SEO Careers: A Guide for Aspiring Professionals

SEO careers are enriching. Search engine optimisation (SEO) improves the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. In digital marketing, SEO is one of the most important skills you can have. 

With more and more businesses moving online, the demand for skilled SEO professionals is higher than ever. This article will provide an in-depth guide for aspiring professionals interested in pursuing a career in SEO.

Critical Skills in SEO

Understanding that SEO is a complex and constantly evolving field is essential. As a result, it requires a wide range of skills and qualifications. Some of the critical skills required for a career in SEO include the following:

  1. Technical Skills: This includes knowledge of website architecture, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and web development frameworks. A good understanding of server-side and client-side programming languages is also a must.
  2. Analytical Skills: This includes the ability to analyse and interpret data from tools like Google Analytics, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and other similar platforms. It is also essential to have a good understanding of statistical analysis and data modelling.
  3. Communication Skills: The ability to communicate effectively is critical for SEO professionals. You need to be able to articulate your ideas and strategies to your team and clients in an easily understandable way.
  4. Creative Skills: Creative thinking is essential for developing new and innovative SEO strategies, and so too, are skills such as copywriting, graphic design, and video production.

Understanding the Specialist Disciplines of SEO

For those looking to make a career change to the SEO industry, it’s essential to understand the different specialisms within the field and the specific skill sets required. 

  1. On-page SEO: Optimizes web pages for higher rankings and relevant traffic. Requires content creation, HTML, web development, and data analysis skills. Suits detail-oriented, analytical, and creative individuals.
  2. Off-page SEO: Optimises external factors impacting rankings, like backlinks and social signals. Requires relationship-building, digital marketing, and link-building skills. Suits outgoing, strategic, and creative individuals.
  3. Technical SEO: Improves website’s technical aspects for accessibility and usability. Requires coding, web development, problem-solving, and search engine algorithm knowledge. Suits technical, analytical, and detail-oriented individuals.
  4. Local SEO: Optimizes websites for local search results. Requires local search algorithm knowledge, Google My Business profile optimisation, and local SEO techniques. Suits analytical, detail-oriented, and local market-savvy individuals.
  5. E-commerce SEO: Optimises online stores and product pages. Requires e-commerce platform knowledge, product optimisation techniques, and website data analysis skills. Suits analytical, detail-oriented, and e-commerce marketing-savvy individuals.
  6. Mobile SEO: Optimizes websites for mobile devices. Requires mobile technology, design, website/app optimisation, and search algorithm knowledge. Suits technical, analytical, and mobile user experience-savvy individuals.

Qualifications

Regarding qualifications, larger firms often prefer a degree in marketing, business, or a related field. However, many SEO professionals come from diverse backgrounds, including computer science, journalism, and psychology. 

Some of us are old enough to remember when there were no SEO degrees, and you had to figure it out for yourself. We still did OK, too. In short, get knowledge, experience and a proven track record. That way, you’ll always eat well as an SEO.

Many career paths and opportunities are available in the SEO field. Some standard job titles include SEO Analyst, SEO Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, and SEO Content Writer. 

Salaries for SEO professionals vary widely depending on the role, experience, and location. According to data from Glassdoor, the average salary for an SEO Specialist in the United States is around $50k to $70k per year. In the UK, the average is around £33k

A career in SEO can be both challenging and rewarding. With the right skills and qualifications, you can help businesses increase their online visibility and reach new audiences. 

Whether you are just starting or looking to advance your career, many opportunities are available in the SEO field. You can build a successful and fulfilling career in this exciting and dynamic field by staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.

How do you get started in SEO?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in SEO, there are several steps you can take to get started. Here are some tips to help you prepare for job interviews and understand the different skill sets required for other SEO disciplines:

  1. Learn the Basics: Start by learning the basics of SEO. Familiarise yourself with the various components of SEO, such as keyword research, on-page optimisation, and link building. Read articles, watch videos, and attend online courses to better understand the field.
  2. Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice your skills by working on your website or blog. Implement your learned techniques and track your progress using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
  3. Develop a Portfolio: Create a portfolio of your work, including case studies, examples of successful campaigns, and other relevant materials, demonstrating your skills to potential employers and clients.
  4. Network: Attend industry events, join online communities, and connect with other professionals in the field. Building relationships can help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies and open up new opportunities.
  5. Choose Your Speciality: There are several specialities within the field of SEO, including technical SEO, on-page optimisation, content creation, link building, and local SEO, as mentioned above. Consider which area you are most interested in and focus on developing the relevant skills.
  6. Keep Learning: SEO constantly evolves, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies is essential. Attend conferences, read blogs, and take courses to continue learning and growing your skills.

