5 Powerful Soft Skills That Every SEO Should Have
Sure, you can crank out a mean technical audit. But can you communicate your findings in a way that the client understands — and that gets them excited about making those 100 changes to their site?
Experts are great at what they do, but many of them leave the things they aren’t so great at to others. But that doesn’t always work in every professional situation.
So in this article, I’ll outline five soft skills to work on to take your SEO service to the next level:
What Are Soft Skills and Why Are They Important in SEO?
SEO is not just about finding out what’s wrong with a website and telling your clients or coworkers about it. To make an impact, you need to cultivate desirable soft skills.
Soft skills are those that are complementary to your hard skills. In SEO, your hard skills are your core technical skills and would be things like using spreadsheets, creating SEO strategies, executing SEO tactics and so on.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are all those extras that help professionals succeed. Think your work ethic, your communication skills, your relationship building and so on.
If you work at an SEO agency, you might have different people on the team to help bridge the gap between your hard skills and soft skills. But that doesn’t mean soft skills are no longer important.
And, if you’re a solopreneur or small business, you wear every hat. You’re probably involved in the SEO work as well as the client management, sales, etc.
Let’s also not forget about in-house SEOs, who often need to be the champion for every recommendation they make. Soft skills can go a long way to getting things implemented at work.
The bottom line is that being good at SEO technical skills is terrific, but if you are not so good at other professional attributes, working on them can help you level up and get things done faster.
5 Powerful Soft Skills for SEOs
1. Communication Skills
Communication may be the No. 1 thing to master in your professional SEO role. This doesn’t come easily to everyone, but it remains important because communication is the cornerstone of work and client relationships.
I’ve said before that SEO needs to be a company-wide initiative to succeed. That puts the SEO specialist in the position of advocate and, at times, teacher. It may be essential, for example, to explain why slow page speed hurts the business so you can get things done.
There are many aspects to communication. These skills include active listening, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, presenting, educating, negotiating, writing, etc.
It might be obvious to you as you think about that list how each of these could play out in your day-to-day role as an SEO professional.
So consider where your communication strengths and weaknesses lie, and commit to working on one new communication skill at your leisure.
For example, you don’t need to aspire to write a novel, but perhaps you could brush up on your email or report-building skills. Maybe you need to work on how you educate clients on complex SEO concepts. Or maybe you could learn ways to present data findings in a more engaging, positive way.
Communication plays a critical role in avoiding the reasons an SEO project fails. For more help, this article at 3QDigital.com has some useful tips on communicating with clients to help get SEO work done (though these tips could apply to any work relationship).
2. Relationship Skills
As much as day-to-day business seems like a tactical job, it really boils down to relationships.
We are all people trying to get things done. And we each have different priorities. So being able to navigate relationships in the workplace and with clients is critical to the outcome.
For example, knowing whySally in IT won’t make the website changes needed for your SEO strategy can help you figure out a mutually beneficial solution.
But first, you have to have a relationship with Sally. And you need to respect what is important to her and what she brings to the table.
Many people may not think about the fact that relationships are essential to leadership. This Oxford Group article gives five key conversations to have with others at work (which you can apply to coworkers or clients) to build effective relationships.
3. Time Management Skills
Being able to meet deadlines and prioritize work can be one of the most difficult tasks for any professional. It always seems there are more things to do than time in the day. The art and science of time management lies in structure and approach.
As an SEO, time management is critical as you not only juggle competing deadlines from clients or coworkers, but also put out the occasional fire and maybe even manage a team.
If you’re self-employed, you have to add all the other day-to-day business tasks that need to be done.
Depending on your work situation, you may have a lot or a little flexibility in how you structure your day. You may, in fact, have team members or managers to help you prioritize, or you might have to figure it out on your own.
Either way, knowing how to manage your own schedule can keep you saner. And, when you have these skills, you can communicate to your coworkers and clients with confidence that you are on top of it (and on your terms).
4. Work Ethic
Discipline, follow-through, initiative — these are all hallmarks of a good work ethic.
Any SEO project is worth doing well and on time. And with many SEOs working from home nowadays (and for some, that never changed), a strong work ethic is what will ensure the work is quality and delivered within a reasonable timeframe.
Much of this starts with establishing processes — both in how you get your work done and how you structure your day (see time management above).
And while work ethic is more of an intrinsic soft skill — something that comes naturally to some people, while others have to try harder — that doesn’t mean you can’t work at it.
This article at LifeHack.org gives lots of ideas on how to build a strong work ethic. Forming good habits is the driver.
5. Prioritization Skills
When you look at the massive amount of SEO work that is ahead of you, your company and/or your clients, do you feel overwhelmed? If so, then probably so does everyone else.
Being able to prioritize the most important SEO tasks that will make the biggest impact in the fastest time is critical. This gives you quick wins and paves the way for implementing SEO on a larger scale.
Soft skills like those mentioned in this article are highly sought after in any SEO professional, whether you work at an agency, in-house or on your own.
At the end of the day, any SEO expert can be great at their technical skills. By building soft skills, they can take their role to a new level of effectiveness.
We’re hiring! If you have what it takes to be part of our team of expert SEO analysts, content writers and more, check out our employment page for more information.