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Asaad Dookhy

What Does the SEO Lead Look Like in 2015?

Asaad Dookhy

As we all know, the field of SEO is constantly evolving, and the individuals who work in it need to do so also. I believe it is vital to be proactive with your development, not reactive. You need to use your instincts with regards to where you see this practice going and acquire the perfect skill set for your employers and/or clients.

Below is my opinion of what the 2015 SEO Lead will look like. I’ve assigned each skill a score of importance (from 1 to 20) and differentiated between core and evolving skills — I've labeled skills which are part of current SEOs' skill set as "core skill" and skills that are not core yet but I believe they will be as "evolving."

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

SEO Skill Sets in 2015 and Beyond

Evolving SEO Skill Set

Mobile Site and App Optimization (20/20)

By not optimizing your apps and sites for mobile users, you will miss out on a huge chunk of potential traffic and revenue.

Optimizing your site for mobile users is straight forward in terms of your numbers; but, optimizing your app can be difficult in terms of your KPIs, unless you set clear goals with your mobile team beforehand, which will help them see the value of your work.

Technical SEO for Mobile (20/20)

Google wants users to have a great mobile experience, hence the introduction of the mobile usability section in Google Webmaster Tools.

desktop-vs-mobile-users

Video Marketing (20/20)

Videos will tie in to your content marketing, UX and CRO strategies. They give you a USP as they communicate your brand and product more directly than text, hence its evolving into being vital to your strategy as we need to make sure we stand out in competitive markets. Despite the loss in visibility of video thumbnails in SERPs, you need videos as part of your outreach.

People love videos. (Here are some YouTube stats proving so.) To give people what they want, you need to know:

  • How to edit videos
  • How to create videos that communicate objectives and CTAs
  • How to outsource video creation
  • How to calculate ROI and allocate budgets for your videos
  • Where to host videos
  • How to optimize videos
  • Where videos should be placed on your site
  • How to leverage videos for outreach and engagement
  • How to feed into other marketing venues — e.g., email and social media

Not long ago, SEOs were only interested in the optimization aspects of marketing (titles, tags, etc.); but if you want videos as part of your strategy, you will need to better understand the process, so you can accurately judge the kind of budget you will need as well as the value it could bring to your campaigns – plus, you need to be able to negotiate with agencies.

Human Behavior (20/20)

How many times do we talk about using SEO in other areas of business? A lot! But how often does this happen? SEO is like no other job. To be able to work more effectively with other departments, we need to understand:

  • How easy it would be to integrate what we need into other peoples’ workloads. For example, if we want a designer to redesign a banner to have text and a CTA image link, how does this impact their workload?
  • How our knowledge can benefit them. For example, could we provide the PR team with a list of influencers we have found from our campaigns?
  • Ask yourself whether you really need their help. For example, if we need to manually edit some code to 301 a bunch of URLs, can we not learn the required coding ourselves and just do it?

Leadership (20/20)

As SEO evolves, we need to change our strategies and lead the companies we work/consult for in a new direction. But, people don’t like change, and deciding to change tactics can come across as admitting defeat.

leadership-graphic

Image via freegraphicdownload.com

Here’s a great video on leadership from Roselinde Torres:

To be a great SEO leader you need to:

  • Have a clear strategy and know how to accurately forecast ROI
  • Know why and how you are going to accomplish this
  • Communicate your successes and challenges along the way

UX Competency (15/20)

Great UX maximizes your revenue via organic and provides link bait, so we need to understand user behavior beyond basic analytics data. ClickTale provides a deeper insight into what’s interesting to people as well as videos of how real people behave on your website.

But before you start thinking about UX actions, you need training. Luckily, Webcredible provide a series of courses, check them out here.

CRO Competency (15/20)

Is SEO revenue really out of your hands? In reality, SEOs have little influence on revenue (speaking from an e-commerce background) because we don’t choose the products, prices, or merchandise — or work on the checkout process. And we shouldn’t work on these areas.

However we need to understand which parts of a site will bring the biggest increase of organic revenue when increasing organic traffic so we can prioritize our SEO actions.

Negotiation (15/20)

ROI is always important — especially for SEO, because of the time required, invisible algorithm and how other areas (brand growth, PR, UX team) can help your results.

You need to ensure that your SEO expenses (agencies, staff, tools) are kept to a minimum so that your final returns on organic revenue will be as great as possible, which then helps buy in and expansion.

  • Can you negotiate an extra month or an extended trial on a tool?
  • Can you hire interns instead of permanent staff?
  • Are you able to add various clauses in your agency contracts?

Design Competency (10/20)

Design and content are going to be part of next year’s strategy, but do you really understand what it takes to create an infographic, a gif, a banner, etc.? You need to understand:

  • The process involved — tools, time frames
  • The latest, best practices in design

Public Relations Competency (10/20)

PR and SEO have been in fashion for a while now, but PR is completely different from your link building campaigns. Again, if you want to be involved with your PR department, you need training. Have a look at the Press Association training materials here and try to find some meetups on Eventbrite.

