What does it take to be an SEO expert? What are the SEO specialist skills to look for when hiring an SEO expert? Why SEO specialist stand out of crowd for what they good at? Here we have listed both the technical and soft skills every SEO specialist must have to truly be successful.

Business can gain greater visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo with a proper Search Engine Optimization campaign by a highly skilled SEO specialist. An SEO expert uses the skills to help client’s website increase the organic search traffic and conversion rates. On the other hand, SEO is a lifetime learning journey since the search engine algorithms constantly changing.

Although each SEO expert comes from different background. For example, some may have programming background like me while others may have experiences in design, content writing or advertising. No matter what background an SEO specialist has, there are certain skills that an SEO specialist should have to perform the day to day tasks for clients.

What are the skills to look for?

The job goal for an SEO specialist is to maximize the traffic to a client website by finding ranking opportunities and improving page rank within search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The workflow usually involve analyzes, reviews and implements changes to client websites to make them optimized for search engines.

12 common skills that an SEO expert should have:

  • Keyword Research

    Researching the keywords and also find the hidden keywords opportunities for client website to dive extra organic traffic. Keyword research is the fundamental of an SEO strategy. Because an SEO expert uses keyword research to compile a list of search keywords to rank for a client. The traffic growth expectation should be able to see by both client and the SEO specialist based on the selected targeting keywords.

  • Traffic Analysis

    Traffic analysis is performed all the way before SEO campaign, during the SEO campaign, and the end of the SEO campaign. The traffic analysis is really about to monitoring and analysis client website traffic for the purpose of dos and donts for SEO activities. The traffic analysis usually involves the use of Google Analytics tool. So the client should ask the SEOers if they are Google Analytics certified individual.

  • Landing Page A/B Testing

    The Landing Page A/B Testing is a method to improve the page conversion rate by optimizing the page elements. SEO expert uses A/B testing to understand the users’ behaviors and buying habits on a client website. A/B testing is useful for e-commerce business who rely heavily on their retail website for revenue. An SEO specialist who has Landing Page A/B Testing skill is a plus for client to understand their online users.

  • Competitor Analysis

    Competitor Analysis is a must-have skill for any SEO specialist. When you start a free consultation with an SEO expert, you should ask for a free competitor analysis. We are not talking about the competitors next to the street. The competitor refers to the top 10 websites by a giving search keyword in search engine. A deep competitor analysis will position you as a client and estimate how much effort in terms of content and backlinks to over rank your competitor in Search Engine Result Page. The Competitor Analysis usually starts after Keyword Research.

  • Local SEO Optimization

    Local SEO Optimization is a skill to market a local business in a certain physical area. If you are a local business and you are trying to increase local customers, you need to pay much attention to Local SEO skill. Ask the SEO specialist if he or she has local SEO experiences for local business. Local SEO has different strategies compare to Organic SEO. For example, getting client website ranked on local search terms on Google, Yelp, Super Page, Yellow Page, etc. And also develop localized content on a client website, manage reviews.

  • Call-to-Action Optimization

    A call-to-action(aka CTA) is an eye-tracking image or line of text that ask website visitor, leads, or customers to take action. Thus, a “call” to take an “action”. In order to do an effective Call-to-Action Optimization, An SEO expert should understand the client business and their online customers behaviors etc. So a well-organized and effective communication between client and SEO specialist is a big help for SEOer to perform the Call-to-Action Optimization skill.

  • Content Development

    It is not just writing articles or blog posts for a client. We are referring to the skill of developing SEO friendly and Share-able content for a client regarding of what client business is. In SEO, the content development usually a work of blog writers. However, the SEO specialist should be able to line up the topics and writing criteria such keyword density, Synonyms phrases to use in the content and assign the job to blog writers. We all know that internet was created for content sharing and content is king concept. So creating a massive create content will drive the success of SEO campaign.

