Technology Explained

What Is an SEO Specialist and Could You Become One?

Simon Batt 17-02-2020

We use search engines every day to find the content spread all across the internet. As such, companies are in dire need of SEO specialists to help them. But what is SEO? How do you specialize in it?


Let’s break down these terms and explore if this job is right for you.

What Does SEO Mean?

To break down how someone specializes in SEO, we must first break apart what SEO means. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” a term related to making a website or webpage more “search engine friendly.” As XKCD has pointed out, no website wants to be the one on the second page of Google!

Have you ever wondered how a search engine selects which websites to show you first? You may have even seen some odd cases where the search engine prioritizes third-party websites over “the real thing.”

For example, if you look for tickets to Bermuda from Osprey Airlines, you may find the official airline’s website will be at the number five spot, with ticket booking websites sitting above it.

The reason some websites overtake others on the listings is due to their SEO. When a search engine has to decide what order of links to show a user, it considers which one will answer the user’s query best. As such, it will look for keywords related to what the user searched.


For example, let’s say you searched “Osprey Airlines flights to Bermuda” in the above example.  The official Osprey Airlines website may not have much information on Bermuda, so Google ranks it quite low.

Ticket booking websites will capitalize on this by making webpages specifically targeting Osprey Airline flights to Bermuda, and may even use the exact search term in the text.

Because the booking websites use the search terms on their website, the search engine considers those websites a better answer to your query than the official Osprey Airlines website. That’s why the third-party websites outdo the official one in listings.

What Is an SEO Specialist?

As you might have guessed, an SEO specialist is someone who understands how SEO works and uses this knowledge to boost website statistics. Companies hire them to promote their websites as high up the search rankings as possible and earn more clicks as a result.


SEO specialists have roots in marketing. They may need to write an article or a piece that contains specific keywords as dictated by the search engines. As such, good writing skills will help the specialist create content to boost the rankings.

SEO isn’t just about content creation, however. The specialist also builds the website in a way that plays nice with both visitors and search engines. As such, an SEO specialist will often need coding knowledge, specifically with languages that handle web development.

If you like the sound of an SEO specialist role but don’t want any of the pesky coding parts, look for job adverts that want an SEO writer or SEO copywriter instead. These are 100% focused on the writing aspect and don’t involve coding.

While an English degree or similar would be advantageous for these jobs, you could use your technical background to apply to IT-related businesses to show you know your stuff.


What Are the Requirements For an SEO Specialist?

Usually, an SEO specialist job will ask for a degree of any kind; however, your odds are better if your area of expertise is in technology. After all, one requirement is knowledge of languages such as HTML and JavaScript. Studying a degree that teaches you those languages will go a long way.

A job advertisement may also ask for prior experience. A company may directly ask for SEO experience, but some may only ask for experience creating websites. This requirement is another reason why a computing course is useful; pick one with a module in web design, and you’ll develop both the skills and a portfolio to show prospective employers.

As for your mindset, you need to toe the balance between logic and experimentation. You’ll have a wide range of tools to check what people are searching for and the best way to structure the website.

However, you’ll need to perform different tests to see which ones draw in the most clicks. It’s not a “one and done” job; it requires tweaking over a long time for the best results. If you want an idea of what kind of tools you’ll use, there are free tools to get the best keywords for your website 7 Free Tools to Get the Best Keywords for Your Site How do you know which are the best keywords? Use these awesome free keyword tools to find high ranking keywords. Read More .


Interestingly, according to PayScale, SEO specialists are a rare instance where the gender balance of a tech job is close to equal. The gender breakdown is around 55% men and 45% women, which is a lot more balanced than a typical programming job with a ratio of 84% male to 16% female. As such, an SEO specialist role is a good pick if you’re worried about gender bias.

What Is an SEO Specialist’s Salary?

According to PayScale, an SEO specialist earns around $45k a year at the time of writing. The minimum is about $33k, and the maximum is around $64k.

As is the case with jobs, experience does make a huge difference to pay rate. At the time of writing, someone who’s been in the business for a long time sees a 43% increase in salary, while first-timers get 13% less.

Where Do SEO Specialists Work?

SEO specialists can work in all kinds of locations. For instance, a company may hire one to be on-site, working at an office within the company’s building. Other businesses may choose instead to hire SEO specialists on a freelance basis, where the professional works from home.

Which route you prefer comes down to you. If you can’t imagine working without having others around you, you’ll be better off applying for in-office jobs. More introverted people will prefer the isolated nature of working from home.

Coming Technology and Work

If you have a head for technology and love marketing, an SEO specialist role may be perfect for you. It strikes a balance between creativity and logic, using both marketing and programming skills to help companies climb the search engine rankings.

If you want a technically-minded job, but programming makes you wince, try these tech jobs you can get without coding experience Coding Isn't for Everyone: 9 Tech Jobs You Can Get Without It Don't be discouraged if you want to be a part of the tech field. There are plenty of jobs for people without coding skills! Read More .

Related topics: Keyword Research, SEO.

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