Search Engine Optimization Specialist

Job Pressure
Academic Pressure
2-3 L
Early Salary
4-5 L
Mid Level Salary
7-8 L
Senior Salary
Search engine optimization or SEO has emerged as an important industry in recent years due to the increasing power that search engines like Google wield.  As companies try to raise their rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), they are turning to a specialized marketing professional to accomplish this goal, the SEO specialist.  SEO specialists are tasked with designing, developing and promoting high quality websites. SEO specialists are not typically of the builders of the website, but is more often a consulting authority.

A Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist’s main role is to analyze, review and implement changes to websites so they are optimized for search engines. This means maximizing the traffic to a site by improving page rank within search engines. An SEO Specialist will develop original content to include keyword or phrases that will increase traffic to a site. They may also test and implement testing various search engine marketing techniques, web site layouts and advertising for search engine optimization.

What do they do?

SEO specialists are charged with a number of responsibilities, depending on the company and industry, within which they work.  SEO specialists who work as freelancers or within a marketing firm, should have a number of important skills:

  • Website analysis–It is critical to the success of any SEO marketing campaign that the target company website conform to the latest standards for search engine optimization.  Keywords, backlinks, formatting and content are but a few of the important areas that a SEO specialist consider as he analyzes, redesigns and rebuilds a website.
  • Keyword optimization–Researching keywords and organically introducing them into a website is essential to a SEO optimized page.
  • Content generation–The keywords are important, but the textual, informational, and graphical content that constitute the page must also be produced by the SEO specialist.
  • Search engine parameters–This may be the most important job of a SEO specialist. Maintaining an updated understanding of what the major search engines, and especially Google, are using as criteria for SERP informs all of the design choices a SEO specialist makes.
  • Information technology skills–A skilled SEO specialist should possess a strong background in HTML, CSS, a number of programming languages and familiarity with a variety of operating systems and hardware platforms.
  • Client management–The SEO specialist must maintain a working knowledge of his employer’s or client’s objectives.  Any optimized site must, first of all, conform to the business strategy of the site owner.
  • Analytical processing–The ability to analyze problems, find appropriate resources and develop solutions goes to the heart of the SEO specialist position.

Typical day in the life of a Search Engine Optimization Specialist

Link Building and Monitoring

Because link building plays such a vital role in website success, all good SEOs try to make this practice a part of their daily routines.  The only exception to this rule occurs in large SEO agencies, in which workers are specialized to handle different aspects of the SEO process—whether that’s content creation, on-site optimization, link building, or some other element of the digital marketing process.

In all other cases, SEOs are constantly looking for new opportunities to create links, reading industry blogs to find new link building ideas, or tracking existing links in order to monitor and correct changes in a website’s backlink profile.

Education and Community Interactions

Because the Internet marketing industry is constantly changing, ongoing education is an important part of any SEOs work day. In most cases, this takes the form of perusing industry blogs to stay abreast of any major algorithm changes or newly discovered SEO techniques.

At the same time, SEOs may leave comments on these articles, post messages in community forums, or ask questions on social media websites. Not only do these techniques help to expand an SEOs knowledge, they’re also great for building up a reputation and a perceived level of authority in a sometimes cutthroat industry.

Testing SEO Theories to “Learn by Doing”

Good SEOs put their SEO theories to practice on their websites in order to determine conclusively what is and what isn’t working at any given time. Because Google and the other search engines never fully reveal all their secrets (and because not all of the advice found on industry blogs is legit or trustworthy), real SEOs know that they’ll only uncover the truth about what components cause a website to rank well in the SERPs by experimenting in real world settings.

Tracking Rankings, Traffic, and Conversion Rates

Probably the most boring part of any SEO’s day is the time spent tracking ranking, traffic, and conversion rate metrics. A good SEO relies on complete sets of data, and unfortunately, there are really no shortcuts when it comes to compiling and analyzing these figures.

But however mind-numbing this data collection may be, SEOs recognize that it’s vitally important. Staying on top of even minor downturns in Web data trends can help SEOs to nip potentially serious problems in the bud by taking corrective action before serious search engine penalties can be assessed.

On-site Optimization<

On-site optimization is never over. No matter how many code corrections, content tweaks, or image updates an SEO makes, there will always be new elements to optimize and others that can be optimized better.

For this reason, many agencies will expand their team of on-site analysts before growing any other part of their companies, especially considering that changes made to on-site elements often result in the fastest improvements in a site’s performance. Unlike backlinks, which may take time to index and value, on-site changes can make a significant difference in how well the search engines can read a website, making these tweaks a top priority for any SEO—agency-based or otherwise.

Monitoring Website Competitors

Paying attention to changes made on competitor websites offers a number of different benefits to working SEOs. Carefully monitoring a competitor’s backlink profile may expose weaknesses in the company’s strategy that allow the working SEO to surge past his opponent in the SERPs. For example, if a competitor’s link graph shows no evidence of social media marketing, focusing on this strategy could give an SEO the edge needed to attain even higher natural search rankings.

At the same time, monitoring a competitor’s activities may reveal information on new strategies that either work or don’t. It can be time-consuming to monitor both in-house websites and competitor pages, but good SEOs know that there’s plenty of quality information to be gained if they’re willing to put in the effort.

Collaborating with Internal Development, Marketing, and Product Teams

Today, SEO is about more than just backlinks and on-site optimization. A good SEO campaign requires collaboration with development teams (to ensure that a site’s code is functioning optimally from an SEO standpoint), with marketing team (to identify any branding elements that should be used appropriately on the website), and with product teams (to enhance product sales pages in order to create a stronger on-site user experience).

As a result, all SEOs must spend time collaborating with relevant parties, either with fellow in-house employees or by setting up meetings with client departments. While these activities do take time away from “hard SEO,” they’re important as they can ultimately result in a stronger website that appeals better to both the site visitors and the search engines.

Oh, the email …  As pretty much anyone who works online knows that there’s never a shortage of email messages to check. From client communications to internal company updates and from industry newsletters to social networking profile notifications, all SEOs spend at least part of their days checking and responding to email.


Spending time connecting with others in the industry isn’t just important for agency-employed SEOs, who often rely on these casual contacts in order to drum up new business and learn new techniques by “talking shop” with one another.

As an added bonus, getting out there and shooting the breeze with others can be one of the easiest ways to build links ever. I can’t tell you how many lunch meetings or happy hour cocktails I’ve had that have turned into powerful, high value backlinks pointing to my company’s website.

Pros about this career

  • Make good money
  • High demand for SEO service

Cons about this career

  • Lots of learning
  • Dependent on search engines
  • No fixed rules
  • SEO requires patience

Skills needed

  • Patience
  • Business Analytic
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

How do I get there

At present, there is no official governing body for the SEO industry and there are no fixed  standards to follow. However, several large and influential institutions and organizations have started to offer International certifications for completing SEO courses. Taking these courses can enhance your resume.

There are ample opportunities to learn about SEO for free because of the preponderance of information available and the willingness of SEOs to share their knowledge publicly. I strongly recommend that an SEO newbie read and reread both the Google SEO Starter Guide and the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO documents.

To protect yourself from those who make such false claims, be aware of the concept of “white hat” versus “black hat” SEO advice.