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Resume for an SEO Specialist



Resume for an SEO Specialist

Getting your dream SEO job often means you’ll need a showstopping resume just to get your foot in the door. But how exactly can you get your resume to stand out from the crowd?

Let me show you how.

To get started, simply go to my SEO resume template and make a copy of it so you can follow along.

Let’s start by entering your basic details.

Screenshot of SEO resume template header, via Google Slides

The header of your resume is the first thing your prospective employer will see—so it needs to grab their attention immediately.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Enter your full name followed by your current role. If you don’t yet have an SEO job, add “SEO Trainee” as your job title. (Remember to explain later in the experience section that you are still learning SEO.)
  2. Under that, enter no more than 50 words that tell your prospective employer about yourself. I have provided an example in the image above, but this is the key to selling yourself. Taking this approach forces you to cut the fluff. Rewrite multiple versions if necessary.
  3. Add your email. Remember to use a professional “first-name.last-name” format email address and avoid this embarrassing scenario.
  4. Enter your phone number and your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. If you don’t have these social media accounts, create them. When it comes to your home address, this is optional but I like to include it.
  5. If you have a website, enter the website address.
  6. Don’t worry about the profile photo just yet. We will come to that later.

With this approach, you can see that you have already given your prospective employer a lot of easily digestible information about yourself in fewer than 100 words.

Taking this approach means you avoid a resume that waffles and doesn’t get straight to the point.

Why is this important?

Most hiring managers are time-poor—meaning that the last thing they want to read is a resume that doesn’t get straight to the point. A candidate should be able to communicate who they are at a basic level. If they can’t do this, a hiring manager may consider it unlikely that the candidate can talk to their clients about SEO.

The second stage is to add in your education. You may be surprised to know that when it comes to hiring for SEO roles, generally speaking, hiring managers aren’t that fixated on knowing exactly where you studied.

Our research also shows that a college or university degree is one of the least important skills SEO hiring managers are looking for, so it’s important to keep this section brief. If they are curious, a hiring manager may ask about your education later in the interview stage.

What are the most important skills hiring managers are looking for, via Ahrefs Blog

3. Add your work experience; keep it brief but relevant

This is where things start to get interesting for a hiring manager. If you have relevant SEO experience, this is where you should showcase it.


Remember to put your most recent experience first and order your experience down the page in reverse chronological order.

If you haven’t had an SEO job yet and are wondering whether you should add non-SEO positions to your resume, then I definitely say put them in. Believe it or not, most hiring managers weren’t SEOs their entire life and, at some point, probably had part-time jobs as well.

The critical point at this stage is to communicate your experience and what skills you have acquired. This will allow the hiring manager to build a clear picture of who you are.

Here are a few examples of what hiring managers may think about your achievements and tasks.

Task/achievement What does it tell the hiring manager?
Worked on a pitch for a “$5,000 retainer” client This shows that you are capable of working with a certain caliber of client.
Presented monthly report to the client This indicates that you have client-facing experience and can work independently.
SEO audits This shows you are capable of putting together an SEO audit and have enough technical knowledge to do this.

And here’s how you can present it on your resume:

Screenshot of SEO resume template's "work experience" section, via Google Slides

To do this:

  1. Enter the company name and the role below with the dates you were employed.
  2. Enter a short description of the role in no more than 15 words.
  3. In bullet points, add your achievements or tasks you worked on during the role.
  4. Add a reference for the job (optional, but can be a good addition).

When it comes to skills, hiring managers are probably not going to be interested in your crocheting skills or your love of Dungeons and Dragons.

Screenshot of SEO resume template's "skills" section, via Google Slides

They are more likely to be interested in a summary of your digital marketing skills—specifically how you use SEO to rank websites. You can include tools in this section, but it is also good to include at least one reference to SEO and any other key skills you want to showcase to your prospective employer.

For example, if you already specialize in technical SEO or outreach, put that down as your skill. If you are applying for an entry-level position, then just “SEO” is fine. No one expects you to be a specialist at this stage.

When completing this section, include your website name followed by the date. Under that, include four bulleted points. The first point should be one ranking achievement and then show three tasks you completed to get there. I have included an example below.

Screenshot of SEO resume template's "personal projects" section, via Google Slides

I can’t stress enough how important this section can be. This type of information can give you the edge in the hiring process, but only if you get it right. Even if you don’t have a website, I recommend putting one together just to go through the process fully.

Many candidates will not include this information because they don’t think it is relevant or just don’t have their own websites.

Your website doesn’t have to be the best in the world or even have the best rankings. You just have to show that you know the SEO basics and have gone through the process of building a website.

