Search engine optimization is not a new concept. People outside the marketing world might not know what SEO is, but within the industry, it has remained a vital term for almost two decades.
An SEO professional is a person who understands and masters search engine algorithms and helps websites rank higher. Today, there are thousands of universities and boot camps that offer certified programs in search engine optimization, as well as numerous free online courses.
Some of the main reasons to start an SEO career include:
It is quite easy to start and doesn’t require a corresponding academic background;
Increasing demand for optimization services;
A chance to work remotely from any place in the world;
Competitive salary and financial perks.
This career path offers opportunities for both horizontal and vertical growth. SEO professionals advance from Junior to Team Lead positions, take larger and more complex projects or switch to related fields like marketing analysis or account management.
As of May 2023, the average Search Engine Optimization Specialist salary in the US equaled $73,245, but it can significantly vary depending on academic background, certifications, experience, and additional skills. Sounds promising, right?
In this guide, we will give you detailed instructions on how to get your foot in the door and start a successful career in SEO.
Embarking on an SEO career: where to begin and how to succeed
Making a career switch is never easy. It requires determination, hard work, creativity, and constant learning. The good news is that becoming an SEO professional is possible. Below is a detailed guide on the first steps of starting a rewarding career.
It contains valuable insights and actionable advice on how to enter the field, gain related skills, and navigate the ever-evolving market of search engine optimization.
Developing a proficiency in SEO: building a strong foundation
Gaining relevant knowledge and skills is the basis of any successful career. When starting your journey, you need to gain valuable insights into the key areas of search engine optimization, such as:
Keyword research. It refers to finding and analyzing words that people enter into Google or other search engines to understand what the target audience is searching for. Google Keyword Planner will be your primary tool to cope with this task.
On-page optimization. This process involves actions taken within the website to improve its ranking positions. Elements that can be optimized include texts, images, videos, headings, meta-tags, and links. For this purpose, you should master Google Search Console, which provides essential insights into the website’s performance.
Link building. SEO professionals pay attention to external linking, which generates link juice, builds your website authority, and attracts more traffic. Here SE Ranking backlink analysis tool comes in handy, which helps you analyze backlinks and turn the information into a successful SEO strategy. It provides insights into each backlink’s type, page trust, referring domains, subnets, anchor texts, and more.
Analytics. This is a set of measures to collect, process, and analyze information to make better search engine optimization decisions. Use Google Analytics 4 to measure and analyze traffic, engagement, and conversions across your website or app.
Gaining hands-on experience
Theoretical and practical skills go hand in hand, so after learning something new, you should always try to test and apply that knowledge. Although the competition for entry-level jobs in SEO is rather intense, you still have several options:
Freelance projects. They may include skill exchange platforms, charity work, and other projects that help gain practical experience. Join groups on social media or professional websites and regularly scroll the feed so as not to miss an exciting opportunity.
Internships. They allow you to work on real projects while gaining valuable insights from experienced search engine specialists. Internships are rarely paid but can be a great starting point and a way to enrich your resume.
Start a website of your own. Choose a niche, conduct keyword research, and launch your own website to practice all the skills and knowledge you gained. Test various instruments to see what helps you rank higher and never give up when obstacles occur. Beginners often use their websites as a portfolio.
With such practical experience, you will not only gain skills but will also learn from the mistakes that new SEOs often make. For example, mistakes such as having a poor understanding of search engines, choosing the wrong keyword levels, and over-optimizing the pages.
Overcoming challenges and obstacles
When starting an SEO career, beginners face different challenges and problems that may stop them from pursuing this professional path.
The most common of them are:
Lack of formal education. Although you can gain SEO skills from professional forums and interaction with experts, university degrees, professional training, and certified courses are irreplaceable. First, decide how much time and funds you want to invest and then choose a corresponding type of formal education. Most programs are available online, so you can start learning immediately, regardless of your location.
Limited experience. Most companies want to hire employees with experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your foot in the door as a beginner. Take on unpaid freelance projects and charity work, apply for internships, start your website, and grab other opportunities to build a solid portfolio.
Competition. SEO is a career path with low entry limits and decent pay, so the competition is rather high. To stand out, you need to gain certificates and practical experience, work on your soft skills, and be present on social media. Networking is also one of the best instruments for getting noticed.
Constant changes. Google regularly updates its algorithms and adds features like generative AI search. The best way to overcome this challenge is to follow the updates and releases on official websites. Sign up for newsletters and read expert blogs so you don’t miss anything.
The SEO career path is very attractive due to its simplicity and high demand. You can become an SEO expert, no matter what your previous work experience, degree, age, gender, or nationality is. Hopefully, our guide has shed some light on this promising career, and you will research it further.