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How to Become a SEO Specialist

The Internet has become the center of advertising today. To stay relevant with customers, it is essential to connect directly with them through search engines. There's no better way to do this than with SEO practices in place.

An SEO specialist is responsible for ensuring that a company's content appears as one of the first results on search engine results pages (SERPs). This guide will cover how to become an SEO specialist and thrive in this line of work.

What Is an SEO Specialist?

An SEO specialist uses search engine optimization (SEO) to help companies appear first when customers search for things. SEO is the practice of understanding search engine algorithms to create organic traffic and enable content discovery.

SEO is a big part of digital marketing. An SEO specialist organizes content marketing strategy, data analytics, content creation, link building, and keyword research. They make technical recommendations on solutions a company can employ to improve their work and rank higher on search engines.

SEO Specialist Job Description

The role of an SEO specialist is to help businesses rank better on search engines like Google and Bing. Why is this necessary? Think about the massive amounts of information on the Internet. Search a question as simple as "how to bathe" and Google offers about 1,460,000,000 results in 0.54 seconds. It is easy to get lost in all of this, hence the need for SEO experts.

An SEO specialist conducts research to help the business understand ways to rank better on search engine platforms. They do keyword research and use the search query or group of search queries popular among their target audience to make recommendations for the company’s content.

They also conduct competitor research that will help to determine how a business competes with other content on the Internet. An SEO specialist designs the website's framework so that it will accommodate SEO, and then tracks several metrics to measure the company's content exposure. They track metrics like page views to determine the performance of an article.

Overall, an SEO specialist should be able to review and analyze sites for areas that can be improved, analyze SEO techniques used by competitors, write SEO guidelines for the content team, identify keywords that the business can target for more traffic, and create a detailed strategy report recommending ways to enhance the content ranking.

SEO Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

Because SEO is one of the newest forms of advertising, the fortunes of SEO specialists are tied to the marketing industry as a whole. Even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track SEO specialists, BLS does project 18 percent job growth for market research analysts. The former is a subcategory of the latter.

Along with their solid career prospects, SEO specialists earn respectable salaries. According to PayScale, the average SEO specialist earns about $46,873 per year.

Top Reasons to Become an SEO Specialist in 2021

You should consider a career in SEO because of how fast demand is growing in the industry. Below are some of the other reasons you might consider becoming an SEO specialist.

  1. You get to play with words. Writing is an essential SEO skill. If writing and communicating are some of your strengths, a career in SEO might be good for you.
  2. There is strong job security. Business owners are constantly investing in search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) because they want to stay relevant to their customers.
  3. There are many job opportunities. SEO is relevant to many different fields. If you’re interested in marketing, you can use your skills to help many different kinds of businesses and organizations.
  4. It is appealing to creative people. SEO specialists need to pay attention to the entire experience and look of a website. They are always looking for creative ways to write compelling copy and improve the aesthetics of a web design.

SEO Specialist Job Requirements

An SEO specialist must possess the technical expertise and ability to place a company's content at the top of any search result page. Some of the requirements for a job as an SEO specialist are listed below.

  • Familiarity with basic SEO concepts. To practice SEO, one needs to know about search engine algorithms, ranking methods, keyword research, competitor research, and data mining.
  • Communication and business skills. SEO specialists write copy and collaborate with others all the time, so excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential. An ability to communicate will also help you share your research with other members of the company.
  • Experience with SEO tools. In addition to SEO programs like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics, a strong candidate for an SEO specialist position should know major content management systems like WordPress.
  • Marketing knowledge. A good Internet marketing campaign is only as good as a company’s SEO strategy. An SEO specialist must be able to combine expertise in search engines with a thorough understanding of the traditional aspects of marketing, such as promotion and customer growth.

Types of SEO Specialist Careers

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about helping businesses position themselves correctly to sell their products and services. Below are some of the top SEO specialist job roles, along with the latest salary information from PayScale.

