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It’s been an interesting few weeks here at SEOptimise towers, as we’ve been recruiting  search engine optimisation (SEO) executives to come and join our team.

For me, it’s always interesting to see the kind of applicants we get; there’s much wider interest in recent months, with many people recognising that SEO offers you a career that can take you literally anywhere.

With SEO, you can work for an agency like mine, become self employed or even work for an international brand, as many of them have their own in-house SEO staff these days.

So if you think optimisation is right for you, what can you do to make yourself an attractive applicant?

Go beyond the basics

SEO is not a skill you can develop in isolation, optimising sites is too reliant on wider online marketing and PR.

If you don’t have some appreciation of skills like blogging, social media marketing, corporate Tweeting, press releases – essentially the whole online package, you’re going to struggle to make it big in our industry.

Optimising sites increasingly relies on a variety of marketing skills, so move beyond the basics and see what you can learn from the bigger picture.

Gain experience

SEO is becoming more and more popular as a career and this means there can be a fair amount of competition for the top jobs. If you’d like to gain experience at one of the leading agencies, you’ll need to prove an existing interest.

If you don’t have a huge amount of experience then get some. Unpaid work experience may not be much fun, but it will teach you a hell of a lot and can even help you find your first role.

You could even gain experience marketing yourself as a potential employee – use a blog, a website and social media platforms to sell yourself. It’d certainly get attention, as well as start to develop your reputation, which can play a big role in your career success.

Keep abreast of the sector

Ours is a fast-paced sector, there’s a lot going on. Best practice can change, Google’s always doing something new, there’s a tonne of debate happening on blogs like this and in forums.

So read up on it. You’ll impress a potential employer much more if you can discuss recent industry events. Even better if you can debate them. Even better if you’ve been involved in discussions or debates in forums or blogging comments and can tell your interviewer about it.

Work on something epic

Perhaps just now you’re a first-jobber working as an agency’s dogsbody. Why not volunteer to put in some extra work on one of the leading projects? You may well be working some pretty hellish hours as it is, but some extra effort now could really fast track your career.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 26 January, 2010 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

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Andy Headington

Andy Headington, CEO at Adido LimitedSmall Business

Kevin,

Saw that you were hiring so good luck. We've found that when we've offered up SEO jobs that there is still a MASSIVE amount of bad practise out there. You'll find a hell of alot of people claiming to be SEOs just because they can get a long tail phrase to rank in a very small market.

I completely agree about the keeping abreast of the industry point. Again we've spoken to alot of people who still don't know where to go to read things and don't participate in the community.

The only thing I'd look to add is something about analytics. Although the job of an SEO person is to get Google love and traffic, getting GOOD traffic is what makes a great SEOer. If you can't get good rankings on phrases that convert well, then you will waste alot of time.

Andy Adido

over 6 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

Good post Kevin (as always) and very good points.

I can relate to your position of reviewing CVs etc and there is definitely a staggering range in terms of quality of applicants to the SEO world.

No doubt you also receive the 'giv me job coz i is gr8' type of applications but it is encouraging to see some real quality in amongst the innevitable 'lower quality' applications.

Search engine marketing is slowly maturing and bright / ambitious graduates want some of the action - I don't think we are quite on a par with some of the more tried and tested career paths that are thrust on the undergraduates at the milk round presentations but it is a potentially rewarding career and one that really suits the individual who doesn't really want to career path that is clearly mapped out for the next 10 years.

As you say, it is hard to be truly good at SEO without a broad range of skills and the ability to see SEO as just one tool in a bigger marketing tool box is a crucial one. We shouldn't be operating in isolation.

To some extent, we are all still learning and I think the applicants who are often fairly 'raw' but can demonstrate a real interest in online marketing and are excited by the challenge will always be the most attractive to recruiters.

I always enjoy reading your posts and have no doubt that working at SEOptimise would be a great opportunity for anyone that you interview.

Joe

over 6 years ago

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Head of Search

"Ours is a fast-paced sector, there’s a lot going on. Best practice can change, Google’s always doing something new, there’s a tonne of debate happening on blogs like this and in forums."

