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The SEO Career Path: What It May Look Like and How to Level Up

Search Engine Land » SEO » The SEO career path: What it looks like and how to level up

People outside the world of marketing rarely know what SEO is or what initialism even stands for.

In the industry, it is a familiar term for all formidable marketers. Much less is SEO – search engine optimization – actually understood.

First, it’s important to understand that, while SEO stands for search engine optimization, it’s also often used interchangeably to describe the people who do SEO (aka SEO professionals). An SEO – or search engine optimizer – does SEO. SEOs do SEO.

To avoid further confusion, we refer to the people who do SEO as SEO professionals.

SEO professionals are a special breed of marketers from many walks of life.

But there are some characteristics and experiences that many of us have in common that I will try to organize as some of the most useful and common professional qualities possessed by SEO professionals.

I will also cover what the career path to becoming one might look like.

How do you start an SEO career?

Contents

Historically, most SEO professionals did not plan on SEO as a career – at least until recently (starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s). That was because they couldn’t, really. Read also : What you need to know before attempting your SEO.

Early in their educational journey, a marketer or digital marketer very rarely – if ever – declared: “I want to optimize websites and follow the Google algorithm for brands to change the way people and businesses connect forever.”

The last part of that questionable statement was probably similar to something many marketing-in-training have declared.

But getting there through website and brand optimization to get organic visibility on a search engine was not likely the vehicle they had in mind at the time to achieve it.

It is also rare to meet several SEO professionals who have taken the same path to become one.

But there are certainly overlapping journeys, professions and experiences.

Some common past areas of expertise for SEO professionals that generally intersect include teaching, journalism, various mathematically focused professions and the obvious traditional marketing focuses.

But as the worldwide web has evolved as it has over the past 30 years, opportunities to help brands and people in new ways have emerged in the marketing realm. And some have become more specialized – and lucrative – than ever.

Organic search, paid media and social media are all suitable channels for successful marketing strategies. And they were indirectly or directly created (or adapted for use) for the growth, prominence and usefulness of websites.

Today, as a result, high school and college students can set their sights on a digital marketing gig specializing in SEO. This will continue to become more common as secondary education institutions evolve with the needs of the world, job demands and technology.

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Possible SEO career routes

Like most careers, there are several directions an SEO professional can take. Read also : What is your SEO game plan? Are you big enough for an SEO strategy?.

It is probably most likely to start at an agency, and that is a wonderful place to start almost any career related to marketing (or design, account management, video production or sales).

There are typically a bunch of talented people with a wealth of knowledge and direction to share, so it’s like getting an education while getting paid.

You also get the chance to really find your niche in whatever facet of digital marketing you end up in, whether it’s SEO itself or a more specific component within SEO.

Your first few years in SEO will likely shape your long-term future, at least to some extent.

You can also strengthen and/or stand out by demonstrating strengths with the critical soft skills mentioned above and your ability to communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders.

Agency life allows these skills to shine while also finding out if agency life is for you.

You must be able to constantly juggle multiple deliverables and multiple deadlines, often jumping between different projects on the same day and throughout the week.

The other direction you could go is directly in-house at a company.

But if you’re looking to boost your SEO skills as a beginner, that could prove difficult without a good SEO company to guide you and teach you many of the basics to be successful.

Larger companies would be more likely to have more qualified SEO professionals employed in one team at a time. Getting into such an opportunity is difficult for someone with little to no experience.

Another potential direction an SEO career could go is strictly freelance or as an independent consultant.

This was probably the most common way to get into SEO back when Google and the wonders of search were still in their adolescent years. Today it has become more difficult because the search has become more complex and the choices for providers have increased significantly in the world.

These are three different potential career paths an SEO could follow. They usually overlap at some or several points based on what the SEO wants to do, which steers them in that direction.

All three majors also offer the ability to work in different environments (ie, working in a traditional office environment, working from home, or a hybrid set-up).

SEO, like most digital marketing careers, offers flexibility when it comes to the place of work and also the time of day that you do this work.

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SEO job levels and salary ranges

The SEO career path will likely move from entry-level to experienced roles. This may interest you : Backlinks: What They Are And How To Get Them. And when it comes to salary, like all things in SEO, it depends.

Many variables affect compensation, including your location, work environment, whether you work in-house or agency-side, and experience level, among others. (We’ve done our best to put a general range at these levels.)

