High-Performing SEO Professionals : 8 Skills to Success

High-Performing SEO Professionals : 8 Skills to Success

To become successful, you need to determine the criteria for success. Otherwise, there is a risk of spending your energy on unnecessary skills. Strike accurately. This will increase the chances of hitting.

Here’s what skills high-performing SEO specialists have and what to strive for to improve SEO performance.

1. Knowledge and Application of SEO Base

An SEO base is the first thing a beginner needs to learn and a professional foundation needs to know and constantly hone. Below are 7 of its components.

KPI and analytics

You don’t need to get a degree in Data Science. However, it is important to be able to collect and read data in order to track the results of your SEO campaigns.

Here are two points to pay attention to:

  1. Knowledge of the main indicators of SEO performance
  2. Ability to apply metrics to improve results

Let’s go over these points in more detail.

Top 9 Top SEO Metrics

  • Organic traffic: This is the strongest SEO success indicator. It displays the flow of visitors who come to the site from search engines. If traffic grows, SEO is working, and the site’s ranking is increasing.
  • Organic conversion helps determine traffic quality. Conversion measurement depends on the goals you set. For example, this could be for a visitor making a purchase, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter. These actions are expressed as a percentage.
  • Keyword ranking is a measure of the effectiveness of the SEO content plan. Google personalizes search results and shows its results for each user.

These are Google results for the same search made from different accounts.

It is still possible to use this metric. If other indicators improves at first and proceeds to fall, the semantics need to be revised.

  • Backlinks: One of the strongest SEO based performance metrics. The following rule works here: its a good thing if other resources link to the site. The links on your pages also matter. Read the related article – Build High-Quality Backlinks in a Scalable Way in 2020.
  • DA/TF, Domain Authority and Trust Flow: Both show the quality of the backlinks. They show who is linking to you proving how authoritative your site is. The TF indicator is considered more accurate.
  • Engagement metrics: This includes bounce rates such as the percentage of people who came to the site and did not click anywhere, the average time that all visitors spend on the site, and the number of pages (pages per visit) that users see in one visit. Find out more on the topic at What is a Good Bounce Rate?
  • CTR (Click-through rate) shows the number of people who clicked on the site. If this metric is low, there is most likely something wrong with the title or description of the page. More information in the article – Why Is Click-Through-Rate Important?
  • New and returning visitors. Evaluate this indicator along with the conversion. If you have a lot of new users and a small conversion, that’s fine. However, if the number of returning users is growing and there is no conversion, this becomes a problem.
  • Top pages that visitors leave from show which pages are performing ineffectively.

Where to track metrics

It is convenient to monitor SEO performance using SEO measurement tools. You can read about them in the article about Top SEO Tools for Businesses in 2020. Here  are some basic tools that will be useful for tracking the main website metrics:

  • Google Analytics shows organic traffic, organic conversion, engagement metrics, new and returning users, top pages that visitors leave from. Read more in the Guide to Google Analytics article.

Google Analytics

This is Google Analytics interface. On the left in the menu, you can select the metrics of interest.

  • Semrush: keyword ranking, backlinks.


Agency Analytics

  • Moz Link Explorer and Majestic: DA/TF.


Some services are interchangeable. Most non-Google services (like Semrush) have all the features of Google services + additionals.

Selection and use of keywords

Keywords are single words and phrases that make up the semantics of the site and tell users and search engines what a resource is about.

Keywords that are selected correctly bring interested customers and increase the site’s ranking in the search results.

Keyword metrics are constantly changing but SEO importance remains consistently high. For example, Google used to search pages for exact search queries, but now it has an AI module built into it that reads the context.

This means that now you do not need to only select keywords through KeywordTool.io and similar services. You can change them, depending on the content. Read related articles – Latent Semantic Indexing and Keywords and How to Do Keyword Research.

Competitor analysis

This point is related because after you select keywords, you need to analyze which searches your competitors are using. Also check the site traffic, identify its strengths and weaknesses. Remember to be competitive. You need to be one step ahead. Find out more in the SEO Competitive Analysis article.

