7 Emerging Skills Every SEO Must Master in 2023

7 Emerging Skills Every SEO Must Master in 2023 _ MediaOne Marketing Singapore

7 Emerging Skills Every SEO Must Master in 2023

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One thing almost all SEOs can agree on is that SEO is undergoing a serious transformation. As technology evolves, so do the skills necessary to stay ahead of the SEO game. 

It’s 2023, and many “SEO is dead” naysayers have been proven wrong. More than ever, SEO is at the forefront of digital marketing. 

Reports predict the global SEO market will hit US$122.11 billion by 2028, so it’s safe to say, SEO isn’t going anywhere. 

But with technology taking leaps and bounds, SEOs have no option but to adjust for the new tide. It’s the only way to stay afloat amidst all the competition. 

So, what emerging skills should you master as an SEO in 2023? Here’s a short list:

Skill #1: Value Articulation

You’ve mastered the art of using keywords, but now you have to go beyond that. In 2023, SEOs need to understand the value of what they do and explain it to others in a language they can easily understand.

Freelance SEOs have been doing this, so they should have no trouble adjusting. However, if you’re an SEO agency, you’ll need to give your clients an in-depth explanation of why and how SEO works and how it can benefit their business. 

Remember, we’re on the brink of a potential recession, and businesses are cutting off their marketing budgets. That means the only way you’ll be able to keep some of your clients is by demonstrating value.

It doesn’t matter what role you’re in — from executive to account manager — you need to be able to explain the value. Otherwise, your job may be on the line. 

Here’s how you can start: Outline the value of SEO in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Use visuals like graphs, charts, and diagrams to demonstrate your point. Connect the dots and show how SEO can be beneficial in the long run.

In other words, you must get used to dealing with tangible data, which brings us to our next skill.

Skill #2: Data Analytics

Most SEO work revolves around data. You collect, monitor, and analyse data to develop insights. 

In 2023, SEOs must be adept in data analytics and how to interpret it to create effective strategies. 

You’ll need to get comfortable working with various tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. You’ll need to understand how data can help you measure results, analyse performance metrics, create projections, etc. 

Moreover, you’ll also need to be able to explain the data in a way that non-techie people can understand. 

That means being comfortable with data storytelling or transforming data into stories that laypeople can understand. It’s a way to connect the dots and make sense of the numbers.

Skill #3: Utilising AI Tools

Utilising AI Tools | MediaOne Marketing Singapore
Credits: Influencer Marketing Hub

AI tools are exploding by the day. In 2023, SEOs will need to familiarise themselves with AI tools and be able to integrate them into their workflows.

From keyword and cluster research to page titles and meta descriptions, AI tools can help you automate mundane tasks and save time. 

They also provide insights that may be overlooked during regular keyword research.

Contrary to what most people think, AI isn’t here to kill SEO but to make it easier. As long as you know how to use AI tools correctly, they can be a great asset. 

So, start by learning how to use them. 

Check out the Google Chrome extension AIPRM for ChatGPT, which uses natural language processing to generate silo structures for a website, regardless of the niche.

That’s not all. You can easily research keywords and optimise your Google Business profile in seconds. 

AI tools take the cognitive load off your shoulders, leaving you with more time to look at the output, tweak them, refine them, and ensure they’re up to par with Google’s standards. 

The thing is, AI isn’t here to replace SEOs but rather to make their work easier and more efficient. 

So, if you’re an SEO in 2023, get your hands on some of the most popular AI tools out there. Learn how to use ChatGPT prompts and the AIPRM Chrome extension to automate mundane tasks. And lastly, stay up-to-date on the latest AI trends and best practices to avoid major SEO missteps.

Skill #4. Executive Presence

We all know that SEO is highly technical, but if you want to succeed in 2023, you’ll need an executive presence.

Tom Critchlow defines executive presence as:

“The ability to present ideas to high-level executives (or the c-suite), create a convincing business case for multi-million-dollar investments, and work cross-functionally (with other departments) to gather buy-in from stakeholders.”

