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Whether you’re looking to do online marketing for a company in-house, hoping to snag a job with a leading internet marketing agency like SEO.com, or even looking to hire someone to do SEO for your business there are a few basic, yet important skills a successful SEO specialist should have to begin with. Here’s a look at three:

1. Exceptional Writing Skills

A bright future for someone looking into doing SEO will undoubtedly be tied to how well they can produce quality digital content. Today we focus more heavily on a blogging style, though with all types of content it really comes down to the ability to create original, authoritative and thought-provoking writing.

They say “content is king.” This saying couldn’t be truer in the SEO world as Google and other search engines are continually placing more and more importance in their algorithms on quality, authentic website content. In order for a website to rank well in search engine results, SEO teams should be providing this type of ongoing content in several forms such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Guest blog posts (writing for someone else’s blog)
  • Blog commenting
  • Google+ micro posts (content for Google+ posting, usually 2-3 paragraphs covering a certain topic, incorporating a few keywords)
  • Facebook and other social media posts
  • Website page copy

Beyond these types of content, beginner SEO specialists will also need to be capable of writing quality e-mails in order to reach out to blogs and news sites. Reaching out via email is a significant part of an internet marketer’s job and will help you make sure your winning content doesn’t go to waste. Simply put, the more solid your set of writing skills, the easier it is to market a website and build connections anywhere on the Internet.

In the past, SEO writers wrote with the search engines in mind as their audience. They used certain keyword phrases over and over in their writing in order to match the keywords people were using to search for websites. This is no longer how search marketers should write if they are looking to impress the search engines. The most searchable, well-ranking websites aim their content at real-life humans! Good news for all of you who write stuff you want to be read. The more useful, credible, interesting and shareable your writing is, the more success you’ll have with website rankings and ultimately in your career as a search marketer. Be sure to incorporate this advice whether you’re writing a spotlighted blog post or just commenting on someone else’s work. Be genuine and add true value.

Here are some blogs that I love to read and might give you ideas about what great content is:

  • Seth Godin’s blog – short, yet powerful and original daily posts to a targeted audience
  • http:/www.gereports.com/ – not just out there to make light bulbs, they host a wealth of interesting articles that tell gripping stories
  • http://www.blogsouthwest.com/ – unique blend of honesty, humor and travel advice through blog posts, video and podcasts
  • The infographic below is a starting point for someone looking to write in the SEO sense – mapping out four important writing characteristics that make for great content:

Infographic Source

2. Deep Social Media Knowledge

Another increasingly crucial skill companies and agencies look for is social media savvy. If you are already active and competent when it comes to the major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, you’ve got a good start. If not, don’t let social media intimidate you! Having a social strategy is now essential in building interactive relationships and trust with customers. Your personal network of connections will greatly benefit your company or agency as you create buzz among your own friends and acquaintances. Here at SEO.com, we leverage the social media connections of our employees to spread links to our infographics, blog posts, press releases and upcoming events.

The amount of love your website gets from the online world determines how much Google and Bing love you. Because search engines are placing more weight on how interactive, influential and fresh a website is, naturally they will be looking at social media activity. The more social signals a webpage is sending to search engines (“likes” on Facebook, “+1’s on Google+”, “pins” on Pinterest, customer reviews, etc.), the more likely on the search results page they will rank above competitors who aren’t staying active or engaging their audience when it comes to social media. For this reason, companies and SEO agencies look to recruit people who love and excel at creating buzz about products and services over social networks.

One platform to keep a close eye on is Google+. Many companies and websites are not currently including this network in their social media strategy, but as the platform continues to add users and innovate, an active Google+ business profile will play an important role in helping users share and discover brands and products. From a business perspective, Google+ is not only a place for customers to post and comment, but hosts and advertises event information, business locations and reviews, live video chat “Hangouts”, and attractive company photo layouts. Check out The Meatball Shop’s Google+ page for a visual of all of this. Become proficient on Google+ and tout this valuable knowledge when talking to recruiters.

Major social media platforms to master:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • StumbleUpon

3. Analytical Interpretation

If you’ve got a knack for web analytics, you’re in business, especially if you’re well-versed in Google Analytics (GA). The numbers behind the website and its traffic are a significant driving force behind marketing teams’ strategies and decisions as online marketing is eclipsing traditional marketing. Whether you are doing SEO in-house or at an internet marketing agency, reporting will be an essential part of every SEO campaign. When upper management is asking for measurable results from the marketing team, you will be their go-to person for this valuable data.

Not only do you want to measure website traffic as a whole, but marketers want to really drill down and see who is visiting their website, how they got there and what they’re viewing most.

Depending on your realm of job responsibilities, you’ll want to learn how to:

  • Segregate by visitor demographics
  • Gauge referral traffic
  • Find out which digital channels account for the most conversions and revenue
  • Monitor social media activity
  • Determine the value of specific keywords
  • Measure paid search and display advertising campaign success
  • Manage Google Alerts if you are using Google Analytics

Although Google Analytics is not the only analytics tool out there, it is definitely the most popular. Thankfully, there are a number of good tutorials out there to help you learn GA quickly. If you’re like me, you may need some measurable motivation to become an expert. You can become formally certified by passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) test . Getting familiar with this tool leaves you with better chances of fitting into an organization’s online marketing team. TechCrunch reports that 55% of the top 10,000 websites use GA, and here is the breakdown of analytics tools used among the Fortune 500 according to e-nor.

There are many skills that help make a successful SEO specialist. After mastering writing, social media and analytics the technical skills should be easy to acquire with on-the-job training. Wondering more about what an SEO specialist does on a day-to-day basis? SEOMoz created a stellar comprehensive beginner’s guide here.

If after finishing this post you’re interested in becoming an SEO specialist with SEO.com, be sure to visit our job description page and fill out an application!