The best bit about this section is that it has never been so easy to create a website, and there are many platforms you can build a website on in just a few hours—even with no experience. For example, WordPress, Wix, and Shopify. These are all platforms where you can build a website relatively quickly.

This section also shows you have demonstrable experience ranking a website using SEO strategies and tools. It shows that if you can create and rank your website, you can probably do this for a client’s website too.

6. Add the SEO tools that you use

SEOs love tools, and we know from our poll that most hiring managers want to see experience using Ahrefs, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.

Most hiring managers want experience with these SEO tools

Even if you don’t have a paid account with Ahrefs, you can mention that you have used Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Ahrefs also has several free SEO tools you can use to gain further experience. If you have used these tools, then you can mention them.

7. Add your certifications

The unfortunate truth is that many SEO certifications are just not worth it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include any on your resume.

There are two fundamental certification courses that I personally recommend you include on your resume for an entry-level position that hiring managers will be interested in:

They are:

The reason for including these two is that the Ahrefs Certification Course will give you a fantastic grounding in all aspects of SEO. The GAIQ certification also proves to your prospective employer that you know your way around Google Analytics, one of the industry’s most widely used analytics tools.

8. Add any language(s) you speak

If you speak a language other than English, it is worth putting these down on your resume. Some hiring managers may be looking for SEOs to work on multi-language sites, and proficiency in another language can give you the edge against other candidates.

To add this to your resume, simply add the language followed by your proficiency level below, as shown here:

Screenshot of SEO resume template's "languages" section, via Google Slides

When it comes to interests, this is where you can let your hair down a little bit and talk about things other than SEO.

Screenshot of SEO resume template's "interests" section, via Google Slides

A lot of hiring managers will choose to talk about your interests at the interview stage to ease you into the interview, so it can be good to think of the “interests” section as potential talking points at the interview stage. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you should stick to relatively non-controversial topics here.

10. Add a profile photo (yes or no?)

Adding a profile photo is not required, but you can include one if you want. It’s worth noting that some companies will anonymize your resume to ensure no bias in the hiring process.

If you want to add a profile photo, you can go over to this website. Simply follow the instructions and upload a professional profile photo.

Below is a screenshot of my settings so you can replicate them.

Screenshot of a profile photo example, via

Once you are happy, click Save Image and upload it to the Google Slides Template.

To do this in Google Slides, click on:

Insert > Image > Upload from Computer

Once the image is uploaded, it’s then a question of resizing it and placing it over the existing photo in the top right-hand corner.

When it comes to the profile photo, it’s worth noting that it is less about the resume itself and more about creating a professional, consistent social media image across the different platforms. So once generated, feel free to add your new profile photo on social media platforms.

Once you are happy with your resume, you can export it. To do this, go to your resume and click on Download > PDF Document (.pdf).


If you want to customize the look of the resume template further, you can use this tool to edit the PDF template to your specification. Our SEO resume template was created with Novoresume and converted to Google Slides format to make editing easier.

Final thoughts

Creating an SEO resume that grabs a hiring manager’s attention isn’t technically hard—but it does require a bit of effort and persistence to get it right.

I hope you found this guide useful and that it gets you one step closer to getting your dream job. Got more questions? Ping me on Twitter. 🙂

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Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links




Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links

Google’s John Mueller responded to a thread in Reddit about finding and fixing inbound broken links, offering a nuanced insight that some broken links are worth finding and fixing and others are not.

Reddit Question About Inbound Broken Links

Someone asked on Reddit if there’s a way to find broken links for free.

This is the question:

“Is it possible to locate broken links in a similar manner to identifying expired domain names?”

The person asking the question clarified if this was a question about an inbound broken link from an external site.

John Mueller Explains How To Find 404 Errors To Fix

John Mueller responded:

“If you want to see which links to your website are broken & “relevant”, you can look at the analytics of your 404 page and check the referrers there, filtering out your domain.

This brings up those which actually get traffic, which is probably a good proxy.

If you have access to your server logs, you could get it in a bit more detail + see which ones search engine bots crawl.

It’s a bit of technical work, but no external tools needed, and likely a better estimation of what’s useful to fix/redirect.”

In his response, John Mueller answers the question on how to find 404 responses caused by broken inbound links and identify what’s “useful to fix” or to “redirect.”

Mueller Advises On When Not To “Fix” 404 Pages

John Mueller next offered advice on when it doesn’t make sense to not fix a 404 page.

Mueller explained:

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Some 404s Should Be Fixed And Some Don’t Need Fixing

John Mueller said that there are situations where a 404 error generated from an inbound link is easy to fix and suggested ways to find those errors and fix them.

