Why I Shake My Head at Most SEO Job Descriptions

For years, my mantra has been that SEO is not a 1-person job. It has evolved over the years to become more complex and expansive, encompassing and intersecting many different disciplines.

Back in the olden days, an SEO pro could come in and make big, impressive changes with not a lot of effort. Today, an SEO pro will come in and make incremental changes with a lot more effort and a lot more people around them.

It’s no wonder it’s challenging to find good SEO help.

This is why I’m so big on marketers having a solid SEO foundational knowledge, whether their role in SEO is project manager (assigning SEO tasks and projects to the right people), strategist (determining priorities and direction based on audits, data, and business alignment), or tactician (the SEO doer). 

Marketers – What’s Your Role in All of This?

For my marketers, I want them to understand the big picture about how SEO works, and then laser in on which area of SEO is going to be important to them (and what’s not important) and what their role is: project manager, strategist, tactician―or all 3 like me. The more experienced I get with SEO, the faster I can make decisions and get things done, even if the “getting things done” is not by me personally.  

When I came across this article, I knew I wanted to share it with you all: “Top 8 Skills Every Great SEO Professional Needs to Succeed.”

While most marketers don’t necessarily want to become SEO professionals as much as they want to become SEO-skilled, it’s essential to understand their strengths so they can outsource the rest. And to understand what skills they need to become SEO savvy. 

While reading this article, I found myself both nodding my head in agreement while also shaking my head vigorously in disagreement. The article lists the following skills the author thinks is important to succeed in SEO today:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Speaking & Writing Ability
  3. Technical & Programming Skills **
  4. Social & Drinking Skills **
  5. Analytics Skills
  6. Data Skills *
  7. Drive, Motivation & Adaptability
  8. A Sense of Humor *

**yeahhhhh…maybe but not maybe

*somewhat

Here are my thoughts on this list.

Below are a few things I’d add and take away from the list above.

  • Critical Thinking: I’d modify “critical thinking” to “critical thinking + marketing and business savvy.” For example, it’s crucial to look at an analytics report and know that month-over-month or year-over-year data may tell a different story depending on seasonality, world events (ahem COVID), and outside forces.
  • Analytical: I’d add to this point “analytical and gleaning insight” – you have to be able to not just look at the data but also determine what it means and what you are going to do about it. And then of course, to document ideas into your monthly calendar and act. Being analytics means ensuring you are mixing in both reactive and proactive strategies. Reactive is “what do we think happened and what are we going to do about it.” Proactive is “what can we do to improve?” and “what gaps exist?” and “how do we grow”?
  • Technical and Programming Skills: I always know when an SEO article is written by someone who is more Technical SEO than Content SEO. I am a non-technical SEO. Do I always wish I had more programming capabilities? Sure! Has that stopped me from being successful? Absolutely not. I once read that an SEO-savvy professional who can do their own keyword research and author that content is incredibly more valuable than the SEO-savvy pro who can’t. There are always going to be “hard” SEO skills you wish you had. When you don’t have them, know enough to hire and project manage, and move on. 
  • Social and Drinking Skills: one of the most important assets I have as an SEO professional is a network of other savvy SEO professionals I can turn to when I run into an obstacle and need some brainpower. Does that mean I am the most social and extroverted person at every networking event? Absolutely not (introvert over here). Do I have to consume alcohol to get business done or further relationships? Absolutely not. Having a community is vital though, as again, SEO cannot be done in isolation.

The other skills—teamwork, data skills, drive/motivation/adaptability, sense of humor—I’d agree with to certain degrees.                                                                     

Can you really find a marketing-savvy programmer with a sense of humor who parties and loves Excel and can also do keyword research and write content while creating Data Studio dashboards on the fly? Hmmm…. this paragon of SEO is going to be hard to find indeed. 

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.
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