- A hypothetical degree program in SEO should contain …
- Fundamental skills
- Specialization skills
- The perfect SEO? Does not exist!
- Create your SEO badge
How to become an SEO? What skills does an SEO need to have in order to do their job at best? If once to do SEO at a professional level it was enough to know some guidelines, nowadays to be good SEO you need to chew many subjects, in fact the activities that in one way or another fall into the tasks of an SEO are so many .
In this article I will try to summarize all the various specialties that, in my opinion, an SEO can undertake to become a specialist .
Someone asked me where can I study SEO ? I wish I had this answer in my 20s, when I wanted to take a real degree program focused on SEO, but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance – it didn’t exist back then. To become an SEO I started by reading books and blogs and above all I got my hands dirty with experiments and optimizations of all kinds.
What would be the most suitable subjects for a hypothetical SEO university today? What exams should you prepare to become an SEO expert? We assume that expert is a big word. To become an expert you need many hours of practice in the field. The theoretical bases, on the other hand, can be learned first, by deepening certain topics.
Having to define the best skills for an SEO I think it is important to make a difference between fundamental skills and specialization skills .
Fundamental skills are those that any SEO should have, deepen and cultivate. Start with the basics, if you don’t know HTML you can’t expect to do professional SEO.
Knowing the English language, for example, or knowing how to use Excel well , doesn’t automatically make you a good SEO, but it sure helps . These that I am going to list are skills that allow you to learn more easily and help in data analysis. Ultimately, learning and analyzing are the core activities of SEO.
- English language
- Data analysis (analytical mind)
For an updated, varied and as complete training path as possible, you cannot limit your learning sources . Relying only on the information available in Italian would be a major limitation.
Knowing the English language is essential: not all Google guides are translated and objectively there are more articles and examples in English than in Italian. I think I studied SEO practically only in English. Attention, not that Italian SEOs are not good, on the contrary, but the volume of quality content and case histories available in English is practically unlimited. There are days that I don’t have time to read all the articles that interest me in my RSS list, because I follow many professionals in order to have under control what is happening in this exciting sector.
Data analysis (and a web-analytical mind)
SEO is an analytical subject, based on numbers, formulas and statistics. Knowing math and having a mind at ease in managing numbers helps solve complex situations that arise during data analysis, whether they are navigation data, web analytics or large databases of keywords, backlinks or scan data. .
Through web analytics, in fact, the expert SEO is able to extrapolate useful trends to improve website content, user experience, internal structure, navigation paths and conversion funnels.
Marco Cilla and Matteo Zambon are professionals specialized in web analytics and Google Tag Manager, just to name a couple.
I couldn’t imagine a working day without Excel. With this universal software I analyze databases of any kind: backlinks , URLs , web server logs , keywords .
There are many Excel functions useful to simplify the activities of an SEO, the ones I use most frequently are: concatenate, Text To Columns, countif, iferror, len, search / find, left / right / mid, if / and / or , vlookup and pivot tables.
The reporting of the various sector tools is always in Excel: the Google Analytics reports for example, Screaming Frog, Semrush, Majestic, etc. Knowing how to use Excel allows you to process large databases effectively and in a short time. Combine it all with the ability to create graphs that simplify the representation and interpretation of data and you will no longer be able to do without Excel.
It goes without saying that an SEO needs to know HTML by heart . The SEO professional reads the HTML code with ease and interprets each element and tag on sight in order to identify problems and errors by eye. On the other hand, how could you ever correct a Latin text if you don’t know Latin?
The areas of specialization are many and each with its own world: rules, required skills, support communities, advantages and disadvantages. I have always thought that specialization was the secret in the professional field, for SEO I am even more convinced.
Below is a list of the features and specializations that can help you specialize in SEO.
- Creativity and curiosity
- SEO copywriting
- Web systems engineer
- eCommerce, Tourism and Marketplace
- Commercial skills
- Economic skills
Creativity and curiosity
SEO is a matter without a manual, Google’s algorithms are secret and many of the SEO theories used today were born from the simple observation of cause and effect .
Google updates its algorithms practically every day, an SEO must study constantly to keep up with the times and to do so you need a lot of passion and curiosity. SEO is a profession you have to love to do it right.
Discovering the why of things is the mantra of the curious. How does an SEO discover new strategies or positioning factors for a website? With curiosity and creativity.
For an SEO it is vital to constantly test and experiment and then observe the changes. It is not at all easy to invent the perfect and uncritical experiment: often the tests we read online leave the time they find, the variables involved and the influences that can vary the final result are almost infinite. You need technical and theoretical competence to invent an effective sandbox test , but first of all you need great creativity and infinite curiosity.
I follow several curious SEO blogs that come up with interesting cases to study. Some curious SEOs that come to mind are Enrico Altavilla, Rand Fishkin, Glen Allsopp and Dan Petrovic. If you have never done so, I suggest you go through the archives of their blogs, they are full of experiments and interesting ideas.
There are countless ranking and indexing tests in black-hat SEO and affiliate marketing , and although I’m not a fan of these trends, I find it inspiring to watch search engine reactions.
Making an allegory, a good racing car must have a light and solid chassis and a powerful engine, however without gasoline it won’t go very far. So in SEO, technical interventions are basic to improve the frame and boost the website engine, but the fuel of SEO is the content .
The SEO copywriting activity is almost infinite, lasts for the entire life cycle of the website and is evaluated based on the quality of the content and the constancy of publication. For this reason, knowing the guidelines for correct writing optimized for search engines is a very important specialization: SEO copywriting helps Google to better understand the concepts expressed in HTML pages. An understood text will be able to position itself better and for more words than a content that Google struggles to understand.
