Case study

SEO executive — Alex Genzel

Alex studied History at Newcastle University. After graduation he pursued his interest in marketing and now works as an SEO executive

How did you get your job?

I entered into my final year of study still unsure of what career path I wanted to take.

I've always been interested in marketing so I started to look into the sector. I focused on gaining an understanding of how it worked and how it was evolving. E-commerce has been booming over the last decade, with more people purchasing online and more businesses competing for these online customers. This shift to digital marketing brings with it a number of challenges and one of the main issues for business owners is getting their website to rank in search engines. This is where my interest in SEO stemmed from, so I began to apply for digital marketing roles.

Innovation Visual offered the perfect opportunity with a strong focus on training and development, which is important at the start of your career. Luckily for me I applied and got the job.

What's a typical day like as an SEO executive?

Innovation Visual is a digital marketing agency and this means I work on a number of different websites on a daily basis. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and my aim is to improve a websites ability to rank in search engines such as Google and Bing, which in turn will drive more traffic to the website and hopefully result in more sales and greater revenue figures for the client.

Every website is different and this means I have to identify issues or improvements that can be entirely specific to that website. I then have to work on coming up with solutions to deliver positive results to improve that sites ability to rank.

What do you enjoy about your job?

SEO is an incredibly exciting marketing channel to be involved with. There are a number of SEO tools, such as SEMrush, which allow you to track the changes you've made so you can visually see the positive effect your work has had. This could be coming up with an idea for a whole new website page targeting specific keywords and then seeing it rank on the first page of Google results for those terms.

It's a great feeling to see what you've achieved and how you've helped a business prosper and grow.

Another element of my job I enjoy is learning. Every day I am improving my knowledge and understanding.

What are the challenges?

The world of SEO is constantly changing. If you wrote a book about SEO by the time you'd finished, it would already be out of date. Things are changing all the time and it can be a challenge keeping on top of what's going on.

Google are constantly updating their search algorithms (without actually announcing that they have) and this can lead to you having to make major changes to your SEO strategy.

In what way is your degree relevant?

On the face of it my degree isn't relevant to what I do, but what I learned at university has actually proved more useful than I could have thought.

When it comes to ranking in search engines, website content is incredibly important. History was a useful degree in this respect, as it helped me to develop strong writing and analytical skills, which are vital for SEO.

Every website is different and to optimise it effectively you have to go through the site, taking in a lot of information and then condensing it down into actionable points. My degree included a lot of essays and a dissertation, where I would have to read a large amount of information and then focus my attention on what was needed to deliver a good answer.

You don't need to have studied computer science or be a computer expert to become an SEO specialist, which is certainly something I worried about when starting out.

What are your career ambitions?

I'm learning all the time in my role as an SEO executive and continuously taking on more responsibility as my understanding increases. When I started in SEO I felt a little overwhelmed, but with a willingness to learn you can quickly develop and become more independent.

My career ambition is to improve my SEO knowledge and my managerial skills. I intend to work my way up the digital marketing ladder with the long-term ambition of becoming a marketing director.

How do I get into SEO?

  • Do your research about SEO before you apply. With any job, it's a good idea to understand what you're applying for and what your role will be. You need to read about SEO and ask yourself, does this sound like a good career for me?
  • Apply for a more general digital marketing role to begin with. This will give you a good grounding in the different marketing channels, which will be important for your future career progression. It will also help you to determine which element of digital marketing you feel your skill set is most suited to. For me it was SEO, but for you it could be paid search. You never know until you try.
  • Appreciate you're not an expert. When you start in SEO it will be new and confusing. You'll want to hit the ground running right away, but it will take time for you to learn. The important thing is to realise and accept that.

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