You’ve read lots of online SEO resources, listened to hundreds of SEO-related podcasts, and watched the videos by prominent SEO experts.
Now, you’re strongly convinced that you belong in the SEO industry.
All you need to do is create a solid resume, register on relevant platforms, change your title on LinkedIn and… wait. Right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. SEO is evolving at an astonishing pace, so the rules have changed. Even though entering the industry may still be easy, gaining a solid competitive advantage has become extremely challenging.
So, what does it take to crush it in SEO?
Let’s find out!
1) Choose the Right Path for your SEO Career
When pursuing a career in SEO, you need to keep in mind that there are different career options for you to choose from.
The first is, of course, working as a freelancer. This means that you will work for yourself, from home. The most interesting thing about this career path is that you can choose how your career will develop and what industries and clients you will work for.
Second, you can work at an SEO or digital marketing agency, building and managing SEO projects for their multiple clients.
Finally, you can work in-house for a company, in almost any industry, which has a website and wants to hire a full-stack digital marketing team.
No matter what career option you decide to pick, it’s always a good idea to specialize in a particular niche. The SEO industry is complex and, logically, its practices vary. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to know that keyword research or link building won’t work the same for fashion sites and IT clients.
2) Level Up your Knowledge
Before you even think of seeking for an SEO job, you will need to research the industry to see what your roles and responsibilities are. You will need to familiarize yourself with some key SEO-related concepts and terminology, including search engine crawlers, keyword research, link building, SEO analytics, inbound marketing, white/black-hat SEO, etc.
You will also need to understand the different aspects of SEO, such as technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, content marketing so you can choose the field you’re most interested in.
In addition to SEO, it’s also good to familiarize yourself with the digital marketing practices that intertwine with it, such as PPC, social media marketing, PR, email marketing, web design, etc.
3) Follow the Right Blogs to Stay Updated
When you google “SEO,” you will see that there is a plentitude of resources out there. Still, don’t trust them all. You will need to start with the most reputable sites and some of them are:
- Google Webmaster Central Blog – this is Google’s blog, where they share the latest news about their updates, indexing, ranking, etc.
- Search Engine Journal covers a wide range of news, insights, and guides for search marketers, related to SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media marketing.
- The Moz blog provides a bunch of actionable tips on SEO and content marketing, for both beginners and seniors.
- The Dibz blog, where you can find a lot about link prospecting. They recently published a comprehensive series of articles related to link building in different sectors, including a guide to link building for travel websites, fashion sites, business sites, and so forth.
- The SEMrush blog covers a bunch of topics related to SEO, PPC, and content marketing.
- The Yoast SEO blog, which is a great resource for WP SEO and technical SEO.
4) Invest in SEO Courses
There are also many SEO courses and certifications, both free and paid, you should consider. Here are a few awesome places where you can find the right courses to boost your knowledge:
- SEMrush academy – provides a bunch of free courses on SEO, SMM, PPC, and content marketing.
- Udemy offers a wide array of free and paid courses on SEO, Google Ads, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, Google Analytics, growth hacking, public relations, etc.
- Yoast SEO training also has a bunch of courses related to structured data, multilingual SEO, technical SEO, content SEO, as well as all-around SEO training programs. The price of the courses varies and the introductory course for beginners is free.
- The SEO Playbook is one of the most valuable SEO courses you will ever find. It includes 14 hours of video training, detailed training modules, comprehensive and practical video lectures, as well as access to all the templates. Most importantly, you’ll get access to their private Slack channel, where you will be able to share thoughts and network with other students.
5) Invest in SEO Tools
When starting a career as an SEO marketer, you will be a jack of all trades. And, to stay on top of your practices, track your progress, and meet clients’ needs, you need to invest in the right toolset. For starters, here are a few free SEO tools that may serve as your starting point:
- Google Webmaster Tools – the suite provided by Google is the backbone of your SEO efforts.
- Open Site Explorer by Moz – lets you see what sites link back to you, identify broken links, and see the domain authority of any page.
- Broken Link Checker – a free tool that lets you identify any broken links on your site.
- Majestic SEO – helps you view the backlinks to your site.
- Page Speed Test by Google – allows you to test the speed of your pages and gives tips on how to improve it.
- Spider View Simulator – lets you see how search engine crawlers view your site.
- Google Trends – may be super-valuable in your keyword research campaigns.
Backlinko’s Brian Dean has compiled an awesome list of free SEO tools that may serve as your solid starting point.
6) Build Experience
In SEO, theoretical knowledge is important, but it means nothing if you lack experience in the industry. The problem is, you won’t be able to attract a client or find a job if you have zero experience in optimizing for search engines. This sounds frustrating, I know, but luckily, there is a solution to this problem.
1) Look for an internship at an SEO company.
As an intern, you will learn some core SEO concepts and see how the terminology and the theory you previously read about works in practice. You will also get some valuable tips from the industry experts, see what SEO tools they use, understand how different aspects of SEO work together and have an opportunity to work on actual projects, for actual clients. And, when the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, you will finally be able to determine what part of SEO you’re passionate about.
These are all valuable experiences that will help you land a perfect job in the SEO industry later, as well as make numerous valuable connections. Who knows, maybe the company you’re volunteering at will offer you a job when the internship ends. This is why you need to reach out to them carefully and stand out as an intern applicant, irrespective of your minimal experience.
2) Register on freelancer platforms.
