The Many Skills of Modern SEO

The game changing Google algorithm, Panda/Farmer update last January, sent shock waves through the SEO community. Content Management is now the power drill in the SEO toolbox. SEO is still, to some extent, about link-building, and probably always will be, but we have witnessed mammoth shifts in the value of those links. An SEO (or SEO team) now must combine traditional SEO approaches, link building techniques, content marketing and social media networking to create a powerful SEO arsenal.

Whilst links from official academic sites and online newspapers have retained their uber-link status, business directories, forum comments and paid links are rarely worth the time and effort they take, and it is believed that excessive paid for links can have a negative effect on your search engine ranking. Alternatively, links obtained by social shares have become increasingly important. Many people are wondering if likebait has become the new linkbait as search becomes personal (more on that later).

It will always be important to have basic on-site and on-page optimization knowledge, however, an effective SEO campaign now requires employing, or building relationships with, good content writers to supply a constant flow of quality content.

Content supply is just part of the bigger picture though, once you have a steady flow of great content, you need someone who can:

  • Check the content to optimize the links it contains
  • Identify trends and be creative and original
  • Keep up with web trends, and  new marketing techniques
  • Optimize content for the web
  • Links, ideally, should be close to the top of the page
  • Have well researched anchor text and a link title to match
  • Have the anchor text (targeted keywords) repeated close to the link in the body of the text without looking unnatural

Additionally, content being written to publish on another site in order to build links, should:

  • Be placed on a site that has a good page rank
  • Preferably with easily accessible social media network buttons
  • Be relevant to the content and targeted keywords

Finding great quality sites to publish well researched and written content isn’t easy either. It requires networking, communication skills and relationship building. In fact there are so many processes involved; you couldn’t possibly find one person who has the time to do them all, an SEO manager will also need amazing people and project management skills.

Oh and they will need web development knowledge! Oh and an understanding of web analytics!

The whole process is becoming more labor and time intensive and increasingly expensive so businesses need to be able to look objectively at what works and what doesn’t. An SEO manager will also need to:

  • Possess a good knowledge of Google Analytics, Keyword Tools and Adwords
  • Set up website tracking tags
  • Apply site-wide tagging strategies
  • Identify trends
  • Translate statistics to develop new strategies.
  • Adopt new strategies developed by using competitor analysis

Whilst you may not necessarily need to be able to code, you will need to work with web developers and have a good understanding of what it is you want them to achieve. So you will need to be able to:

  • Monitor website progress
  • Understand CMS technologies (WordPress)
  • An understanding of HTML and JavaScript
  • The ability to determine the value of niche or micro-sites

We’ve mentioned a lot of skills now, you are probably thinking, that’s enough, finding someone with knowledge of all the above, let alone the actual skills required, is going to be impossible.  I haven’t finished yet. As I mentioned at the beginning, links form social shares are gaining value. SEO managers are also going to need:

  • A passion for social media
  • Develop a schedule for updating and monitoring social networks
  • The ability to recognize the types of content that will attract the audience or target consumer
  • The ability to find and build relationships with key influencers in particular niches
  • Know how to monitor the company’s online reputation
  • Be able to use social media effectively to build  brand awareness and increase brand exposure

Thanks to Google’s new Search plus Your World update, it has become vital to develop strong brand awareness through social media. The more people who have circled your Google+ profile and who have +1’d your site and content, the more personal search results you will appear in. Google are also now recognizing who wrote articles and showing ‘Written by’ info in search results. This makes it vital to connect your content to your Google+ profile so that your content writers build up reputations as experts in their field.

It’s a lot of work, and time is money so it doesn’t come cheap. That’s why there’s another set of skills an SEO professional will need.  They will need to be able to justify the company spend. They must oversee the production of reports and feedback. It’s all very well rushing into an SEO campaign but unless you can prove to the rest of the business that your efforts are benefiting the company then it may just look like you’re sitting around writing articles about Google+.

Did I mention Video? No? Let’s just add it to the list and save the nitty gritty for another post.

An SEO professional needs to be curious, creative, organised, confident and able to use their own initiative. So basically any company wishing to compete in the search engine optimisation arena will need at least one superman, many superman apprentices and a little sprinkle of fairy dust.

This article was written by Silicon Beach Training, providers of SEO Training, Social Media Training, Google Analytics Training and Blogging and Content Marketing Training. All of which you now need to be a successful SEO!

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