Job interviews

When preparing for job interviews, you must showcase your skills and demonstrate your knowledge of the field. Be ready to talk about your experience with SEO, including any successful campaigns or projects you have worked on. 

Show your enthusiasm for the area and willingness to continue learning and growing professionally.

Understanding the different skill sets required for different SEO disciplines is also essential. For example: 

  • Technical SEO requires a strong understanding of website architecture, HTML, and other technical components. 
  • On-page optimisation requires a strong knowledge of content creation and optimisation
  • Link building requires the ability to build relationships and create compelling content. 
  • Local SEO requires a deep understanding of local search and optimisation techniques.

Tips from the Professionals

We spoke to some professional SEO specialists to discover what makes their specialism rewarding, challenging and exciting. Below are interviews we conducted to give you insight into the SEO trade.

 

Peter Rota, Peter Rota SEO

We asked Boston Technical SEO specialist Peter Rota of Peter Rota SEO to tell us about his inspiration and the critical skills for success in Technical SEO. Peter has over ten years of experience in the SEO trade, working with various clients.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Technical SEO?

Since I started in SEO in 2011, I have always enjoyed learning about tech SEO and that technology and websites are constantly changing and force you to stay ahead of the curve. 

Additionally, it has forced me to improve my skill set and expose myself to things I may not have done otherwise.

What critical skills are essential for success in Technical SEO?

Someone passionate about learning and wants to get better every day. Able to work well with developers and communicate findings in a language non-Tech SEO people understand. 

Knowing front-end and coding languages is good as well. I have some basic knowledge of HTML and Javascript, but I need help writing them proficiently. 

About Peter Rota

With over a decade of experience, Peter Rota has worked with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, SMBs, and S&P 500 clients. He brings in-depth expertise with modern SEO techniques and strategies to create customised digital marketing solutions that help clients build thriving brands.

 

Jabari Thompson, Incync Digital

We sat down with Jabari Thompson, head of Incync Digital Marketing LLC, a specialist Technical SEO and New Jersey SEO agency based in New Jersey, USA, to discuss his top tips for anyone trying to break into the world of Technical SEO:

What inspired you to pursue a career in Technical SEO?

Well, I started as a freelance web designer, and though I could have done better at coming up with the design, I needed help making the website responsive. As I was new to web design, I quickly discovered the importance of making my website responsive the hard way, as my clients pointed out. 

In researching more about HTML, CSS, Javascript and other parts of web design so I could improve, I discovered the field of SEO. I had been thinking about creating my own small digital marketing agency and needed a complementary service to web design. 

Technical SEO and web design/development drive user engagement/organic traffic, which would work perfectly! 

I’m also a business analytics student fascinated with machine learning and interested in creating data-driven applications to help small businesses improve their SEO. 

The field of technical SEO (though it is a small segment of SEO and a minor part of marketing) has much room for expansion. Especially considering the daily developments in AI.

What critical skills are essential for success in Technical SEO?

To be successful with technical SEO, you do NOT need to be a proficient software developer. However, it would help if you had a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, Javascript, and JSON LD to complete tasks such as adding structured data to your website, updating media queries, adding animations, and updating the website for user experience. 

You must also know how to use essential SEO tools such as Google Search Console, RankRanger/Schema.org, and Ahrefs. With the rise in AI-powered tools for marketing, you should also be able to use tools such as Chat GPT to generate outlines, content clusters, and other prompts so that you can create blog posts with an article or how-to schema markup (depending on your posts) 

What advice would you give to someone starting in Technical SEO?

Be very open-minded in your approach. Understand that there are ways to complete tasks, and there are efficient ways to complete tasks and get better results! 

Technical SEO is easy, and if you put the time and effort into learning the basics, you can find the best strategy to optimise your website’s front/back end to increase organic traffic. 

In addition to knowing HTML, CSS, and Javascript, I recommend learning Python. 

Python applications can be compelling in automating technical SEO processes and simplifying your SEO tasks. Being able to create python applications that can optimise website elements for user experience will separate you from many Technical SEO experts. 

Automation, AI, and machine learning have increased in the marketing industry. 

Stay up to date with the latest trends! Can’t stress this enough, be sure to keep up with Google’s latest algorithm updates and blog posts, as they may have critical information on how to update your website. 