You should also understand that:

  • SEO is measured by organic traffic, while PR is measured by brand awareness
  • SEO targets link to category and search volume pages, while PR targets link to pages that will best sell the brand — which is likely to be products

PPC Competency (10/20)

SEO and PPC have always been connected, as they are both search marketing practices and fundamentally keyword based. Understanding PPC (and?) KPIS will help you understand key information such as:

  • Keywords not to optimise for as the returns via PPC have been poor
  • Ad copy which have worked well and could be build up into meta descriptions

Email Competency (5/20)

Email marketing has many facets — from segmentation to A/B testing. But SEOs do not need learn about these, they just need a basic understanding of email marketing and how working with their email team can benefit their SEO campaigns.

Requesting that your content to be sent to a relevant segment via a dedicated email or banner will place it in front of relevant people, which will increase your chances that they will link to it.

Native Advertising Competency (5/20)

Using native advertising is similar to using email marketing in that it will put your content in front of lots of relevant people who could then link to it. It’s worth trying to see if you acquire any more links, so you can judge whether or not it’s necessary to increase your level of investment.

Core SEO Skill Set

Technical SEO (20/20)

Ensuring that your site is accessible to spiders and efficient in terms of your crawl budget are key parts of SEO, and they will remain so.

Geo Targeting (20/20)

The major update this year was Pigeon, as well as the growing importance of omni-channel strategies.

Creativity (20/20)

Creativity is needed for content campaigns so they offer a unique perspective plus you need to offer a creative approach to outreach your content to increase the pick up.

Site Architecture (20/20)

Having great site architecture will help customers make purchases and help robots crawl your site. But to take your site architecture to the next level, you need to understand how your customers behave (i.e., does the number of pages in the nav confuse them?) Predict trends so you can make relevant pages more prominent as well search volume data for the direct SEO benefit.

Industry Knowledge (20/20)

Best practices are constantly changing, and you need to be able to keep up to date on the latest algorithm changes in order to lead and communicate how you will react to these changes.

Copywriting (15/20)

Creating engaging copy — especially with Panda — is an important skill, as it's often an SEO who writes category page copy, for example.

Brand Building (15/20)

As a brand grows, it naturally acquires more links and the navigation searches around the brand. Understanding a forecasted increase in brand perception helps you in your organic traffic forecasts, as well as with your required budget. As an SEO, you can also build your brand through content marketing and effective outreach.

Analytics (15/20)

SEO has always involved a balance of technical and creative skills. You will need to mine through lots of data to create actions and milestones.

Forecasting (15/20)

Forecasting is extremely difficult because you can’t predict algorithm changes, how your competitors will grow, and the effects of other channels (e.g., a TV campaign can increase organic traffic heavily); but, the better your predictions, the more confident your bosses will be, thus the better the buy-in and the budget.

Project Management (15/20)

Whether its 301 redirecting, X number of URL, or writing Y number of title tags, every task can be a project. You need to deliver your projects on time and with accuracy

Agency Management (12/20)

Managing the whole process in-house is not always possible.

Recruitment (10/20)

When recruiting staff, you need to match the characteristics to the role and potential for the role. For example, interns need to learn discipline and to pay attention to details, as their tasks are likely to involve fixing errors or making changes at scale etc.

Social Media Competency (10/20)

Engaging with relevant people on social media begins dialogues and relationships, which could mean that those people will link to your site or share your content. You will need basic training in social media so that you can follow the correct etiquette and be able to discover influencers.

Conclusion

2015-SEO-lead

SEO isn’t dying, but SEOs will unless they keep their skills updated and relevant to market demands.

Do you agree with my 2015 SEO Lead? Please let me know in the comments.

Asaad Dookhy is the Search Lead and Manager at Decathlon, responsible for the entire strategy and implementation of driving qualified traffic via search to the site. He has six years of experience in digital, both the retail and agency side, as well as freelance experience. Asaad is an all-round SEO, comfortable with technical SEO as well as content marketing.

Comments

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Frank Stoczko
Hi Asaad,

Great article!

The biggest issue I see with your skill assessment for SEO leads is the fact that it focuses primarily on the technical aspects of SEO and PPC rather than the more fundamental focus of lead generation/sales conversion.

Most SEO's today have blinders on keeping them overly focused on the technical aspects of optimizing websites for better search engine ranking. In reality, their focus really needs to be redirected toward delivering results in the form of actual leads and or sales.

In my opinion, creativity, analytics, project management and content creation skills will play an increasingly more important role in SEO as time goes on.

If I were looking to hire an SEO Lead today, I would want a creative, analytical project manager with strong content development skills.
-- Frank
searchism
searchism
Asaad- Pretty diverse and lengthy article, and agree to a point. SEO has gone to the next level, but not this extravagant in most serps. Example- ppc and seo are NOT always intertwined..in fact they are polar opposites in many circles.
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