Having an in-house SEO copy helps save on expensive content marketing efforts. Furthermore, expert SEO copy produces content with high efficiency in terms of organic traffic generated per page.
To name a few, Beatrice Niciarelli and Valentina Falcinelli are very experienced copywriters who have been operating successfully for years thanks to their skills in writing for the web.
I know several SEO experts of specific CMS: there are experts in Magento , Prestashop , WordPress, etc. The specialization allows you to work on advanced and complex projects and therefore rewarding both from a professional and economic point of view.
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and WordPress SEO experts are as popular abroad as in Italy. With the specialization it is easier to study because you define the field of action and you have the opportunity to deepen. It is also easier to position yourself in niches than to compete on more general terms as an SEO consultant . Better 10% of little than 0% of everything.
<sarcasm> I’m sure a hypothetical SEO for WiX could become a millionaire! </sarcasm>
To study CMS you must know the programming languages used to develop them, this will allow you to correct problems in the code, optimize and create new functions. The most modern and famous CMS like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal generate HTML code through PHP and mySQL.
Some names of CMS experts? So on the spot I can tell you Enea Overclokk and Andrea Cardinali for WordPress, Maurizio Palermo and Stefano Rigazio for Joomla.
In Italy there are excellent SEOs with programming skills. Do you know Maurizio Ceravolo, Andrea Pernici and Ivano Di Biasi? They are professionals that I have the pleasure of meeting and that I respect a lot in terms of programming skills.
Web systems engineer
Important sites are hardly hosted on shared servers and with cPanel to manage settings. Multinationals and not only in fact need dedicated servers, virtual or cloud servers possibly behind a CDN, a firewall and a load balancer.
Being able to set up a web server allows, in addition to securing, to maximize machine performance and optimize the technical aspects on which page loading speed depends . A fast server supports the search engine spiders and consequently favors the indexing and ranking of the website contents.
I know very few SEOs who can get their hands on Ubuntu , optimize a mySQL server, install and optimize Nginx or Apache and set PHP (-fpm). The web SEO systems undoubtedly have more possibilities to optimize a website and more room for improvement than those who stop at W3 Total Cache.
To squeeze the maximum out of a web server you need a web system engineer with balls , Andrea Pernici is definitely a point of reference. Massimo Della Rovere, a web server, cloud and WordPress expert, also comes to mind.
eCommerce and Marketplace
ECommerce sites are a category of their own, constantly growing and continuously developing. Specializing in the optimization of online sales portals is a good strategy to carve out a niche with excellent growth potential.
Still in the eCommerce field, the success of the marketplaces connected to eCommerce is under everyone’s eyes. Some marketplaces have become as important sources of sales as paid and organic traffic.
Citing the most well-known sites such as Amazon, eBay, Trovaprezzo in the consumer and Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Trivago in the tourism sector, are able to convey significant volumes of traffic and sales if correctly set and optimized. Have you noticed that, after SEO for YouTube , the figure of SEO for Amazon was born a few years ago ?
Becoming an SEO expert for eCommerce, tourism and marketplace sites is another way to differentiate yourself and occupy space in a niche with growing trends.
An Italian expert in Tourism Digital Marketing is Armando Travaglini, while Simone Righini in 2016 had published an in-depth study on ranking factors in Amazon.
You can also be the best SEO in the world but if you don’t know how to sell you can never maximize your profit.
I have seen good SEOs earn little because they are not experts in business negotiations and denials for networking. Then I saw totally inexperienced SEOs making good money because they are very good at selling themselves. Neither extreme is obviously the ideal professional, but between the two I choose the one who earns the best.
A good SEO knows how to make his skills perceived, he is able to best expose his strengths, transmits trust and above all he sells his time at the right price. With this I am not saying that you have to get extra paid regardless, everything is commensurate with your experience. A novice SEO demonstrates honesty in selling consultancy at affordable rates, while an experienced SEO may rightfully charge higher rates. This is how it works in all professions.
A professional activity does not go on alone, it must be managed with perseverance, common sense and foresight. You don’t need a business degree to do SEO and possibly run a small agency, but pursuing good economic management of your business helps business continuity and profit generation. Who works for glory after all?
As we all know, omniscience does not exist, although after seeing the movie Highlander in 1986 I dreamed of being able to get it one day. I think we agree that it is impossible to specialize in all areas related to SEO.
I told you that there are SEO experts in niches, I have indicated you some Italian and non-Italian professionals. SEO experts in everything I have not yet known and I do not think I will ever know one (except perhaps the legendary Andrea Pernici, he is from another planet: he develops like a developer, knows how to express himself with interesting content and chews SEO like few others can. ).
Continuing on the guideline of specialization, the best SEO in everything does not exist, there is only the most suitable professional figure to solve a specific case.
Do you want a tip? Choose the material you are most passionate about and throw yourself headlong into body and soul. Read, study, learn, experiment, write, share. Occupy and preside over a good niche!
How to represent the skills of an SEO graphically?
To graphically represent the characteristics and skills of a professional SEO, I found the radar chart useful, also convenient for comparing the skills of two or more professionals by superimposing the areas of the graph.
Below I have included a small tool that you can use to create the custom badge with the levels of your SEO skills .
IngleseAnalisi datiExcelSEO CopywritingCreativoHTMLCMSProgrammatoreSistemistaeCommerceCommercialeEconomico5555555555550246
Customize the radar chart and create your SEO badge! You can download the badge as an image and insert it on your website. Enter a value between 0 and 9 for each skill and update the graph.
Are you a developer? I’ll throw it … It would be interesting to develop a database of Italian SEOs with the radar chart for each profile and the possibility of comparing two or more profiles. Skills would be voted on by sailors. What do you say, do we do it?
Read More: Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A Strategy