  • Design/Conversion Rate Optimization

    Conversion Rate Optimization is a systematic process of increasing the percentage of client website visitors to take a desired action such as fill a form, make a purchase, watch a video, download a free book etc. An SEO specialist usually starts by understanding how website visitors move through client website, and what actions they take, and what stops them to complete the desired goals in client website. Conversion Rate Optimization involves a lot of time in analysis website traffic and user behavior flow.

  • Programming in HTML, PHP, etc.

    Programming skill is not a required for SEO specialist. However, if an SEO expert like me who has comes from the programming background, is able to perform a comprehensive Technical SEO analysis. The Technical SEO analysis covers from website performance to server-side optimization. This is a work to optimize the website structure, server responding time, page loading speed etc. A fast website gives user better user experiences thus will be able to rank higher compared to the slow websites.

  • WordPress or Joomla Skill

    Most websites on the Internet are built by Content Management System(CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. So SEO Specialists should have experienced work with the most popular CMS on the Internet. For example, the SEOers can give recommendations on what are the plugins to use and how to structure the pages for a client website.

  • Ranking Strategies

    There is no such fit-to-all Ranking Strategy for a client. There are so many different businesses running every day. A professional SEO specialist designs and implements a Ranking Strategy for client business. The Ranking Strategy usually based on many factors such as budget, goals, type of business, current rankings etc. The purpose of Ranking Strategy is to give a detectable timeline for both client and SEOer. So the client knows what to expect and what are the SEO activities will be performed to meet the SEO goal during the SEO campaign.

  • Latest SEO Practices

    This is very obvious that SEO specialist should stay informed and keep track the updates of SEO field and the search engine algorithms. Search Engine Optimization is an old field with frequent changing happening every day. Since search engines are getting smarter and smarter, there are new algorithms updates rolling out very often. All of those required the SEOers naturally curious with a desire to learn the new SEO strategies and stay active in the digital marketing industry. This is a skill.

The Soft Skills

Other than the 12 common SEO specialist skills listed above. As a marketer(Yes, SEOers are marketers too), SEO specialists must have soft skills to work properly with client, effective managing different projects, and give the best results out of their day to day works. Soft skills are not to be seen the first time by client, but they are also very important for a client to watch. Because soft skills are evidence to determine how well you will work with your future SEO expert to make the best out of the SEO campaign.

5 soft skills that an SEO specialist should have:

  • Problem Solving

    When an SEO specialist doing SEO, he or she is really applying the problem-solving skill. From finding the potential issues with client website, Keyword Research, Competitor Analysis, design and implement a ranking strategy for the client. The skill of identifying and solving problems should always be equipped by SEOers.

  • Prioritization

    An SEO specialist should know what website changes need to be done and in what order they need to be done. An SEO campaign is a list of SEO changes need to be taken by SEOers. As an SEO expert who managing the campaign, he or she must know what is important to a client right now and what can be executed later in a timely manner. You want to make sure the most important and impactful tasks are getting done first.

  • Decision Making

    Due to the inconsistent of SEO, you are making decisions constantly as an SEO expert. As an SEO specialist, you may not always have the latest data available to make a perfect decision, but you should know how to make the best decision by a given scenarios.

  • Flexibility

    Again, the SEO does not have a fits all solution. So SEO specialist must be able to change strategies at any situation without distracting and slowing down. In other words, SEOers have flexibility to adjust SEO plans as needed per client.

  • Communication

    People skill is important. Many clients complainants because they don’t understand how SEO works from the communication with the SEO specialist. Although there are many technical terms regarding of SEO, it is vital to have a communication skill for SEO specialist so that client can really reassure that SEO results will happen in time.


There are the SEO specialist skills that give you an insight of what to look for when considering hiring an SEO expert. I think they are the best “ability” to have. Actually, there are more skills people may think that I listed here. So, I would love to hear your comments that helped you best in your SEO careers or as a client is looking for SEO.