SEO Specialist - Job Description, Salary & Qualifications | Digital Media Jobs

SEO Specialist Job Description

What is the point of having a website if no one can find it?

That’s the question posed by Search Engine Optimization, and the problem corrected by SEO Specialists.

SEO plays an integral role in the Digital Marketing landscape, as the Search Engine Optimization Specialist is responsible for analyzing, reviewing and implementing recommendations to ensure that a website generates as much visibility as possible within Google’s natural, or organic results (meaning the non-paid portion of the Search Engine Results Pages (or SERPs).

In the modern marketing era, it’s virtually impossible for any site to achieve prominent organic rankings, and thus capture valuable Google traffic, without the assistance of a professional SEO, which is why this field is in such high demand, and projected to grow considerably in the years ahead.

Getting into the industry is no easy task, especially as higher education has failed to embrace this important marketing strategy with effective collegiate-level degrees or training courses, but for the self-starter willing to invest some of their own time in learning the trade, SEO is a lucrative industry offering a great deal of potential for growth.

What Does An SEO Actually Do?

The toolbox of the SEO expert is varied and extensive, requiring considerable finesse to navigate what once was a simple, straightforward process, but which has become riddled with nuances in recent years.

Why is modern SEO so complicated? Because it requires technological and programmatic knowledge, incredibly sophisticated consumer research, keyword targeting and content writing expertise, as well as traditional tasks previously assigned to Public Relations firms, but which have been relegated to the realm of SEO experts in recent years, including link building, content marketing and even Social Media marketing.

Modern SEO Best Practices and SEO Strategy are most easily separated into two distinct fields – On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO, the former involving anything that’s done directly to the website itself, and the latter including anything happening off-domain, but for the purposes of promoting it.

In the next sections, we’ll break down the specifics of On vs. Off-Page SEO.

On-Page SEO

Tasks within On-Page SEO vary wildly, posing a significant challenge to anyone just now looking to break into the field, but offering exceptional variety in terms of the day to day activities of SEO Specialists.

SEO Experts don’t get much time to rest, as they need to become experts in a huge number of processes, from website construction and design to webmaster administration tasks like configuring XML Sitemaps, creating Robots.txt files, building Custom 404 Pages, transitioning older sites to HTTS Secured Site Protocol, and interpreting/responding to Google’s Site Speed reports, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the real meat and potatoes of modern SEO campaigns involves optimizing not just the sites code, but also its content.

Content optimization asks include processes like reviewing and optimizing Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Page Content and Internal Links, all of which can only be updated once the SEO expert has fully researched consumer trends and especially search query data, constructed a detailed overview of the search volume available to the industry, used to determine priority keyword targets, then analyzed the competitive environment and hand-selected the most appropriate keywords for the site, a process that requires a great deal of expertise, finesse, and experience.

But that’s not all, because text content, image content and video content all have to be handled individually when optimized, and SEO strategies also need to be crafted not just for the traditional Search Engines themselves (like Google and Bing), but also modern disruptors like YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, eBay and others.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO may not be as powerful as it once was, but it remains incredibly relevant and important to overall SEO success in the modern era, and it’s become even trickier than ever before, requiring SEOs to brush up on their Link Building, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Public Relations skills.

In years past, it was easy to build links, including relatively high-quality, or at least indexable links that would generate SEO momentum for a site, but post Google’s Penguin algorithm update, link building has become a dangerous, double-edged sword that must be approached with extreme caution.

Gone are the days of spamming web directories, Blog comments, Social Media and Social Bookmarking sites, and here is the era of the modern Content Marketing process, which requires creating content for the purposes of distributing it strategically around the web in order to create attention, citations and yes, of course, links.

But links aren’t the end-all-be-all of Off-Page SEO that they once were, because modern Off-Page SEO best practices also require excellent Social Media marketing strategies and Public Relations campaigns that bridge the gap between the digital and non-digital ecosystem, sometimes including liaising with traditional PR firms and PR Specialists to help create a synergistic campaign that’ll kill two birds with one stone, generating attention and visibility in both the real-world, as well as online.

Obviously, navigating these confusing and potentially dangerous waters requires a great deal of expertise, making SEO specialists who can successfully complete these tasks all that more valuable and in great demand.

