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what is an SEO strategist

An SEO strategist is a specialist in search engine optimization. Also known as an SEO professional, SEO consultant, and SEO manager, the function of an SEO strategist is to develop and execute a strategy to generate website traffic by ranking pages for important search terms on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Instagram, etc. (yes, social media platforms are also performing like search engines). 

Digital marketing is at the forefront of every business marketing plan. Search engines play an integral role in our daily lives and present one of the most effective ways to get your business in front of the right audience. Although search engines have evolved to the point of recognizing great content, most competitive niches require an SEO strategist to develop a plan that will maximize online visibility.

Why would a business need an SEO specialist?

An SEO strategist is responsible for identifying opportunities to appear at the top of the search results for specific search terms. These search terms should not only drive website traffic but also have some commercial value or purpose. The underlying goal is to create more opportunities for leads and sales by pushing web pages closer to the top of the search results for important keywords.

Create sales opportunities

An easy example is if you sell widgets, then a commercial search term (one that has business value) would be “Where can I buy widgets” or “buy widgets near me” or “best deal on widgets.” These are considered transactional keywords because the user is ready to buy or close to making a purchase.

Generate leads

An SEO strategist makes sure that the website’s content also addresses those that are in the different stages of the buyer’s journey. In the example below, as we work our way up the funnel, an SEO strategist will develop a plan to publish content that moves website users closer to making a purchase decision.

tools used by an seo strategist

What duties should an SEO strategist perform?

There are SEO managers and professionals that are better suited to some aspects of SEO than others. For example, one SEO professional may be better at technical analysis and coding, while another is better suited to create and develop content that ranks. Regardless of how these talents are weighted, there are many different duties that need to be taken care of with a high level of proficiency.

Keyword research

While this aspect of SEO may seem the easiest, it is also the most important. Without an effective keyword strategy, the direction of the content and overall campaign can easily lose its ability to generate leads and sales.

An SEO strategist is able to identify realistic opportunities to pursue and accomplish in a period of time that’s in line with the business goals. This includes analyzing the keywords the competition is ranking for as well as getting creative and thinking outside the box to develop new terms that are easy to rank for and generate good traffic for the company.

Content creation

It may not be the SEO strategist’s duty to create the content themselves, but it’s important they work closely with writers and content creators. An analytical mind can easily identify the most important aspects of a keyword topic that should be included to outrank the competition.

Google (and all search engines) are always looking for the best results to show on the first page. An SEO strategist must be able to see what’s needed to be the best result.

On-page optimization

SEO is much more than just placing keywords in the title, URL, and in the body of content. The user experience is now a top priority so an SEO manager should be able to improve page speed and add media and original content to boost the perceived value of a page.

Using structured data is also a way to gain an advantage over the competition. An SEO specialist should have sufficient knowledge of how to improve on-page optimization using Schema.

Off-page optimization, link building, and improving authority

An SEO strategist should always be looking for opportunities to improve the authority and relevance of a website. This can be accomplished with an effective link-building strategy. Links are one of the crucial aspects of building authority so an SEO specialist must be able to identify good backlinks and differentiate them from bad ones.

Getting on industry directories (citations) is also a part of off-page optimization and crucial to local SEO. Here is an example of one of our profiles on Design Rush, one of the leading digital marketing directories (among other things):

Tools used by an SEO professional

A good SEO manager should be familiar with and proficient in the following tools needed to execute an effective SEO campaign.

Analytical software for tracking results

To improve and optimize your efforts it’s vital to have accurate tracking software in place. Many SEOs use Google Analytics because it provides almost everything you need to optimize your campaigns. There are other paid options such as Fintenza-which allows you to see what keywords each user used to land on your website-something Google Analytics doesn’t tell you!

Google Ads also has a very comprehensive reporting system. An SEO strategist must be able to read, analyze and use the data from analytic software to scale up positive results and scale down the less effective results.

Keyword tools

Keyword research is vital to the direction of your SEO strategy. It is the foundation of your blueprint for content creation. The most popular keyword tools are Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, etc. There are dozens of options but you cannot possibly maximize your opportunities without using paid software.

Auditing software

Many of the mainstream tools come with auditing ability (Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc) however there are also more in-depth options to audit a website. Screaming Frog is one option that allows you more comprehensive coverage when auditing your website.

General business apps

It almost goes without saying but if your SEO consultant doesn’t know how to use Excel, Word, Google Docs, Google Sheets, PowerPoint, etc that’s a huge red flag! All of these apps are required to perform different aspects of analysis and reporting.

Responsibilities of an SEO specialist

It’s possible for the responsibilities of an SEO strategist to change between companies. Some companies may need specific duties performed in conjunction with their in-house team. For example, here is a job posting on Indeed that details the following:


  • Develop optimization strategies that increase search engine ranking results
  • Research SEO keywords to optimize for maximum search visibility and results
  • Set measurable goals that will demonstrate improvement in marketing efforts
  • Monitor daily performance metrics to understand SEO strategy performance
  • Collaborate effectively with the team, marketing professionals and clients
  • Communicate with content writers and provide feedback
  • Update content and website links for maximum optimization and search engine rankings
  • Use tools to better understand marketing dynamics and strategies

SEO specialist job description on indeed

Whereas this job description includes a slightly different set of responsibilities:

Key Responsibilities:

Digital Shelf Content Optimization

  • Work with internal stakeholders and agencies to manage, update, and optimize PDP content for a wide variety of digital commerce channels
  • Work with Digital Marketing to coordinate the development of the right content for ecommerce to launch new products, optimize existing SKUs and test new formats
  • Day-to-day management of digital shelf content workflows across our portfolio of products
  • Develop and manage the digital shelf and discovery playbooks
  • Contribute to search, ecommerce and omnichannel growth
  • Digital product merchandising, support management of ratings and reviews, and support product content catalog upkeep

in-house SEO manager job description

The average salary of an SEO Specialist

According to Builtin, the average salary of an SEO specialist in the United States is $54,809 with an additional bonus opportunity of an average of 5k. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of an SEO specialist in Canada is $55,826, with the opportunity for additional compensation of an average of 5k.

Final Thoughts…

At the end of the day, an SEO strategist should provide growth and new opportunities for any business. At Austin Bryant Consulting we only employ the brightest and most creative minds to provide our SEO services. If you’re looking to hire an SEO professional, schedule a meeting and let us show you what we can do for your business.