Crucial 15 Soft Skills You'll Need for Your SEO Career


Greetings SEOs.

Today I will talk about some of the most crucial soft skills when working with other teams within an organization.

I have worked for both agencies and in-house teams.

It is quite difficult to be an SEO in a new company if you don't have some of the basic soft skills that make your work easier.

Having worked in small and large companies, and agencies and talked with seniors in the industry, I have developed these kinds of skills.

Here is the list to check out.

1. Relationships
2. Know Your Developers and Engineers
3. You have to Sell Your Projects
4. Make Quick Wins First
5. Initiate Big Steps After Quick Wins
6. Show Value
7. Play With Analytical Skills
8. Establish an SEO Process/ Guides
9. Show Team Visibility
10. Develop Roadmaps
11. Pick Your Battles Wisely
12. Stop What Doesn’t Add Value
13. SEOs Are Strategic Partners Not A Simple Optimizer
14. Make Other People The Heros
15. Never forget to Appreciate or Respect Others’ Craft

Let's check in detail what I want to share with you.

1. Relationships

The very first skill that I feel is extremely important, especially when you join any company, is you need to build relationships.

Jira tickets are amazing, and emails work really well, but the personal relationship is really what gets your stuff done.

Try just not to limit your communications to emails. It's not enough.

You need to put the face to the to them in person, and have coffee.

There should have been an agenda when you meet with people, but get to know them, identify the major stakeholders in your company and meet with them.

Relationships get your stuff prioritized and get your stuff worked on by other teams.

If you know the stakeholders on product or development or business side of finance and so on, these kinds of relationships, you can take your projects, the big initiatives directly to the stakeholders and sell your projects there.

And if you're able to sell it to the stakeholder, it gets way easier to get your stuff up in the queue and get it done.

I usually start with individual meetings with the leads of the different teams and then through them I would ask is it okay to present to your team a quick 30 minutes about...SEO and why is it important to the company? 

That was my approach. 

2. Know Your Developers and Engineers

Skill number two. The developers, the engineering teams, after you know the stakeholders, this is the second most important group usually in the company to know.

They can make or break your projects.

They are your best allies or your worst enemies.

Getting to know the development team, understanding their priorities, and understanding who works in what help you a lot.

The other thing also that's extremely important.

You need to have some technical background because you need to illustrate your projects, and give some technical information, especially with technical SEO and you also should be able to push back when it's appropriate.

Now, you shouldn't be coming up with a solution. They should figure out the solution, but you should know technical SEO or technical enough to push back and discuss the details of the project.

I would say 50% of the work, if not more, especially in big companies and legacy companies and legacy websites are technical work.

And three things I would say never tell your developers: never tell them it's easy. You have no clue if it's easy or not.

Yes, you can change it easily in WordPress, but guess what? Your company doesn't have WordPress and even if they have WordPress, it's highly customized. Respect their time, respect their craft.

Never ask a developer is it doable. Everything is doable. It's a matter of resources and how many hours and how many developers will be dedicated to that task. And never tell them how to solve the problem.

You'll come with the problem, the challenge that you have, and you come with the outcome. This is what we need.

Let them figure out the solution themselves because this is their job, how to solve these kinds of problems.

3. You have to Sell Your Projects

Now you need to start selling your projects. You join a company and you have a ton of projects, you have a 50 pages huge project, where do you go?

I would say instead of pushing your own project first...start aligning your goals with the company's goals.

If the company's focused on, let's say for the next quarter on commerce and/or certain seasonal content or whatever, start creating projects for the company, major initiatives.

This will get your project easier into the queue because your project is servicing the company's goals.

Also, another way to do this is you find a sponsor, which now you're connected to all the stakeholders.

You know people on PR, you know people on development, on the product, you know people in different businesses within your company.

There are two easy ways to get your projects done figuring out what are the company goals and figuring out what type of projects I can help different stakeholders within the company.

4. Make Quick Wins First

When you first start in a company, the first three to six months are very important to establish a newer authority and to establish your reputation within the company.

I would recommend not to start with major big projects like the 50 pages project I mentioned.

Focus on low-hanging fruits, quick wins.

If you establish a series of quick wins, people will know that you are a guy or girl that can give these kinds of projects and they have a high impact with a little bit of effort and we see results.

5. Initiate Big Steps After Quick Wins

Then after you establish your reputation in the first three, six months and no massive projects there, unless it's like a real indexation issue or a big issue or a revenue issue, you start focusing on big projects.

These are like your own SEO projects that are important for the company.

I will break big projects into small projects.

Maybe a big 50 pages project can be broken into four or five projects or four or five phases that are consumable.

And again, focus on the quick wins out of these phased projects.

6. Show Value

Everything you do, you need to show value especially when it comes to the quick wins early on in the company.

You need either to provide dollar signs or whatever the currency is, provide dollar signs next to the impact that you project for your project or provide KPIs or both.

Let's say your company is advanced, they have a unified KPI within the organization, time spent or sessions per user, or whatever the KPI is.

Then your projects need to show impact in these kinds of terms.

7. Play With Analytical Skills

Develop analytical skills. You should be able to figure out the impact of your projects, and document a log of all the things that you guys worked on.

You can add these notes directly to Google Analytics.

I think SEMrush allows you to add notes as well.

Add them to Google sheets.