Technical optimization

Technical optimization is the first thing to do before implementing a strategy. It includes everything that makes the site work without errors, be convenient, and be indexed by search engines.

Indicative list:

For a complete technical audit checklist, see What is the Technical SEO Audit?

Site architecture

The site structure can be partially attributed to technical optimization. It is also prescribed at the very beginning, so it is important to think carefully about how it will look.

Site architecture focuses on how the pages connect with each other.

Well-written site architecture:

  • Helps search robots crawl pages
  • Improves user experience
  • Reduces the number of backlinks that need to be ranked 
  • Improves their quality

SEO and design are important when it comes to site architecture. See Successful Site Architecture for SEO.

Content creation

“Content is king” is cliché but it never ceases to be true. It is content that we bring users through SEO. If the content is not pleasant, they leave. We bring users through content. If there are not at least several keywords in it, users will not visit the site.

Therefore, content creation is the most important skill for yourself. Read the related article – Website Content Audit as Part of a Content Marketing Strategy.

Link building

Backlinks are the second most important factor that affects SEO results. Successful content without backlinks is still not likely to go far. Successful SEO strategists know how to use them properly.

Study and test different link building methods and rely on information no older than one year. This is because everything is changing rapidly in the world of backlinks.


Outreach is one of the link building methods. It is used to post content with a link to your site on other sites with a relevant audience. Doing outreach means negotiating and knowing the cost of each action. Understand what you can offer the site in exchange for placing your link. Read the related article – Blogger Outreach: How to Get the Expected Feedback.

2. Testing Strategies

A successful SEO specialist must conduct a search engine optimization analysis. Do not jump to conclusions when looking over the analysis. Google’s algorithm takes over 200 signals to rank a site. This can sometimes seem like a direct consequence, but it is not.

Therefore, you need to experiment. The five steps of this process are:

  1. Find the reasons for the change. Ask yourself the question “Why?” or “What have we changed?” Go through backlinks, internal links, external optimization, site architecture, and technical shell and note any changes that have occurred since the implementation of the strategy or the deterioration of SEO results. Also, check if Google has changed its algorithms.
  2. Come up with a hypothesis. Formulate it as simply as possible. 
  3. Wait for the result. Wait for about a week, or preferably a month. Do not change anything. If the results continue to deteriorate, it’s time to act.
  4. Act. If you come up with more than one hypothesis, test only one assumption at a time. For example, change the title and wait a week to see how this action affected the metrics.
  5. Mark the result in Google Analytics or another platform where you can conduct analytics. This will help you better track the consequences of specific actions.

In addition to these targeted checks, it is important to do regular tests. For example, quarterly audits. They will be especially useful when the business you are working on changes or when it will be globally influenced from the outside with competitors or search engine algorithms. In order to get ready to quickly and efficiently change the strategy with such changes, it is necessary to watch how the current campaign works. See what results it leads.

3. Treat Every SEO Campaign as Unique

Every SEO campaign is unique. The foundation that we are now describing is the foundation on which you need to rely but these are not all components of a successful process. In some cases, everything will not follow a pattern that can be written as instructions. Successful SEO professionals understand this. They monitor the SEO performance of each specific campaign. In each case they find a solution to improve it from scratch.

Any feature matters:

  • Niche
  • Target audience
  • Campaign and brand goals
  • Starting points (where did the SEO strategy start), etc.

4. Ability to Communicate with Customers and Build Connections

Earlier, we talked about specific indicators such as metrics, factors, etc. Almost any beginner SEO specialist puts them at the head, and they do the right thing. However, these are only hard skills. Soft skills are also needed. The ability to interact and be a nice person is one of them.