Reporting & Analytics

No SEO work is complete without a detailed, comprehensive approach to reporting and analytics, and while Google Analytics remains the gold standard, the modern SEO should also be familiar with Omniture’s Web Analytics, as well as a variety of third party tracking and planning tools like SpyFu, WordStream, SEMrush, Moz Pro, AHREFS, Majestic, Bright Edge, SEO Clarity, and more.

Unlike other Digital Marketing strategies where a single platform is usually capable of handling all reporting and monitoring needs, SEO typically needs a variety of tools to put together a complete picture of site and campaign performance, once again proving that the successful SEO expert will need to go to the extra mile in order to do their job effectively.

SEOs must fully understand the importance and value in measuring Key Performance Indicators like Keyword Rankings, Organic Traffic and Engagement as well as Conversions and even Ecommerce data, or their efforts are likely to sputter.

This is no easy space to report and measure, so if you’re interested in breaking into the field, you’ll definitely need to allocate some significant research and training time to this part of the SEO process.

SEO Specialist Primary Roles & Responsibilities

  • Perform comprehensive SEO Audits, evaluating current site construction and identifying issues, concerns and areas of opportunity for the eventual SEO campaign
  • Build detailed keyword research documents, uncovering search volume and competitiveness data for all relevant phrases to create a priority plan for targeting individual keyword phrases
  • Conduct thorough competitive analysis to help refine determination of keyword targets by understanding which terms are already dominated by SERPs competitors, and which are potential candidates for future optimization efforts
  • Make SEO recommendations for updating site code, content and tagging elements based on research data and qualified by key performance indicators (KPIs) collected from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and a variety of proprietary and 3rd party tools
  • Handle Off-Page SEO, generating high-quality links, creating great, viral content for Content Marketing purposes, and advising Social Media marketing and traditional PR teams to approach their tasks in a way that supports SEO efforts
  • Evaluate results with monthly SEO Performance Reports analyzing important KPIs and comparing Year Over Year performance trends

SEO Specialist Qualifications

Typical Education Requirements:

  • A./B.S. in Marketing, Business, Communications, Web Design, Computer Science, Information Technology, or any technology related field

Since Search Engine Optimization is not directly taught at a 4 year University, any of the following Bachelor Degrees listed above are acceptable to get your foot in the door, however, realize that this is really only a stepping stone into a specialized industry that will more than likely require self-teaching or a great deal of on-the-job training.

Employers want to know that you are either familiar with marketing concepts, proficient in writing, and computer savvy, but that’s just the barrier for entry for modern SEOs.

Even if you haven’t leveraged SEO in a professional environment yet, you should definitely plan on being able to showcase examples of professional writing, blogs, or any websites that you have worked on in the past, as this activity will be invaluable to proving that you can help run a modern SEO campaign.

If you do not have much work to show from an online publication standpoint, it is a good idea to become certified by the Google Analytics Academy as this will at least show competencies in analyzing data and proving that you’re serious about getting into the field.

Preferred Skills

  • Experience with Google Analytics, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Good Search Console, etc.
  • Functional experience with WordPress, Joomla, or another CMS web publishing software
  • Detailed understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Awareness and understanding of important SEO elements like robots.txt, metadata, site speed optimization, etc.
  • Listening skills
  • Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Content Writing
  • Creative Thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer skills
  • Analytical skills

These skills are crucial for a career in Search Engine Optimization because almost all of them will be required on a regular basis.

Though on the job training is often provided, being able to show diversification and the ability to learn quickly or actual results from previous SEO efforts are vital to scoring a great role in the industry.

As for interpersonal skills, listening and communication are mandatory since the SEO space is incredibly service-oriented, perhaps even more so than results-driven similar channels like PPC, Email, and Display.

Most SEOs are likely to be responsible for managing relationships with clients and effectively communicating positive and negative performance results.

SEO Specialist Career Outlook

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data directly under the title “SEO Specialist”, they reported a 2% - 4% growth for the category of Search Marketing Strategist during 2014-2024.

This includes data for PPC Advertisers (the flip-side of the Organic Search Marketing or SEO coin), but it’s a good indication that SEO demands are likely to continue rising for some time.

