This article is intended for SEOs who want to stay fresh, but others may find it useful as well:

  • Companies hiring for a web project
  • SEOs on the job hunt
  • Businesses who want to do better with SEO

Obviously search engines change the way they rank sites and that sometimes impacts the skill set for SEO. So, here we go.

Possesses an analytical mindset

People with an analytical mindset have a unique ability to solve problems by logically collecting and analyzing information and then formulating a plan of action. Without this skill, you could be feeling your way around an algorithm without solid guidance. Analytical minds can also identify which metrics are truly important for a project or client.

Empathizes with search engineers

Hey, they have an extremely complex job trying to plug up leaks in the algo, deal with spam, make the search user experience helpful and intuitive, deal with hot heads over “favoritism” issues and keep up with the ever changing web. Whew, do you want that job?

If you understand how search engineers think about these issues, you are well on your way to help them help you. They really do want quality, useful stuff to get to the top – don’t give up.

Possesses a good understanding of markup

  • When to use and not use rel=”canonical”
  • Rich snippet tags: microdata, microformats, and RDFa such as rel=”author” and other schema standards

The foundation of the web is code. Is it in you?

Understands the history and future of SEO

If you don’t know where we’ve been thus far (Google’s major algo changes and undisputed guidelines), you are likely to make assumptions and then mistakes that could easily be avoided. If your site is penalized, there is no guarantee when Google will look at your reconsideration request or if they will honor it and remove the penalty.

The future of SEO belongs to those who research the algorithms. Wouldn’t you like to confidently say: “No matter how SEO changes, I’ll be on the cutting edge.”

Understands conversion

SEO is not always about rankings but it is always about achieving specific goals. Many people think conversion optimization is about getting more results out of the traffic you have, and it is but it should start with a plan to get better quality traffic – identifying and selecting keywords that consistently bring in traffic that converts.

Understanding conversion means you know how to track, measure and report every piece of your marketing funnel:

  • Traffic acquisition sources to track
  • Conversion goals defined and trackable
  • Follow up tasks defined
  • Design testing plans for each step in the conversion funnel
  • Judge winner combinations over losers
  • Report findings and recommendations to decision makers

Conversion should be the primary goal of SEO; otherwise ROI goes down, instead of up.

Able to create a site to rank for a competitive keyword

Competitive keywords require great strategies to get off the blocks with a surge. Certainly site architecture helps here but the real question is what strategy will get the industry behind the new site or brand. Social media might come into play here, but not necessarily. If so, you need the ability to make friends and amass influence. Either way, the bottom line is building up a solid base of fans who spread the word for you.

Remember Pinky and the Brain? You need an evil plan for world domination!

Able to create scalable link building strategies

Good link building strategies are fun rather than a burden and easy to scale, otherwise link building might get ignored or not really keep up with the competition.

Able to easily generate content that is link worthy

Good content is fine but great content builds links:

  • Build up a following by blogging about things that get tweeted and liked
  • Do something remarkable – “Wow!”
  • Unique research – fo’ free!
  • Offer widgets or cool awards for others to show off on their site
  • Humor can work for almost any market

Able to judge the value of a link

All links are not created equal, according to Google. If you correctly judge link value, you won’t waste time considering links that are questionable at best.

Able to measure competitor keywords, traffic, etc.

How quickly can you use competitor intelligence tools to slice up and get the low down on a competitor? Here are a few: SEMRush, Compete, Quantcast.

Able to measure social activity

Get a good grasp of how your site/brand is doing in social media with tools: socialmention, postrank analytics, Facebook insights, etc.

Looking for a SEO partner?

Thanks for reading, do leave a comment.

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.

    7 replies to "Top SEO Skills for Today and Beyond"

    • emory @ clickfire

      I keep honing in on the “Understanding the history and future of SEO” because the latest changes (I’m thinking of a certain black and white four-legged animal) seem to be so sudden and draconian and require different thinking than the old updates. Being able to predict or at least react appropriately to changes is a valuable skill for the future, IHMO.

    • Tom Shivers

      Hi Emory, the certain animal that you mentioned is a big reason why I prepared this post. I agree with you, since human interaction is part of the search rank scheme now the predictability element is much more complex. I think you are doing some research and reporting on some of your findings at your blog

    • Kevin @ Calgary Web Design

      Very useful post!

      Can you explain this a little more though

      “When to use and not use rel=”canonical””

      I have not heard of this before. I have made sure all my url’s resolve to same address but I am not sure what this code line will do for my SEO as it is new to me.

    • Tom Shivers

      @Kevin, glad you find it useful. When a site has multiple pages with identical or nearly identical content, rel=”canonical” let’s Google know which of the identical pages to show in search results. This is a useful SEO tool in a number of situations such as specifying the product page that has been optimized and dealing with URL changes, but if you don’t handle URL changes adequately, rel=canonical can hurt you.

    • Sandy Koffler

      Tom – Good article. I think I get a passing grade on all but “create scalable link building strategies”. Might be a good subject for a future article.


      A few nice tips here i enjoy a good article on SEO tricks

    • Chris Haughey

      Good stuff Tom, I was glad to see conversion was one of the factors on this list. Subscribed! Thanks for the information.

Comments are closed.