If you want to become an SEO specialist this is what it takes

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An SEO specialist is a specialized marketing professional in charge of making sure companies raise their rankings on Search Engine Results pages (SERP), by designing, developing and promoting high quality websites.

Although to be able to work as an SEO a degree or certification is not needed, ongoing education is a total must. The field of work changes rapidly and these professionals are required to re-evaluate and update their skill sets and search engine criteria. This means that as search engines modify their search algorithms to provide a more objective ranking of webpages, the specialists need to reshape the digital profiles of their clients to update their respective rankings. So an SEO specialist needs to attend conferences and workshops with experts in the industry; watch webinars and training videos to access online informational videos and follow blogs with credibility and pertinence.

However, most job openings for SEO specialists according to eHow.com, require at least a Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications or information technology; one to three years in online marketing and knowledge of HTML, CSS and various programming languages.

You could consider certification, but they mainly consist of organizations that offer training programs and a certificate at the end of the program. There are no national or regional certification boards. The Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) used to offer courses but recently discontinued them. So until a formal certification is established, SEO specialists must ensure they are ready to assume different types of responsibilities within a company or industry, which entail the following skills:

Search engine parameters and information technology skills

One of the most important skills an SEO specialist must have is to maintain and keep an updated understanding of what the search engines (especially Google) are using as criteria for SERP, because these will determine the design choices that must be made. And of course, these experts must have a good control of HTML, CSS, programming languages, operating systems and hardware platforms.

Website analysis

To keep in line with changes and development of the latest standards of search engines optimization, SEO specialists must be fluent in keywords, formatting and content among other areas he needs to analyze, redesign and rebuild a website. One of the most important parts of search engines is the adoption of backlinks into their algorithms. So a specialist must develop authentic backlinks to the client’s website from other reputable websites, which requires a huge amount of expertise and human management skills.

Keyword optimization and content generation

Knowing what keywords are just right and how to organically incorporate them into web pages is one of the most important skills an SEO specialists must develop; along with knowing what text, information and graphic content the website must follow to remain relevant in search engines. The focus on content is usually aimed at producing short articles, web dialogue or other forms of online text.

Client management and analytical processing

For obvious reasons, an SEO specialist must have an infallible knowledge of their client’s objectives to make sure they always follow their business strategy. Likewise, they should be able to analyze problems find appropriate resources and design solutions in a timely manner. Research and more research is the key to maintaining analytical and dynamic skills necessary to provide background for content writers, web developers and link builders.

Among the personal qualities you should have and cultivate if you want to become a professional in SEO are being: passionate so you can become an expert; able to multitask to cope with activities such as coding, copywriting, reporting, researching, auditing and outreaching all in a day’s work; a constant student to be open to change and in line with the latest developments; patient because results will not happen overnight; data driven to be able to dive into analysis; creative to be able to blend analysis with solutions and new proposals; and ultimately be a great communicator.

Here are some tips from proven SEO professionals to get you started on the right track:

“The best advice, don’t follow the changes. Just focus on writing the best content for your clients and their businesses. Write expert content that is hard to replicate. Don’t become experts in the Google algorithms, become experts in the content that you have to write about. So if you are writing about plumbing, make sure you know it better than most or don’t write it. Google wants the most authoritative content to rank the best and the best way to do that is to become an authority based on being an authority in your niche.” Barry Schwartz

“Don’t roll with the wrong crowd. There are lots of forums, discussion groups, and websites littered with terrible information on SEO. SEO has changed so much over the past couple years that the tactics that used to work two years ago will actually have negative impacts on your search visibility these days. Moz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Land are the best sources of information when it comes to learning about what to do (and what not to do).” Jayson DeMers

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