How To Become A SEO Specialist in 2023: Career Guide

Are you interested in becoming an SEO specialist or expert?

Do you want to learn the strategies and techniques that can increase website traffic, improve search engine rankings, and boost sales and revenue?

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of becoming an SEO specialist. Whether you are a beginner or have some knowledge of SEO, this guide will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the field.

Also check out my ultimate guides on becoming a graphic designersoftware developersocial media manager and web designer.

So let’s dive in!

Why Pursue A Career As A SEO Specialist In 2023?

Becoming an SEO specialist in 2023 offers compelling reasons. SEO is crucial for digital marketing, driving website traffic through search engines. As an SEO specialist, you help companies rank high in search results, making their content easily discoverable.

Demand for SEO specialists is rising as businesses value online visibility. You optimize website structure, content, and track performance. SEO also contributes to brand building and awareness.

By developing expertise, you establish a strong online presence, attract customers, and contribute to a company’s success. Pursuing this career provides opportunities in a dynamic field with increasing demand for digital marketing expertise.

What Is SEO & How it works?

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, refers to a set of practices and strategies aimed at improving the visibility and ranking of web pages in organic search engine results. The goal of SEO is to optimize websites and their content to make them more attractive and relevant to search engines, ultimately driving higher-quality and increased organic traffic to the site.

Search engines like Google and Bing use algorithms and bots, also known as crawlers or spiders, to analyze and gather information from web pages across the internet. These crawlers follow links, both internal and external, to explore and understand the content on various web pages. The information collected by these crawlers, along with the context of the links they follow, helps search engines determine the relevance and quality of web pages.

What Does A SEO Expert Do?

How To Become A SEO Specialist in 2023  (Step By Step Guide)

Simply, an SEO specialist (also known as an “SEO expert”) optimizes websites to improve search engine rankings and increase website traffic.

As an SEO specialist, your role is to find ways to increase website visitors and achieve a high rank on search engine results. This will lead to more leads for the business and create opportunities for growth and profit.

SEO Specialist: Roles & Responsibilities

Here are the roles and responsibilities of an SEO specialist:

Keyword Research

Conducting thorough keyword research to identify relevant and high-traffic keywords that align with the website’s objectives. This involves analyzing search volumes, competition, and user intent to select the most effective keywords.

On-Page Optimization

Optimizing website elements such as meta tags, headings, URLs, and content to align with targeted keywords. This includes ensuring proper keyword placement, content quality, readability, and technical optimization for search engines.

Content Strategy

Developing and implementing an effective content strategy to create valuable, informative, and optimized content that attracts and engages the target audience. This may involve writing new content, optimizing existing content, and integrating keywords naturally.

Link Building

Developing a link-building strategy to acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. This process involves outreach, relationship building, and content promotion to increase the website’s authority and improve its search rankings.

Technical SEO

Collaborating with web developers and IT teams to ensure proper website structure, crawlability, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and other technical aspects that impact search engine visibility and user experience.

SEO Analysis and Reporting

Monitoring and analyzing website performance using tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. Generating reports on key metrics such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, and user behavior to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

SEO Updates and Trends

Staying updated with the latest SEO trends, algorithm changes, and industry best practices. Implementing necessary adjustments to ensure the website remains optimized and aligned with evolving search engine guidelines.

SEO Specialist: Skills & Qualifications

Here are the skills and qualifications typically required for an SEO specialist:

Understanding of SEO best practices

SEO specialists should have a solid understanding of search engine optimization principles, including on-page optimization, technical SEO, and off-page optimization. They should stay updated with the latest trends and algorithm changes in search engines.

Familiarity with SEO tools and programs

SEO specialists should be familiar with various tools and software used in the industry, such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google Trends, Moz, Yoast SEO, and Keyword Surfer.

Strong written and verbal communication skills

Effective communication is crucial in an SEO specialist’s role as they need to collaborate with various stakeholders, including content writers, marketers, and clients. They should be able to explain complex concepts and recommendations clearly.

Knowledge of keyword research and analytics

SEO specialists should be proficient in conducting keyword research to identify relevant keywords and phrases that align with the website’s target audience and business objectives. They should also have experience working with SEO analytics tools to measure and track website performance.

Ability to adapt quickly and think strategically

The SEO landscape is constantly evolving, and specialists need to adapt to changes in search engine algorithms and industry trends. They should think strategically to develop effective optimization strategies and adjust them based on data and performance insights.

Writing and copy editing skills

SEO specialists often create or optimize website content, including blog posts, landing pages, meta tags, and descriptions. Strong writing skills, with an emphasis on SEO-friendly content, are essential.

How Long Does It Take to Become a SEO Specialist?

Mastering the fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO) typically takes around three months, while advanced concepts may require six to 12 months.

The duration of training depends on the chosen platform. Bootcamps offer a quicker route to skill development compared to college or vocational training.