Mueller also said that there are some cases where it’s basically a waste of time.

What wasn’t mentioned was what the difference was between the two and this may have caused some confusion.

Inbound Broken Links To Existing Webpages

There are times when another sites links into your site but uses the wrong URL. Traffic from the broken link on the outside site will generate a 404 response code on your site.

These kinds of links are easy to find and useful to fix.

There are other situations when an outside site will link to the correct webpage but the webpage URL changed and the 301 redirect is missing.

Those kinds of inbound broken links are also easy to find and useful to fix. If in doubt, read our guide on when to redirect URLs.

In both of those cases the inbound broken links to the existing webpages will generate a 404 response and this will show up in server logs, Google Search Console and in plugins like the Redirection WordPress plugin.

If the site is on WordPress and it’s using the Redirection plugin, identifying the problem is easy because the Redirection plugin offers a report of all 404 responses with all the necessary information for diagnosing and fixing the problem.

In the case where the Redirection plugin isn’t used one can also hand code an .htaccess rule for handling the redirect.

Lastly, one can contact the other website that’s generating the broken link and ask them to fix it. There’s always a small chance that the other site might decide to remove the link altogether. So it might be easier and faster to just fix it on your side.

Whichever approach is taken to fix the external inbound broken link, finding and fixing these issues is relatively simple.

Inbound Broken Links To Removed Pages

There are other situations where an old webpage was removed for a legitimate reason, like an event passed or a service is no longer offered.

In that case it makes sense to just show a 404 response code because that’s one of the reasons why a 404 response should be shown. It’s not a bad thing to show a 404 response.

Some people might want to get some value from the inbound link and create a new webpage to stand in for the missing page.

But that might not be useful because the link is for something that is irrelevant and of no use because the reason for the page no longer exists.

Even if you create a new reason, it’s possible that some of that link equity might flow to the page but it’s useless because the topic of that inbound link is totally irrelevant to anyting but the expired reason.

Redirecting the missing page to the home page is a strategy that some people use to benefit from the link to a page that no longer exists. But Google treats those links as Soft 404s, which then passes no benefit.

These are the cases that John Mueller was probably referring to when he said:

“…you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Mueller is right, there are some pages that should be gone and totally removed from a website and the proper server response for those pages should be a 404 error response.

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Site Quality Is Simpler Than People Think




Site Quality Is Simpler Than People Think

Google’s John Mueller, Martin Splitt and Gary Illyes discussed site quality in a recent podcast, explaining the different ways of thinking about site quality and at one point saying it’s not rocket science. The discussion suggests that site quality could be simpler than most people know.

Site Quality Is Not Rocket Science

The first point they touched on is to recommend reading site quality documentation, insisting that site quality is not especially difficult to understand.

Gary Illyes said:

“So I would go to a search engine’s documentation.

Most of them have some documentation about how they function and just try to figure out where your content might be failing or where your page might be failing because honestly, okay, this is patronizing, but it’s not rocket science.”

No Tools For Site Quality – What To Do?

Gary acknowledged that there’s no tool for diagnosing site quality, not in the same way there are tools for objectively detecting technical issues.

The traffic metrics that show a downward movement don’t explain why, they just show that something changed.

Gary Illyes:

“I found the up-down metric completely useless because you still have to figure out what’s wrong with it or why people didn’t like it.

And then you’re like, “This is a perfectly good page. I wrote it, I know that it’s perfect.”

And then people, or I don’t know, like 99.7% of people are downvoting it. And you’re like, ‘Why?’”

Martin Splitt

“And I think that’s another thing.

How do I spot, I wrote the page, so clearly it is perfect and helpful and useful and amazing, but then people disagree, as you say.

How do you think about that? What do you do then?

How can I make my content more helpful, better, more useful? I don’t know.

…There’s all these tools that I can just look at and I see that something’s good or something’s bad.

But for quality, how do I go about that?”

Gary Illyes

“What if quality is actually simpler than at least most people think?

…What if it’s about writing the thing that will help people achieve whatever they need to achieve when they come to the page? And that’s it.”

Martin Splitt asked if Gary was talking about reviewing the page from the perspective of the user.

Illyes answered:

“No, we are reframing.”

Reframing generally means to think about the problem differently.

Gary’s example is to reframe the problem as whether the page delivers what it says it’s going to deliver (like helping users achieve X,Y,Z).

Something I see a lot with content is that the topic being targeted (for example, queries about how to catch a trout) isn’t matched by the content (which might actually be about tools for catching trout) which is not what the site visitor wants to achieve.

