10 Skills Every SEO Pro Needs for Success

image3-1 10 Skills Every SEO Pro Needs for Success

In the world of digital marketing, SEO is a vital skill set. But what exactly does it take to be a successful SEO pro?

If you aspire to become an SEO pro or want to take your SEO career to the next level, there are specific competencies you need to master.

Soft skills

Of course, if you want to enhance your SEO knowledge, mastering the basics of SEO is a must. But there are many other valuable skills that all experienced SEOs need to work well in this industry.

Analytical thinking

If you want a career in SEO, being an analytical thinker is an essential skill to have. 

You need to look at data and understand what has gone wrong and why; also, what are the best steps to take and rectify it?

You will also need to prioritize tasks effectively for individual clients (as their needs change and grow) and even prioritize one client’s work over another. 


SEO is an ever-changing landscape. With search engine algorithms constantly being updated, your strategy may need to change overnight.

Being able to adapt your strategy to address your clients’ immediate needs and get the best outcome for them is an essential skill to have.

Great communication

Communication skills are one of the most important skills to possess not only as an SEO but also in all areas of digital marketing. 

An SEO who can write outstanding content is an incredibly valuable asset. And if you can confidently convey to clients, internal teams, web developers, or other key decision-makers why something needs to happen, this is going to further your SEO career.

Being able to speak confidently in meetings, relay complex ideas in a deck, and put together compelling case studies can help you land (and retain) SEO clients. 

People skills

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how good an SEO you are if you can’t get along with people.

Granted, you can’t please everyone all of the time; that’s just life. But even if you’re the greatest SEO superstar, you won’t get anywhere if nobody wants to work with you. 

Even as a freelancer, you will need to communicate with internal team members and, often, clients. Being able to create a positive environment and show you care about the work makes you a valuable resource.

Plus, some of the best relationships are built at industry events—both in-person and virtual ones. Remember, making connections can further your SEO career.

Willingness to learn

SEO is so multifaceted that you can either be a niche-specific expert or have a basic understanding of every element. There are few people in the SEO industry who have a deep understanding of every complex element.

With that in mind, there is always something to learn. Especially when working with others, be it with marketing teams as a freelancer or working directly under an SEO manager, you need to take feedback and learn new ways of doing things.

How to improve your skills

So now you know which skills you need to further your SEO career, here’s a question: How do you improve them? 

There are three ways you can get started.

Continued professional development

As SEO is always evolving, it’s important even for the most seasoned SEO to be open to learning new things.

Continuing your professional development by attending leading industry conferences and taking relevant courses will allow you to develop your SEO skills further. 

image1-2 10 Skills Every SEO Pro Needs for Success

The Ahrefs Academy has a number of comprehensive courses that will enhance not only your SEO but also general marketing skills:

On-the-job training

There are several ways to gain on-the-job experience to improve your SEO skills—whether it be an internship with a reputable SEO company or offering your services to local charities. 

There are also skill exchange websites where you can offer your SEO skills in return for something like website design or even singing lessons.

image2-2 10 Skills Every SEO Pro Needs for Success

Personal projects

Building your own websites and optimizing them yourself is a great way to improve your SEO skills.

Having your own digital assets can allow you to experiment with new things, understand which aspects of SEO you naturally excel at, and make mistakes without messing up a client’s site. 

Final thoughts

The first and most important step in establishing a career in SEO is improving your skills. This requires understanding the fundamentals and gaining practical experience. 

If you want to get started with SEO, try our free SEO training course. This is a great first step in gaining essential SEO skills.

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