Search Engine Optimization is a unique field that is constantly evolving as new strategies, tactics and trends emerge, but is likely to continue growing significantly in the years ahead and more and more companies grow to realize the value of putting their products and services at the top of the Search Engines.

With that being said, the ways in which people are searching the internet are evolving too, and SEOs will need to keep up with other Inbound Marketing Channels, adjusting SEO strategies to deal with disruptive new tech like virtual assistants, voice search, VR, etc.

Fortunately, SEO Specialists are of the few roles capable of successfully integrating all of the Digital Marketing channels into a comprehensive, cohesive strategy that uses the website as the core around with the other spokes revolve, ensuring the value of SEO strategy for years to come.

SEO Specialist Salary Expectations

Glassdoor reports an annual average base pay of $37,620.

PayScale reports an annual salary of SEO Specialists at $43,345.

Indeed reports the average salary for job postings is at $61,696. This statistic combines both Senior and Junior level positions.

References:

https://study.com/articles/seo_specialist_job_description_salary_training.html

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/seo-specialist-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm

https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Search_Engine_Optimization_(SEO)_Specialist/Salary

https://www.indeed.com/salaries/SEO-Specialist-Salaries

 

 

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While humans are still involved, gone are the days of insertion orders, faxes, spec sheets, and all manner of other bureaucracy. Programmatic simplifies the relationship between advertisers and publishers and makes it easier to get ads in front of the people most suited for them. One of the main benefits of programmatic advertising is just how targeted advertisements can get with machine learning. By tracking past results faster than any human can, machine learning can redistribute ad budget in real time and calculate the best bids. This helps increase the chance that an ad backed by machine learning will win the auction and be shown to a user. A particular ad for pizza could be served only on sunny days to users in offices within a 5-minute drive of a Papa Pizza’s restaurant. Did they miss the advertisement on their work computer? Machine learning can identify their phone and serve a follow-up ad as they head out to pick up lunch. 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Publishers use DMPs for optimization. For example, if the New York Times knows what sort of readership is most likely to read a certain article, they can charge more for ads when those particular people visit the article. DMPs help them identify those customers. It’s important to note that DMPs only work well when the data they store is complete. Be strategic about the data you collect and input into a DMP. Focus on data you and your direct partners have collected, as it tends to be the most useful. Third-party data should fill in the final gaps in your understanding of your customers, not as a strategy in itself. Demand-side Platform / DSP With the data from a DMP, the Demand-Side Platform gets to work. This is what drives the actual buying of the online ad marketplace. These platforms automate the ad buying process. Advertisers no longer need to fax orders and negotiate with salespeople – it all happens in milliseconds, millions of times a day. 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This helps reduce the strain of having to process every single possible bid before loading the page, but could result in lost revenue. Here’s a quick example: The Berry Vine newspaper’s website has some ad space to sell. They’ve set their price floor at $3, so no bids under that price will even be considered. A user navigates to the page, and these bids come in on their preferred network: $1 $2 $3 $4 The SSP software selects the $4 bid and displays the ad from that advertiser. No other networks are considered since the first one met the criteria set by the SSP. However, there could have been a bid higher than $4 on the next network . Waterfall bidding means the publisher misses out on that opportunity. Header bidding solves this problem by conducting a more unified auction. It allows publishers to receive bids from multiple ad exchanges at once. It’s a tradeoff that opens more revenue potential for the publisher, but processing all those bids in the time it takes a page to load can cause longer page load times. This type of bidding is also difficult to implement and can be expensive to roll out. It’s not ideal, but companies need to make a strategic business decision regarding which of these two processes is more important to them. Google has recently attempted to solve this problem with Exchange Bidding. This process works similarly to header bidding but happens on Google’s servers instead of via a browser request. This solves the delays inherent in header bidding but results in other drawbacks, such as being unable to match an ad to a user (known as match rate). PMP / Private Marketplace Programmatic PMPs (private marketplaces) are invite-only. Publishers with a premium reputation sell their ads only to approved advertisers. Ads are still served programmatically, but in this case, the buyer knows exactly what website their ads will