In other words, an executive presence is about being confident and credible when presenting to higher-ups.

Every SEO needs to develop their executive presence to appeal to stakeholders or decision makers above them. 

First, they must learn to present their ideas to their account managers.

And the account manager needs to get buy-ins from client services and other departments.

The idea is to ensure that the SEO’s ideas are presented in a way that will gain support from the decision-makers. 

Be the voice of change at your workplace and hone your executive presence with persuasive communication.

Skill #5. Content Design

AI writing tools have sadly watered down some of the value of good SEO and content writing. What used to take hours of research and writing can now be achieved in a few clicks. 

However, content design is how we stand out and add value that these tools can only dream of. 

Content design isn’t about creating eye-catching visuals or producing videos. It’s about using various elements such as formatting, typography, and information architecture to create a seamless UX experience.

Humans are information foragers. 

We don’t just read. We scan. Content design reduces scanning time and improves the UX experience by making content easier to digest. 

So, as a content creator, you’re not just writing words but also designing how they should be presented to the user.

Your job is to create content that’s optimised for both humans and search engines alike. 

With the AI tool, writing a 2,000-word blog post can be done in minutes. But winning the reader’s attention and engagement is a whole different story. 

That’s where content design comes in.

With every new content piece, you want to question yourself: is this the most effective way to present my content? How else could I optimise it or make it better?

Skill #6: Content Editing

Content editing is more than just proofreading. Content editors are responsible for refining and polishing the written piece before it goes out to be published.

Content editing is an art form. It requires a keen eye for detail and an understanding of the technical aspects of SEO.

Content editors must ensure the content is SEO-friendly and adheres to best practices. They must also ensure that all facts, figures, and arguments presented in the piece are accurate and reliable.

Content editors must go beyond proofreading by looking for opportunities to enhance the content’s readability, flow, and effectiveness. They should be able to spot the potential for improvement and make appropriate suggestions.

Content editing is an essential skill in 2023 as it can drastically improve the quality of the content. 

A good content editor is not afraid to make bold changes to the written piece as long as it improves the overall quality of the content.

The goal is to create content that’s not only SEO-friendly but also engaging, informative, and inspiring.

By mastering content editing, SEO can create content that stands out from the crowd and resonates with its target readers.

Skill #7. Marketing Theory

Marketing Theory | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

SEO has always been about how to improve rankings and generate traffic. But in 2023, SEOs need to be able to think critically and understand the underlying theories behind their actions.

The top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel marketing, buyer’s journey, and product funnel are some essential marketing theories that SEOs need to understand deeply.

Marketing theory is what ties all the pieces together by providing an overarching framework for understanding how SEO works. It’s about understanding the customer journey and optimising content for each funnel stage.

Traditionally, SEOs have enjoyed the scraps of marketing budget. In 2023, SEOs need to prove their value by showing that they understand the bigger picture and can make a real contribution to the success of the business. 

AI tools are even more useful when SEOs understand the marketing strategies underlying their actions. They can help us fill in the gaps, suggest new ideas, and make sure our strategy is on track.

It’s never enough to just look at the GA4 report and say, “Yeah, organic search traffic is up.”

Remember, clients are juggling multiple channels:

They have:

  • TikTok to budget for
  • PPC ads to create
  • Radio ads to buy
  • Social media campaigns to launch
  • Podcasts to sponsor
  • TV commercials to produce

As you can see, everything is after their marketing budget, and instead of trying to sell them SEO, you must show them where it fits and works with the other channels.

For example, if the client is running a radio ad campaign, it would be wise to suggest an SEO-friendly blog post supporting the message from the radio ad and how that can help drive more organic traffic.

Understand marketing as a whole, and SEO will fit perfectly in the mix.

Skill #8: Strategy

When a client comes and tells you they have done SEO for their site, then perhaps the question to ask them would be, “What strategy did they use?”

Most wouldn’t answer the question because they don’t know. They were never told. They just had someone do some keyword research, optimise their site for a few of them, and maybe improve their domain authority. 

