Written by Kristopher Jones –
Of all the roles available in the world of digital marketing, the SEO analyst is one of the most demanding.
When you’re an SEO analyst, you are the one your company or clients look to for collecting and organizing the data around their websites’ performance, interpreting what it all means for them in their market niches, and recommending the strategies that will help them achieve business goals.
It’s a huge undertaking, and so SEO analysts need to possess a fully developed skill set in multiple areas to succeed.
Fortunately, due to the technical nature of the job and the skills required to perform it, SEO analyst roles are generally well compensated in the U.S., and the need for them in 2022 is quite strong.
What Is An SEO Analyst?
When you research the different roles in SEO, you find that people often seem to confuse the positions of SEO specialist and SEO analyst.
While the two are related and actually quite close to each other, think of the SEO analyst role as one that goes beyond the specialist by taking things up to a higher level.
While the SEO specialist is in the weeds – so to speak, doing the work, implementing title tags and H1s, adding structured data to product pages, and uploading new content – the SEO analyst is looking at the bigger picture.
Analysts study the numbers – the hard data – and interpret what it means for how the website is currently performing and where improvement is needed.
It’s fair to say that, as an analyst, your job is to do exactly what your title says: to analyze websites for their SEO quality.
Analysts first look at the website as a whole and see if there is anything visible from a UX standpoint that they think could use improvements.
It could be an ineffective or missing CTA, missed internal linking opportunities, convoluted main navigation, or unoptimized title tags.
SEO analysts also want to see if there are any new pages or sections that the website could benefit from, including service, location, product, blog, FAQ, or testimonial pages.
Perhaps most importantly, SEO analysts crawl the entire site to look for any technical issues that can’t be efficiently seen with the eye.
They use numerous SEO tools – including Screaming Frog, Semrush, and Google Search Console – to look for issues relating to broken pages, redirects, meta data, load time, and structured data, etc.
Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix are then used to review page-speed issues, and then Ahrefs to study broken backlink opportunities.
While the SEO analyst is doing all this, they are also heavily involved in performing keyword and competitor research to see what keywords the website could either hone in on or start targeting to increase its opportunity to appear for relevant queries above its competitors.
As important as the analysis part of the job is, though, the recommendation portion is where things follow through.
SEO analysts have to be able to take all that data – all those keyword volumes, and intents, all those SEO elements that they’ve pored over for days or weeks – and translate it into real-life recommendations and strategies for their employer or their portfolio of clients.
Once that’s done, though, the client would implement the strategies from the SEO analyst and ideally begin reaping the rewards over the ensuing months.
Essential Skills Of An SEO Analyst
I’m really not trying to be funny here, but, to be an SEO analyst, you need to possess a mind that leans toward…the analytical.
It isn’t enough to learn and understand what makes a good website and use various SEO tools to perform research.
An effective SEO analyst has to be able to approach a website with a logical, meticulously investigative mindset.
Soft skills can always be taught, but learning a soft skill is more of a personal-growth activity that lacks definable milestones.
As a result, it can be difficult for a non-analytical person to turn around and become analytical at the level required of an SEO analyst.
With all that said, here are the essential skills of an SEO analyst, broken down into hard and soft skills:
- Advanced knowledge of the best practices of SEO.
- Thorough knowledge of the workings of technical SEO.
- The ability to perform keyword research and competitive analysis.
- Knowledge of a range of SEO tools, including Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Semrush, Ahrefs, SpyFu, GTmetrix, PageSpeed Insights, and Screaming Frog.
- Knowledge of the most common CMSs, including WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, Drupal, Wix, HubSpot, and Magento.
- Knowledge of content marketing, topic research, and content auditing.
- Understanding of link building, backlinks, and problems related to those areas.
- The ability to stay current on SEO best practices.
- The ability to use logic.
- Curiosity and thoughtfulness.
- Critical thinking.
- Creative problem-solving.
- Time management.
- Effective oral and written communication.
- Interpersonal skills.
What Experience Or Certifications Are Required/Helpful?
Glassdoor has provided a basic template of the job description of an SEO analyst.
According to the job and employer review website, SEO analyst jobs typically require candidates to have a degree in a related field, such as computer science or information technology.
Other SEO analyst jobs require a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business.
According to the same Glassdoor overview of the position, most SEO analysts – 60% – have two to four years of experience doing what they do.
It can be difficult to come in and pick up on being an SEO analyst right away. The skills needed to do the job well need to be honed over time, through the hard lessons of experience.
After two to four years in that seat, though, seeing all kinds of websites come in seeking SEO audits, I would say that the SEO analyst is close to being an expert.
As far as the certifications I would recommend for anyone seeking to become an SEO analyst, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the following courses:
1. Courses From Google Analytics Academy
- Google Analytics for Beginners.
- Advanced Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics for Power Users.
- Introduction to Data Studio.
- Google Tag Manager Fundamentals.
2. Hubspot SEO Certification Course
3. SEO courses from the Semrush Academy
- Semrush SEO Toolkit.
- Audit Your Online Visibility with Semrush.
- Competitive Analysis and Keyword Research.
- On-Page and Technical SEO.
- Link Building.
- Rank Tracking.
- Semrush Site Audit with Ross Tavendale.
- Technical SEO with Bastian Grimm.
- SEO Fundamentals, Keyword Research, Backlink Management, Mobile SEO, and Local SEO – all with Greg Gifford.
- Content-Led SEO with Brian Dean.
4. Courses From Ahrefs Academy
- Ahrefs Certification Course.
- SEO Training Course.
What Does An SEO Analyst’s Salary Look Like?
For those who want to become SEO analysts, you’re in luck, because the average U.S. salary is a fairly healthy $63,058, according to ZipRecruiter.
Glassdoor puts that number sightly lower, at $62,987.
Meanwhile, Salary.com reports the average national salary for an SEO analyst to be $71,101, with most people making between $64,301 and $77,601.
As with any job, however, you can expect the salary range to increase or decrease depending on a range of factors, including the size of the employer, the geographic location, and your experience.
SEO Analyst Job Outlook In 2022
In another win for the SEO analyst of today, the prospects for this role appear to be quite strong.
A search on Indeed for “SEO analyst” in the United States turned up 975 jobs.
Of those, 592 were full-time, 566 paid above $50,000, and 291 were in remote positions.
It’s worth noting that most of these postings, 553, were for mid-level roles whereas most of the individual posts I looked at when I filtered for “mid-level” noted that the candidate must have between two and four years of experience in SEO or research and data analysis.
These Indeed job posts came from such companies as Pearson, Deloitte, Angi, LendingTree, and Merkle.
An identical search on LinkedIn turned up 966 SEO analyst jobs. Of those, 866 were full-time, 509 paid above $40,000, and 535 were on-site, followed closely by 364 remote positions.
Most of LinkedIn’s 966 SEO analyst jobs, 522, were at the associate level.
From what I saw when I checked out the job postings, that means the experience level required was only between zero and two years of experience.
The LinkedIn job posts came from a wide range of employers, but some of those included The Home Depot, Thriveworks, Havas Media Group, and Vox Media.
The Final Word
There’s no doubt about it: SEO analysts have a tough job.
It needs a lot of critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and SEO know-how to pour through websites to figure out what’s wrong with them, examine data for the answers within, and report their findings in easy-to-understand ways for companies and clients.
Candidates for SEO analyst roles usually need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but that isn’t always required.
And, depending on the employer and the location, these professionals stand to make upwards of $50,000 in the crowded market for their skills.
If data analysis and SEO are where your professional interests meet up, you could just find the perfect role for yourself as an SEO analyst.
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