Curious about a SEO Career? Here’s Where to Start

Back in the first year of my career, I sent an email to someone interested in starting a career in SEO. It was a break down of how to get started learning it. I have continued to send a similar email after having conversations with college students or peers about SEO careers. I decided to create this blog post that outlines what starting an SEO career might like and how to set yourself apart from the crowd by accelerating your SEO learning before you even start working in the field.
SEO Greatness

SEO is a multi-disciplinary form of marketing.  It is a beautiful blend of technical, analytical, and creative skills. Technical skills tie to understanding how Google and the websites you work on function. You need to be able to detect issues that might prevent Google from crawling, indexing, and ranking your site easily. Analytical skills are important because you need to be able to aggregate and interpret data to know what tactics worked, what didn’t, and to help make strategic and tactical decisions. One of the toughest lessons I have learned so far is that not everything works. When I started out, I put a lot of pressure on myself to have everything be a home run. The point is not everything can be a stellar success and I had to learn that. Creativity is important too. Part of SEO is coming up with creative ideas and executing them in a way that attracts attention and sends the right signals to Google that improves SEO. It might be a cool video that connects with people. It might be a kick ass page on the internet that speaks to your audience. It could be a tool that serves your community.

If you choose to start a career in SEO, you will be constantly developing these three broad skills. As usual one or two might come more natural than the other.

Job Type Options

To me, you have a few options that come to mind. You can go in-house or agency. In-house means you are working for a marketing department driving the company’s SEO. They might own multiple web domains but you are focusing on driving impact for one business by completing tactics and working with other departments and teams of that company to drive results and collaborate. Here, you title might be something like SEO Analyst or SEO Specialist.

Agency side is a bit different. Agencies sell SEO as a service to other businesses. Here, you most likely work on 4 to 5 businesses driving results for them (it may be more or less businesses depending on the agency’s structure). This could be an account management type role or an account support role depending on the agency and where you want to go. You also may hear from leadership or Business Development about clients in the pipeline.

The above options are the two I have taken. There are others as well. You could find a software that serves companies and individuals in the SEO community. You could find a range of roles from account management to working on their marketing. The other option, which I won’t get too much into, is freelancing. You could work to get your own clients and charge them for your services.

Here’s some ways to learn more about SEO and the people in the industry:

Twitter
Far and away the most popular social channel for SEOs is Twitter. People in the community actively share articles and ideas through this channel. First off, I would start by creating an account if you haven’t done so, then start following some of the people and companies below. Be open minded by starting with these and finding others as they share stuff that interests you:

SEO Blogs
Follow these blogs on Twitter to also get consistent information on SEO:
Large Resources to Review
  • How to Learn SEO – this is one of my favorites. I leave a printed copy in my desk and re-visit it every once in a while.
  • Whiteboard Friday – Moz puts out a weekly Whiteboard Friday video. It can be a nice change from reading articles.
  • Beginner’s Guide to SEO – the fundamentals!
  • Beginner’s Guide to Link Building – the fundamentals!
  • Google Quality Guidelines – if your really loving SEO, read Google’s Quality Guidelines!
  • Instant E-Training – the summer before my senior year of college, I took an online course from this site. It was like 30 classes over the course of a month and was super helpful in learning SEO. I felt like it gave me a leg up on interviews because I could speak about SEO a little bit more intelligently than other people in college.
  • Try to get to conference if you can. The cost is expensive to take on by yourself but the reward could be high and if you are a student you might be able to get a discount.
If by chance you like learning from me, below are some other articles I have written that might help:
Overall follow the people on Twitter above and read the resources. Sit back and take it in. Perhaps create a website to help apply what you are learning too.