While it sounds abstract, this skill can be used in the same way as any other from the hard list. First, you need to highlight specific situations when it is applied:

  • When communicating with a client. Starting from the first dialogue, when he or she is not your client yet, ending with the ability to resolve conflict situations and hand over the work on the project on a good note.
  • When interacting with the team. No one succeeds alone. The sooner you realize this, the faster you will come to your heights. Whether you’re a newbie trainee, seasoned professional, or a leader, you need to be able to communicate in order to achieve quality results together.
  • When looking for influencers, as well as webmasters, owners of friendly resources and any other specialists in the market who can help you. If you pay for this help, you need to be pleasant at the very least. And if you are looking for cooperation on barter, you will also have to connect empathy and analytics.
  • When dealing with competitors. You can not compete but help each other.

As you can see, the results of SEO campaigns, the number and quality of clients and the level of income depend on how you communicate. Read a helpful article on How Much SEO Should Pay to Work – How SEO Prices Are Formed in 2020.

How to improve your human interaction skills as an SEO specialist:

  1. Train yourself to be responsible. When you launch a new strategy, you expect good results but sometimes expectations are not met. In this case, your task is not only to figure out why this happened, but also not to hide, but honestly explain everything to the client. Explain exactly, with the presentation of new actions, and not make excuses and apologize.
  2. Be easy-going. Sometimes it is relevant to joke, not to talk in complicated bulky phrases, not to try to make an intelligent and serious look. This does not mean to turn on the standup mode but to radiate confidence and speak calmly, realizing that in front of you is the same living person. You discuss business with them and do not touch personal topics, but treat each other with sympathy (otherwise you would not work together) and can afford to defuse the situation with a joke.
  3. Discuss one specific topic. During the conversation, have information on this topic at hand (the results of an analysis of search engine optimization, for example, or a website development strategy). This will help you not to get confused and not waste time searching for data if you suddenly need it.
  4. Record the results of the discussion in the document. A short summary can then be mailed to each participant in the discussion. It is easy to track if you missed something or remind you that this point has already been discussed.
  5. Express the point at once. It is difficult to perceive information if a lot is said not concerning the case. And it is bad form not to write your request to a new client/webmaster/influencer in the first message – so you may simply not be answered, because they will miss the usual “Hello!” in the general stream of letters.
  6. All agreements and tasks should be formalized and accepted in writing. This makes them clearer and even easier to track.
  7. Do not agree to a meeting/call on the same day (unless it is an urgent matter). Your workflow should be streamlined.
  8. Create your own FAQ. A beginner will not succeed in this, but an experienced specialist will most likely accumulate questions that clients ask them most often and they need to know a simple and understandable answer to them. In general, speaking simply and clearly is the basics of competent communication.

If you are a total introvert and find it difficult to imagine how to put these tips into practice, start small: exercise in front of a mirror, record yourself on a tape recorder, prepare in advance for discussions, and ask friends to practice with you. Also, know your weaknesses: for example, if you are afraid to talk on the phone, always offer to discuss everything in text format. If you are lost in front of a large number of people – make an appointment one-on-one.

5. Act, Even While Learning

It is impossible to start without the base that we have considered. This is a mandatory basis. But once you’ve mastered the foundation, it’s time to test how it works in practice. Until you do this, you will not see the results of your learning. At the initial level, allocate time like this: 80% for study and 20% for work (practice).

The habit of acting also needs to be developed because this way you quickly understand what’s what. You also need to learn from your mistakes. The phrase is so blurry that it is no longer perceived. But if you apply it in your work, the benefits are invaluable.

Work experience is so important because over the years you come across different unique situations (remember that every SEO campaign is unique) and add new cases and examples of how to solve a particular problem to your knowledge box.

6. Continuous Professional Growth

In the previous paragraph, we talked about the distribution of training and work time for a beginner. When you already get experience, change it exactly the opposite. That is, even if you are already an experienced specialist, you need to continue to study, only spend 20% of your time on it, and leave 80% for practice.

Middle or Senior SEO training is different from beginner training. Professional growth already begins: when you do not create a base from scratch but add more and more new skills to it. Information is perceived easier (because it contains a lot of what you already knew), and learning is faster.