Entry-level

Salary range: $49K – $72K per year

So many jobs start with a basic, lower-level position, but there’s also a lot like getting paid to continue practical training in your specific field.

Landing the first position on the entryway is usually the harder task. When you take over the post, you want to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can. Make sure you absorb everything you can.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, for the lucky ones) having a great or terrible leader to guide and train you at this critical stage of your early career could make or break you. Make the best of it.

Junior SEO (SEO analyst, SEO specialist, etc.)

Salary range: $62K – $101K per year

Once you’ve got the basics down and run the day-to-day with limited help, your entry-level position should move up to something a little more senior, like an SEO analyst or specialist (it’s not actually a senior position, though).

These junior SEO positions usually do a lot of the data pulling and living-in-Excel that builds a solid, effective SEO. These are long-term tasks that build SEO professionals at their core, and they cannot be replaced or shortened.

You will likely work closely with an SEO Manager and their Senior SEO Leader to:

SEO strategist

Salary range: $69K – $110K per year

After time as a junior SEO, be ready for a little more reasonableness, a little more account ownership, and even some chances to train other new employees (regardless of experience levels).

Some of the “training” you do will probably not be highly complicated SEO tasks, but rather internal tasks related to the SEO process in the company. This could include:

SEO manager 

Salary range: $80K – $120K per year

SEO managers are typically the first administratively oriented SEO roles within agencies. New SEO managers usually supervise one or two SEO professionals to get a feel for their style, effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses.

These managers also usually manage multiple client accounts and their own workloads.

This period in an SEO career can also allow people to see what their next role will look like by identifying things they do and don’t like.

Senior manager (head of SEO, director of SEO, etc.)

Salary range: $109K – $192K per year

After successful posts at the top as an SEO manager, a senior version of that usually follows.

As a senior manager, who could also be the head of SEO or even a director, you take on significantly more responsibility, not only as an individual, but as a representative of the agency or company you work for, as well as the clients you work with and represent. as a leader of their organic initiatives.

Vice president

Salary range: $124K – $224K per year

VPs tend to hold some of the highest-ranking, SEO-focused positions at the top.

While VPs of SEO/Organic are still highly integrated with SEO efforts and usually oversee entire teams or more in that area, they are still very much responsible for:

C-suite (CMO, CEO, etc.)

Salary range: $192K – $550K per year

This is probably the ultimate goal of many digital marketers, not just SEO professionals.

Some start their own companies, others join companies as veteran thought leaders and try to take those companies to the next level, and others are just so right for the job, there’s nowhere else they really belong.

Good, effective marketers will always be in demand, and the best ones will lead the best companies in their organic growth initiatives.

When an SEO makes it to the C-suite, they are likely to:

Of course, these are not definitive paths through the SEO ranks.

Every company and agency has its own way of doing things. Sometimes it looks like this, other times it looks slightly different, and sometimes it looks extremely different.

It’s important to stay on the path that works for you and take the necessary steps to get to where you want to be.

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Best ways to advance your SEO career

It is necessary to understand that SEO education never ends. Staying ahead of the game is a shining factor that separates decent from great SEO professionals.

As such, educating yourself about the many facets of SEO and digital marketing should be a top priority for someone trying to get their feet wet in the profession for the first time.

Stay on top of changes and developments in the industry through online forums and SEO-related news. Keep a constant eye on Google’s Search Blog.

From there, once a gig is landed, the most important aspect of building an SEO career comes to you every day: real-life SEO experience with clients, internal stakeholders, vendors, and/or agency partners, among others.

You will also continue your education afterwards. Almost every day you read blogs and news in the ever-changing industry.

You will attend state-of-the-art conferences and virtual seminars. Eventually, you can also speak at these events and guide SEO professionals from around the world.

SEO professionals love to help each other as much as they love to learn from each other. It’s one of the best parts of being an SEO and it’s why you’re hard pressed to find a great SEO who doesn’t like another great SEO. We are in this together and there is a lot going on!

The daily trials and tribulations in the field are the best way to find your way as an SEO.

Most importantly, you should know if SEO is right for you early and often. I know I did, and still do a lot.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Sam Hollingsworth is a native (upstate) New Yorker who currently resides in Saratoga Springs, New York, and helps lead SEO efforts for Moving Traffic Media as the Director of SEO. With a background in general SEO – specializing in local SEO, e-commerce SEO, and international SEO – as well as content strategy, social media and customer services, when Sam isn’t spending time at the digital agency, he’s probably enjoying one of the many historical thoroughbreds America’s racing track that takes in the great outdoors (Adirondack Mountains, Great Sacandaga Lake, and more), and hangs out with his family on all the adventures they find.

