Mastering These 7 Key Skills Will Propel SEO Professionals to the Forefront in 2023
Despite the speculation that SEO may be a dying trend, the truth is that it remains a pivotal aspect of digital marketing. In fact, it is projected that the SEO industry will soar to a staggering $122.11 billion by 2028.
As the industry evolves and expands, it is crucial for SEO professionals to stay ahead of the curve by acquiring new and in-demand skills. In this piece, we will delve into the seven emerging skills that SEO experts must master in order to thrive in the fast-paced world of SEO.
Let’s get started
1- Articulating Your Worth
For many in the SEO industry, effectively communicating their value is a critical but often overlooked skill. In the current economic climate, with a potential recession and rising cost of living, businesses are being more cautious with their spending.
Regardless of your position, from executive to strategist, it’s important to be clear about your role’s value and the tasks you perform, and know how to express it. Here’s a key phrase that every SEO should be able to use for each task:
- “I am performing (task name) because it provides (clear explanation of value delivered).”
In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s essential to master this line to stay ahead of the curve. After all, if your work can be automated by an AI tool, it likely will be.
2- Embracing AI Technology
AI tools are rapidly expanding, and SEO professionals are finding increasingly innovative ways to integrate machine learning into their work. From keyword and cluster analysis to meta descriptions and page titles, the opportunities to leverage AI are nearly endless.
SEOs should not be intimidated by AI technology. Instead, they should embrace it and learn how to use it to their advantage. Take the Chrome extension AIPRM for ChatGPT as an example. It allows you to effortlessly plan a silo structure for any niche website and perform keyword research and Google Business Profile optimization with just a few clicks.
AI tools can save you time and effort on repetitive, time-consuming tasks, freeing up your mental energy to focus on the areas of SEO that AI can never fully replace, such as creative strategy and building relationships.
The key to success is mastering the use of AI technology within your role. By doing so, you’ll enhance your effectiveness and stay ahead of the curve.
3- Commanding Impact
If you haven’t already, you need to become familiar with Tom Critchlow and his work. He offers valuable insights through his SEO MBA course and content, where he emphasizes the importance of having a commanding impact.
His newsletter is a must-read and where I first encountered the concept of “commanding impact,” which he defines as:
“The capacity to effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas to C-level executives, construct persuasive business propositions for substantial investments and collaborate with cross-functional teams to secure stakeholder support.”
It is crucial for all SEO professionals to hone this skill in order to reach the top decision-makers within their organization.
- An SEO specialist must be able to articulate their proposals to their account manager.
- The account manager must then be able to convince client services.
- And so on.
I like to view this as the power to drive change within your workplace, regardless of the scope of that change.
Become confident in expressing and presenting your ideas to those in positions of authority.
4- Creative Content Conceptualization
I first encountered the concept of content design through the works and book of Sarah Winters. The advancement of AI writing tools has indeed diminished the significance of traditional writing and SEO content writing. However, design is our saving grace, as it enables us to differentiate ourselves and bring value that these tools cannot provide.
It’s not to say that every SEO professional should go ahead and subscribe to Canva. Content design is all about enhancing the reader’s experience. For instance, the way text is presented on a webpage, such as black text on a white background, can have a significant impact. Justin Jackson’s “This is a web page” is an excellent example of the power of design in action.
Studies have shown that people scan content to evaluate its value before committing their cognitive resources to reading it thoroughly. As such, SEOs should be incorporating content design to increase the perceived value of their content, particularly in a world dominated by AI writing tools that can produce a 2,000-word article in just 30 seconds. To succeed in 2023, SEOs must embrace content design as a crucial tool in their arsenal.
Every time you create content, ask yourself this question: “How can we make this better?”
5- Refined Content Revision
Many SEOs, including some writers, don’t particularly enjoy writing. However, there’s one task that they dislike even more – reading content. I understand where they’re coming from. It can be disheartening to read a 3,000-word article on a topic you have no interest in, especially if you’ve hired someone else to write and edit it.
