What is a Technical SEO Consultant? Salary, Competencies & More

What is a technical SEO consultant and how can you become one? What competencies should you look for in a senior technical SEO specialist if you’re looking to hire one? 

We’re answering these two questions and more in today’s article, so keep on reading!

What is a technical SEO specialist?

First of all, it can be difficult to specialize in technical SEO only, and that’s because most people who work in the industry are going to read about many techniques other than on-page optimization and technical elements. 

More often than not, an SEO can offer technical SEO services, but they mostly include other services, especially if they have built an agency and work with a team either in-house or with freelancers. 

Technical SEO is the fundamental foundation of any website that needs to get ranked on any search terms. We aren’t going to go into too much detail about it here, though, since we have already published a technical SEO guide that’s quite comprehensive. 

But just to give you at least some idea about what a technical SEO consultant is expected to do, here are some of the major technical elements that they might look at upon starting to work with a client:

  • Website structure (internal linking and architecture)
  • Pages and posts, their number and their location on your site (crawl depth and efficiency)
  • Canonical tags and redirects and ensuring that none of the design modifications that are performed influence the way a site is ranking
  • Page speed improvements
  • Usability (on web and mobile)
  • SSL and content issues and pretty much everything relating to a site’s health and safety

A technical SEO specialist is also expected to closely work with your developers as they need to have a look at the code that was implemented on your site and ensure that it is working properly and that the correct tags are in all the right locations. 

An in-house consultant of this kind will also be up to date with what algorithms the search engines have adopted fairly recently so that they know what modifications they have to make and what they should advise you to do or advise you against. 

Use cases for a technical SEO specialist

Almost any kind of website, regardless of how it is built, can benefit from the services that a technical SEO consultant can offer, whether they are medium-sized organizations, small enterprises, or web agencies offering all sorts of services. 

In most situations, web agencies can benefit from a number of services such as a technical SEO audit, migrations, redirects, and auditing of the code they have in place. Page speed improvements should also be done, of course, especially if SEOs notice that there’s something wrong with the way the site loads. 

On the other hand, small businesses might be more inclined to work with freelancers rather than hiring a person in-house. 

In this case, they might go to platforms such as Upwork or others to find someone with a good enough portfolio that they can use for audits and for regular work. 

The costs of the services will differ depending on what the tech SEO specialist can offer these businesses. If they don’t do the grunt work themselves and strictly stick to auditing the website, the end price might be lower.

By contrast, if they have to do all of the manual changes to make sure that everything is on par with a site, they will charge more. This is just a heads-up as we will address the matter of how much technical SEO specialists charge below, so keep on reading!

Medium-sized and enterprise organizations can also benefit from these improvements, but they will usually try to hire someone in-house so they have a bit more control over the SEO’s activities. 

In some cases, tech SEO consultants might have to work on several different sites at the same time, especially if they’re offering their services to large affiliate companies that manage several different affiliate websites. 

Large companies also prefer to work with SEO agencies which will include technical SEO in their packages, but they are not restricted to that. 

How to become a technical SEO expert

Becoming a technical SEO specialist isn’t as easy as you might think. You have to know a bit of programming and be aware of all of the technical things that can go more or less wrong with a website or that you should look at while starting to work on it. 

A variety of SEOs can make many recommendations with regard to microdata tagging, page speed, lazy loading, HTML tags, as well as server side redirects. 

But the biggest issue is that while there are many, many resources available for free out there if you want to become an SEO, in general, there are perhaps less so if you want to become a tech SEO, in particular. 

So you will have to do a bit of digging about what the best places to learn technical SEO are, keeping in mind that you should also be able to polish your programming skills at the same time. 

You do not want your conversations with the developers to be weird and awkward and for them to understand that you have no idea whatsoever about some basic programming languages. 

You don’t have to know how to write code. However, you do have to be able to understand code changes and what implications they can have on a site’s rankings. 

When auditing a website, you will have to send out the report to the developers so that they can perform the changes, not just to the person who has hired you. 

Some developers just don’t understand what they are supposed to do unless you explain them clearly, and that’s just because they might think that a simple modification might mess with the code functionality. 

Here are some tips on becoming a technical SEO specialist.

Learn new things and acquire new skills by reading

There is an incredible number of free resources available for you these days and you don’t even have to go out of your way to find them. You can start with Craig Campbell’s blog and the technical SEO guide that we have mentioned before. 

Then, there’s the Ahrefs blog, the SEMRush blog, and Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. You can also go to official resources such as the Google Webmasters Blog or the Support section they have available. 