I couldn't agree more - I have hired 4 SEOs over the last few months and interviewed around 30. I've been shocked at the number of otherwise good applicants who were convinced that link exchanges were still the number 1 SEO tactic...

over 6 years ago

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Charlotte Britton

Interesting and very topical.  I was involved in a discussion at Leeds Met Uni the other day about E-Portfolios. Having a degree or a good CV isn't enough these days.  

Actually proving to your potential employee that you have the skills, know-how and are savvy enough to build and grow your own 'personal brand' is a good approach.  It creates that USP and edge above other candidates. 

Even as an experienced individual in the industry, having a living e-portfolio which consolidates the breadth of experience is important to build credibility.

over 6 years ago

Nicholas Flood

Nicholas Flood, Senior Product Manager, whatcar.com at Haymarket Consumer Media

I still believe that lots of people working for search companies don't really get the more advanced side of search engine optimisation. Anyone can read the Google webmaster best practice document and know what they are talking about overnight.

The amount of copy and paste search proposals I've also recieved over the years is laughable. Once you do find someone who truly understands the sector and has a good eye for future trends they are indispensable.

over 6 years ago

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Web Design Philadelphia

Well put. I couldnt agree more. This industry has so many variations you really have to know your stuff before you can linger with the top dogs in the industry.

over 6 years ago

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SEO

I think you highlight something that’s indicitive across the web… people think if they create a website with good content and simply publish it without giving any thought to SEO, Google and Bing will reward them just for having good content.

over 6 years ago

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Suzy Turnbull

Interesting and unusual post - just as I am about to deliver a career advisory session at my daughters school on Digital Marketing.  Im curious to know if you have applicants from/hire people from colleges/Universities in the UK?  If so, which ones would you say have the best courses to provide a background and foundation for a career in this area?  Are any of the Unis in the UK doing marketing degrees that incorporate Digital?

over 6 years ago

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Keresőmarketing

Nice post! I have been working in the seo industry for 2 years now and it is unbeliavable how much new information is coming out. I think in every 6 months the new things double the knowledge base. You really have to be a scientist to figure all out. I spend 2-3 hours every day just to gain new insight through a variety of forums. It seems like learning never stops.

over 6 years ago

Chris Turberville-Tully

Chris Turberville-Tully, Managing Director at Inspiration Inc

Good post Kevin. Couldn't agree more with your comments. It's very hard to define what will make a good SEO education or background, we have people who are great at it from various backgrounds, what's been the most interesting is that technical people are usually not very good.

Interview wise we've had all kinds of people - a lot of them graduates with very unrealistic expectations both in job spec and sometimes pay but usually they think its going to be glamorous - oh my!

Hope you got some good people - we're interviewing tomorrow, again!

over 6 years ago

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Craig Amanti

Hi Kev,

Great post and thanks for sharing the tips! I've been in SEO, SEM, and SMO for a few years now and am really enjoying what I'm doing. I'm always looking to go to the next level even if it takes me a few hours longer and I have to be a little more patient. Reading your post assures me I'm heading in the right direction.

From my experience, you're right, working in SEO is not only about SEO it's about so much more than optimising a website for top rankings. When you get into SEO you fall into complimentary products that expand your diverse skill range like Analytics, PPC, Social Media, direct marketing, competitive analysis, PHP, server configuration and practically anything else you can influence or control on the web that can boot traffic to a website, and it doesn't have to stop there. Like you, I'm passionate about what I do. So I advise for those who what to get into SEO -- what more of an exciting industry than Search Marketing.

over 6 years ago

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Sell Property Fast

It's really great experience for me to work as a seo executive as i learn every day some of the new things for the purpose of getting higher backlinks for the site i have been working for!

over 6 years ago

Vivien Underwood

Vivien Underwood, Econsultancy

Suzy, I'm glad to see someone flying the flag for digital marketing in schools!  Personal experience would suggest it's not particularly well promoted as a career option (either in school or university) and given that many of the marketing lecturers I speak to are still wary of the new digital world, I can't imagine teachers and careers advisors are much more clued up.  I'd be interested to hear more about the reaction you get.

