How to Become an SEO Specialist

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Aug 1, 2019

Aug 1, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

With over 1 billion websites online, a few of them are bound to need an SEO specialist, right?

That sounds like good reasoning so why not position yourself to make money from all of the businesses that are trying to get attention online?

It all sounds great but how do you become an SEO specialist? This career is fairly new since Google is only around 20 years old. Continue reading this article to learn about what an SEO expert does, what education you might need and how to land the job.

What Does an SEO Specialist Do?

As you read more about SEO tips, you might be wondering exactly what an SEO specialist does. You don't want to work toward a career that you're going to be bored with or feel overwhelmed once you land a job in the industry.

Here's what you need to know.

As an SEO specialist, you'll be working with different clients to help them gain more visibility in the search engines. Your job is to see what they have going for them right now and have them adjust their strategies to get the results they want.

Some companies won't even have a website when they come to you and others will have a full-blown strategy they want you to pick apart and see what's working and what's not working.

As the search engines continue to change and develop their algorithms, the role of the SEO specialist will continue to develop as well. Make sure to stay up to date on the latest changes with Google since this is a job where you're up against others that are continuing their education.

As an SEO specialist, you'll focus on on-page and off-page elements that will help clients rank higher than the competition.

Since things are changing so rapidly, part of the job is going to be doing tests to see what changes are real and what changes are trumped up to scare SEOs.

On-Page SEO

Learning how to optimize images, tags, write content that keeps UX in mind and more is all a part of knowing about on-page SEO. As an SEO specialist, you'll be doing a lot of on-page SEO. Most sites aren't close to being optimized and you can get good results from simply taking care of their on-page issues.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is another task you'll have as an SEO specialist. Off-page SEO has to do with link building, social signals and more.

When you're building links for the website, you're likely to have to reach out to webmasters that are in similar niches. Your goal is to get links to your website from other high authority websites.

Think of social signals and backlinks as votes that say that a website is worth viewing. The more high quality links a website has, the better it looks to Google and the other search engines.

When you get into off-page SEO, you should make sure you never get sucked into low-quality link schemes. Low-quality link schemes can hurt your clients instead of helping them.

How to Become an SEO Specialist

Now that you understand what an SEO specialist does, here's how to get started.

1. Know How the Search Engines Work

Many people want to rank in the search engines but they have no idea how they work. You don't want to be that person.

While knowing how to use a search engine is one thing, it's another level when you understand how search engines work.

You need to learn how to use operators and filters as well as understand things like domain authority and how it plays into search engine rankings. 

2. Learn About Search Engine Marketing Concepts

Besides for knowing about how search engines work, you need to also understand search engine marketing concepts. You are likely familiar with some of the following.

  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Banner Advertising
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Web Site

Learning about all of these forms of digital marketing and not just SEO makes you an even more powerful player as a professional in the industry.

If you understand SEO but you have no idea about any of the above concepts, you can't see the full picture of helping your clients market themselves online.

You may be asked to work with other departments in the marketing team so you need to have at least a basic understanding of how these things work.

3. Understand What the Search Engines Want

Search engines have a wishlist of things they want out of your site. The main thing they want is for the website to give value to the reader. If Google and other search engines don't think your website is providing value to their search engine users, you're going to end up at the bottom of the search results.

While you do need to think about the technical elements of SEO such as on-page and off-page SEO as well as the crawling and indexing of your website, you need to keep the user in mind throughout every step of the process for the best results.

4. Go Through Respected SEO Training Courses

Look for training courses through respected organizations to get ahead of the competition that hasn't had any formal training. While it isn't necessary to get formal training, it can be helpful when you're applying against other applicants.

5. Stay Up on SEO News & Training

With all of the changes in SEO, you need to be in the know about all of the latest technologies, algorithm changes and more. Find out where conventions and conferences are happening in your area and make sure to be in attendance to soak up information and make connections.

6. Use Tools to Help You with SEO

There are a lot of monotonous tasks you're going to do on a daily basis but the good news is there are tools that can help you through the process.

Some of the most important tools that you can have on your side are keyword tools. They help you brainstorm and research keywords that people are searching for. These tools can help you keep from wasting time on what might seem like a good idea but are truthfully not popular enough to focus your time on.

Another type of SEO tool that you need to have is analytics. There are plenty of analytics tools but the most simple is that of Google itself. Google Analytics gives you in-depth information and even lets you set goals so you can see when you're on track and when you need to make adjustments.

7. Practice SEO

The best way to become an SEO expert is by practicing SEO. No matter what you do, if you're not practicing SEO, you're never going to land the job. Most business owners and hiring managers don't care how much you know but instead, they want to know what results you can help them get.

Landing a Job in the SEO Profession

Landing a job in the SEO profession can be more challenging than you might think but not if you've followed the above information.

Show Examples of Your Work

When you've been practicing SEO, you can show some examples of your work. Even if you've been working with a local business for free, that is an example of your work. Companies want to know that you can get results and will be happy to pay you if you can help them achieve their goals.

Demonstrate Your Knowledge

If you're at a networking event, training or anywhere around people in your field -- join in the conversation. Don't be afraid to demonstrate your knowledge by weighing in on important topics.

While you shouldn't be rude or over the top, you should voice your opinions and be willing to back up whatever it is that you say. Many people attend networking events and conferences to find their next great hire. If they don't know that you're experienced and ready to work, how can they hire you?

Be Confident

Your potential new boss cannot have any additional confidence in your abilities than you do. Be confident in what you can deliver and in your work abilities so they can be confident in your abilities as well.

Learn More About Digital Marketing Jobs

Now that you know more about SEO specialists, what they do, how to become one and how to land a job, why not look through more digital marketing jobs? Navigate to our pages that interest you and bookmark them so you can come back for more later.