Now it's way easier than it used to be before.

There are so many connectors to Google sheets.

Google Sheets become my favorite SEO tool of all tools, to be honest with you.

There are API connections from all the different tools including SEMrush and any other tool.

If you're using their crawler or whatever, you can connect all your information.

Even Google search console, there is a between Google search console and Google sheets.

You can pull all the information into Google sheets and do deep dives and figure out the impact of the projects you're working on.

It's good if you know how to use business intelligence dashboards.

If you have some MySQL skills, that's awesome.

If you can use API calls and so on.

Analytical skills are very important because sometimes you have to show the value and there is no one else to help you to show the value of the work you do or they're so busy doing other stuff.

8. Establish an SEO Process/ Guides

You need to establish an SEO process.

If you work with a medium to a big size company, you need to figure out all the touchpoints of SEO with the different teams, how you can work with editorial teams, how you work with design teams, how you work with engineering or development teams, how you work with the product team and I would say in big companies, product teams are extremely important.

Work with each team to figure out all different touchpoints, and suggest a process.

9. Show Team Visibility

This is a big one.

You met the stakeholders, you know the people in the company and your work with different groups. You've got your low-hanging quick wins early on.

You send communication out.

Now you need to establish visibility and visibility here is not like going around and saying me, me, me or us, us, us, it's really like, how you can educate the company and communicate to the company the great work that you and your team are doing

When you first join a company, you should create a training series for different departments and different levels.

You should have some kind of C-level training if that may be tailored to that audience. Different training for products, different training for development teams, different training for design, and so on.

They will not take everything that you said in the training and remember it forever, but it's the seed that you plant there.

And then you can schedule annual training, right, but you establish the connection.

You should do a FAQ within the company, if you get the same question twice from two different people that should go into your team for sure.

Best practices, one-sheeters that you can distribute around and send it, some kind of a weekly newsletter or biweekly newsletter.

All of these are just ideas on how to establish your visibility within the company.

10. Develop Roadmaps

It's very important to understand what kind of projects you want to accomplish this year.

Don't just be like, "Hey, whatever comes our way. We will work on it."

I don't know if you're familiar with this, but if you have a bucket, put there your big rocks in the bucket and then fill all the small rocks.

This is how you get things done.

So “these are the top four projects that we want to work on this year”. And then everything else is more like small rocks.

Work with the content teams on content calendars, okay, these are the events that are coming during this year and are important for us, plan training, refreshers, plan technical audits for your company.

And then at the end of the year, evaluate your roadmap, which stuff was accomplished, which was not?

This can help you with the next year to be more realistic in your roadmaps.

11. Pick Your Battles Wisely

Don't have a fight over an H1.

Like, "Oh, wake him up, this is critical." Understand what's important and what's not important because you cannot be the blocker all the time.

Not everything is important.

If everything on SEO is a priority, nothing is a priority.

12. SEOs Are Strategic Partners Not A Simple Optimizer

We are strategic partners.

I cannot express this enough.

I hope no one gets offended.

But your job as an SEO is a strategic partner, not a keyword provider.

It's a part that you provide keywords and topics and so on, but it's bigger than that.

Understand the goals of the projects, understand the goals of your internal clients, and what they're trying to achieve.

And then give a completely holistic approach to SEO.

Keywords are just a part of it. It's not the main task that you work on. Avoid sending keywords, as I mentioned as just the main task for SEO.

13. Stop What Doesn’t Add Value

Big reports that no one reads, long emails that no one looks at.

Even try to understand your audience and how they read your emails or reports.

Someone completely into the content creation and wants to get more are they going to read every word that you write?

Someone on the executive level, they don't have time to read a five minutes email.

Even when you send a visibility email or a project results email, have an executive summary, three points on the top and then for more details, you can read the rest of the emails so they can read the part of the email and figure out what's the message.

14. Make Other People The Heros

Certainly, you are not the only person who does everything and gets results.

Even if you want to change the content or code, dozens of people need to be involved.

Make sure that you make other teams the hero.

When you communicate the results back, there is no SEO task I'm aware of, very few only require SEO resources.

You're always working with other teams, you're always working with content teams, and you're always working with developers or product teams.

Highlight their efforts and make sure that you give them big thanks because if it wasn't for their work, that SEO job will never see the sun.

This is going to get you far within the company, and people will want to work with you more if they see that credit is given back to them because they see that you appreciate their craft.

15. Never forget to Appreciate or Respect Others’ Craft

And last I would say, which is very important.

Respect others' craft. And I mentioned a couple of times we need respect for what we do. And we cannot gain respect unless we give respect to other teams.

People really work so hard to become a UX designers or a creator of amazing content.

You are not the guy who tells him how to write headlines, but how to make their headlines SEO-friendly.

There is a big difference between the two. You're not there to tell developers how to do their job, but how their code can be SEO friendly.

We are consultants, we give recommendations, and we respect other people's craft.

This is what is going to get us, get you further.

And last as a bonus. 

I think being a good person within a company or an organization or in society or wherever, be genuine, approachable, and humble.

People will want to work with you.

Help others, extend a hand, share your knowledge, and always be open to learning something new.

We have so much on Technical SEO, Content SEO, and everything SEO but so little on the soft skills that make in-house SEO teams successful in their companies regardless of small or big. 

That's it. I hope you guys enjoyed it.

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