Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is extremely important for any business and their website, yet SEO careers have no easy entry point nor clearly defined route on how to get a job in SEO. I’m at a point in my SEO time-line where I need to implement some important tasks (my 4 ‘top tips’) in order to maximize my potential for employment within the SEO industry.
Get a Job in SEO Tips for Beginners
My story isn’t your typical one that begins with a foundation in web design. I came from a degree in Audio Technology, to starting a photography business, to now studying SEO, PPC (Pay-Per-Click advertising) and Digital Marketing.
The beginning of my SEO journey came from the first time I searched ‘marketing your business’, which I did for the marketing of my exciting photography venture. I became more and more interested in the subject of SEO and started reading more books on digital marketing than I ever did for photography.
Eventually, the world of SEO overtook and the eureka moment came – ‘this is what I want to do!’ Friday became ‘Whiteboard Friday’, as websites like Digital Photography School and Pop Photo got replaced by Search Engine Land and the Moz blog.
Just like Johnny 5, I wanted ‘more input’, so decided to look for online SEO courses. This is when I came across the advanced ‘Search & Social Media Marketing’ course at the University of Salford Business School. There’s no official SEO course that awards a recognised certification anywhere (yet), but this course was the closest thing to it.
This 6 week course was the most advanced and thorough SEO course I could find in the country. The course was more than I could have hoped for – being interesting, informative and well structured, it has given me the knowledge and confidence to push harder towards my SEO career goals.
So, I’ve read the books, I stay updated with the blogs and now I’ve done the course – what’s next? SEO and social media marketing are part of the larger landscape of digital marketing, and knowing your way around this subject is a must.
In fact, after viewing over 50 SEO jobs advertised online, I found the most frequent job requirements, other than actual SEO experience, were to be educated in digital marketing, and possess skills in email marketing, online PR, blogging, copy writing, and possessing a good understanding of HTML & CSS. Knowing this, I then decided to scour the ‘interweb’ like a humanised Google bot in search for yet even more information.
After spending way too much time looking at a screen for any consecutive amount of time (and getting distracted by Whiteboard Friday videos), I have compiled a list of the 4 most necessary requirements to greatly improve your chances of getting your first SEO job (assuming you’re all ‘knowledged up’ on your SEO theory).
With knowledge of digital marketing being a major advantage when applying for an SEO position, the opportunity to gain a diploma in digital marketing would be highly advantageous. I have recently signed up to such a course – a Digital Marketing Diploma run by the Communications, Advertising and Marketing (CAM) Education Foundation, and awarded by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Amongst the courses content, it includes SEO, PPC and Social Media, as well as email marketing, online advertising and online PR. Having this extra qualification, with a recognised certificate of education, will help greatly in my search for employment.
Now I’m not suggesting you need to learn how to code straight at the starting gate, but it’s definitely an advantage to have an understanding of what HTML is and how it works within a website. If you understand the principles of how a website works and the interaction between site and search engine, then you’re definitely one step ahead of everyone else that doesn’t.
Knowing what coding elements need to change to improve a sites load time, using the right language when speaking to web designers and knowing what properly-formatted XML sitemap and robots.txt files look like, these all belong in a professional SEO’s arsenal. There are an abundance of sites out there that teach you HTML and CSS. One that I’ve recently started using is a coding education site called Codecademy – it’s practical, easy to understand and free!
As with pretty much anything, gaining practical, real-world experience is invaluable. To be able to rock up to an interview with experience behind you (and the data to prove it) is a must. The two most common ways of gaining practical experience is self experimentation and participating in an internship (of sorts). What I mean by self experimentation is creating your own website and experimenting with it. This gives you free rein to experiment with ideas and techniques and to experience your own success and failures at your own pace, without fear of ‘messing it up’.
Another option is the internship approach. This is where you would offer your services to either friends and family members who own blogs or small business sites, or to approach small companies or charities in your local area and offer to run an SEO campaign on their behalf- for free! This is a win-win for both parties involved. The company gets a more optimised site and you get the all important experience. Having a platform where you can experiment and build up real-world experience, whilst at the same time building a portfolio of work, is priceless. It’s all good and well ‘talking the talk’, but employers will need to see a portfolio of practical projects, demonstrating real-life engagement.
It’s not all experience and technical know-how. To get a job in SEO, like with any job, you have more chance of success if you get out there and meet people – digitally and physically. Develop your online identity – Join in and participate in forums, interact with blogs, start creating relationships on social media and of course get out there and interact in the real-world.
Attend conferences, industry talks, events and join SEO, SEM, SSMM and digital marketing related interest groups (like the ones on meetup.com). As the old saying goes ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. As your network of contacts expands, the number of opportunities to get a job in SEO will expand with it. Remember – people do business with those they know, like an trust. Be that person.
So there you have it, my 4 biggest tips on how to get a job in SEO. Of course there are 101 other things you can do to improve your chances, but I believe these 4 to be the most important. For that extra little something to add to your CV, you can always become Google AdWords Certified, gain an Analytics Individual Qualification and an Inbound Certification from Hubspot. But with all the technical know-how and experience needed, it’s easy to forget about the soft skills needed for SEO – these can be just as important to SEO than technical ability. Creativity, adaptability, analytical skills and customer service/ management skills are to name just a few. Build upon and showcase ALL your necessary skill sets.
Obviously, you don’t have to take the advice on this page as gospel, but the more you know and experience you gain, the harder it is for SEO employers to ignore you and the more you’ll be ahead of the competition. I know finding that first job isn’t going to be easy, but the idea is to continue practicing and persist. When I finish my digital marketing diploma and have a few (extremely successful) SEO campaigns under my belt, I’m sure I’ll be fighting agencies off with a stick. In the mean time, I am a firm believer in continually updating my skills and personal development. I plan to keep learning, keep implementing, and of course, be as adaptable as possible, because when you’re working within a field as varying as SEO, you have to constantly adapt to what it (Google) throws at you!
If you’re still wanting more information on ‘How to Get a Job in SEO’? Here are a few fantastic posts. The first is from State of Digital and entitled ‘How to Start and Develop Your Career in SEO’, and 2 from the guys at Moz – ‘21 SEO Leaders Share Their Best SEO Career Advice‘ and this video from a Whiteboard Friday session. I hope you enjoy them all as much as I did.
How did you like the post? Did I miss anything out that you think is important? If you are in the SEO, SEM, SSMM or DM sector already, what was your experience and pathway into your first SEO related job role? I’d love to hear your stories.
If you would like to know more about me, have any questions or would like to discuss a potential job opening, I’d love to hear from you. If you would rather look at some lovely pictures instead, you can always check out my photography page. Thanks for reading.