Is SEO a long term job?

There are different search engines and all the most popular search engines are always changing their algorithms to show results. So SEO is definitely not a bad idea in the long run.

Will SEO exist in 5 years? SEO will not be eliminated in the next five years, as social media and search engines will more than likely merge. Facebook has already started doing this: they average over 1.5 billion searches every day. Twitter did the same; they are in collaboration with Google.

Is SEO job stressful?

Any job can be stressful based on the type of performance required by your company. It’s the same with SEO-related jobs. However, it is not as stressful as IT or other programming jobs.

Is working in SEO a good career?

‘ Yes. SEO is a good career option as it is among the most sought after careers in the digital marketing field. There are various organizations around the world, hiring SEO professionals to generate better content and thereby produce more business leads.

Is a career in SEO worth it?

SEO is a promising career in 2022 as it gives you access to various opportunities. You can work in-house, take on clients, and even start and grow your own websites. Plus, the three most popular websites, Google.com, YouTube.com, and Amazon.com, are the biggest search engines.

Does SEO pay well?

SEO Specialist Salary by Years of Experience The average salary for an SEO specialist with 7 years of experience is $75,067. The average salary for

Is SEO a good career for the future?

The simple answer is yes, SEO is a good career. SEO professionals can earn good money, achieve a comfortable work/life balance, find a position in the industry that suits their natural abilities, and challenge themselves creatively.

Is SEO a good career for the future?

The simple answer is yes, SEO is a good career. SEO professionals can earn good money, achieve a comfortable work/life balance, find a position in the industry that suits their natural abilities, and challenge themselves creatively.

Is SEO a long term career?

And also, the domain in which you work changes your task and most of the time you learn new ways of SEO. There are different search engines and all the most popular search engines are always changing their algorithms to show results. So SEO is definitely not a bad idea in the long run.

Is a career in SEO worth it?

SEO is a promising career in 2022 as it gives you access to various opportunities. You can work in-house, take on clients, and even start and grow your own websites. Plus, the three most popular websites, Google.com, YouTube.com, and Amazon.com, are the biggest search engines.

Is learning SEO worth it in 2022?

There is no doubt that SEO investment is an indispensable part of your online business. Not only does SEO get you a high ranking on Google, quality traffic, high visibility of your website, but also provides you with the versatile strategy that helps you advertise, sell and also boost your brand performance.

What does an SEO employee do?

A search engine optimization or SEO specialist tests, analyzes and changes a website so that it is optimized for search engines, and the website then ranks higher in the search results on major search engines such as Google and Bing.

Is SEO job stressful? Any job can be stressful based on the type of performance required by your company. It’s the same with SEO-related jobs. However, it is not as stressful as IT or other programming jobs.

What does a SEO Specialist do daily?

A search engine optimization (SEO) specialist improves website rankings on major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. The specialist guarantees on-page optimization to produce relevant search results and a positive user experience, growing site traffic, lead volume and brand awareness.

Is being an SEO specialist Hard?

SEO is not that hard to learn. All you have to do is be willing to allocate the necessary time and effort to learn the various SEO concepts. If you’re just getting started with SEO and wondering what it takes to go from beginner to expert, then this post is for you.

Is SEO a stressful job?

You have to deal with big and small clients, calm and totally stressed, those who believe in SEO and those who think you are just trying to get more money for useless things!

Is SEO a full time job?

SEO involves many areas from content writing to technical optimizations and everything in between. It’s a full-time gig, not one for just the weekend or as an employee’s third responsibility.

Is working in SEO a good career?

‘ Yes. SEO is a good career option as it is among the most sought after careers in the digital marketing field. There are various organizations around the world, hiring SEO professionals to generate better content and thereby produce more business leads.

Does SEO pay well?

SEO Specialist Salary by Years of Experience The average salary for an SEO specialist with 7 years of experience is $75,067. The average salary for

Is a career in SEO worth it?

SEO is a promising career in 2022 as it gives you access to various opportunities. You can work in-house, take on clients, and even start and grow your own websites. Plus, the three most popular websites, Google.com, YouTube.com, and Amazon.com, are the biggest search engines.

Is SEO a good career for the future?

The simple answer is yes, SEO is a good career. SEO professionals can earn good money, achieve a comfortable work/life balance, find a position in the industry that suits their natural abilities, and challenge themselves creatively.

