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10 Advanced SEO Skills To Level Up Your Career

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10 Advanced SEO Skills To Level Up Your Career


Many of us get to a stage in our careers as SEO professionals where we feel a little bit stagnant.

We’ve been optimizing sites for a while and feel pretty confident that we can do it well.. but there’s that nagging thought there’s more we could be doing.

That there is another layer of expertise that would make us more efficient, employable, and confident.

In this article, you’ll find 10 skills that can level up your SEO competency.

These aren’t necessarily essential skills for all SEO experts (you’ll find those here).

But developing these advanced SEO skills could help you go deeper within your specialism, become a more well-rounded marketer, and bump you into a new salary or freelance rate, too.

1. Intent Analysis

Intent analysis is the decoding of a user’s intention behind the keyword they enter into a search engine.

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When someone types [pizza restaurant] into a search engine, what is the end result they are hoping for?

Do they want to know what pizza restaurants are nearby?

Are they in the market to open a pizza restaurant?

Are they looking for a job in a pizza restaurant?

Developing your understanding of the psychology behind what searchers want is a critical skill for those wishing to go further in their SEO competency.

This will help you both satisfy a user’s need when they land on a page and also increase your page’s likelihood of being ranked in their search.

It can’t just stop there, however.

You must also understand what the search engines perceive users to want from the content they are searching for.

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For instance, from my location in the U.K., if I search for [pizza restaurants] in Google from my desktop device, I get a mixture of results.

I get the option to click through to search on other websites:

Screenshot from search for [pizza restaurants], Google, January 2022

This is followed by the Map Pack and then a mix of review and editorial sites and restaurants’ websites.

If I am trying to rank a website all about the history of pizza restaurants in my country, I might struggle.

Google has identified the user intent as being either navigation – wanting to go to a local restaurant – or comparative, as in wanting to compare options in the local area.

Resources To Learn More

2. Coding

There is no question that understanding HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can help you to ensure your websites are set up in a bot-friendly manner.

Although SEO experts do not need to be fully-fledged developers, having an understanding of code can help you to identify issues with rendering, indexation, and crawlability.

There are times when knowing the basics of how code is created, or being able to read code that already exists, can help your SEO.

It can aid your communication with the developers who may need to change it.

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It can assist you in pinpointing incremental improvements to your site’s performance.

Learning to code is not a prerequisite for SEO, but it is arguable that knowing the fundamentals of these three commonly used languages is going to set you up well for your career.

Understanding the syntax of code, how it is formed, and being able to see how elements relate to each other can also help you get better at writing and debugging schema.

Learning Python and SQL can also help you to streamline your SEO processes by enabling you to automate labor-intensive activities such as mapping URL redirects and keyword research.

Resources To Learn More

3. Understanding Server Management

No SEO professional should really be the one responsible for ensuring that a server can handle a load of visitors to a site.

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However, understanding the basics of how servers can impact the crawlability, load speed and reliability of a website can propel your technical SEO understanding forwards.

The use of CDNs instead of static servers can aid in speeding up content loading, but without understanding the limitations of fixed location servers it will be difficult for you to argue the need for a CDN.

A better understanding of how web hosting can affect a user’s experience of your site and also Google’s ability to access it is necessary for strong technical SEO foundations.

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You need to understand how aspects like uptime and location can impact your site’s performance in the search engines.

This is only the beginning of how knowledge of servers can aid your SEO efforts.

Better knowledge of server codes beyond the standard 404 and 301 can help you to communicate to those in charge of your servers where there are critical issues.

Know what a 502 error is?

Encountered a 504 status code before?

If not, this might be a quick and easy area for you to brush up your knowledge.

A 5XX status usually means there is something wrong with the server that is preventing the processing of a request from the client.

A simple way to find out what status codes mean is to look at httpstatuses.com.

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From here, you can identify whether it is an issue with the client or the server and find a fix accordingly.

Resources To Learn More

4. Content Writing

Understanding the process of content writing is an important element of advanced SEO.

You may not be a great wordsmith yourself.

However, in order for you to better brief in copywriting for your colleagues who are, you need to understand what goes into a good piece of writing.

It isn’t enough to know that copy needs to be compelling and have sufficient relevancy to search terms used to discover it.

Get familiar with the process your copywriters go through in researching, writing, and editing their work.

This will help you to better ideate your own requests for copy.

Editing

Editing is another good skill to develop when working with content.

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In many organizations, it is the job of the SEO specialist to take content created by others and optimize it further for the search engines.

In practice, this sadly can often result in well-written copy being butchered.

Adding keywords into the first couple of paragraphs to make them more keyword-rich might help you a bit with your rankings, but it could destroy your conversion and brand loyalty.

Learn how to take well-written copy and enhance it, not ruin it.

You may also benefit from having a conversation or two with your SEO copywriters and asking them for details of their process.

Better understanding how they go about copywriting could improve your abilities.

It could also streamline your processes when working together.

Resources To Learn More

5. Reporting

Being able to expertly communicate your progress, results, and reasoning behind your SEO work is crucial to being successful in the industry.

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As an SEO expert, you are always juggling the needs and expectations of stakeholders, whether you’re working in-house, agency-side or freelance.

You will find gaining buy-in and budgets considerably easier if you know how to demonstrate the impact of the work you do.

Reporting isn’t just a case of adding labels to a graph or even noting down the cause of increases and decreases.