But it’s a challenge you’ll have to overcome. To succeed in 2023, SEOs must be diligent with content editing. This is mainly because of the presence of AI. Whether you have a team of writers, freelancers, or work with an agency, you’ll need to be an active editor.
Be vigilant for content that lacks clarity, substance, and expertise. AI tools can assist writers, and it’s important for SEOs to make the most of these tools. However, also be wary of lazy content creation that is generated with just a few clicks.
My top tip for effective content editing is to read your content out loud. If it doesn’t sound good, make the necessary changes.
6- Marketing Evolution
Gone are the days when an SEO’s sole focus was just driving traffic and improving rankings. In the present, clients are more discerning and require a more comprehensive approach to SEO.
The list of SEO tactics and terms, including top of funnel, mid-funnel, buyer’s journey, and product-led, seems never-ending. But what really matters in SEO’s future is its place in the marketing landscape.
Traditionally, SEO has been given a limited marketing budget, but with changing views on attribution models, organic content is expected to receive more credit. This is where AI and machine learning come into play, filling in gaps in the attribution process and providing a clearer understanding of organic search’s role in the marketing mix.
However, simply examining GA4 reports and declaring, “Organic search delivered great results,” isn’t enough. Clients have access to a plethora of marketing channels, such as TikTok, PPC, radio ads, TV commercials, and podcasts, all competing for the same budget.
Thus, it’s crucial for SEOs to prove the value of their services. Pioneers like Peter Fields and Les Binet have paved the way for mature marketing discussions through their work on “The Long and the Short of It.” While short-term sales activation drives sales, long-term brand marketing has a more significant impact on sales over time.
The role of SEO in this landscape is still a matter of debate. To make a case for the importance of SEO, practitioners need to engage in sophisticated conversations with the marketing world and understand the lingo, including terms such as brand marketing, direct advertising, mental availability, physical availability, the 4 Ps, econometrics, sophisticated mass marketing, behavioral science, the messy middle, and memory architecture.
Despite this, many SEOs still struggle to articulate the value of their work to clients. In an era of multiple advertising options, it’s essential to demonstrate how SEO can help a business and explain the marketing science behind it.
7- Optimizing the Future
When engaging with a new client, I frequently inquire about the tactic used by their previous SEO agency. Regrettably, many are unacquainted with the plan of action. Unfortunately, they were never informed or provided with any tangible results.
Our aim is to elevate the standard of SEO strategy documentation.
Traditional SEO strategies consist of a series of actions performed by the agency, such as:
- Crafting compelling Meta descriptions.
- Enhancing internal linking.
- Producing informative articles totaling 9,000 words.
- And much more.
However, having a checklist is not enough. A strategy requires more than just a plan or a list of completed tasks.
As we move into 2023, SEO specialists will face new challenges as marketing budgets become tighter. Clients will rightfully ask, “What is the purpose behind our actions?” Developing a sound strategy can be challenging.
It requires the SEO expert to boldly declare, “We will execute action X with the goal of achieving outcome Y.” There is no guarantee of success, but uncertainty is a part of the process.
Strategizing should make you feel invigorated, not intimidated. Your strategy is a hypothesis, a conviction. Clients will naturally seek evidence to support your approach, and that is perfectly fine. Utilizing successful case studies and researching other industry leaders will strengthen your stance.
Good SEO practitioners continuously research their competitors and seek inspiration. If a tactic has worked for another business, there is a strong possibility it can work for yours. “We believe in this approach because it produced favorable results for XYZ.”
Be daring, challenge the status quo, and adjust your strategy as necessary. The key to success is the ability to recognize areas of improvement and make the necessary changes. Do not allow a rigid SEO ideology to hinder progress. If the current approach is not delivering the desired results, it’s time for a change.
Continuously Acquiring Knowledge: A Key to Progressing in SEO
The SEO sector is flourishing, but the competencies of SEO professionals must keep pace with its expansion. To ensure that SEO secures a larger share of marketing budgets, SEO practitioners must continually improve their abilities.
Getting a grasp of the seven skills highlighted above is a step in the right direction. With a plethora of SEO techniques and practices readily available on YouTube, there’s no excuse not to stay current and enhance your skillset.