The truth is, every organisation needs an SEO strategy, carefully documented and improved with time. 

The SEO strategy must include:

  • Objectives
  • Timelines
  • Tactics/Plans
  • Budget

Now, each of these elements should be broken down into the most granular elements possible. Objectives should include short-term and long-term goals, timelines should account for seasonal trends, tactics/plans should have specific tasks and deadlines, and budget should include time/workforce and financial investment.

Remember, a plan is not a strategy. Nor is a list of tactics to carry out. An SEO strategy should have a bigger goal, and each tactic should support it. 

Think of a president’s campaign plan or a military battle plan.

It is the same thing here. SEO should not be done randomly and without any direction. It should be done strategically, with every action pushing the team toward its goal.

Other SEO Skills You Should Learn

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Skill #9: Adaptability

Things change very quickly in SEO. 

From algorithm updates to changes in the market, SEOs need to be able to adapt quickly and continuously optimise.

This isn’t new, but it will become even more intense. SEOs must stay ahead of the game and anticipate what will come next to succeed. 

You can do this by being an early adopter of new technologies, staying on top of the latest news, and understanding how your industry works. 

You should also track your competitors’ actions and stay in tune with your customer’s preferences. 

Adaptability is the key to success in SEO and the only way to stay ahead of the curve. 

SEOs must make quick decisions backed by data and experience while being able to adjust quickly when it calls for it.

Skill #10. Cross Collaboration

Cross-collaboration is one of the most valuable skills an SEO must have in 2023. 

That’s because SEO is one of the few skills that sits at the crossroad of every department in a company. 

From marketing to engineering and from product management to customer support, SEOs need to be able to work together with all departments to succeed. 

They need to know what each department is working on and how their actions can affect SEO results.

That requires being well-versed in different topics and understanding how they work together. 

For example, SEOs must understand how the product roadmap affects their keyword targeting or how customer support teams can help improve conversion rates. 

Cross-collaboration requires a lot of communication and understanding, but it is essential for SEOs who want to succeed in 2023.

Skill #11. Ability to Know What Matters

Finally, an SEO must possess the ability to know what matters most.

With so much data and information floating around the web, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of what matters most. 

There’s the risk of information overload, and SEOs must be able to sort through all the noise and understand which data points are most important for making decisions. 

Remember, SEO is a lot of work. You’ll do a lot to rank, but not all that effort will have an impact. 

Only 20% of your effort will drive 80% of the results. 

Knowing what matters most and focusing on those areas will ensure you don’t waste your time and energy on efforts that won’t get you anywhere.

The ability to stay focused without getting distracted by the noise is what will make or break an SEO in 2023. 

Skill #12. Basic Coding Skills

Basic Coding Skills | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

While you can still be an SEO without any coding knowledge, if you want to stay at the top of your game, you will need some basic coding skills. 

That includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While you don’t have to be a full-fledged developer, you should be able to make minor tweaks such as redirects and meta tags.

You should also be able to identify and debug any coding errors that you might encounter. 

Learning these basic coding skills will help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure you can take full advantage of any opportunities. 

Here’s a road map SEOs can use to learn how to code:

  • Start with HTML and CSS, then move on to JavaScript. Once you understand these languages, you can explore other coding topics, such as API integration and server-side programming. 
  • You also want to learn a scripting language like Python and Ruby. These will help you automate tedious tasks and make your job easier. 
  • For WordPress users, learning PHP is a must. 
  • Finally, learn some SQL, which will be helpful when you query data from databases.

Skill #13: People Skills

SEO isn’t just about coding and algorithms. It also requires strong interpersonal skills. 

People skills are the ability to understand and relate to others and effectively communicate with them. 

That includes understanding the motivations and needs of customers and working effectively with your colleagues and business partners.

Here are some books you want to read to learn more about people skills:

  • The Art of People by Dave Kerpen 
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 
  • The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane 
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves 
  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

The State of Content Marketing in 2023

The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Content Marketing (2023)

AI is here with us, becoming more advanced by the day. Among the fields in which AI has already made a mark is content marketing. 