Quality In Terms Of Adding Value

There are different kinds of things that relate to site and page quality and in the next part of the podcast John Mueller and Gary Illyes discuss the issue about adding something of value.

Adding something of value came up in the context of where the SERPs offer good answers from websites that people not only enjoy but they expect to see those sites as answers for those queries.

You can tell when users expect specific sites for individual search queries when Google Suggests shows the brand name and the keyword.

That’s a clue that probably a lot of people are turning keywords into branded searches, which signals to Google what people want to see.

So, the problem of quality in those situations isn’t about being relevant for a query with the perfect answer.

For these situations, like for competitive queries, it’s not enough to be relevant or have the perfect answer.

John Mueller explains:

“The one thing I sometimes run into when talking with people is that they’ll be like, “Well, I feel I need to make this page.”

And I made this page for users in air quotes…

But then when I look at the search results, it’s like 9,000 other people also made this page.

It’s like, is this really adding value to the Internet?

And that’s sometimes kind of a weird discussion to have.

It’s like, ‘Well, it’s a good page, but who needs it?’

There are so many other versions of this page already, and people are happy with those.”

This is the type of situation where competitive analysis to “reverse engineer” the SERPs  works against the SEO.

It’s stale because using what’s in the SERPs as a template for what to do rank is feeding Google what it already has.

It’s like, as an example, let’s represent the site ranked in Google with a baseline of the number zero.

Let’s imagine everything in the SERPs has a baseline of zero. Less than zero is poor quality. Higher than zero is higher quality.

Zero is not better than zero, it’s just zero.

The SEOs who think they’re reverse engineering Google by copying entities, copying topics, they’re really just achieving an imperfect score of zero.

So, according to Mueller, Google responds with, “it’s a good page, but who needs it?”

What Google is looking for in this situation is not the baseline of what’s already in the SERPs, zero.

According to Mueller, they’re looking for something that’s not the same as the baseline.

So in my analogy, Google is looking for something above the baseline of what is already in the SERPs, a number greater than zero, which is a one.

You can’t add value by feeding Google back what’s already there. And you can’t add value by doing the same thing ten times bigger. It’s still the same thing.

Breaking Into The SERPs By The Side Door

Gary Illyes next discusses a way to break into a tough SERP, saying the way to do it is indirectly.

This is an old strategy but a good one that still works today.

So, rather than bringing a knife to a gunfight, Gary Illyes suggests choosing more realistic battles to compete in.

Gary continued the conversation about competing in tough SERPs.

He said:

“…this also is kind of related to the age-old topic that if you are a new site, then how can you break into your niche?

I think on today’s Internet, like back when I was doing ‘SEO’, it was already hard.

For certain topics or niches, it was absolutely a nightmare, like ….mesothelioma….

That was just impossible to break into. Legal topics, it was impossible to break into.

And I think by now, we have so much content on the Internet that there’s a very large number of topics where it is like 15 years ago or 20 years ago, that mesothelioma topic, where it was impossible to break into.

…I remember Matt Cutts, former head of Web Spam, …he was doing these videos.

And in one of the videos, he said try to offer something unique or your own perspective to the thing that you are writing about.

Then the number of perspective or available perspectives, free perspectives, is probably already gone.

But if you find a niche where people are not talking too much about, then suddenly, it’s much easier to break into.

So basically, this is me saying that you can break into most niches if you know what you are doing and if you are actually trying to help people.”

What Illyes is suggesting as a direction is to “know what you are doing and if you are actually trying to help people.

That’s one of my secrets to staying one step ahead in SEO.

For example, before the reviews update, before Google added Experience to E-A-T, I was telling clients privately to do that for their review pages and I told them to keep it a secret, because I knew I had it dialed in.

I’m not psychic, I was just looking at what Google wants to rank and I figured it out several years before the reviews update that you need to have original photos, you need to have hands-on experience with the reviewed product, etc.

Gary’s right when he advises to look at the problem from the perspective of “trying to help people.”

He next followed up with this idea about choosing which battles to fight.

He said:

“…and I think the other big motivator is, as always, money. People are trying to break into niches that make the most money. I mean, duh, I would do the same thing probably.

But if you write about these topics that most people don’t write about, let’s say just three people wrote about it on the Internet, then maybe you can capture some traffic.

And then if you have many of those, then maybe you can even outdo those high-traffic niches.”

Barriers To Entry

What Gary is talking about is how to get around the barrier to entry, which are the established sites. His suggestion is to stay away from offering what everyone else is offering (which is a quality thing).

Creating content that the bigger sites can’t or don’t know to create is an approach I’ve used with a new site.

