Over the last couple of months I've interviewed quite a few potential search marketers, and though it's still hard to find great talent, I've noticed a number of trends and patterns in the process. But one thing really stood out - the improvement in the quality of candidates. Of all the rounds of recruitment I've been involved in, over the last six years, this has been the strongest cohort. In the past I've found an acute skills shortage in digital but now I'd argue otherwise. From this batch, each candidate has had to do more to stand out. But what skills really were on my shopping list which I think search marketers should be working on to ensure their career goes far?
The first skill was public relations.
The task of link building is looking more like PR every day, and the more traditional link-building skills continue to become as easily purchased as a commodity. They even seem to exert less influence over the search results. Now, link-building is about the ability to put together a story pitch with which you can approach a journalist or other web publishers you have a trusting relationship with.
These abilities aren't hard for a good link builder to pick up, especially if you can see the long-term value in that knowledge.
Second on my list is analytics.
I'm seeing more and more of my SEO peers job titles containing the word 'insight'. Insight can mean a lot of things but in most cases it's because they've become an expert in taking the data from Google Analytics and turning it into an actionable plan.
Every SEO marketer I know has a pretty good working knowledge of Google Analytics, but in most cases, a little more effort and they could become among the top few dozen people in the world. Being in that elite few is going to be great for the projects you're working on now, and will have a huge impact on your earning potential in the next few years.
Project management is another key skill.
Especially because a lot of search marketers are so poor at it. There are so many moving parts in a search project: where are all of those hundred plus on-site recommendations in the development queue? When do you need to start the research for the infographic to turn it around in time to build up the links ahead of a seasonal peak in demand?
This is something I really struggle with, and something I can see huge value in when someone has this aspect of SEO absolutely nailed.
Finally, being more efficient.
Different SEO businesses charge for their services in different ways, and in-house roles have different ways of resourcing projects. But in most cases, if you can get more out of every hour you spend in the office you're going to be popular.
We could all do our job a bit better if we were a bit better organised. Do you follow inbox zero or have your own zen-like email management system? How do you make sure those notes you made at an SEO conference get off your to-do list and find their way into your next month's work plan? Making stuff happen is the mark of a great search marketer.
Kelvin tutors on the IDM Award in Search Marketing.