SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a technique, or rather a set of techniques and procedures, which consists of optimizing Web pages content and structure with the aim of increasing organic traffic. By definition, “organic traffic” refers to all the traffic generated to a website without the aid of advertisements, in particular through search engines like Google. There are many and varied advantages deriving from SEO: it allows not only to increase the number of visitors to a website, but also to ensure a constant flow of traffic over time for specific keywords, those for which digital property owners want to be found on top of search results. This is with the aim of promoting their brand, acquiring a greater number of customers, showing their advertising to a wider audience, generating more orders and sales for products and services. From the point of view of Digital Marketing, SEO can guarantee an ROI (Return on investment) even higher than that of advertising, precisely because its results are inclined to last in the medium or long term. While to maintain the results deriving from advertising, it is often necessary to continually refinance campaigns. Factors determining the ranking of a Web page in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and governing the algorithms of search engines are numerous. They range from the content quality to the reliability of the hosting platform, from the keywords density to link building, from the arrangement of the elements within a layout to the use of images, from usability to accessibility, as well as the level of user experience through the various devices for Internet browsing. To master all these elements you need a professional, the SEO Specialist.
What are SEO Specialists and what do they do?
Given a digital property, the SEO Specialist is a professional figure who has the task of optimizing its structure and content, in order to place it in the best possible position on the top results pages of search engines. Platforms like Google exist with the aim of providing answers to users through third-party resources, namely texts, images, audio/video and documents accessible via links. So, the SEO Specialist must first understand what the needs of the latter are, what they are looking for and how their needs can be met. To do this, this figure takes action on three fronts: On-Site, On-Page (or On-Site) and Off-Page (or Off-Site). On the front of On-Site SEO, the SEO professional deals with the analysis of all those technical aspects of the website that prevent the proper indexing of pages, both from the point of view of crawling and identification of duplicated content (titles and meta tags) or content that have showed inconsistencies with the official documentation. In the second case, SEO takes care of every aspect concerning the content, the way in which they are structured and their usability, not ruling out direct interventions in terms of Content Creation, such as the drafting of DEP (Digital Editorial Plan) in which the entire online communication strategy of a company is described. On-Page SEO also refers to activities such as keyword research and analysis, the construction of site-maps and the arrangement of internal links, the study of updates involving search engine algorithms and continuous improvement of user experience, with the aim of maximizing conversions resulting from visits. The aspects relating to Off-Page SEO are not entirely independent from On-Page ones. Even in this case, for example, the identification of the most suitable keywords for ranking is of significant importance. However, the Off-Page SEO is more properly a networking activity through which an SEO Specialist relates to other companies for link building purposes. The links thus created allow to strengthen the authority of the linked Web pages, by creating a network of platforms united by content covering similar topics. The term “Google” is often used as a synonym for search engine, and in fact it is thanks to it that the largest share of organic traffic is produced. But users search on many other platforms. Bing aside, Microsoft’s response to Big G, even realities such as Amazon, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram generate a large number of searches. SEO Specialists cannot therefore ignore this data as the ultimate goal of their work is to increase visits and views.
The skills of the SEO Specialist
SEO Specialists have multidisciplinary skills that do not relate solely to search engines. First of all, it is a profession closely linked to Web Marketing, and therefore in-depth knowledge (in terms of data analysis) is necessary, especially with regard to Web analytics because they must not only be able to generate additional traffic, they must also know how to analyze it in view of further optimizations. For this purpose, tools specially designed for industry operators are available. The first and most well-known is certainly Google Analytics, a platform that offers free useful tools for analyzing the data produced by an online activity. There are also other specialist solutions, such as SEO Zoom which provides a complete collection of Search Marketing Tools with which to analyze, monitor, compare and enhance a website for SEO.
SEMrush is instead a service oriented not only to SEO (keyword research, backlink analysis, SERP monitoring, SEO audit…), but also to SEM (Search Engine Marketing) which also offers tools for Content Marketing, market research, advertising and communication management via social media.
Ahrefs (but we could also mention other platforms) finally presents itself as an “all-in-one” SEO toolset for optimizing Web pages through Site Audit, competitor analysis, keyword exploration, content performance analysis and tracking the progress made during the work of an SEO professional.
SEO Specialists must also be proficient in Computer Science, because they need to understand which dynamics govern algorithms, and in Semantics, as they must be able to grasp and interpret the meaning and importance of terms. Furthermore, they must possess some soft skills, such as communication skills with companies and with their team) and relationship management (crucial in Off-Page SEO).
How to become an SEO Specialist?
Often SEO Specialists are self-taught and gain experience according to a learning by doing approach. There are also different sources through which to keep up to date, including industry-leading websites, thematic channels on podcast or video streaming platforms, and top resources such as Moz Blog. It is also possible to attend online or face-to-face courses to acquire an SEO theoretical base but, in any case, nothing can replace fieldwork. Especially, because an SEO Specialist operates in a segment continuously affected by changes and algorithm updates. The ideal way to develop real expertise in this sector is therefore to face a path that is able to combine training, practical experience, expert advice, experimentation and continuous updating.
How much does an SEO Specialist earn?
Earnings of an SEO Specialist does not depend solely on their basic salary, but in most cases, it is linked to the ability to reach and exceed the goals. A considerable increase in traffic, thanks to an optimization campaign, can lead to access to production rewards, bonuses and benefits. According to a study carried out by Michael Page Digital & New Media, the GAS (Gross Annual Salary) expected for a junior profile should be between 20,000 and 25,000 euro per year, and then rise from 25 to about 35,000 for a medium profile, between 35,000 and 60,000 for a candidate with experience between 5 and 9 years, and between 60,000 and 80,000 euro for longest-serving professional, with the prospect of becoming a senior specialist and a team leader.
SEO is in many ways a complex activity that requires skills in various sectors which, in addition to the functioning of search engines, also concern IT, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, relationship skills and competition analysis. It provides procedures that cannot be improvised, in order to be effective and produce lasting results. For this reason, the market requires a figure like that of the SEO Specialist, a professional whose task is to increase organic traffic to digital properties, analyze it and constantly improve the ways in which this result is achieved.