Weaknesses can be things that the big site does poorly, like their inability to resonate with a younger or older audience and so on.

Those are examples of offering something different that makes the site stand out from a quality perspective.

Gary is talking about picking the battles that can be won, planting a flag, then moving on to the next hill.

That’s a far better strategies than walking up toe to toe with the bigger opponent.

Analyzing For Quality Issues

It’s a lot easier to analyze a site for technical issues than it is for quality issues.

But a few of the takeaways are:

  • Be aware that the people closest to the content are not always the best judges of content is quality.
  • Read Google’s search documentation (for on-page factors, content, and quality guidelines).
  • Content quality is simpler than it seems. Just think about knowing the topic well and being helpful to people.
  • Being original is about looking at the SERPs for things that you can do differently, not about copying what the competitors are doing.

In my experience, it’s super important to keep an open mind, to not get locked into one way of thinking, especially when it comes to site quality. This will help one keep from getting locked into a point of view that can keep one from seeing the true cause of ranking issues.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Stone36

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Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?




Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

Alt text is used to help computers read images.

But can alt tags affect your organic search rankings?

Read on to learn whether there is any connection between alt text and improved rankings in Google Image Search results.

The Claim: Alt Text Is A Ranking Factor

What is alt text?

Alt text is an HTML image attribute. It allows you to create an alternative text version of your image if it cannot load or has an accessibility issue.

Because of its importance to Google Image Search, it is considered a ranking factor.

[Ranking Factors 2023] Download the free ebook + cheat sheet 

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: The Evidence

Google emphasizes how alt text plays a vital role in getting your images recognized by Google Image Search.

You will find a page on image best practices in Google Search Central’s Advanced SEO documentation. In a section called “about alt text,” Google discusses the use of alt text.

“Google uses alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image. Also, alt text in images is useful as anchor text if you decide to use an image as a link.”

While the company doesn’t specify that alt text will improve your rankings, it warns website owners that improper use can harm your website.

“When writing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page.

Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (also known as keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”

It also offers the following examples of good and bad alt text usage.

Screenshot from Google Search Central, August 2023Google Search Central best practice for images

Google Sites Help documentation indicates that images may come with pre-populated alt text, including keywords for which you may not want to optimize.

“Some images automatically include alt text, so it’s a good idea to check that the alt text is what you want.”

For example, when I download stock photos, a text description of the image is embedded in the file.

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Screenshot by author, August 2023Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

When uploaded to a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, the text descriptions may need to be moved to the alt text field or modified to remove unnecessary keywords.

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Screenshot from WordPress, August 2023Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

In Google Search Central’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,” it offers the following advice about alt tags when using images as links:

“…if you’re using an image as a link, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. However, we don’t recommend using too many images for links in your site’s navigation when text links could serve the same purpose.”

In 2020, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, answered a question about the alt text of a quote image during a Google Webmaster Office Hours. In the answer, he talked about how Google uses it:

“For Search, what happens with the alt attribute is we use that to better understand the images themselves, in particular, for Image Search. So if you didn’t care about Image Search, then from a Search point of view, you don’t really need to worry about alt text.

But if you do want these images to be shown in Image Search, which sometimes it makes sense to show fancy quotes in Image Search as well, then using the alt attribute is a good way to tell us this is on that image and we’ll get extra information from around your page with regard to how we can rank that landing page.”

Moz mentions ranking factors about alt text. Instead of saying that the alt text itself is a ranking factor, Moz advises:

“…alt text offers you another opportunity to include your target keyword. With on-page keyword usage still pulling weight as a search engine ranking factor, it’s in your best interest to create alt text that both describes the image and, if possible, includes a keyword or keyword phrase you’re targeting.”

In 2021, during a Twitter discussion about ALT text having a benefit on SEO, Google Developer Martin Splitt said:

“Yep, alt text is important for SEO too!”

Later in 2021, Mueller noted that alt text is not magic during a conversation about optimization for indexing purposes.

“My understanding was that alt attributes are required for HTML5 validation, so if you can’t use them with your platform, that sounds like a bug. That said, alt text isn’t a magic SEO bullet.”

[Recommended Read] → Ranking Factors: Systems, Signals, and Page Experience

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

Alt text is a confirmed ranking factor for image search only. You should craft descriptive, non-spammy alt text to help your images appear in Google Image Search results.

Alt text is definitely not a ranking factor in Google Search. Google has clarified that alt text acts like normal page text in overall search. So it’s not useless, but it’s not a separately considered ranking factor in your page content.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore alt text. It’s a helpful accessibility tool for screen readers. When you’re writing alt text, ask yourself what you want someone who can’t see the image to understand about it.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal

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