SEO Practitioners Wear Many Hats

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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Whenever that question comes up in social settings, “So, what do you do?” How are we SEOs supposed to answer? Simply saying, “I do SEO” isn’t going to cut it. While SEO has certainly become more mainstream, we’re still likely to get the follow up, “And what does that mean exactly?” Well, good question! It certainly means something very different than it did even just five years ago. So as SEOs, what are we? Here’s what I think:

SEO Practitioners Wear Many Hats

An important part of our role is conducting research. We need to research the client, the industry, the competition, and the keywords that should be used in the campaign. We need to analyze reports and look for new opportunities. In addition, we constantly need to be researching the SEO industry itself. It’s always evolving. If we aren’t on top of the changes it will negatively affect our work.

Content marketers
This is a big one. Back in the day, SEOs were primarily focused on obtaining inbound links. With few exceptions, any link was worth getting. This included paid links. A lot of time was spent looking for directories and link exchanges. Not anymore. These terms shouldn’t even be a part of a SEOs vocabulary. Instead, the focus has shifted to earning natural links. How are these natural links earned? By writing and publishing high quality, informative content that is worth linking to.

Social media marketers
SEO and social media go hand in hand today. These online marketing tactics cannot operate in separate silos. If you want to improve the visibility of your brand and content, it’s necessary to build up a social media presence and followers to share this content with. Social media signals convey to the search engines that a shared link (and its content) is valuable. Because social media is increasingly becoming “pay to play”, social promotion is now included in our duties. We must target the best possible audience to get the most out of an advertising budget. (There’s that research again!)

Relationship builders
In an effort to achieve these “natural” links, we also need to spend time building relationships with others in the industry or related industries that can lead to SEO opportunities. For example, establishing a relationship with an industry blogger can lead to a guest post opportunity which can result in inbound links, more social followers, etc. In house SEOs can establish the relationship themselves while an SEO firm might simply make the recommendation to a client.

As an SEO, you need to continually be updating the people you work with about SEO best practices. This could be your clients or the people you work with in house. A knowledgeable client is a much better client because they “get it”. It goes for the people you work with in-house in a larger company. If the web development team, social media team, PR team, etc. all understand SEO, the campaign will run much more smoothly.


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