Content Marketing

How to Become (or Hire) an SEO Specialist

We all have those aspects of our business that we absolutely love.

Some people are graphic gurus who can’t wait to transform images for social media and create jaw-dropping interactive content.

Others are more hands-on, getting in on the technical aspect of things and working with code, layouts, and more.

And some really enjoy the process of search engine optimization (SEO).

If you’re this person or you need someone like this in your organization, then you’ll want to pay attention to this guide.

We’re outlining what an SEO specialist does and why having one or becoming one is important to a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy.

Plus, we’ll talk about what the job actually entails and the skills necessary to start this type of career.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

What is an SEO Specialist?

A search engine optimization specialist is a digital marketer who works to improve a website’s page for better organic traffic.

They’re extremely well-versed with the ins and outs of things like Google algorithm changes, on-site optimization, off-site tasks, and more.

These individuals are usually the key catalyst when it comes to driving website traffic, as they consistently learn more best practices and tactics to improve their skills.

Essentially, they’re no different than any other digital marketer in that they still have a drive to increase brand recognition, improve sales, and grow the company or companies they work for.

The only difference? 

They have a very specific set of skills when it comes to measuring and adjusting search engine rankings and traffic.

And that’s what sets them apart and makes them uber valuable to any organization. After all, Google is constantly changing things up.

What worked last year won’t today, which means a person with this job has to always have their finger on the pulse of the industry.

What Does an SEO Specialist Do?

Hiring an experienced SEO specialist to be part of your team is a crucial part of creating a strong organic growth strategy for your brand.

After all, search optimization is a big task. 

Trying to tackle that aspect of your digital marketing strategy and handle other facets of your business at the same time can be incredibly challenging.

However, having someone on board who understands and continues to learn about the best way to optimize a page means always having a strong online presence.

Here are some of the most common tasks an SEO specialist encounters on a regular basis:


An SEO specialist is often tasked with helping strategize all organic and paid traffic campaigns associated with search engine marketing.

This means looking at where a company’s website currently is and making plans to improve it in some manner — either through on-page tactics or off-page linking.

They usually also decide where certain technical elements need to be altered for a better ranking in the SERPs. 

For example, improving page speed or using certain structured data protocols.

Often, they work with other members of the marketing team to decide on overall goals or plan for upcoming promotions. 

Sometimes, they’ll implement pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns at the same time as a bigger offline advertising push.


In addition, SEO specialists are usually tasked with a large amount of research. 

Things like what keywords to target, how well the competition is performing, and the best practices for a particular niche and industry are all pieces of information necessary for better organic traffic.

They’ll also work to find other websites for guest posting or other top link building efforts. 

These are both elements of a strong off-page search engine optimization strategy, making the process a key part of this job.

Development & Creation

As you might have guessed, SEO specialists must also take charge when it comes to implementing the best practices necessary for better ranking.

Tasks like updating page titles and meta descriptions with improved keywords and writing compelling keyword-rich content are a major part of this process.

However, they also do a lot of collaboration with other members of the team. 

For example, the optimization specialist likely works with the web development team to ensure technical SEO is handled. 

And they also collaborate with the editorial team and copywriters to plan content creation.


The SEO specialist is also in charge of monitoring and reviewing data to see if goals are being met. 

They’ll use tools like Google Analytics or Moz to determine current traffic flow and see if there are certain areas that need adjustment.

Furthermore, they’re often in charge of budgets for things like copy creation, pay-per-click ad spend, and more. 

If a campaign isn’t doing well, they might adjust the funds to scale up another one that’s showing more promise.


Search marketing is an ever-changing process. This means that the job of an SEO specialist is never fully done.

Just when you think you’ve dialed in the exact way to gain massive amounts of traffic to your website, there always seems to be an algorithm change or some other adjustment that needs to be made.

SEO specialists must stay up-to-day with current industry trends and focus their optimization efforts accordingly.

Interactive checklist -- increase blog's traffic

What Are the Characteristics of a Successful SEO Specialist?

As you can tell, SEO specialists take on many roles within the digital marketing process. 

That’s why there are numerous characteristics one must have in order to be successful in this type of position.

Are you looking to become an SEO specialist or want to hire one to add to your digital marketing team? 

Here are a few characteristics you’ll want to learn or look for:

Solid Understanding of SEO Best Practices

In case you didn’t know, becoming an SEO specialist requires having a solid understanding of search best practices. 

This definitely means understanding the difference between the three levels — on-page, off-page, and technical — and why each of them matters.

SEO specialists should also have a firm understanding of basic concepts like keyword density, white hat tactics, black hat tactics, Google penalties, and the myriad of acronyms used on a daily basis. 

While it is easy to learn these things along the way, a solid SEO specialist should already be quite knowledgeable.

Knowledge of Consumer Behavior

Search engine optimization isn’t always cut and dry. 

What companies sometimes feel is the best approach to take with a target market sometimes misses entirely, which is why a good SEO Specialist will know the basics of consumer behavior.

For example, not everyone types in the same keywords when they do a Google search. 

An optimization specialist realizes this and uses content marketing as a way to clue in on other possible options to increase traffic. 

They also firmly get how brand voice and tone can make a difference in better click-through rates and responses.

Above-Average Communication Skills

Content marketing and search optimization are tasks that require a large amount of communication — whether that’s through the written word in a blog post or simply discussing strategy with other parts of the team.

Those who work in this position need to be able to articulate goals and explain topics in a clear, concise, and approachable manner. 

While a specialized degree in grammar isn’t necessary, they should be able to write effectively.

Ability to Adapt and Overcome

As we mentioned, search marketing changes at a very fast pace. 

What was once a totally killer strategy could be the next traffic killer. 

So, those who decide to take the career path of SEO specialist need to be ready to adapt and overcome at a moment’s notice.

Furthermore, they need to possess an innate ability to always look at the bigger picture and attempt to anticipate what’s to come. 

While this isn’t always possible, staying in tune with the industry and what might potentially be the focus of digital marketing in the future is crucial.

How Do You Become an SEO Specialist?

Unfortunately, there is no direct college degree associated with becoming an SEO specialist. 

Instead, most start as content writers, web developers, or marketing experts who continue to learn more about search optimization.

However, there are plenty of online classes and guides you can review. 

In fact, our Rock Content blog includes many materials that can help bring you up to speed on what to look for within the digital marketing industry.

Additionally, Google offers many free classes, courses, and certifications via online learning. 

These are self-paced programs that allow you to get an understanding of how the industry works and what it takes to be successful as a digital marketer.

Wrap Up: Learning More About SEO Jobs and Digital Marketing

As you can tell, an SEO specialist is a key figure in any digital marketing team. 

The numerous duties they handle and the skills necessary to get the job done can help free up other staff to work on various other projects.

Are you looking to learn more about how SEO works? This Rock Content guide is a good place to start.


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