Truly good SEO reports allow readers to understand the context of the results, draw conclusions and make business decisions from them.

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SEO professionals need to get really good at helping stakeholders understand the priorities and limitations of the work they recommend (as well as mistakes to avoid when reporting).

They also need to help their interested parties recognize how the work will benefit them via data visualizations and their objectives in the long run.

All of this can be achieved through well-constructed, clear, and truthful reports.

Resources To Learn More

6. SEO Forecasting

Similar to the need to be good at explaining past results, experienced SEOs need to develop the ability to calculate likely outcomes.

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SEO forecasting is a complicated science.

There are a lot of external factors that are hard to isolate and predict.

A change in competition, the market, or political situations could all cause well-thought-out estimations to go awry.

We should not be putting pressure on ourselves to accurately predict the exact volume of traffic, or visibility, our work might gain.

However, being able to put reasonable estimates and likely ranges into our recommendations can make the budget-holders a lot more reassured by the work we are proposing.

It isn’t enough to shrug our shoulders and cross our fingers when asked about outcomes.

We’re often requesting a lot of time, money and resources go into the activity were recommending.

SEO forecasting is a skill that will not only set you apart when looking for new roles or opportunities, it will also significantly improve the quality and reliability of your work.

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Resources To Learn More

7. Log File Analysis

Log file analysis is the process of understanding the records of who or what has accessed your website.

They can tell you when people have visited a page as well as what device they were using to do so.

They can also tell you when bots access your website.

This is particularly helpful in understanding Googlebot and other search engine crawlers’ behavior on your site.

By analyzing log files you can better understand what pages search engine bots can or can’t access.

You can identify where there may be spider traps on your site or the frequency at which certain sections of your site are being crawled.

Log files can appear daunting if you have not spent much time around them.

Thankfully there are some great tools available that make analyzing them a lot simpler than just wading through the naked log files.

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Understanding what to do with the information once you have it is the real skill. If you know that a certain area of your site is rarely crawled by Google that should inform your technical SEO next steps.

It should raise questions about your internal linking structure.

Getting familiar with log files is a great first step but to improve your skills make sure you are analyzing the files and drawing actionable conclusions from them.

Resources To Learn More

8. Website Migrations

Getting good at planning and executing website migrations is not easy. It really does take experience.

Many SEO professionals who have worked exclusively brand-side may find they simply have not had the opportunity to carry out that many website migrations.

If you face a particularly complicated one, such as multiple websites merging, it can be very daunting.

Chances are if you have spent any length of time in an SEO agency, you will have migrated a website or two.

It may have been a smooth process but more likely there were unforeseen complications that made the processing time and resource consuming.

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There are not really just one or two skills involved in website migrations.

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They are usually a complicated mix of stakeholder management, communication, planning, processes-driving, technical understanding, and knowing when to say no.

But the skills you develop during website migrations will help you enormously with the rest of your SEO career.

Participate in one if you get the chance.

It can give you a great (albeit high-pressured) opportunity to see multiple moving SEO parts in play at once.

Resources to learn more:

9. Optimizing For Other Search Engines

If you truly want to advance your SEO skills, you might want to look further afield than Google.

We can often fall into the trap of thinking only about the traditional search engines when discussing SEO skills.

If we limit our training and experience to just these then we could be missing out on a much larger opportunity.

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Traditional International Websites

Many search engines work on similar principles, but with their own specific nuances.

Traditional search engines more prevalent outside of your home region may be unfamiliar to you.

There are some great resources available to get you started in understanding the differences between them and the search engines you’re more familiar with optimizing for.

Nothing beats practice, however.

If you want to refine your knowledge and understanding of unfamiliar search engines then you need to try to rank a site in them and see what works and what doesn’t.

YouTube

For search engines like YouTube, the mechanics may be more familiar to you.

You will, however, still need to learn more about the algorithms in play to ensure you are carrying out the right activity to optimize your video content for the platform.

Other Non-traditional Search Engines

Don’t just stop at YouTube if you’re really wanting to advance your SEO skill set.

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Take a look at some other search engines, like Pinterest and TripAdvisor.

These sites may not fit into your current remit as an SEO expert.

They are however still search engines that you can influence the success of your content in.

Resources to learn more:

10. International SEO

One of the most complicated projects an SEO might be involved in usually includes international elements.

It’s a complicated task because there are a lot of factors at play.

To optimize your website for international audiences you will need to employ technical SEO, digital PR, and on-page optimization skills.

There will be a range of questions you’ll need to ask yourself when you are considering expanding a website to international audiences.

These will include questions around the structure of the site – separate sites, sub-folders, or sub-directories?

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Do you want to translate or localize the content? Do you want to target geography at the site or page level?

There are a lot of strategies and technical knowledge required to get international SEO right.

You may also need specific language skills or local knowledge resources.

Google has helpfully created an introduction to managing a multi-region website. It is a good place to start to identify the sorts of questions you should be asking.

You can also use it as a jumping-off point for further training or research.

This can help deepen your knowledge of the subject and sharpen your skills.

Resources to learn more:

Conclusion

These are just a few of the skills you can develop to become a more pragmatic SEO professional.

Even if you don’t want to learn all of them, it helps to have an understanding of what they all are.

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Even more so, how they can help round out your skill-set as an SEO expert.

More resources:


Featured Image: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

More resources:


Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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