If you want to start a career in SEO, the first step is to build your SEO skills.
Successful SEO professionals need to have a diverse set of skills including technical SEO skills but also other skills like project management and data analytics.
The good news is that there are a plethora of online resources you can use to learn SEO yourself without having to attend a formal classroom.
What is even better is that once you learn the basics, you can build your experience by practising SEO on your own website or applying for an entry-level SEO job.
Getting an SEO job is relatively easy these days as there is an increased demand for SEO professionals of all levels.
In this guide, you’ll learn what are the top SEO skills that will help you become good at SEO and increase your employability.
By the end, you’ll know exactly what skills are needed along with a roadmap of helpful SEO resources to assist your learning journey.
Top Required Skills for SEO Professionals
- Keyword Research Skills
- Technical SEO Skills
- Google Search Console Skills
- Google Analytics Skills
- Link Building Skills
- On-Page SEO Skills
- Mobile SEO Skills
- Local SEO Skills
- CRO Skills
- Hands-on Experience With Popular SEO Tools
1. Keyword Research Skills
The first step to becoming an SEO expert is to build your keyword research skills.
Keyword research has to do with your ability to find words or phrases users are searching for that are relevant to your business and have adequate search volume.
The end goal of keyword research is to use these keywords in your content (blogs, website, etc.) so that your page can rank higher on search engines and gain more organic traffic.
Keyword research is an essential SEO skill to master because it helps you create relevant content to satisfy the user’s intent.
To begin keyword research, you first need to choose a generic topic and then with the help of a keyword research tool (and other techniques) to find keywords associated with the specific topic.
How to build your keyword research skills
The best way to build your keyword research skills is to follow a tutorial or course that explains the process from start to finish.
One great option is our Keyword Research course. It’s a course for beginners to keyword research and it will teach you everything you need to know in simple terms. It includes videos, tutorials, and examples on how to successfully perform keyword research for any topic.
If you want more options, you can read our best keyword research courses post that includes a list of the top free and paid keyword research courses available online.
2. Technical SEO Skills
Technical SEO is another essential skill to know because it deals with your ability to help websites get discovered and indexed correctly by search engines.
With technical SEO, you’ll learn to implement tactics such as page speed optimization, sitemaps, and proper URL structures that help search engines crawl websites, index, and understand them better.
Here are some other components that go into technical SEO:
- Removing broken links
- Implementing robots.txt file that guides search engines on what to crawl
- XML Sitemaps
- Basic HTML + CSS skills
- Optimizing Page Tags
- Schema markup
- Managing Metadata
How to build your technical SEO skills
With the many Technical SEO components, learning from dedicated experts can save you hours of learning time. Enrolling in a technical SEO course is the recommended way to build your technical SEO skills fast.
Another great resource to improve your technical SEO skills is this guide from Google.
3. Google Search Console Skills
Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you better grasp how your website is performing on Google.
Google search console lets you:
- Add and verify your website with Google
- Know your position on Google
- Track search performance by region (country, state, etc.)
- Pinpoint site clicks and impressions
- Identify what issues Google is recognizing with your website
And much more.
It’s free to use and helps you measure how effective your SEO efforts are along with valuable insights on what to improve upon.
How to build your Google search console skills
This tool is covered in our complete SEO course where we walk you through all the detailed implementation steps.
You can also use these resources:
4. Google Analytics Skills
Google Analytics skills are critical for everyone wishing to make a successful SEO career. With Analytics you will be able to track, measure and analyze your website’s traffic.
In simple terms, it’s a reliable way of seeing how your visitors (from SEO or any marketing strategy) are interacting with your website.
Google analytics lets you:
- Analyze how many people are visiting your website
- Understand your traffic demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
- Know what pages your traffic is visiting the most
- Be aware of how many people are bouncing from your website and on which page(s)
- Learn what channel(s) most of your traffic is coming from
How to build your Google analytics skills
One of the best ways to learn Google Analytics is to follow the official Google Analytics course provided by Google. It’s a free course that comes with a Google Analytics certification.
After completing this certification, you’ll have the strong Google analytic skills that great SEO specialists have, along with a marketing certification that top companies, as well as clients, will be looking for.
5. Link Building Skills
SEO specialists leverage link building to get as many credible websites to link back to their website as possible. In SEO terms, this is known as ‘link building’.
Link building is a critical SEO process because it helps Google’s algorithm recognize credible and valuable websites, thanks to other websites linking to them.
It is widely accepted in the SEO industry that link building is one of the most difficult SEO skills to build.
To become good at link building you need to know:
- How to identify link opportunities that can make a difference in rankings
- How to acquire those links
- How to run link building campaigns without violating Google link building guidelines
How to build your link building skills
I know from experience that it’s difficult for beginners to SEO to understand how link building works and much more difficult to get results from it.
You can use the following resources to get started in the right direction:
If you want to go deeper into link building and learn the techniques used by successful link builders, you can consider enrolling in a certified SEO course.
6. On-Page SEO Skills
The next skill SEO managers should be great at is on-page SEO.
On-page SEO deals with the ability to optimize the contents on a webpage so that it fulfils two goals.
The first is to help users find what they are looking for in the fastest possible way.
The second, to give enough clues to search engines to understand what the page is all about.
