it may seem. With a solid foundational knowledge of marketing strategies and SEO  practices, you can find exciting and lucrative opportunities in the world of digital marketing.

Here are 3 quick steps to get started.

1. Seek Out SEO Educational Opportunities

As a working professional, you likely don’t have time to enroll in a full-time bachelor or master’s degree program. The good news is that most SEO careers don’t require a particular major or field of study, just that you demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency on the subject. That makes professional certificate programs in SEO an excellent option — you’ll gain advanced education from experienced professors while working on a timeline that fits your schedule and life.

2. Join a Professional Organization

There are a good number of professional organizations dedicated to both SEO and digital marketing, and they can be an asset as you pursue a career in this field. Consider joining one — such as the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), SEO Pros, the Society of Internet Professionals or the International Association of Internet Professionals — to grow your professional network and access their resources to support your career.

3. Never Stop Learning on Your Own

The internet and how it delivers information is constantly changing, so staying up to date on current best practices will arguably be the most important aspect of your career. When Google rolls out a new algorithm, you’ll want to know about it. Or if SEMrush releases a new keyword research tool, you’ll need to master it. Continuously seek out online resources to brush up on the latest SEO trends and tools to make sure you’re always one step ahead.

 FAQs About a Career in SEO

Q: What is an SEO expert?

A: An SEO expert is someone who is highly knowledgeable about and skilled in all things SEO, which is “a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results.”

Q: In what industries do SEO specialists work?

A: SEO specialists work in marketing specifically, but their work is valued in nearly every industry. Some of the industry verticals where SEO expert are most in-demand include:

  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Fitness
  • Manufacturing
  • Real Estate
  • eCommerce
  • Hospitality 
  • Tech

Q: What skills do SEO specialists need?

A: SEO experts need a solid mix of both hard and soft skills to succeed in this career. These include:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Analytical Skills
  • Industry Knowledge
  • Technical Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Marketing Skills
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Data Analytics
  • CSS
  • Content Management Systems
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • HTML5

Required fields are indicated by .