13 Awesome Side Skills to Have as a SEO Specialist

SearchWorks founder Glen Dimaandal often points out that search engine optimization (SEO) is a skill that just about anyone can learn. And this is mostly true. For the most part, becoming competent in key SEO practices like technical SEO and linkbuilding just requires you to put in the time and get your hands dirty.

However, excelling at SEO will require much more than simple adherence to common best practices. All exceptional SEO professionals have a few under-appreciated abilities that set them head and shoulders above their peers. What’s more, they aren’t always the skills that you’d expect. If you have some of the skills below, you’ll be in a great position to succeed not just as an SEO but a leader of other skilled digital marketers:

1) Empathy

If there’s one thing that all mediocre SEOs share, it’s an inability to understand other peoples’ motives. SEOs who consistently try to view other peoples’ perspectives r are not only much better at comprehending search engine algorithms but also the behaviors and needs of their target audience. Most importantly, empathetic SEOs are also far less likely to rub coworkers, clients, and link outreach prospects the wrong way.

Read: The SEO Service Pitch Template That Closes Deals 90% of the Time

2) Cultural Literacy

This quality is much rarer than you might think. For instance, a lot of otherwise empathetic SEOs with decent comms skills struggle to understand the key differences between British and American English. Worse, there are plenty who use uncommon idioms in inappropriate places. If you have an appreciation for the nuances of different cultures, you’ll be better able to improve your site’s UX and draw organic, qualified leads, regardless of your target market.

3) An Ability to See the Big Picture

Digital marketing specialists often fall into the trap of believing their specialization is the be-all, end-all of marketing. Sadly, many SEOs are no different. Exceptional SEOs understand the broader spectrum of marketing disciplines and the role of each within different campaigns. Importantly, they’re humble enough to admit that their expertise is not necessarily useful or relevant in many scenarios.

4) Resourcefulness

Realistically, if a client is prioritizing SEO over other promotions strategies, it probably means that they are somewhat thrifty when it comes to their marketing budget. Given this, the most successful SEOs are often the ones who can do the most with whatever limited resources they have. If you have a knack for resource allocation, you’re already well on your way to succeeding in this field.

5) Negotiation Skills

As mentioned earlier, SEOs have to constantly make do with limited resources. Knowing how to negotiate can be key to getting the resources needed for a successful campaign. The art of the deal can also be important when setting boundaries with managers, colleagues, and clients.

Read: 7 Abusive Client Behaviors and How to Deal with Them

6) Writing and Editing Skills

SEOs with writing and editing chops are still incredibly valuable, even in the age of ChatGPT. While AI-driven language models like ChatGPT have revolutionized aspects of content creation and automation, the human touch remains irreplaceable in developing user-focused content. All other things being equal, an SEO who can write will almost certainly outperform someone who can’t, regardless of what generative AI tools are used.

7) Practical HTML and CSS Knowledge

Knowing even basic HTML and CSS allows SEOs to provide more value to clients, particularly during technical SEO audits. Importantly, this knowledge can be especially useful when working with web developers and web designers, allowing for a more efficient and close-knit approach when optimizing websites.

 Read: The Ultimate Technical SEO Audit Guide

8) Web and Graphic Design

Visual storytelling is now widely acknowledged to be a key part of the online experience. While SEO specialists are not generally expected to be great designers themselves, having even a basic understanding of important visual design concepts can assist SEOs in better aligning their efforts with the objectives of design teams, ultimately contributing to a superior experience for site visitors.

9) Networking

Even though search engine optimization is widely employed as a marketing strategy, the global community of full-time SEO professionals remains remarkably small. This means that, regardless of their actual skill sets, SEOs with a knack for forming professional relationships are usually in a better position to land better clients and do mutually beneficial collaborations with other digital marketers.

10) Email Marketing

SEO specialists with email marketing skills can be fantastic at linkbuilding outreach. Their blend of SEO and email marketing skills can allow them to effectively gain the confidence of key webmasters, significantly enhancing the success of linkbuilding campaigns.

Read: Your Link Outreach Email Sucks. Here’s Why

11) Pay-Per-Click Advertising

SEO and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising are highly complementary areas of digital marketing. An SEO specialist who can do both well can be an extremely valuable asset in high-stakes campaigns, offering clients both immediate results with PPC and sustainable long-term gains with search engine optimization.

12) Knowledge of ECommerce Campaigns


SEOs who understand how different components of a typical ecommerce campaign come together are in a better position to make useful recommendations to clients. This is especially true when it comes to the optimal use of so-called “money keywords” and the execution of conversion-focused strategies.

13) Project Management Methodology

If you want to impress hiring managers at large marketing departments and agencies, a working knowledge of Scrum, Agile, and Waterfall methodologies can be extremely useful. Proficiency in these project management frameworks will tell whoever’s in charge that you can manage SEO campaigns and other digital marketing projects with the efficiency expected of large organizations.

Experience Real Full-Service SEO with SearchWorks

SearchWorks offers a holistic approach to SEO that takes your website further. We go beyond the basics, tapping into diverse and unexpected areas of technical SEO, content development, and UX. Whether you’re aiming to increase organic traffic or enhance your online visibility, our full-service SEO solutions are tailored to meet your specific goals. If you’re ready for real full-service SEO, contact us to set up a meeting.

Arthur Piccio
Arthur Piccio
Arthur Piccio has been a professional content writer and developer since 2007. He has helped develop market-winning, localized web content for hundreds of brands based in the US, the Philippines, the UK, and Australia. He is currently a project manager at SearchWorks, the most respected SEO company in the Philippines.
Arthur Piccio
Arthur Piccio
Arthur Piccio has been a professional content writer and developer since 2007. He has helped develop market-winning, localized web content for hundreds of brands based in the US, the Philippines, the UK, and Australia. He is currently a project manager at SearchWorks, the most respected SEO company in the Philippines.