SEO Specialist: Who is he and what does he do?

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If you are reading these lines, probably you are wondering who a SEO Specialist is and what does he do. The reasons why you are asking this question may be different: simple curiosity, or maybe you are looking for a professional who can help your business. Or, again, you are looking for a job and want to specialize in this field, understanding better what this professional figure is, being it increasingly in demand.

First, let’s clarify what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization is a branch of Web Marketing that studies strategies and optimizations to apply to an online business in order to increase the visibility within the organic results pages on “search engines” (here I used the plural as a courtesy formula but we all know which search engine we are talking about, right?).

Who is the SEO Specialist?

A SEO Specialist, therefore, is the specialist in Search Engine Optimization. In short, its goal is to make a website visible to the largest number of people: by positioning its pages at the top of the search results, ensuring and possibly increasing qualified user traffic.

Being among the first results for certain types of web searches is fundamental for every company, because it means obtaining visibility by a large number of users and therefore potential leads. Conversely, invisibility is assured.

The SEO Specialist must know how a search engine works and, even more importantly, he must know how to interpret user searches, to optimize the website by intervening on known SEO factors and maybe even those a little less known.

What does a SEO Specialist do?

Understood who a SEO Specialist is, let’s outline what his operational tasks are and what does he do today to increase visibility and, consequently, business opportunities. Why do I say “today”? Because over the years the tasks and consequently the skills of a SEO Specialist have changed quite a bit.

Let me shed some light on something, which may seem trivial to many, but in my opinion it could help to clarify the boundaries within a SEO specialist must know how to juggle. Search engines, Google in particular, are not the Internet. I have taken the liberty of specifying this, because I have seen some confusion by many people in this regard. Google is a private company and its purpose is to provide its customers with the best service possible. The interest of the search engine is therefore to place in the first positions the best results, able to satisfy people who have questioned it for information. We must all admit, above all, that Google is formidable in this: not surprisingly it is by far the most used tool. To achieve these results the algorithms have been refined over the years and Google will continue to do so more often than we can imagine. This means that the SEO Specialist has been forced to evolve accordingly, becoming an increasingly transversal figure both in terms of skills and sensitivity. For this reason the activities of the SEO Specialist today must range from the more technical to those embracing Digital Marketing and Web Analytics.


So, what does a SEO Specialist do? A SEO Specialist uses all the strategies he knows to increase organic traffic to a site, he is responsible for its proper indexing and search engine rankings. Let’s see how.

SEO Audit

A SEO expert must know how to analyse a website to carry out a SEO Audit (a sort of check-up), a complex document where all the critical issues are collected, both at a technical and content level. At the same time, it must offer the best solutions and strategies to solve the problems identified in terms of SEO.

Competitive context analysis

A SEO Specialist must be able to analyse and understand the competitive environment in which a client operates or would like to operate to be visible to its potential customers. He must collect useful information from competitors’ websites, identifying strengths and weaknesses to understand what search engines reward by giving them visibility.

Keyword search

This is one of the oldest, but still fundamental, tasks for a successful SEO project: the professional must therefore know how to perform it at its best. The keyword search and its mapping are fundamental for any type of online business. Knowing exactly what people are looking for on Google, understand their intent, is useful (very useful) during all phases of a SEO project.

On-site SEO optimizations

A SEO Specialist takes care of the structure or architecture of a site (e-commerce, blog or showcase site) on the basis of information obtained from the analysis of the competitive context and keyword search carried out previously. The website must be browsable in an efficient and intuitive way, both for the people who visit it and for Google to interpret and evaluate its crawlers. It is important, in fact, to provide people with a good user experience because this will be rewarded in terms of visibility also by the search engine.

A good SEO must take care of the more technical aspects related to the performance of a website in terms of loading speed, which has become a very important SEO factor in recent years. He must, therefore, know how to “speak the same language” of a web developer to be able to collaborate and define together with him the best solutions, often very technical, to be implemented.

On-page SEO optimizations

A SEO Specialist must be able to optimize the content of website pages both at the Html and Css code level and at the semantic level. In this phase, for example, the titles with the relative Html tags (H1, H2, etc…) must be chosen, the images must be optimized and compressed in the correct way and so on. A SEO expert must also be able to identify and solve technical problems that could negatively affect or even prevent Google from correctly interpreting the content and much more.

Off-Page SEO Optimizations

The SEO specialist in some cases is called to manage activities outside the site he is optimizing. Complex activities, such as link building, are used to acquire quotes or links (backlinks) from other sites. The purpose is to make our customer’s website acquire greater authority, also called link popularity, in the eyes of Google and consequently get the chance to be rewarded with greater organic visibility.

SEO migration

The SEO migration of a site is another of the tasks that a SEO expert must be able to perform with security and competence. During the restyling or major revision of a website you can consume real disasters, which can cause the loss of most of the placements obtained over the years and then the related visits. The SEO Specialist must guarantee the maintenance of the trust of the site and the incoming traffic during the migration.

