You don’t want me to code your website.
Anyone who has ever worked with me, all the way from first grade until now, will tell you that I’m good at some things, and awful at others.
Any task that requires exceptional detail will take me twice as long as most people to finish.
And when I finish a detailed task, I will be physically and mentally drained.
But I do have gifts.
I can see the big picture better than most.
I may not be the best at implementing the details of the project – but I’ve rarely found anyone as good at defining what needs to be done as I am.
I understand how and what the technology can do, even if actually making it do what is required can sometimes be a personal struggle.
Does that make me a bad SEO professional?
SEO professionals are being encouraged to learn coding languages that can help them automate many of the tasks that are typically done manually.
I wholeheartedly endorse this movement.
But I won’t be participating in it.
You see, I know that I’m never going to be a good programmer.
Learning the ins and outs of a particular programming language is going to be a waste of time for me.
What I will spend time learning about is what these programs can and cannot do.
For someone who is focused on the overall strategy of clients and an agency, it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations of our tools.
For example, I need to know that PANDAs is a data manipulation tool that works with Python.
I need to know that Python can help optimize images, but it can’t create persuasive language that will drive a customer to take a particular action.
There Are Different Types of SEO
A useful tool for narrowing down your goals to ensure they’re viable is the SMART mnemonic. It’s important to get specific to understand exactly what you’re working towards, and help you break down the process of hitting your targets. This is exactly what this mnemonic helps you to achieve.
- Does the channel reach my intended audience?
- Is the channel sustainable and affordable within my company’s marketing budget?
- Will I be able to measure the success of the channel?
- Does the channel allow me to express my brand’s intended message?
- Do the channels I’m considering work together to convey my message?
SEO Unicorns Are Rare
An SEO unicorn is an individual that has all the skills needed to do every aspect of search engine optimization.
These skills include, but are not limited to:
- Technical SEO: The ability to understand the complexities of what the search engines want in the code of a site
- Coding: We talked about coding earlier. Increasingly, SEO pros are asked to create tools for automation as well as code specific aspects of the sites we work on.
- Persuasive Writing: We all know that content is king, but great content is hard to write.
- Data Analysis: The data you gather about your site is a roadmap on where you need to go next.
- Business Savvy: SEO isn’t just about rankings. Rankings without sales are useless. Increasingly, SEO pros are asked to help businesses know how and what to sell.
- Link Building: Link building is about creativity and relationships – but also understanding how links work in relation to the search engines
- Conversion Rate Optimization: In search, we are asked to improve a site’s conversion rate on a regular basis.
- Internal Politics: Whether you work on the agency side or in-house, SEO professionals must be able to navigate the internal politics of an organization in order to get things done. This may involve sorting through layers of bureaucracy or merely convincing a business owner to listen to you – but if you don’t get through the politics, your recommendations will never see the light of day.
- Social Media Communications: A site’s social media presence is not a ranking factor – but if you want to win friends and influence people (to give you links) you need to be able to interact with others via social media.
- Web Design: An SEO needs to be able to design a page that will convert with both users and search engines.
- Media Buyer: SEO professionals are constantly asked to either buy media or understand the media that is being purchased to promote a site.
- Trainer: Many SEO pros are asked to train others in their organization on the basics of SEO, or even more advanced tasks
- IT Professional: If you haven’t been asked to help fix someone’s printer, chances are you will be asked soon.