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Whether you launch a search engine optimization program in-house or outsource the program, you should keep the following training opportunities and skill sets in mind:

Advanced SEO techniques, including page titles, META descriptions, META keyword sets, internal page cross-linking, search engine submissions, robots.txt files and domain name management;

Comprehends keyword weighting, proximity, density and related factors;

Search term ranking analysis;

Link popularity building research, management and strategy;

Online forum and industry newsletter monitoring;

National SEO conferences;

HTML and advanced programming languages;

Web site content writing;

Essential Web site usability practices;

Keyword research, including a firm understanding of language and the way people search;

Web analytics, including understanding common and complex metrics associated with visitors, unique visitors, page views, online sales, profitability and more;

Ability to see the big picture and not go so overboard with SEO practices that the web site gets banned from major search engines;

Appreciation for ethical standards (i.e. should know about cloaking, keyword stuffing and the differences and nuances associated with black hat and white hat);

Marketing and branding experience;

Project management, including ability to effectively communicate needs and foster cooperation from appropriate stakeholders;

Familiarity with pay per click (PPC) programs and how their performance directly relates to natural SEO results;

Management of paid inclusion (72-hour rapid indexing programs);

How to adjust to the changing algorithms of search engines.

The search engine optimization field is complex and ever-changing. To keep pace, you should have plenty of skills on hand. Overall, the SEO program process should be simple: set goals, choose the best keywords, optimize pages, submit to search engines and refine efforts in light of rankings and web analytics.

Michael Murray is vice president of Fathom SEO, a Cleveland, Ohio-based SEO firm. He authored the U.S. Manufacturers Resist Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Sales Leads study and a white paper, "Search Engine Marketing: Get in the Game." michael@fathomseo.com


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