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Top Traits that an SEO Should Have

| 4 minutes to read

ChessBeing a good SEO is about more than knowing your stuff back to front when it comes to optimisation. It’s also about the way you work. It’s the attitude and traits you have that can make you stand out in this fast growing industry.

This post talks about five of the key traits I think make a good SEO stand out from the crowd.


There are so many times when an SEO needs to be resourceful. For example you might be lucky enough to have a client provide you with content to distribute when you are link building. One way of being resourceful with this content is to re-write the wording of it so that you can distribute it to more than one source as unique content. You could do this by hand or you might use some re-writing software to speed up the process. It’s thinking of things like this that make you resourceful and help you get that little bit extra out of the optimisation you perform.

My top tip for making sure you are being resourceful in your optimisation is to ask yourself; ‘Am I getting the most out of this activity?’ for each thing you do. Think about whether you could be applying it to multiple pages at the same time if it is an on-page optimisation element, or think about other ways you could be getting more done at once.


SEO is an extremely fast paced industry where the ability to adapt and be versatile is fundamental. As an SEO working agency side, the variety of different sites you work on means being able to pick things up quickly and be able to apply them to different sites and situations. This might be as simple as a function within a custom CMS you’ve never used before, or applying your knowledge and experience of a particular industry to another. You might also find that the way you normally deal with an issue can’t be applied to some sites, for example you might not be able to apply permanent 301’s to pages with duplicate content so you would might have to use the canonical tag instead. It’s learning the variety of ways to deal with things that make you a versatile SEO.

Ethical Outlook

There are many shortcuts in SEO. We all love a shortcut but sometimes these are unethical. One example might be buying links. It’s very tempting to try these kinds of tactics when you see them working for other sites. You know they haven’t spent half the time or effort that you have optimising your site and link building, and yet they manage to creep above you in the search engine rankings.

In these situations it’s important to think long term. That competitor site may be above you in the SERPs now, but if they get hit by a penalty it won’t last long. You have the comfort of knowing your site is up there because you’ve done things the right way and you aren’t at risk of being knocked back down on your next crawl.

Self Motivation

The ability to motivate yourself is essential for an SEO. There are often parts of SEO projects which can become monotonous, and in these situations it’s important to remain focused and motivated to keep going. For example, you may have a project which is solely link building because the website doesn’t allow you to make many on-page changes. There is no denying that hours of link building can become boring for even the most accomplished link builders out there.

In these situations my advice is to try to turn it into a game and set yourself targets of how many links you want to achieve within that set amount of time. Also try to get more interesting links in ways you may not have considered before.


A lot of things in SEO need persistence. You may have a client who is reluctant to implement your recommendations or won’t provide access to their website for you to make the changes yourself. Alternatively you may work for a large organisation who have a long line of people who need to approve your recommendations before they can be actioned. It’s these situations that can make you think about giving up with a project but it’s important to be persistent because you know that in the end it will be worth it when you see the site making progress and the business or organisation benefiting as a result. My top tip with these kinds of situations is to think about what motivates your client or sign-off person. If they can see the benefit of taking the time to implement your recommendations of giving you access to make the changes yourself, they are more likely to let you do so. This might be explaining to them that once they have implemented your recommendations, their rankings / traffic / revenue / conversions are a step closer to increasing.

These are just some of the traits that might make you stand out from the crowd as an SEO. Can you think of any others that are particularly important from your experience? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Source

Glass chess on chess board via BigStock


  1. Colin avatar

    I definitely agree with you that versatility and flexibility are one of the core skills needed for an SEO, particularly so when they are also development clients (or have been).

    Often an SEO is required to take on project management responsibilities for development tasks as you may be the more widely used point of contact for a client. This requires us to have a lot more knowledge than just simple link building strategies etc.

    No two days as an SEO are ever the same!

    1. Tara avatar

      Thanks for the comment Colin. I completely agree, account management / project management is a huge part of my day-to-day job as well as the technical side of things. Us SEO’s wear many hats! (no pun intended!).

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