To answer your question, traditional marketing courses are starting to incorporate digital elements, but often only as an elective or one general module within a three year programme, and accredited digital marketing qualifications, especially at undergraduate level, are pretty few and far between.  The rate of change in best practice makes it a difficult area to teach academically, and universities tend not to have the internal knowledge and practical skills to provide hands-on experience.  Manchester Metropolian University runs a BA in Digital Marketing Communications,which can suffer from patchy interest, although interestingly, a large proportion of their students are snapped up by employers even before they graduate, a fact which might help to shift interest away from the more traditional (and less lucrative) marketing courses.

There are more specialist postgrad programmes starting to spring up, although with apparently mixed results.  Econsultancy's own MSc is going great guns with a significant growth in intake numbers over the last twelve months, but I've recently noticed Oxford Brookes have discontinued the part-time verison of their eMarketing course and made some large changes to their syllabus, and Birmingham City University's Masters in Social Media didn't really help the cause (I have no doubt it got a lot of interest, but it felt like a bit of an exercise in pandering to fashion, and not necessarily addressing the needs of the industry).

Personally, I'd advise school leavers to consider digital specific work experience during their undergrad studies and then look to do a postgrad or professional digital marketing qualification which includes lots of sessions with practitioners and project based work to hone their skills. We’re still in the early stages of developing formal digital marketing ‘education’ and the existing programmes will no doubt evolve as the industry becomes clearer about what it needs from its graduates, but as demand grows I don’t think there can be any doubt that having a good specialist qualification will become increasingly important in helping you stand out from the crowd.

over 6 years ago

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Connect Free

Very interesting and true article...

I recently joined the SEO industry and even I can see that the business is forever changing so you definitely have to keep with the times. But there's so much opportunities out there its amazing! It would really be nice to have an SEO bible which is approved worldwide which would definitely help SEO recruitment processes and such. But what with times changing constantly it would be very hard...

over 6 years ago

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Autójavítás

I am adoring these! Thx.

over 6 years ago

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Mortgae loan modification

I am pleased to be in this community. Great thoughts about the topic.

over 6 years ago

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Szonyegtisztitas

Data Analysis: Awareness, Engagement, Fan Acquisition, and Monetization. Back in the day, the best ways to measure the success of your marketing efforts was to look at your ship number and any press, radio or TV interest prior to release, and make some assumptions on how well your release will do when street date comes.

almost 6 years ago

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Gyógymasszőr

Tracking is another part of blog marketing that is so very vital. You want to be able to track your visitors and clickers to know where they are coming from. You want to be able to tell what keywords they searched on to find your blog and where they did their searching. Doing so will help take out all of the guess work when it comes to blog marketing. You will know what keywords are working, and which are not.

almost 6 years ago

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Takarítás

ry to build other websites that revolve around your primary niche. Use them to better market and infuse brand and traffic into your primary website. I’m not talking about building scraper websites. Build quality content ones, and invest money and time and work hours in them. But in the end, just make them a vehicle that you will use to better market your primary website.

almost 6 years ago

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Szőnyegtisztítás Budapest

Don’t trust yourself only in RSS feeds. A lot of users are “old-school” and prefer e-mail newsletters. Always offer this option

almost 6 years ago

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Led vilagitas

What SEO can meet the expectations?

over 5 years ago

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Tőzsdetanfolyam

It is a hard question whether seo can really meet all expectations. It has changed a lot over the years, and it certainly has a less important role in my experience.

over 5 years ago

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Tőzsdetanfolyam

In my view seo can work if the ones who work on it have tremendous experience. Great results can only be achieved by people.

over 5 years ago

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dragneel

I completely agree on that nowadays SEO.
Should assist the employer creation. And nurture human relationships. In a traditional association it comes with responsibilities.
<assist> <traditional> <association>

over 3 years ago

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