Here are some on-page SEO practices you’ll likely come across:
- H1 tag optimization
- Keyword frequency
- Meta description optimization (this gives the potential visitors further information on what the page is about before clicking)
- Internal and external linking
- URL optimization
- Well written, high-quality content
Keep in mind that with on-page SEO, it’s not about stuffing keywords or linking to every single page on your website (in fact, that may backfire when it comes to search engines).
Rather, it’s about creating valuable content that satisfies search intent:
- Matches the main keywords that someone would search for
- Provides great and valuable subject matter that the keyword centres around
How to build your on-page SEO skills
On-page SEO is one of the easiest to build SEO skills. You can learn everything there is to know about on-page SEO is a free SEO Course. Any course you chose from the list, will make you an on-page SEO expert in no time!
7. Mobile SEO Skills
In today’s age, everyone has a smartphone handy, so it only makes sense that a website should be optimized for the mobile user experience.
In fact, mobile accounts for 61% (and counting) of the total search engine share of the internet.
Today’s visitor is looking for websites that load quickly, are responsive and that show an overall great user experience.
This is where mobile SEO comes in.
Mobile SEO differs from traditional desktop SEO in a few ways:
- Searches Engine Result Pages (SERPs) change a lot more on mobile, based on the location of the user (GPS)
- The structure of the results pages themselves change to fit the mobile view
How to build your mobile SEO skills
As an SEO executive, you need to have a good understanding of how Google treats mobile websites and how to optimize a website so that it offers a great experience to users.
The best way to get started is the mobile-friendly guide by Google. It explains what a mobile-friendly website is and much other useful information on how to optimize a website for Google mobile results.
8. Local SEO Skills
Local SEO is a subset of SEO that refers to a set of rules specific to websites that want to rank higher for location-aware search queries.
This is especially important for businesses that have a physical location or serve a specific area.
Your local SEO skills can help a business get discovered by those searching nearby.
Here are some local SEO best practices you’ll come across:
- Optimizing a Google My Business listing
- Consistent Online directory listings (same information on platforms like Yelp, and Foursquare)
- Adding website location pages
How to build your local SEO skills
You can use our local SEO checklist to learn more about Local SEO. It explains in detail what elements are important for location-aware queries and how to best optimize them.
You can also view our list of the best Local SEO courses.
9. CRO Skills
CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) deals with your ability to convert website visitors to a particular product or offer.
It’s a widely needed skill for many businesses because it has a direct impact on revenue and profit.
Think about it:
If an eCommerce website is getting a lot of traffic but nobody is buying over a period of time. They would need to take measures to improve their conversion rate, right?
So this is where CRO abilities come to play.
CRO skills include things such as:
- A/B testing web pages
- Conversion research
- Website analytics
SEO managers should be very familiar with CRO because it’s a high-value skill that can help businesses capitalize on the traffic that they previously weren’t converting.
How to build your CRO skills
You can use the following resources to become good at conversion rate optimization:
10. Hands-on Experience With Popular SEO Tools
The final big picture skill of SEO is your hands-on experience with the necessary tools.
Practising and getting used to SEO tools is an important step in understanding how it works and why website issues occur in the first place.
Without practising with these tools, you might find yourself doing SEO work in a less streamlined fashion, and even worse, with subpar results.
Here are 4 of the best SEO tools to help you accomplish the major tasks that you’ll be responsible for as an SEO specialist.
- Screaming Frog
Other Skills Needed By SEO Specialists
Along with the top 10 skills, there are other “surrounding” skill sets that will complete your SEO abilities.
The most important are:
- Critical thinking – This deals with your ability to think through problems and weigh in multiple factors to solve a problem. Critical thinking also encompasses “outside-the-box” ideas that you may not typically think about.
- Digital marketing skills – Digital marketing is an umbrella term for tactics that help a brand or business build online awareness and sales. This can include things like understanding how paid ads work, CRM use-cases, data analysis, social media and much more.
- Communication skills – Communication is needed in practically any profession and it’s even a lifelong skill. Your ability to communicate clearly and relay information can help you better manage relationships with customers/clients, employers and colleagues. Sometimes, you’ll have to translate technical SEO jargon to people that may not know about it as in-depth as you do
- Project management skills – Project management encompasses your ability to manage project workflows, establish deliverable timelines, and work with others. This skill is what ensures projects are completed in a timely manner and it often requires you to break your SEO project into “mini-milestones.” Within this skill, you’ll need to cultivate time management, leadership, organization and collaboration.
Learning SEO is an ongoing process and it involves technical know-how of website functionality, search engines, and web page components. But it also involves less technical skills like communication and critical thinking.
Your skills won’t magically make you an expert in a day, but through time you’ll notice huge improvements that will set you apart.
When learning, It’s vital to balance the theory of SEO with real-world practice so you get more and more confident with your skillset.
Another key thing to note is the importance of staying up to date with Google algorithm changes and other search engine updates as they can contribute to what’s successful and what’s not.
Because after all, the SEO of just 6 years ago, is drastically different from the SEO of today.
And lastly, continue to refine your skills routinely to stay sharp and effective.
Good luck with your SEO development!
Are there any critical SEO skills I missed? Let me know by leaving a comment below!