What tasks does Technical SEO? What skills are required and how to pivot to a Technical SEO role? Find out in this interview with Ashleigh Noad.
Job titles can be tricky. What tasks do they involve? What skills does one need? It can be confusing to know what’s the next step in a career or where to start as an SEO. Ashleigh Noad helps us to understand what a Technical SEO does and what a day in her job looks like. We also find out what inspires Ashleigh and motivates her everyday.
Meet Ashleigh Noad, Technical SEO
Ashleigh is a Senior Technical SEO Consultant at Builtvisible and was previously an in-house Technical SEO for the UK retailer, John Lewis.
Connect with Ashleigh Noad, Technical SEO, LinkedIn.
💡 By the way, do you wonder what it would takes to go from junior Technical SEO to Senior Technical SEO? Find out in our Career Q&A: from junior to senior roles.
What is a Technical SEO Consultant? A short definition
“I’m a Technical SEO specialising in enterprise websites – which means I analyse large websites and ensure that they are visible in search engines for thousands – and sometimes even millions – of relevant keywords their customers will be using to find products or services.” explains Ashleigh Noad.
“To rank higher (become more visible), this often means pouring over lots of data to find technical issues or opportunities which can help search engines find and understand webpages easier. An in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of search engines and how they operate is key – and is something that builds up over time.” adds Ashleigh.
What does a day as a Technical SEO look like?
Ashleigh Noad: “In terms of the day to day, I mostly spend my time collaborating with multiple teams across a business – from Developers to Content Marketers – to advocate for these changes. This can include estimating the benefit (revenue!) they will have for the business, education sessions as well as creating tickets which outlines to developers what needs to be done.”
What are the main tasks of a Technical SEO Consultant?
Here is a day at the office with Ashleigh:
“I start my day by doing health checks for my clients and general topline checks on performance. I’ll also grab a coffee and read through any industry news which catches my eye.
For the bulk of my day, I spend much less time auditing or looking for opportunities than I did when I was junior. Instead, I spend a lot of time trying to break down complex SEO theories and tickets into simpler terms. This can mean creating presentations or presenting data into more easily understood formats which different types of stakeholders can use.
Similarly, I also spend a lot of time creating meaningful reports and updates which show how SEO performance is going for clients. Often this will mean creating multiple versions with different levels of detail, depending on who I intend to share the information with.”
Which skills are most useful to work as a Technical SEO Consultant?
To work efficiently as a Technical SEO Consultant, here are the top skills according to Ashleigh.
“Communication skills are so important – I’ve met so many SEOs who have amazing knowledge but can’t read a room so will overshare on detail or use too much technical jargon which will lose the interest of the audience. I was lucky that I had lots of customer-facing experience prior – so it gave me an advantage over those who might be fresh out of university who might know a little SEO but without much business experience. But even then, it still takes time to learn when to hold back and what level of detail to share.
You need to be quite analytical – not necessarily hard skills like SQL that a data analyst might have – but the ability to find patterns and trends in data. This is something you build up over time, and the ability to use tools like Excel will increase as you go. You can take courses to help with Excel basics – and then it will be down to you to build on those skills as you need to apply them ‘in the wild’. I consider myself to be really good at Excel – but even now I will use Google or chatGPT to help me create formulas rather than always create formulas from scratch – but you need the basics so you know what to search for!
I also think just having a curious mindset is key – this is super important for staying on top of algorithm updates and changes within the search industry. If you aren’t remotely interested in how people use Search – it can be difficult to stay on top of things as changes are rolling out all the time.“
You consider a career change as a Technical SEO? Read this!
Ashleigh Noad: “Don’t let a lack of technical knowledge intimidate you from going into SEO. Everyone starts with zero knowledge and it takes time to gradually build it up.
Prior to being in Technical SEO – I was working as a bartender in Disney World! And weirdly enough, I use so many soft skills that I built up from my experience in Hospitality in my day-to-day. I actually think bartending and SEO have a lot in common!
The best Technical SEOs are the ones who can actually get their recommendations implemented – rather than having the most in-depth knowledge. You don’t have to be a Developer to be good at SEO – you just need to know how to communicate with them and other stakeholders.
So any career experience you have in terms of communicating with others – is going to be really helpful in a potential SEO career.”
Working as a Technical SEO Consultant might look different than what you expect
We asked Ashleigh whether she had any expectations about working as a Technical SEO consultant that prove to be true or different to reality.
Ashleigh Noad: “When I first started, I assumed the best technical SEOs had prior developer experience and knew the most about search engines. As I’ve progressed, I’ve found that the best SEOs are the one who can actually get changes live – no matter how simple or complex.
I also thought the best SEOs had SQL and Python skills – as I saw it a lot in job descriptions. As a junior, I didn’t really have opportunities in my day-to-day to build these skills and I often wondered if I was doing something wrong! As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve found opportunities to build up a little SQL and some Python knowledge – but I don’t use them every day, and it will often depend on the clients I am working with or how much ‘spare’ time I have. They are definitely not necessary to be a good SEO but a really great enhancement that will make your life easier if you work on really large websites.“
If you were applying to a Technical SEO’s position right now, how would you prepare?
Let’s find out how Ashleigh Noad would prepare:
“I’d start building my knowledge in SEO by following a learning pathway such as Aleyda’s guide to SEO. I’d also look at doing my certifications from Google Analytics and Google Search Console – two key tools you will use every day as an entry-level SEO.
I’d also recommend to anyone starting out – that you should create a blog on a topic that interests you and start applying any SEO learnings to your own content. It is the best way to learn.”
💙 Thank you Ashleigh for sharing your experience as a Technical SEO with us.
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