AI and Machine Learning have opened a new avenue of possibilities for marketers, especially those in the SEO industry. AI can automate manual tasks, generate ideas, optimize web content, measure customer sentiment and intent, improves marketing ROI, etc.

So, how is it being used in content marketing?

1 out of 4 respondents says they use AI to generate topics and support their SEO research. AI-based tools can monitor online conversations, track keywords used, and even help marketers understand customer sentiment and intent. 

One in every five marketers believes AI and ML will play a role in writing and editing content. AI and ML can generate ideas, suggest keywords, help you rewrite/edit content for clarity, optimize content, and much more.

Source: Conductor

Here’s How Marketers Are Using AI/ML tool in Content Marketing in 2023

  • 26% are using it to research and generate content topics
  • 20% are using it to write and edit their content
  • 18% are using it to analyse data and create customer profiles and segments
  • 9% are using it for website personalization
  • 6% are using it to support their customer service (chatbots)
  • 15% aren’t using it at all
  • 5% are using it to refresh or polish old/outdated content
  • 1% are using it to organize their content

Trends and Prediction

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Content marketers now use disruptive AI/ML-powered tools like ChatGPT to offset tedious tasks like keyword research, data analysis, and topic generation. In the future, AI will become more ubiquitous in content marketing and SEO, creating even more opportunities for marketers to reach their customers.  

However, you want to remember that AI isn’t the new Googlebot. AI will never be able to fully understand the nuances of content and language as a human can, and it shouldn’t be relied on to do so. Therefore, SEOs must master the balance between human and AI-generated content to succeed in 2023.

The Good

From search engines and user perspectives, more emphasis will be put on original and unique content written by humans vs. those using AI/ML. Marketers will want to know the difference between human-written and AI/ML-generated content.

We expect to see a wealth of experimentation from search engine giant Google implementing AI and ML innovations to truly understand users’ questions and intent and provide more value directly on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

The Bad

As Open AI co-founder Sam Altman tweeted, “ChatGPT is incredibly limited. But it’s good enough at a few things to provide a misleading impression of greatness.”

ChatGPT is great for small tasks and generating ideas, but it will never be able to write or rewrite content the same way a human can. They can personalize content, but they won’t be able to add the same sparkle and flair that a human writer can.

The Ugly

Some content marketers will make the mistake of investing in AI-powered tech, thinking it can replace content creators in 2023. The truth is that while AI/ML tools may be able to do some of the tasks faster and more efficiently, they can’t replace content creators. Marketers must understand that AI and ML can’t replace human ingenuity and creativity.

AI is good, but not human-good yet. SEO professionals must combine AI’s efficiency with the creativity of human minds if they want their content marketing campaigns to succeed in 2023 and beyond. 

The takeaway? AI and ML are excellent tools for research, data analysis, topic generation, and website personalization. As SEOs master them, the sky is the limit. But don’t forget to use AI and ML as an aid, not a replacement for human creativity.

The State of SEO in 2023

2023 is the year of AI and ML-powered tools, disruptive search engine algorithms, and personalized content. It’s also the year when SEO professionals must master the balance between AI and humans.

The Technology Requirements for SEO in 2023

Regarding technology requirements for SEO, which of the following capabilities are the most valuable to your current goals?

  • Technical SEO
  • Product usability
  • Keyword capabilities
  • Dashboarding and data presentation
  • Automation

Technical SEO emerged as the most valuable capability. Product usability, keyword capabilities, and dashboarding/data presentation followed closely behind. 

It doesn’t come as a surprise, given the increasing competition within the SERPs and the need for SEOs to stay ahead of the curve. As search engines become more intelligent, a strong technical SEO foundation will be the differentiating factor between ranking in the top 10 or on subsequent pages. 

Trends and Predictions

Technical SEO is the most lacking skill among SEOs. Finding an SEO with comprehensive technical SEO skills has become increasingly difficult. As a result, companies are beginning to invest heavily in SEO technologies capable of monitoring, analysing, and implementing technological SEO improvements.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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