Where can I get new information? All SEO is on Google. But, of course, not in every article on the Internet, supposedly professional. In addition to ours, we recommend reading these blogs:

  • Moz Blog. Blog of an SEO company founded in 2004. In addition to blogging, it releases its own products for SEO specialists.
  • SEMrush Blog. Another big company with its own SEO tracking tools. Founded in 2008.
  • Search Engine Journal. The largest SEO community that has existed since 2003.

Information from the search engines themselves will be exactly relevant and correct (this is mainly a base for beginners, then with some changes, first of all, the data will be updated here):

  • Google Webmaster Help.
  • Google Analytics Help.
  • Advanced Google Analytics.

It is convenient to catch news firsthand in social networks. Follow on Twitter famous experts in the field and those they follow:

It is convenient to catch news firsthand in social networks. Follow on Twitter famous experts in the field and those they follow:

  • John Mueller is a trend analyst at Google;


  • Rand Fishkin – founder of Moz, now CEO and co-founder of SparkToro;
  • Gary Illyes – Google webmaster;
  • Neil Patel – co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.

Start with this small list, and then keep track of who these people are linking to, who are reposting, and gradually your network will expand and you will be in the subject.

7. Approach Work Systematically and Delegate Tasks

Every strategy and every action within a strategy is the result of experience and knowledge. That is, it is a huge system that affects everything inside and outside itself. The systematic approach is the ability to see the system and control it.

You do NOT have to try to create a perfect system – it is impossible. Create your own, unique and possibly buggy, test and change it if you see that it doesn’t work.

When you look at the system from the outside, you begin to see global goals and build global strategies. If you get to this point, then you need a team. Know how to distribute tasks between each of its participants and delegate your responsibilities. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Not only will you run out of time and energy, you will also not be able to scale your business.

Successful SEOs often start their own companies and become CEOs. Do you think they are leading every project or doing business development?

To understand what to delegate and what not, prioritize. For example, if your company bears your name, like Neil Patel Digital, most likely tasks such as preparing a video for YouTube will remain with you. More precisely, shooting, editing and uploading will be done by employees but only you can be the main character of the video. After all, people come to look and read you.


Neil Patel YouTube channel homepage. On the cover and avatar is a photograph of Neil. The attached video contains his story.

If your brand doesn’t depend on your personality, like Moz, you don’t need to be the hero of the content yourself. When Rand Fishkin was still at Moz, he sometimes posted his opinions on the blog and his name alone gave weight to the words.


So we smoothly moved on to personal brand – the last, but not least, item on the list of skills of successful SEO specialists.

8. Ability to Express Yourself

Roughly speaking, 10% of your time you need to stand and shout: “I am a specialist.” Otherwise, no matter how cool skills you have, no one will know about it.

The first skill in selling yourself is self-presentation. You should immediately tell a new client how you can be useful. It’s good when there are specific cases. It’s bad when you don’t understand what you can do and why you should be paid for these skills.

Going further, you need to develop a personal brand:

  1. Describe yourself as one of the companies you are promoting. Identify strengths and weaknesses. Register a commercial offer. Determine the target audience.
  2. Make your branding. The style in which you create content and visuals. What will you associate with clients and readers. Are you friendly or stern, inspiring or teaching?
  3. Create your own website, blog or social network page (all at once is better).

By the way, if you think that it is too early to declare yourself as a specialist, then look at it from the other side: creating and promoting your website may be your first case in your portfolio. And it’s much easier to practice on your project, if it works out – double benefit, if not – only you will know about the failure.

And the last thing. Know how to catch the impostor syndrome in yourself – this is when you already have both knowledge and experience but it seems to you that you do not know how to do anything and are afraid to declare yourself. Record all your successes, and analyze the failures and learn from them. There is no such thing that you do not know anything at all. Even the most successful professionals from any niche cannot know everything.

About author
Viktoriia Pushkina is a writer with 5+ years of experience in the field. She started in 2014 as a copywriter and now works as a content and blog writer and freelance journalist. She specializes in writing about SEO, technologies, culture and society.