One thing which we do have to note is that you might have the tendency to gather lots of resources and then not be able to keep up with whatever they publish on a regular basis. Use an RSS feed in this case or just sift through the blogs you’ve subscribed to and try separate the wheat from the chaff every now and then. 

Paid courses are available both on this site and they will teach you absolutely everything you should know about SEO, as well as its technical side. 

Then there are platforms such as Lynda, Coursera, Udemy, or Skillshare, where you can go and either buy an individual course or get a monthly or yearly subscription and have access to thousands of other courses that might be related to what you want to learn, including basic programming languages. 

Some of them can be quite affordable. For example, if you get a Skillshare subscription, the monthly fee you’ll have to pay is going to be around ten dollars. 

Work or intern for an experienced SEO

Whether you want to get a job or work as an intern for a period of one to three months, being the employee or apprentice of a seasoned SEO can help you in many ways. 

You might not even be required to go to the office. Having a mentor can cost, but if you offer something in return, they will definitely teach you a lot of skills and also tell you what else you should look into.  

Create your own site and experiment with it

Practical experience beats theory, at least that’s what they say and we couldn’t agree more. Creating your own website really isn’t that difficult if you have a minimum budget and there are lots of ways in which you can even monetize it. 

You can use brand sponsorships and affiliate marketing, to name just two monetization techniques, but there are many more. Besides giving you the opportunity to practice your technical SEO skills, your website can also generate income, which definitely doesn’t hurt. 

It can also be a way of putting you in contact with other technical SEO apprentices or interns so that you learn about other ways of improving the search engine optimization of any website. You can also create a unique page on your site for your portfolio so that you begin to work freelance for clients all over the world. 

Go to conferences 

The downside to conferences is that sometimes they do tend to cost a lot of money, but being able to ask really well-known SEOs about what methods they recommend and what tools they use can be extremely valuable. 

These days, you can also purchase cheaper tickets if you just want to attend online, although the disadvantage, in this case, is that you don’t can’t get involved in a questions and answers session. 

Responsibilities, competencies, and qualifications of a technical SEO consultant

What will you be expected to do if you get hired as a technical SEO? Here are some of your future responsibilities in this case, although you might be asked to complete other tasks:

  • Solving duplicate content problems
  • Fixing any page load speed issues
  • Fixing any problems related to indexing
  • Installing SSL certificates
  • Making sure that the website you work for is mobile-friendly
  • Creating and uploading site maps onto Google Search Console
  • Keeping an eye on any modifications in terms of on and off-page changes (related to the way a site performs)
  • Knowing how to use Google Analytics and other tools
  • Tracking errors and bugs and making sure they are fixed in a swift manner

What about your qualifications? Well, chances are that the company that will hire you is not going to be interested in what formal education degree you have. However, you will have to provide some information such as whether you have previous experience or you’ve completed any courses (and have a certificate to prove it). 

You should be pretty well-versed in managing pagination, canonical tags, redirects, as well as robots.txt files. 

It definitely wouldn’t hurt if you knew a bit of HTML and CSS. Speaking great English is a must since most of your clients are probably going to be located in English-speaking countries or you will use various resources written in English to brush up your skills. 

If you will work with a team, there are a number of soft skills that you will be expected to have, such as the following:

  • Being a good team player even when someone messes up
  • Wanting to keep track of any algorithm changes that have happened recently
  • Flexibility and creativity are a must if you want to learn and practice new skills
  • Having the confidence to raise up to par and also speak up when you think that something’s wrong with a site and no one seems to want to acknowledge the mistake (it can happen more than once)
  • Helping out your coworkers in times of need
  • Go out and have fun with your team every now and then 

Do you need a college degree to become a technical SEO specialist?

The short answer to this question is no. About 80% of all of the people who work in this industry have some unrelated degree especially since the vast majority of colleges across the world don’t even teach search engine optimization. 

This can be due to the fact that SEO is forever changing as new algorithms are being essentially released almost on a monthly basis (the serious ones as small changes are being made every single day). 

If you are lucky enough to have studied computer science, you will have a much easier time learning everything. If you have a marketing degree or even one in English, you can still learn the basics of technical SEO and improve your competencies as you grow. 

Technical SEO specialist salary

Everyone needs money to survive, and as much as this topic might be taboo for some individuals, it needs to be discussed. 

If you are just starting out, you can expect a salary of about $50,000 to $55,000 a year. Depending on your skills, that figure could be lower, but this is what you should expect if you are based in the United States or the United Kingdom, for example. 

Seasoned technical SEO specialists can be paid anything between $70,000 and $80,000 and more. 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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