SEO copywriting

The SEO expert must know how to create an editorial plan according to a predefined content strategy, giving support in the writing of content, taking care of the SEO optimization of both text and other elements (images, videos, etc. …).

Reporting activities

Among the core activities of a SEO specialist there is the continuous monitoring of a site. Through the interpretation of certain parameters called KPIs, usually provided by Google Analytics, a SEO Specialist must be able to understand whether the goals have been achieved or not. If the results do not reflect expectations, it is necessary to intervene promptly. This data and its interpretation are usually included in a reporting document offered to the client.

What are the skills and tools a SEO Specialist need?

As we have seen, a SEO Specialist is a multifaceted, transversal figure. Those who deal with SEO professionally cannot do so without some minimum requirements: knowledge about the web world, more technical, but also closely related to marketing.

I will try to collect in a list the minimum skills that an SEO Specialist should have at their bow:

  • (of course) a SEO specialist must have a deep knowledge of everything related to the operation and functionality of search engines and the web in general
  • must know how to use Html and Css languages and not be scared in front of a page in Javascript or Php code
  • most websites are CMS-based. For this reason, a SEO Specialist must know in depth the functioning of at least the most popular ones: WordPress, Magento, Drupal, Prestashop, …
  • as said, SEO specialists spend a lot of time doing data analysis and therefore they need the ability to use web analytics tools such as Google Analytics (also obtaining the official certification).
  • must know and use the many tools developed and made available by Google such as Google Search Console, Google Trends, PageSpeed Insights, Structured Data Testing Tool, …

Then there are numerous tools developed ad hoc to facilitate the work of a SEO specialist:

  • Surely Screaming Frog is the most important tool for a SEO Specialist: at least, here at TSW we think so. Knowing how to use this tool is really a fundamental requirement in this field
  • keyword research tools such as Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, SemRush Keyword Magic Tool, just to name a few
  • suite of tools for analysis of competitors, backlinks, search engine rankings such as SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs
  • and then there is the experience in the field that, together with moments of confrontation with the team of colleagues, is irreplaceable.

What are the job opportunities for a SEO specialist?

The job opportunities for a SEO Specialist are many and the demand often exceeds the supply of qualified people. For years now, the figure of the SEO Specialist has been in the top ten of the most sought-after professions, often in the top ten. Even in times of crisis, online marketing professions are growing, and many recruiting experts indicate that the demand for this figure in the labour market will grow further. Just do a quick search on Google – of course – to verify the validity of my statement.

The SEO Specialist can exercise his profession within a SEO agency or Digital Marketing agencies which offer a range of services related to the promotion of a business on the web. It can be included in the staff of companies that decide to internalize this figure in their team for corporate marketing activities and then promote their products and services online. In addition, a SEO Specialist can offer his advice in the form of a self-employed, a freelancer to be precise.

In this regard, send us your application if you want to work with us … you never know.

How to be a SEO Specialist

It’s not easy to answer this question. Most SEO professionals achieved the qualification of SEO Specialist Senior by following different training paths. There are, in fact, no master’s or specific degrees in this field, as for many other professionals related to Digital Marketing. Some suggestions are however useful more than anything else to trace a training path:

  • Reading manuals, better if recent, about SEO is a good starting point. Many of these are repeated in their content and most authors give an overview of the activities carried out by a professional. They can give a basis to learn the terms and to know which disciplines are involved in this profession. You will certainly not become a professional at the end of your reading.
  • Studying the material provided by Google in the form of guides is another necessary step to expand your basic knowledge.
  • Attending online courses on SEO is certainly a valid suggestion. As in the case of SEO books, however, the courses are often repetitive and most of them offers only a general overview of the activities that take place in this profession.
  • Following specialized SEO blogs on a regular basis keeps you up to date, especially when you have already learned the basics. These include Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable.
  • Experiment. Create a small personal project, publish a website or blog. Try to position yourself for some keywords by writing some content, try to understand how a sitemap.xml works, edit a robots.txt file. Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console to your website in order to understand how they work and above all what they are for.
  • Do a training period within an agency that deals with SEO. This is probably the fastest and most effective way. In this case I suggest having already acquired some basic knowledge before joining a SEO specialist.

In conclusion

Doing SEO, from my point of view, does not mean doing a schematic and repetitive work. Each project is different from another, behind each client there are people with different interests and needs. In my approach and that of TSW there is the passion and the conviction that listening to the needs and objectives of each person involved is fundamental and it is also the basis from which to start an effective collaboration. To feel part of a single team, to feel among colleagues with our clients, and not trivially an external service provider. To involve the client, to know its services, its products, its history. Understanding is the best way to tell and to grow the business potential contained in every reality.

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6 November 2020 Edoardo Ferrini

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