A search engine optimization (SEO) specialist is a business consultant who can assist a company with improving its web presence so it can reach more prospective customers. The SEO specialist will evaluate the company's existing presence, paying special attention to what comes up in various search engines. This information will help the specialist make recommendations to get the company's sites higher in search engine rankings and retain those positions. Some consultants also offer help with addressing negative search engine results like critical reviews of a business.
The qualifications needed to work as an SEO specialist depend on the kind of work the person intends to do. Many are self-trained, or have acquired skills while working for an Internet company. Some take computing and business classes, with a focus on public relations, social media, and related topics. An SEO specialist may have a past employment history with a search company, and could also work as a web developer, building and maintaining sites for clients. Some pursue independent certification.
Companies can hire an SEO specialist at any time, but a good time to do this is before developing a new website or launching an initial web presence. The SEO specialist will meet with company staff to discuss what the company does and what kind of image it wants to project. She can help the company craft the content of web pages to appeal to search engines. Each engine uses a slightly different algorithm and many have measures in place to counter practices like keyword stuffing, where a website has numerous instances of a given keyword in the hopes of pushing it up in search results.
As the content on the site changes, the SEO specialist can also work on topics like training personnel to keep the site fresh and appealing for search engines. Sites usually need to change regularly to encourage search sites to re-index them and refresh their results. As users add new content, it should be optimized. The SEO specialist can teach staff members about using tools like alt tagging and strong article titles to attract search engines. She can also identify problem areas of the site and make recommendations on fixing them.
Part of this work can also include increasing web presence through social media and interaction on other websites. The SEO specialist may also evaluate negative search results and discuss methods for addressing them. This can include pushing positive results up as well as reaching out to people who have posted negative commentary to resolve problems. It may be possible to knock a bad result out entirely by addressing a customer complaint and encouraging the customer to remove or update the negative comment.