What are the most significant changes in the Technical SEO landscape?

The increase of the use of Python in SEO and incorporating automation in daily SEO tasks. The late Hamlet Batista originated in finding advanced services for Python in technical SEO. 

I recommend checking out some of his initial Youtube interviews (search Hamlet Batista on Youtube).

Chatbots are also becoming trendy in technical SEO as they are great for user engagement and faster answering questions. 

I recommend learning about NLP natural language processing, as creating chatbots for SEO is a rising factor in large and now even smaller businesses. 

Check out RASA, a chatbot development API that you can use to create your chatbot within a day! 

Furthermore, keyword clustering is a relatively new part of technical SEO and involves grouping related keywords on your web pages to associate them with a primary keyword.

How can someone with no prior experience in SEO break into the field?

The best place to start is by going to Google Search Central and reading the documentation. There is no better place to start learning about SEO than the leading search engine, Google. 

On Google Search Central, you find a complete breakdown of SEO, what it is, and all the key elements that go into optimising your website to rank higher on Google and appeal to your users. 

After reading this documentation, I found a video, article, or blog that you can use as a guide for an essential SEO checklist. From this checklist, you can work on SEO for your websites. 

The best way to improve with SEO is through experience. The more ways you find to fine-tune and enhance your site’s SEO over time, is how you improve. 

What tools and resources do you find most helpful in your work?

  • I find RankRanger and Schema.org very helpful for schema markup generation
  • I find VS Code, Google Colab, and Jupyter Notebook helpful in creating programs to automate SEO tasks
  • I find python modules: beautifulsoup, regex, and pandas useful for crawling search data and extracting data for SEO applications
  • I find Google Search Console useful for basic monitoring of SEO factors such as Impressions, Clicks, CTR
  • I find Ahrefs useful for keyword generation 

How has Technical SEO evolved in the last decade, and what is its future?

I haven’t been around for many decades, lol, but the role of a technical SEO is centred around either using AI/NLP/ML-powered tools or innovation of new marketing technology to automate technical SEO processes even further. 

What are the most challenging aspects of your role, and how do you overcome them?

The most challenging parts of my role are staying current and adapting my SEO strategies to keep up with updated trends. 

Though my target market is less technologically advanced, I am looking to push the general small business public’s knowledge of technical SEO for their small businesses. 

It is a rapidly changing field, and with the constant Google updates, at times, it needs to be clarified what the solution to maintain or improve your site’s SEO is. 

What advice would you give someone considering a career change into Technical SEO?

If you are not from a tech background, be open to discovering and learning more about the implementation of technology in SEO and marketing in general. 

Also, have patience as there is a lot to learn, and depending on how far you choose to delve into the field and advance your website, the more complex it can get. 

How crucial is staying up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in Technical SEO?

Extremely crucial! Staying up-to-date with the latest trend in SEO, in general, helps you better understand how to navigate your SEO strategy. 

Your technical SEO tasks are sometimes going to be different. What is essential to Google now may or may not be necessary to Google a year from now. It’s all about what’s working best at the time. 

About Jabari Thompson

Jabari Thompson is a young Tech SEO specialist in NJ, USA, passionate about entrepreneurship and digital marketing. He’s pursuing a Business Analytics degree at Montclair State University, where he’s developing a solid foundation in data-driven decision-making.

Jabari started his journey in digital marketing as a freelance web designer. With a thirst for knowledge and the help of mentors, he quickly expanded his skillset and ventured into the world of SEO. 

He now works with local NJ online businesses, helping them navigate the complex landscape of the web and build their online sales.

With a deep understanding of the technical aspects of SEO, Jabari can optimise websites for search engines and drive more organic traffic to his client’s websites. 

He believes in the power of data-driven decision-making and strives to use his skills to help businesses grow and succeed in the ever-changing online world.

Jabari is an avid Knicks fan and enjoys playing basketball and video games when he’s not working. He also volunteers his time to mentor other aspiring entrepreneurs and shares his knowledge and expertise with the broader community.

Conclusion

SEO can offer a rewarding and fulfilling career path, whether you want to switch from your current job or start a new career. With the growing importance of digital marketing and the increasing demand for SEO professionals, now is a great time to consider a career in SEO. By developing the necessary skills and knowledge, building a solid personal brand and online presence, and networking with others in the industry, you can set yourself on the path to a successful and fulfilling career in SEO.

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