What are SEO duties?

SEO specialist roles and responsibilities

  • Develop optimization strategies that increase company website search engine results ranking.
  • Conduct tests, collect and analyze data and results, identify trends and insights to achieve maximum ROI.

What does an SEO specialist do every day? Every day, SEO experts review the website’s performance and keyword position analysis to see how things are going. The results may change from day to day with Google algorithms, updates and user dynamics. So, it is crucial to do daily checks to see how each page of the website you are promoting is working.

What are SEO skills?

The job of a Search Engine Optimization specialist with SEO skills is to analyze and review websites and optimize them in a way that they are picked up by the search engines. The SEO specialist aims to ensure increased traffic to a website by developing content with appropriate keywords and phrases.

Why SEO skills are important?

SEO is made up of different elements, and knowing what they are and how they work is the key to understanding why SEO is so important. In short, SEO is crucial because it makes your website more visible, and that means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.

Is Google SEO a skill?

While it may not sound as obvious as technical skills like coding languages ​​or web design, search engine optimization is a crucial skill for almost any web-related role.

Is SEO a hard skill?

At the top of the list of important hard skills is search engine optimization. Data from the study is based on a LinkedIn survey conducted by Microsoft with 600 global senior marketer participants.

Is SEO a full time job?

SEO involves many areas from content writing to technical optimizations and everything in between. It’s a full-time gig, not one for just the weekend or as an employee’s third responsibility.

Is working in SEO a good career? ‘ Yes. SEO is a good career option as it is among the most sought after careers in the digital marketing field. There are various organizations around the world, hiring SEO professionals to generate better content and thereby produce more business leads.

Is SEO a long term career?

And also, the domain in which you work changes your task and most of the time you learn new ways of SEO. There are different search engines and all the most popular search engines are always changing their algorithms to show results. So SEO is definitely not a bad idea in the long run.

Can I do SEO as a part time job?

Remote SEO Specialist Job Types: Full Time, Part Time. This is a part-time employee position, not a contractor. Our team consists of talented and creative people. Edit and update website pages.

Can SEO be a side job?

If you’re looking to learn a new skill to make money next year as a side hustle or full-time job, SEO is probably one of your best options.

Is SEO job difficult?

SEO is not that hard to learn, but it can be confusing and overwhelming to get started. Learning SEO means learning about a long list of individual digital marketing strategies, which can feel a bit like adding new weapons to your arsenal as you learn how to exercise them.

Is SEO good for freelancing?

If you want to become an SEO freelancer, you are in good company. This is a popular choice for freelancers and an in-demand field. Every place with a website wants its websites to show up in the top search results. It can make or break their business or revenue stream.

Is SEO an in demand skill?

However, it is worth noting that the demand for SEO skills is through the roof, as search engine optimization is increasingly important for any job posting in communications, digital marketing or social media marketing. Here are some common SEO job titles: Search engine optimization (SEO) specialist.

What skills will marketers need in the future? Executives say that skill in content marketing, strategy, and data/analysis will be the most important skills for marketers in the future, according to recent research from Drift. The report is based on data from a survey of more than 100 marketing leaders across 25 industries.

What marketing skills are most in-demand?

Globally, digital marketing expertise is the number one skill listed by marketers on their LinkedIn profiles, followed by social media marketing and search engine optimization. Marketing strategy comes in fourth, followed by knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, email marketing and content.

Is marketing still in-demand?

Is there a demand for digital marketers? With 860,000 jobs, Digital Marketing Specialist is among the top 10 most in-demand jobs, according to LinkedIn. You must have experience in digital marketing areas, such as social media, content strategy, SEO, and more.

What type of marketing is most in-demand?

Today, digital marketing is one of the most in-demand fields out there. And in this article we will tell you everything you need to know about it and how to get the job.

What skills will marketers need in 2025?

Machine learning, sophisticated analytics, and neuromarketing are considered to be the most important skills in the marketing department in 2025, and the tools that enable these will sit at the top of the shopping list.

How do you think marketing will be different in five 5 years in 2025?

By 2025, marketers will be slicing and dicing metadata for actionable insights and highly specific marketing. Brands will use complex combinations of personal data, location data and environmental data to target their customers with the right message at the right time on the right device.

What is the future of marketing in 2025?

The future marketing trends of 2025 will focus on interactive, engaging communication with the consumer more than ever before, making advertising easier than ever before.

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