Online Marketing Executive

An online marketing executive performs several duties depending on the needs of the company. They are responsible for leading, planning, supervising, and checking the circulation of merchandise. They are involved in testing campaigns and working with computer software to monitor movements and gauge customer interest. Their average salary is about $60,055.

Content Marketer

Content marketers are involved with portraying the business in a light that will attract customers and build relationships, and ultimately encourage growth and sales. They use the Internet to put information on social media, analyze Google analytics, and use search engine optimization to increase the visibility of products. Their average salary is about $52,024.

Digital Marketing Specialist

Digital marketing specialists create digital campaigns to help businesses sell their products. They make use of skills like email marketing, Google analytics, social media marketing, and SEO. Their average salary is about $50,379.

SEO Specialist Meaning: What Does an SEO Specialist Do?

An SEO specialist is tasked with optimizing landing pages and copy and performing ongoing keyword research to identify new marketing opportunities. Though some of their methods can be straightforward, others are complex and involve several stages of research. Below is an outline of their most important responsibilities.

Develops Hyper-Focused Content

As an SEO specialist, you will be required to target niches better than your client’s competitors. You will use tools like Google's Keyword Planner to research any potential key phrase that suits the product or service, consequently helping your brand authority and positioning you as a leader in your industry.

Implements Link-Building Strategies

An SEO specialist builds visibility online through organic means. One of those methods is linking other trusted sites with yours. It will also help boost your brand awareness and drive qualified traffic back to your site.

Engages with Other Online Platforms

Another thing you are involved with is monitoring mentions on other platforms and participating in other online communities where relevant topics about your industry are discussed.

Essential SEO Specialist Skills

The skills that SEO specialists must have depends on their experience and position. Yet, there are things every employer or client looks for. Some of the skills any SEO specialist must have are listed below.

Critical Thinking Skills

As an SEO specialist, you’ll need to be able to solve problems. Sometimes this involves finding new ways to optimize content.

Technical and Programming Skills

You will be making recommendations about page speed, lazy loading, microdata tagging, and other basic HTML tags. You should have basic programming skills and a good knowledge of how web development works.

Analytics Skills

An SEO specialist must understand key performance indicators (KPIs) to create a proper SEO strategy. You’ll need to have a working knowledge of Google Analytics or the analytics tool for the search engine you’re focusing on. You should be able to pull your own data to give insights on what will work and not work.

How Long Does It Take to Become an SEO Specialist?

The basis of search engine optimization should take at least three months to master. But when it comes to the advanced concepts, it can take anywhere from six to 12 months. This all depends on the platform you choose for your training. Going through a bootcamp will help you develop your skills in a shorter time than other education options, like college or vocational training.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become an SEO Specialist?

Definitely. Coding bootcamps are excellent platforms to learn SEO because of their focused curriculum, affordability, and short training time. They also provide career services that will help you navigate your way through the industry. Some bootcamps even offer job guarantees.

Can I Become an SEO Specialist from Home?

Yes, you can. Even though it is vital to have an expert guide you, numerous online platforms can help you learn the basics of SEO and train you to be a professional. Platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer online SEO courses. To be successful in this learning environment, you need a high-level commitment to continuous learning and an ability to learn independently.

How to Become an SEO Specialist: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming an SEO expert requires a commitment to learning and expert instruction. As an SEO specialist, you must be able to apply SEO techniques that will increase your website's rankings. Below is a step-by-step guide to becoming an SEO specialist.

Step 1: Understand How a Search Engine Works

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of search engines so that you understand how to optimize a website. The search engine you focus on will depend on what platform your client is aiming to optimize.

Step 2: Get Familiar with SEO and SEM Concepts

As an SEO expert, you must have good knowledge of search engine marketing (SEM), digital marketing, and SEO to build effective digital marketing campaigns.

Step 3: Learn the Right SEO Skills

SEO training online can help you understand the skills and tools you need to become a successful SEO specialist. You need to carefully choose the best training with expert teachers and focused curricula.

Step 4: Choose the Right SEO Tools

SEO specialists are only as good as their tools. Some of those tools are Google Analytics, SEMrush, and Frase. You must be able to identify the right tool that will give you effective results.

