SEO is a massive and rapidly growing industry. People cannot stop using search engines and as long as they’re using them to find what they’re looking for, your business shouldn’t ignore SEO. If you’re interested in hiring an SEO professional or if you’re an SEO professional working with several clients at the moment, you have to understand that SEO isn’t all about search engines instead it takes a whole lot of other skills that make a good SEO professional. You need a combination of hard and soft skills to make your SEO campaign outperform. Whether you’re a business looking to hire an SEO professional or an SEO professional interested in attracting more clients, the following skills are what makes a good SEO marketer. 1. Communication skill An SEO expert who cannot communicate well won’t be of much use no matter how great he is at SEO. Statistics show that 73% of employers need a candidate with strong communication skills with a strong focus on written skills. SEO is technical and in order to convince clients or your bosses, you have to make sure that you make it dead simple for them to understand it. This is what a great communicator can achieve with minimal effort. An SEO professional cannot survive in isolation. He has to communicate with your marketing team, content creators, and he has to work within a team. That’s where written, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills are more important than anything else. In fact, 93% of communication is non-verbal. It is, therefore, more important how you say it rather than what you’re saying. An SEO professional who doesn’t know how to communicate well won’t be a good choice for your business. Make sure this is the first skill that you look for in a candidate after SEO specific skills. 2. Programming skill This shouldn’t be surprising because SEO today is more technical than ever. Think of page speed, HTML tags, user experience, friendly layouts, rendering issues, and more. You can argue that your developer can handle all this stuff, and sure he can. But you need someone to tell the developer why exactly he has to do it, and that ‘someone’ should be an SEO expert. I know a lot of SEO professionals who know basic programming, HTML, CSS, PHP, and can handle technical SEO in-house without reaching out to a developer. This is because technical SEO has now become a major part of SEO which includes site architecture, canonicalization, redirection, speed optimization, HTML markup, and more. Here is the thing, as an SEO professional you don’t have to be a coder but you should understand coding and how it relates to optimization so that you can identify mistakes and communicate with the developers when needed. However, you need to have HTML and CSS knowledge. If you don’t understand HTML tags and cannot handle CSS, you’ll be easily outranked because HTML is the backbone of on-page SEO as it is all about managing HTML tags. CSS, on the other hand, is closely related to the user experience which all search engines care for a lot. Your life and work will get a whole lot easier if you equip yourself with programming skill as an SEO. 3. Critical thinking Critical thinking is the process of skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, and evaluating information that has been gathered from any source. In other words, it is the ability to make logical and informed decisions. An SEO professional who is able to critically analyze, evaluate, and solve complex problems with minimal resource wastage and quickly will be a perfect fit. This is what exactly you should look for in an SEO expert. However, it is challenging because it isn’t easy to measure critical thinking. It all comes down to how smart you’re in accessing these skills. A good approach is to ask applied problem-solving questions such as: What will be your first action when organic CTR drops by 5% suddenly? Or, you can ask for real-life examples and case studies where they solved a complex SEO problem. An SEO expert should be smart and should know how to handle problems that he faces on daily basis. 4. Excel skill Any SEO professional who doesn’t know how to use Excel won’t be of much help. SEOs have to deal with large Excel sheets be it keyword list, sitemaps, or Google Analytics data and that’s why they should have at least the basic Excel skills to manage, evaluate, and analyze such large files. For instance, a single Excel sheet that you download from Google Keyword Planner for one seed keyword has around 700+ keywords. You cannot go through each of these keywords instead you have to use filters, sort, and other techniques to find what you’re actually interested in. And this is just one way how an SEO will use Excel. There are several Excel functions that you’ll have to use time and again such as Rand, Search and Find, Offset, and others. Whether you’re hiring an SEO pro or you’re training them in-house, don’t forget to give due importance to Excel. 5. Writing skill It is hard to separate SEO from content creation. After all, SEO is all about ranking content. An SEO is not supposed to write content but he must have a basic understanding of content writing as this will help him deal effectively with on-page SEO such as titles, meta description, keywords, LSI keywords, HTML tags, and more. For instance, Google increased the length of meta description from 160 characters to 230 characters last year. Now if you run a large ecommerce store with a couple thousand products and hundreds of posts and pages, you’d need someone to rewrite meta descriptions that are optimized. An SEO expert can do it if he knows how to write. Final thoughts Whether you’re hiring an SEO pro or, training someone in-house, you need to make sure you don’t ignore these skills. These are mandatory skills that every SEO should have. If your SEO pro is missing any of these skills, you’re leaving food on the table. Don’t let this happen.