There are many boards for SEO freelancers that will help you find your first leads and get hired, including:
- Simply Hired
- People per hour
- LinkedIn Jobs
The only problem with these networks lies in the fact that there are millions of freelancers registered there. Therefore, the competition is massive, especially for SEOs with no experience. To attract clients and get them to choose you, write a detailed description that would build trust with them. You should also emphasize your industry skills, education, and the courses you attended. Add a photo to humanize your profiles and always keep your information consistent across all freelancer boards, social networks, and your website.
7) Polish your resume.
When seeking a job as an SEO specialist, you need to write a powerful resume that will grab an employer’s attention. It needs to be visually appealing, informative, and reader-friendly. Otherwise, it will be thrown away. Stats back me up on that. Namely, research says that it takes about 6 seconds for a recruiter to read through your resume.
Here are a few tips that may help you:
- Remove your photo. This is one of the most common mistakes candidates make. Experienced companies won’t make their hiring decisions based on your physical appearance.
- Emphasize your education and skills. Make a brief list of all relevant courses, training programs, and industry experiences that may be relevant to a recruiter.
- Highlight your soft skills, as they’re an immensely important factor determining whether you’re the right match for an organization.
- Never lie. You haven’t taken any courses on social media marketing and PPC, but adding these skills to your CV may boost your chances to land a job, right? That’s wrong. When looking for a job at a digital agency or a company that already hires an experienced team of digital marketing specialists, remember that they will ask you questions. And, if you don’t know how to answer them, you will be immediately removed from their list of potential employees. That’s logical, as no one wants to hire a candidate that lies right from the start. Instead, be honest, emphasize the skills you have and emphasize that you’re eager to expand your knowledge and advance your skills in the future.
8) Establish a Solid Personal Brand in SEO
Once you learn everything you need to know about SEO and invest in the right tools, you need to attract your first clients.
No matter if you’re pursuing your career as a freelance SEO specialist or you want to work at an SEO agency, your goal is to increase your industry authority and get yourself noticed by your potential recruiters.
And, to do so, you need to build a solid personal brand around your name.
a) Increase visibility by optimizing your social channels.
Whether you’re looking for an in-house or freelance job in the SEO industry, social networks will be your super-helpful sidekick.
Start by optimizing your LinkedIn account. This is the largest professional social network that will help you put yourself in front of relevant clients or companies in your industry.
Just like with your resume, your LinkedIn profile needs to be fully optimized to emphasize your key skills and competences:
- Add a professional-looking photo of yourself.
- Create a brief, but informative summary to build trust with followers.
- Add your education information and industry experiences. Encourage your colleagues and followers to endorse you for relevant skills.
- Connect with relevant people in the industry and potential candidates only. You don’t have to know them personally, but make sure they’re serious. For example, connecting with one of those people who have confused LinkedIn with Tinder will only waster your time and may even hurt your industry image.
As for other social media channels, use them creatively. Facebook is, for example, an amazing place for building a solid online community. You could join relevant groups and use social listening tools to track important conversations and participate in them. By sharing valuable content (both from your site and other resources), helping potential clients, and interacting with other digital marketing specialists, you will increase your exposure and boost your authority.
b) Create and optimize a personal website.
No matter how personalized they are, all social media accounts look alike. This is where building a personal website may be the right idea. This is a great place to tell your story, reflect your uniqueness, and stand out in the sea of other people in the SEO industry. Above all, when creating a website, you can control what your potential clients or recruiters see about you.
For starters, you’re an SEO specialist, so make sure your site is well-optimized. If your site is spammy, slow, or unattractive, why would anyone hire you to optimize their site? Observe the sites from the biggest SEO industry players like Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, or Brian Dean to see what optimization tactics they use.
Some of the key steps to take is creating a clean and responsive website design that will provide exceptional user experiences. Simplify your navigation, create catchy CTA buttons, make your social buttons visible, and eliminate all distractions (spammy ads, auto-play videos, fishy buttons, etc.) that may hurt your authority.
As your experience in the industry grows, you can add the “My Portfolio” section to your website, where you would boast your previous work. To build trust with potential clients, you can add your current clients’ logos and names to your site and even create case studies to show how you helped them achieve a certain goal.
c) Start blogging
In the SEO industry, blogging is the validation of quality. By creating informative, well-researched, helpful, and fresh content on your site, you will gain readers’ trust and prove that you really know what you’re talking about. Your blog should be a valuable resource for both SEO specialists and your potential clients, a place they would visit regularly to learn more about the industry.
Sure, to increase your credibility, you need to leverage the abovementioned link building. In other words, by publishing original articles on reputable sites in the SEO niche, you will soon boost your traffic, increase your online exposure and, above all, increase your credibility.
Over to You
Pursuing a career in SEO is not easy. This is an ever-growing industry, where you will face lots of competition. This is why you need to advance your career wisely.
Start by setting clear goals and know what exactly you want from your SEO career.
Then, work on your skills and experiences. Read the right blogs and invest in valuable SEO courses to boost your overall familiarity with the industry. Then, start experimenting with different SEO tools to see how they work and what results they deliver. If your friend or a family member has a site, ask them to practice it.
The next logical move is applying your knowledge in real-life. Reach out to a local SEO company and ask them whether they’re looking for a dedicated intern. This is also when you should register on multiple platforms for freelancers and land your first clients.
Finally, no matter if you want to be a freelancer or you’re looking for an in-house job at a company or an SEO agency, always work on your personal brand. Optimize your social channels, build a gorgeous website, and start blogging to position yourself as an authoritative resource.
Hope this helps!