SEO is an extremely fast-paced and ever-changing field. SEOs need to learn to adapt with Google’s algorithmic changes, but that’s part of what makes SEO so interesting. The job is never stagnate. One day you might be writing content blogs, and the next you’re getting rid of bad links to a client’s ecommerce site. While the field is always changing, I believe there are 5 traits of the paradigm SEO: being an avid learner, being skeptical, being analytical, being a good communicator, and having a love for writing. Having these qualities separates the good from the great.
Be an Avid Learner
Being ready and willing to learn is absolutely imperative to being a good SEO, and it’s one of my favorite things about SEO. It seems that SEOs are in a constant battle with Google; often when a good strategy is found, Google finds a way to penalize those who abuse it. There’s no magic bullet that will solve all our SEO woes, but that’s why we need to be constantly trying new strategies and measuring them. It allows for great communities like Inbound.org, where SEOs band together to educate and learn. But we need to be careful about the information we absorb, which leads me to my second trait…
Great SEOs don’t believe everything they read. Moz writer Gianlucu Fiorelli wrote an excellent article on the Myth of Google’s 200 Ranking Factors. It’s a great read, and he calls out Backlinko’s Brian Dean for his list of Google’s “200 ranking factors”. Brian defends himself in the comments by claiming his list was never intended to be an official guide to Google’s ranking factors. He writes, “the list contains ranking factors that are controversial and speculative”. The big take away: be careful what you read. Skimming through articles from “SEO experts” can do more harm than good. There’s no official list put out by Google, and outside of best practices much of SEO is going to be trial and error. Remember that correlation does not prove causation, so always be skeptical of “proven strategies”. Find what works for your company or client and excel at it.
Problem solving is what SEOs do. Have a client with crawl errors galore? It’s time to run a Screaming Frog report and identify what’s wrong. Did your client get a slap on the wrist from Penguin? Time to track those bad backlinks and disavow them. Not getting results from your link building efforts? Identify what’s wrong with your tactic and revise accordingly.
Be a Good Communicator
You’re going to be communicating a lot in the SEO profession. You’ll also be communicating to a variety of different people: co-workers, bosses, developers, writers, bloggers, reporters, journalists, and fellow digital marketers. You’ll need to be able to speak their language. Learning the basics of HTML, CSS and PHP will help you communicate with developers. Understanding deadlines and figuring out how to pitch will help you appeal to journalists. How you communicate will determine the success of any given SEO campaign.
Be a writer
Writing isn’t easy, but you’ll certainly be doing a lot of writing in SEO. Content marketing has become intertwined with SEO, and good content starts with good writing. You’ll need catchy headlines that grab your audience’s attention and a message that actually drives conversions, not just views. Page views are great, but at the end of the day conversion is king. Your writing needs to compel and drive results.
You’ll also be pitching your content to bloggers and journalists, which involves writing captivating subject lines that increase open rate. Once you get the blogger or journalist to open your pitch, you’ll have a brief window to sell your content, so concise writing is imperative to successful outreach efforts.