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Isn’t it bizarre to think that 30 years ago the world of search engines and SEO didn’t exist? Fast forward to the present day and, thanks to the internet, advancements in technology and the modern-day desire for instant answers, digital marketing is one the most rapidly growing industries in the 21st century. Companies of all sizes and shapes, across varied sectors, are finally understanding the importance of digital marketing. Specifically SEO marketing. And now, more than ever, they’re hiring SEO professionals to get their company or brand to number one.
If you’re interested in a career in SEO marketing, there is no better time to start your journey. Our Digital Marketing Manager, Jodie Baker, gives her top tips for getting into the field and the invaluable lessons she learned from starting an SEO career of her own.
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things but learning another way to think about things.”
Much like any other industry out there, SEO has a multitude of buzzwords that get thrown around. Taking the time to understand them and what they mean is a great place to start your SEO career. That way you can (appropriately, of course) sprinkle them into your CV at the very least, or go further and start to use them in your interview answers to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry.
It’s not just beginners who need to stay on top of the language though. Learning the lingo is just as important once you’ve got your foot through the door. Not only is it crucial to understand the terminology to expand your knowledge of SEO, but it’s key for your client communication too. If you’re able to understand key concepts then you should be able to effectively articulate them back to your clients. SEO is often seen as the dark art of digital marketing, and clients want to be reassured they are getting value for the money they pay. Therefore, having a thorough understanding of terminology and concepts will allow you to communicate your expertise, explain your reasonings and help your clients remain confident in the work you’re doing.
By getting to grips with your keywords and your search queries, and knowing the difference between your CROs and CTRs, you will be well on your way to fluently speaking the language of SEO marketing.
And to achieve all of the above, I fully recommend Moz’s SEO Glossary of Terms as an excellent place to start.
Keeping up to date with the ever-evolving world of SEO will be a big part of any SEO job, whether it’s your first or your fifteenth. You’re probably well aware that keeping your finger on the pulse is a big task when you’re new to the field though. To combat this, I suggest familiarising yourself with past, present and future industry updates to help level up your career.
As most of your future SEO work will likely focus on the search engine results pages (SERPs) of Google, it’s recommended you initially get to grips with Google’s past core updates. It’s important to understand significant algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, to name just a few so that you can understand why SEO professionals carry out the work they do. Search Engine Journal has a great resource about all major Google Algorithm updates which dates back to 2005 and is regularly updated whenever a new update occurs.
Speaking of Search Engine Journal, there are a number of interesting and informative industry news websites that post regularly about SEO, content marketing and all other areas of digital marketing. These are ideal for expanding your knowledge and keeping up to date with any changes that may affect the work you do. Here are a few I use myself:
Not only do I recommend checking out their websites, but make sure you subscribe to their newsletters too. That way you will have bitesize updates, regularly delivered, directly to your inbox. I personally enjoy reading two or three articles at the start of each day with a coffee in hand. You won’t be able to learn everything in a day, but little and often is my biggest tip for success.
Next, I recommend familiarising yourself with the tools of the SEO trade. Every SEO professional or digital marketing agency will have their favourites, so what are yours? This is a question asked more often than not in an SEO interview, so make sure to get to know a few as part of your interview prep.
Better yet, did you know a number of tools that are commonly used by SEO professionals are free? This means there’s no excuse to not give them a go! Here are a few of my favourites that don’t cost a penny to access the core features:
And here are two big ones that you will need to connect to an existing website (maybe your own?) but are still free to use:
Unsure or stuck on how to use any of the tools mentioned above? There are thousands of videos on YouTube which can provide demonstrations and answer any questions you may have.
Unfortunately, there is no main SEO qualification you can take to prove your proficiency. But you can still improve your chances of landing yourself an SEO job by boosting your skills in other areas like the aforementioned Google Analytics. Google Analytics is arguably the most important tool you will use in your SEO career, so why not make use of the free courses and certifications Google offers to understand it? You can gain access to these courses at the Google Analytics Academy.
I started with the ‘Google Analytics for Beginners’ and ‘Google Analytics for Power Users’ courses. Then, once I was ready to take on the challenge, I studied for and passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ). All of these courses offer in-depth advice and demonstration videos about how to make the most out of Google Analytics, even if you’ve never used the tool before. You won’t be flying blind though; at the end of each module, you are given practice questions to keep your knowledge in check along the way.
Finally, once you’ve completed each course, don’t forget to pop them on your CV to really show off your new-found knowledge. As an employer myself, I can assure you that employers are always impressed by those who are willing to go above and beyond to improve their knowledge of their field.
Learning everything you can about SEO is one thing, putting it into practice is another. Volunteering your services or getting yourself an internship at a marketing agency – or just a company with a marketing team – is a great way to achieve this. Not only could you get that elusive hands-on SEO experience, but also the first-hand experience of interacting with clients or other members of a wider marketing team.
Alternatively, if taking time out of your job isn’t feasible, then how about building your own website to practice with? Platforms such as WordPress have made it easy for those with little web development skills (such as myself) to build a basic website from scratch. You could create a website about yourself, your passions, or even for that side-hustle you’ve always talked about starting but have never taken the plunge with. Don’t worry too much about the final look at this point, the point of this site is to get practising everything you know about SEO.
I landed my first marketing job after volunteering at a start-up confectionery business, adding products and promotions to their website. Although I wasn’t generating any income for myself in these 4 months (just a large volume of sweets) it allowed me to get my foot through the door. It also gave me a chance to demonstrate what benefits marketing could bring to a business if done by the right, passionate person. After 4 months of volunteering, I was offered a full-time job and I continued for another 4 years, building my way up to become Head of Marketing and PR. It was through this job I was able to try out lots of different types of marketing and discover my true passion: SEO.
To see if any SEO or digital marketing work experience is available, try emailing your local marketing agencies or large companies in the area. I’m a strong believer in ‘if you don’t ask, the answer is always no!’. Also, you could check the local newspaper for any new businesses coming to town who will probably welcome any marketing support with open arms. Alternatively, if you’re a student or a recent graduate, your university may have an online portal for job listings you can check. This is where I found my big break in the world of digital marketing – thanks, Nottingham Trent!
I am leaving this point until last because if there is anything I want you to take away from this article, it’s this: just because you’re not an SEO pro yet, that doesn’t mean you’re not a pro. When I landed my first SEO role I had huge gaps in my knowledge. But what I could demonstrate in my interview was my willingness to learn, my desire to work in a multi-discipline team, my ability to learn from previous mistakes and my understanding that calling a client is often more productive than sending an email. Employers desire transferable skills such as these because not only do they help you be a great marketer, but they make you a great employee too.
It’s no secret SEO skills can be learned (everything I mentioned above can help with that) so it is important to emphasise on your CV, and in your interview, what else you can bring to the table.