What is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist

What is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist

One of jobs that are high in demand now is that of a search engine optimization specialist.

An SEO specialist is a person working as a freelancer or in a company and has the role of increasing the rankings of a website in search engines.

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about SEO specialists including their job responsibilities, skills needed, salary and how to get into search engine optimization and start an SEO career.

What is an SEO Specialist?

An SEO specialist is responsible for optimizing a website for search engines with the ultimate goal of improving its rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process to follow to increase the visibility of a website in search engines and get more organic traffic and an SEO specialist is someone who has the necessary skills to make this happen.

An SEO specialist is sometimes known as SEO expert, SEO professional, SEO Marketing specialist or SEO consultant.

You don’t need to go through a formal education and get a university degree to become an SEO specialist, as we’ll see below, there are many online courses and resources you can follow to build the necessary skills.

What is the Job description of a Search Engine Optimization Specialist?

An SEO specialist usually works in an SEO Agency, a Digital Marketing Agency or as a freelancer and a typical job description includes the following activities:

  • Knowing the different types of SEO and how to work with each one
  • Optimizing the technical infrastructure of a website for SEO
  • Improving the site structure and usability of a website
  • Analyzing a website’s SEO performance and doing SEO Audits
  • Performing keyword research and finding which keywords to target
  • Optimizing webpages for on-page SEO.
  • Improving the internal link structure of a website
  • Optimizing content for both search engines and users (SEO copywriting)
  • Running link building campaigns to improve a website’s link profile
  • Monitoring the rankings of a website in the various search engines
  • Be informed of changes in the SEO ranking factors and new developments in SEO
  • Knowing how to create, analyze and interpret SEO reports using Google Analytics and other reporting tools
  • Having a good knowledge of various SEO tools like Google Search console, Bing webmaster tools, SEMRUSH, Ahrefs etc.
  • Knowing how to work with popular CMS like WordPress
  • Having good knowledge of HTML
  • Working closely with the other members of the digital marketing team (social media professionals, PPC experts, web designers).
  • Designing and implementing an action plan for SEO.

How much do SEO specialists make?

SEO specialists can make from $50K per year to $150K per year. The salary of an SEO marketing specialist depends on three factors:

  • Experience
  • Region
  • Type of job (freelancer or employee)


SEO is not a skill you can master overnight or by following a course. It takes a lot of time, effort and hard work to get a clear understanding on how search works and be able to apply the different SEO techniques to actually increase the rankings and traffic of a website.

This is reflected in the salary of SEO professionals. Experienced SEO’s earn more than beginners (less than 2 years’ experience).

To be more precise:

  • The average hourly rate of an SEO specialist with less than two years’ experience is $79 per hour (in the US).
  • The average hourly rate of an experienced SEO, with more than 10 years’ experience is $140 per hour (in the US).
  • How much you can actually make depends on how many chargeable hours you have available per month.
  • This has to do with how big your client base is and what kind of rates your clients are willing to pay for SEO services.

What skills are needed to become an SEO Specialist?

To become an SEO specialist, you need to have a wide range of skills in your resume. These vary from speaking and writing skills to development and reporting.

To be more precise the most common SEO Specialist skills are:

English Reading / Writing skills

Even if you’re doing SEO for non-English websites, you need to have good English reading and writing skills. This will help you optimize content in English and also follow up any changes made to SEO algorithms and industry.

Mastering SEO in an ongoing-process and the majority of courses and learning guides are in English.

Technical SEO Skills

Technical SEO is usually the first process undertaken when starting an SEO project. As an SEO professional, you need to know which settings to check and optimize so that search engines can crawl and index a website without issues.

On-Page SEO Skills

The next step is to know how to optimize the SEO elements on a single page. Things like optimizing the page titles, meta description, headings, adding internal links and schema information to a page to make it easier for search crawlers to understand the context of the page and type of content.

SEO Writing Skills

Writing content that keeps both search engines and users happy is an art. It’s not easy to do and it takes time to learn how to keep balance between what users want and what search engines want.

Link Building Skills

Link building or Off-page SEO is a critical SEO success factor. If you don’t have the skills to manage link building campaigns successfully, it’s very difficult to work as an SEO specialist.

Knowing how to promote a website on the Internet and what to do after you hit the publish button, a very important step of the whole SEO process.

Analytical and Reporting Skills

A big part of your job will be spent on gathering and analyzing data about a website’s ranking, performing keyword research and doing competitor analysis.

This is a lot of data to analyze and you need to know how to use Excel, Google Analytics, Google Data studio and other reporting tools.

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