Step 5: Practice SEO

You can only be an expert when you practice often. The outcome of all the things you have learned will only be seen when you practice them. Every website is unique, so you can only build expertise by practicing.

Best Schools and Education for an SEO Specialist Career

The SEO industry is evolving every day. There is a need for formal study. Some of the platforms where you can gain expertise and kickstart your career in SEO are listed below.

SEO Bootcamps

The best way to learn SEO is to learn it from experts in the field, and coding bootcamps provide that opportunity. SEO bootcamps are affordable, use efficient learning methods, and provide a curriculum that is regularly updated based on the trends in the SEO field. Some of the best SEO bootcamps are BrainStation, General Assembly, and Simplilearn.

Vocational School

Because SEO is a relatively new art, vocational schools have been slow to catch up. There are, however, a number of online training programs that mimic the structure of vocational education. Some of the best ones are SEMrush Academy, Yoast Academy, and the SEO Playbook. They are designed to help learners become SEO experts.

Community College

Community colleges for SEO can play an essential role in training SEO experts. An Associate Degree in Digital Marketing, for example, can help students build their skills in SEO.

SEO Degrees

You do not need a college degree to work as an SEO specialist. Colleges do not offer standalone SEO degree programs. Still, some job postings for SEO specialists require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in business, marketing, or communications.

The Most Important SEO Specialist Certificates

Having an SEO certificate is one of the best ways to gain more knowledge, update your technical skills, and improve your portfolio. To get started, you can choose one or more of these valuable and reputable SEO courses.

Hubspot SEO Academy

Hubspot's SEO course has three lessons with 15 videos that detail SEO strategies, building authority, and techniques that can be used in blog posts to increase rankings in Google search. It offers certificates in Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. The course is available for free.

Google Analytics Academy

One certificate that SEO specialists need to have is the one from Google Analytics. Google Analytics Academy offers a series of videos that end with an exam on Google Analytics. It is one of the tools that SEO specialists use to track website performance on search engines. The course can be taken on a self-paced or full-time schedule.

SEMrush Academy

SEMrush is an authority in the search engine marketing field. They have over 25 free marketing courses and certificates that will make you an expert in the skill. They have lessons covering critical topics like competitor analysis, link building, keyword research, and technical optimization.

How to Prepare for Your SEO Specialist Job Interview

Working in the SEO industry requires a lot of critical thinking skills. The questions are tailored to test your SEO skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills, and other soft skills. Some of the potential questions you may be asked in an SEO specialist interview are listed below.

SEO Specialist Job Interview Practice Questions

  • How do you measure SEO success?
  • What SEO tools do you use and why?
  • Which SEO factors are not in your control?
  • How will you cross-check if your SEO campaign is working?
  • What is your approach to developing an SEO strategy?
  • What is link building, and why does it matter?
  • What makes a website search engine-friendly?

Should I Become an SEO Specialist in 2021?

Absolutely. As the needs of the marketing industry evolve, more people are searching for new ways to remain top-of-mind with their customers. The job is also flexible, with some SEO specialists working for a firm and others working as freelancers. Lastly, the salaries are quite competitive, although compensation does vary by experience, location, and employer.


Can You Become an SEO Specialist Without a Degree?
Yes, you can. No one expects you to get a degree before becoming an SEO specialist. You may only need to have a good knowledge of marketing, communication, and information technology. You can also learn specific SEO skills at a coding bootcamp.
Is It Hard to Become an SEO Specialist?
No, it is not. Even though it requires a proven commitment and guidance from experts, it is not a difficult subject to learn.
Is SEO a Good Career?
Yes, it is. It even offers a lot of flexibility and competitive salaries. The field is also expanding, making it attractive to anyone passionate about digital marketing and the nitty-gritty of search engines.
Does SEO Require Coding?
It depends. Though it is not compulsory to have coding skills, SEO specialists who can code do have an advantage. It helps them better understand how websites work.
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