appear on. Ad exchanges are not involved, and the DSP connects directly to the publisher. Another version of this is the closed auction. Real-time bids still come in, but only from a list of approved advertisers. TL;DR: Private club. Tip the bouncer. Programmatic Direct / Guaranteed / Reserved / Premium / Preferred All these names basically mean the same thing – direct purchase of ad space outside of the bidding system, but still served programmatically. Guaranteed/direct sale ads can be sold in the traditional offline method, through ad exchanges, all kinds of different ways. It combines the guaranteed locked-in clicks of the “old methods” with the hyper-targeted precision of modern online advertising. For extra confusion, preferred deals exist. In this case, a publisher locks in a price with an advertiser. They get offered ad space first but are not required to buy the spot. If they decline, the space then enters the RTB system. For even more confusion, the Interactive Advertising Bureau calls this “automated guaranteed”. TL;DR: Deal happens outside of RTB but they’re still served programmatically. Deal ID Deal ID is one of the most important terms in the programmatic world. Deal ID is a unique string of characters that serves as an identifier and is submitted along with a bid. Anything can be tied to it: custom data, level of transparency, priority, minimum pricing, access to ad units, and access to specific sections of the site; even specific agency and client approval that would normally be unavailable can be tied to Deal ID. Some have called deal ID the “programmatic IO” or “modern insertion order”, and it remains an interesting quirk of the programmatic process. Deal ID combines the best of traditional advertising with the flexibility of programmatic advertising. This process gives power to publishers, but also a bit more risk – since they’re tying in more tightly with an advertiser, it’s possible their trust may be abused and their terms may not be fully respected. Who are some of the main players? It’s definitely important to know who you’re working with in the programmatic world. Some providers specialize in just one segment, while others provide a full range of programmatic services. Google – As with many other things, Google is king of the programmatic ecosystem. Through their DoubleClick brand (now known as Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager), they offer DSPs, SSPs, ad servers, data management platforms, data processing solutions, an ad network, and an ad exchange. Amazon – Amazon also offers a wide variety of programmatic software, focused on display and video advertising. They offer a DSP, a SSP they call Amazon Publisher Services, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) powers much of the modern Internet. Amazon represents a unique opportunity since their ad software can fully integrate with the Amazon store – where users are very likely looking to buy something. Adobe – A recent entrant into the programmatic space, Adobe offers a comprehensive DSP, TV and search platform along with a powerful ad customization tool. Freewheel – Developed by Comcast, Freewheel is one of the main players in the video and programmatic TV ad space. They specialize in video and lead the pack as a result. The Trade Desk – Trade Desk is one of the largest DSP software providers. They’ve recently launched an integrated DMP and a new omnichannel feature that proves to be very interesting. Omnichannel ads run across multiple devices for the same person. They’re the reason that coat you looked at on your laptop is showing up on your tablet, smartphone, and soon, your TV.   Programmatic Crystal Ball Programmatic TV Programmatic TV isn’t all there yet, but it’s coming. The technology hasn’t been fully embraced, and some TV networks are likely to resist it – when you’ve got something that works, why change? However, the little networks with ad space to spare definitely have reason to take a look at this technology. You may have experienced programmatic TV advertising at home – Hulu uses programmatic technology to fill ad space, and it’s likely even more digital TV and connected TV networks will make the switch. You’ll also hear a similar term called addressable TV advertising – this just means targeted TV advertising within the same program (So if you’re watching the X Games, you may not see the same advertisements as your neighbor). Learn more here ! Ad viewability will be a central concern here – advertisers will want to measure how many people can both see and hear their ads. Programmatic DOOH You’ll see this referenced in a variety of ways: Digital OOH, Digital Out of Home, DOOH. They all mean the same thing: Internet-connected video billboards. This is already starting to become a reality. Digital Out of Home ads can already be served programmatically and update to take advantage of the latest geo-targeted ad data. In this case, advertisers are currently buying “expected audiences” rather than individuals. For example, they can buy ads based on who drives on a particular part of the 405 freeway at certain times of the day. Not many players have quite yet entered this space since most billboards are owned by a handful of companies. Your Next Steps Now that you’ve learned more about the programmatic ad process, why not look into programmatic careers? You can find these kinds of jobs and more on our Jobs page!
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