How Much Does a SEO Specialist Make?

SEO Specialists typically earn between $55,000 to $80,000. Junior positions such as SEO Researchers have salaries ranging from $30,000 to $60,000, while Content Writers earn between $35,000 to $75,000.

Where Do SEO Experts Work?

SEO experts typically work in digital marketing agencies, as independent consultants, or within the marketing departments of companies. Their primary role is to optimize websites and improve their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Here are some common workplaces for SEO experts:

Digital Marketing Agencies

SEO experts are often employed by digital marketing agencies, where they work with a team of professionals specializing in different aspects of online marketing. In this setting, SEO experts collaborate with content creators, web developers, social media specialists, and other marketing professionals to implement effective SEO strategies for clients.


Many SEO experts work as freelancers or independent consultants, offering their services to businesses on a contract basis. They may work remotely or have their own offices, providing SEO expertise to clients across various industries.

E-commerce Companies

SEO experts can also find employment in e-commerce companies, where their role is to optimize product listings, improve website visibility, and enhance the overall online shopping experience for customers.

Web Development Companies

Web development companies often employ SEO experts to ensure that the websites they create are search engine friendly and optimized for better visibility and traffic.

Step By Step Guide To Become SEO Specialist / Expert

How To Become A SEO Specialist in 2023  (Step By Step Guide)

Step 1: Understand How Search Engines Work

Before you begin your journey to becoming an SEO specialist, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with how search engines work. Understanding the core processes of crawling, indexing, and ranking will lay the foundation for your SEO knowledge.

According to OptinMonster, top SEO ranking factors include domain age, links, mobile-friendliness, optimized content, page speed, real business information, website security, social signals, technical SEO, and user experience. Websites that meet these factors and best practices outrank others.

Search engines follow below three steps when ranking websites:

  1. Crawling: Google uses automated web crawlers to explore your website and add its pages to their index. The engine saves the page addresses (URLs) it discovers, mainly by following links from other pages.
  2. Indexing: After finding your pages, Google analyzes their content, images, and videos. All this information is stored in a large database called the engine’s index.
  3. Serving Search Results: When someone searches on Google, the engine determines the most relevant results. These results consider factors like the user’s location, language, device, and previous queries. Search results are often personalized. For example, searching “cloud computing company” will yield different outcomes for a user in Australia compared to someone in the United States.

Understand How Search Engines Work by Google

Step 2: Learn the Basic SEO strategies and concepts

To become an SEO expert, you need to grasp various SEO strategies and concepts. Explore topics such as keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, link building, content creation, and technical SEO. These areas of SEO play a crucial role in improving a website’s visibility and driving organic traffic.

>>Pro Tip: Learn SEO Fundamentals by Search Engine Journal

>>Pro Tip: Learn SEO Basics: Beginner’s Guide by ahrefs

>>Pro Tip: Learn How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy by Backlinko

Complete SEO Course for Beginners By Ahrefs

Step 3: Participate in SEO training

Enrolling in SEO training programs or courses can accelerate your learning and provide structured guidance. Look for reputable online courses or workshops that cover the essential aspects of SEO. These resources often offer comprehensive lessons, practical exercises, and industry insights from experienced professionals. By dedicating time and effort to structured training, you can enhance your SEO skills effectively.

>>Pro Tip: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization Course by Coursera

>>Pro Tip: SEO Training Certification Course by HubSpot

Step 4: Keep up With SEO trends and news

SEO is an ever-evolving field, with search engines frequently updating their algorithms and introducing new features. Staying informed about industry trends and news is crucial to becoming an SEO expert. Follow reputable SEO blogs, subscribe to newsletters, and join online communities where professionals share insights and discuss the latest developments. By staying up to date, you can adapt your strategies and techniques accordingly.

>>Pro Tip: Latest SEO Trends by Stan Ventures

Step 5: Get familiar with SEO tools

There are numerous SEO tools available that can streamline your optimization efforts and provide valuable data. Explore popular SEO tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console. These tools can help you conduct keyword research, analyze website performance, monitor backlinks, track rankings, and gain insights into your competitors’ strategies. Understanding and effectively utilizing these tools will enhance your efficiency and effectiveness as an SEO expert.

>>Pro Tip: How to use Ahrefs’ SEO tools, here.

Step 6: Experiment with SEO tactics

Putting theory into practice is essential to develop your SEO skills. Create a website or blog where you can apply various SEO tactics and strategies. Implement on-page optimizations, create high-quality content, build backlinks, and track your website’s performance using analytics tools. By experimenting with different techniques and analyzing the results, you’ll gain practical experience and refine your skills as an SEO expert.

