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What is a Modern SEO Specialist?

Nov 12, 2014 / by Stephanie De Leon Patterson

What-is-a-modern-seo-specialist.jpgSeemingly a simple question, an SEO specialist could be described as someone who helps users find what they’re searching for when using search engines like Google and Bing. However, that is merely the tip of the search engine optimization iceberg.

Let’s consider the following example:

A Google search for “cat” returns Cat construction equipment, their Yahoo finance page, a Wikipedia article on the animal, and YouTube compilation videos of funny cats. Refining my search to “cat animal,” my search results are more relevant. I now see that same Wikipedia article ranking first, followed by YouTube videos and an Animal Planet cat guide.

If I am the owner of a cat boutique, why isn’t my website showing up in the search engine results for “cat”? How will people find me? What can an SEO do to help us be more visible online?

As SEO pros, it is our job to make your website (cat boutique or otherwise) show up at the top of the search engine results. 10 years ago that job looked a lot different than it does now, and it requires a whole new skill-set from what was needed back then.

A modern specialist must be able to:

  • Problem solve
  • Prioritize
  • Write intriguing content
  • Make a decision
  • Not fear research

As we go through the basics of what an SEO specialist does, take a look at how often these skills come up.

Improve URL Structure

URLs should be simple, descriptive and easy to read. While they may not have a huge impact on rankings, a poor URL structure is bad for the user experience and decreases clickthrough rate.

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Not this:


Required skill:

Make a decision

Fairly often there are many possible correct answers for how to solve a problem. That fact is especially true when it comes to changing URL structure on a website, and SEO specialists need to be able to make a good decision quickly instead of agonizing over the dozen possibilities.

Optimize Title Tags


The title tag is a major ranking factor in Google and is the text that shows up in bold on the search engine results page (SERP). You should include your main keyword in the title, have it flow naturally, and include your company name. Each title tag on your website needs to be unique and specific to what that page is about. Also, be consistent and structure every title tag the same way.

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Cat Beds & Blankets | The Best Cat Boutique

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Cat sleep Accessories - cat beds - cat Blankets - Cat boutique – thebestcatboutique

Required skill:

Not fear research

Keyword research is an SEO specialist’s bread and butter. It is by keywords that we know what to optimize and rank for in search engines. To properly optimize title tags we must first complete keyword research. It is not always glamorous or fast-paced, but specialists need to embrace the research rather than fear it.

Optimize Heading Tags


Heading tags are another major ranking factor for Google. Your headings indicate the main topic of the page, should include your main targeted keyword, and be unique to each page. Optimize your headings starting with H1, H2, and so forth. Each page should only have one H1, and it should be different from your title tag.

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Cat Beds

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Not fear research & Prioritize

Similar to title tags, keyword research is also necessary for heading tags. However, now we are getting into the other side of things: prioritizing. In SEO, there can be many things that need to be fixed on a website and they all may seem to be priority. As specialists, it is our job to prioritize tasks and knock them out one by one starting with most important to least important.

Include Meta Descriptions


Meta descriptions are similar to title tags in that they don’t necessarily help your rankings. They do, however, improve clickthrough rate and should not be forgotten or ignored. The meta description is what shows up underneath the title tag on the search engine results page. This is your opportunity to write directly for the user and entice them to click on your link instead of a competitor’s link. Be descriptive yet brief (under 160 characters to not be truncated in results) and include a call to action (i.e., click to learn more, contact us today, etc.).

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Great selection of quality cat beds at great prices. From discount to designer, there's a cat bed for your best friend! Shop today!

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Cat beds

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Write intriguing content

Meta descriptions are the commercial jingles of the SEO world. SEO specialists must be great writers technically and grammatically, but they also must write catchy and intriguing content. Who knew that 160 characters could be some of the most difficult to write.

Write Rich Content

Gone are the days of article spinning and keyword stuffing. Keywords are important, but they should be sprinkled in content rather than stuffed. We live in a post-Panda world, and content needs to be original, engaging, well written, and authoritative. SEO is important, but you need to be writing for users and not for search engines.

Before writing always ask yourself, “what is the purpose behind this article?” Do not create content just to create content, have a purpose for everything that you create and publish on your website. That purpose is what will drive your writing style and how you structure your content.

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  • Keyword sprinkled
  • Original content
  • Authoritative content

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  • Keyword stuffed
  • Thin content
  • Unreliable content

Required skill:

Write intriguing content

“Content is king”, so says Google at least. SEO specialists today know that search engines are placing increasing value on quality content, and we are feeling the pressure. We are not novelists by any means, but we do know how to write intriguing content that brings traffic to your website.

Add Internal Links

When Google crawls your site, they look for internal links. If Google finds links to other pages in your website they will go to those as well, but if Google doesn’t find any links they will simply leave. Internal linking not only lets Google know which pages are most important, but it can also increase user time spent on your website.

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  • Natural sentence fragments as anchor text
  • Relevant, helpful links
  • Link to pages deep within the site

Not this:

  • Optimized anchor text
  • Too many links on one page
  • Linking strictly to top level pages

Required skill:

Problem solving

Internal links require a lot of problem solving. SEO specialists know the importance of internal links, but executing that isn’t always easy. It takes time, thought, and the ability to problem-solve to really find the best locations and the best approach to internal links.

A Modern Approach

When it comes to SEO specialists, our jobs are part problem solver and part magician, trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat (in an established and effective way) to make Google happy. At the end of the day, what we do is really quite simple: we make sure your website is visible online, and we do our best to get you at the top of the search engine results so you have more traffic on your website. For your business, is there really anything more important than that?

Topics: SEO Blog

Stephanie De Leon Patterson

Written by Stephanie De Leon Patterson

Stephanie is a content strategist for SEO.com. She enjoys keeping up with the ever-changing SEO industry, spending time with her family, and furry creatures of all kinds.

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