Step 7: Build a Portfolio & Showcase your Results

To establish yourself as an SEO expert, it’s crucial to showcase your efforts and results. Build a portfolio highlighting the projects you’ve worked on, the improvements you’ve achieved, and the outcomes you’ve delivered. If possible, collaborate with clients or employers to gain practical experience and gather testimonials. This evidence of your expertise will help you stand out in the competitive SEO industry.

career route As a SEO Specialist?

Here is an example of a typical progression at an agency:

SEO Intern/Graduate > SEO Executive > SEO Manager > SEO Director > Head of SEO

And here is my suggested five-year career route to get to a senior role:

  • Phase 1 – Join a small agency. One to two years.
  • Phase 2 – Join a larger agency or go in-house. Two to three years.
  • Phase 3 – Move to a senior-level role (manager, director, or head of department).

How to become a self taught SEO Specialist?

To become a self-taught SEO specialist, you can follow these steps. Firstly, as I have mentioned above, start by understanding the basics of SEO and how search engines operate. Conduct a simple Google search to learn about crawlers, indexing, and the parameters search engines use to determine rankings. As there is a lot to absorb, break down your learning into manageable chunks and be patient with the process. Dedicate a consistent amount of time every day to learning about SEO.

Additionally, consider enrolling in online SEO courses to gain more structured knowledge. While formal education is not necessary, these courses can provide you with valuable insights and may even award you a certificate upon completion. (Check out Best SEO Free Courses)

Moz Academy is a reputable online platform that offers SEO courses and certifications. It started as an informative SEO website and has now expanded to provide comprehensive educational resources.

Free Online Courses & Recourses to Become a SEO Specialist

One of the best ways to learn SEO is to enroll in an SEO course. We did our research and found the best free SEO courses available online. You’ll learn which are the top courses to teach yourself SEO for free. The list includes courses from reputable organizations that will definitely help you build your SEO skills.

>>Pro Tip: Best SEO Free Courses

How To Become A Freelance SEO Specialist?

To Become a freelance SEO specialist/expert, you’ll have to follow the same steps I have mentioned above. The only difference is you work as freelance SEO expert at your home or anywhere you want on freelance basis.

Benefits of Working As a Freelance SEO Specialist

Advantages of being a freelance SEO specialist:

  • More freedom and control over schedule, projects, and clients
  • Potential for higher income and ability to set your own rates
  • Better work/life balance with flexibility and no daily commute
  • Diverse experience working with various clients and industries
  • Low entry barrier with minimal upfront investment
  • Infinite career growth in the growing demand for SEO services
  • Control over your career path and the ability to specialize and expand your skills.

How to Find a Freelance Jobs as a SEO Specialist

Companies and individuals share freelance opportunities on social media, including freelancer Facebook groups. SEO experts on social media may also share such opportunities. Additionally, social media can be used to showcase your statistics.

>>Pro Tip: Find the best SEO jobs at UpWork

SEO Specialist Salaries By Country

As we delve into the global landscape of SEO specialist salaries in 2023, the numbers paint a vivid picture. Salaries in U.S. dollars span a broad range, underscoring the differing economic realities across regions. Here’s a snapshot of the average salaries in several countries:

  • U.S.: $53,872
  • United Kingdom: $35,556.83
  • United Arab Emirates: $16,952
  • Switzerland: $108,396.60
  • India: $3,625.85
  • France: $49,794.76
  • Australia: $85,830
  • Canada: $64,468
  • Japan: $40,423.43
  • Germany: $62,244
  • Spain: $44,166
  • Greece: $33,208​​

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming A SEO Specialist

  1. How long does it take to become an SEO specialist?

    The time it takes to become an SEO specialist varies based on individual circumstances and dedication to learning. It can take several months to a couple of years to acquire the necessary skills and experience. But the average is 3 to 12 months.

  2. Are there any specific qualifications required to become an SEO specialist?

    While there are no specific qualifications required, having a strong foundation in digital marketing and a deep understanding of SEO principles is essential.

  3. What are some recommended SEO tools for beginners?

    Some popular SEO tools for beginners include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. These tools can assist in keyword research, website analysis, and performance tracking.

  4. How can I stay updated with the latest SEO trends and changes?

    To stay updated, regularly follow reputable SEO blogs, attend industry conferences and webinars, and participate in online communities and forums.

  5. Can I become an SEO specialist without any prior experience?

    Yes, it is possible to become an SEO specialist without prior experience. However, gaining practical experience through real-world projects is crucial for honing your skills and building your portfolio.

Final Thoughts

Becoming an SEO specialist requires a combination of knowledge, skills, experience, and adaptability. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can embark on a rewarding journey in the world of SEO. Remember to stay updated, practice regularly, and never stop learning. With dedication and passion, you can become a highly sought-after SEO expert.

Remember, this guide serves as a starting point, and your determination, passion, and commitment will be the driving forces behind your success. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a highly skilled and sought-after SEO specialist!

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