A career in SEO (search engine optimisation) is a good choice for you if you possess creative flair and good analytical, technical and marketing skills
As an SEO specialist you will identify strategies, techniques and tactics to increase the number of visitors to a website and obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results page of search engines.
Those working in SEO may also be known as online marketers or digital account executives. This type of work may be referred to as content marketing or conversion rate optimisation work.
As an SEO specialist, you'll carry out some or all of the following:
Experienced freelancers can command high levels of pay.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are normally 9am to 5pm. You may need to work occasional evenings and weekends, for example, if you are involved in analysing traffic for a large marketing campaign and there is a looming deadline.
Part-time work and job sharing is available in this line of work. Short-term contracts are mainly available through recruitment agencies. Flexible work patterns and some home working may be possible.
This area of work is open to all graduates but a degree in a related area such as IT, business and technology or marketing may be particularly useful.
Entry into graduate-level SEO/marketing roles with an HND, or foundation degree is possible but you will need to have substantial, relevant experience and technical skill.
Postgraduate qualifications in digital marketing are offered by an increasing number of UK universities and although not essential, may be helpful for expanding your skills and knowledge, particularly if you have a non-related first degree. Search for postgraduate courses in digital marketing.
A range of qualifications in SEO and digital marketing are offered by the:
Other training providers offer short certified courses and these include:
You will need to show:
Though highly competitive, the best way to gain good experience in SEO is to undertake an undergraduate SEO/digital marketing placement or internship, with a large graduate recruiter. If you would like to get some work experience locally, try speculatively contacting digital marketing agencies, charities and the marketing departments of companies in your area. Any work experience where you are helping to improve an organisation's website is good experience.
To develop your digital skills, consider setting up your own website or blog, which as well as showing your commitment, interest and initiative, will give you something to discuss at interviews. You can find advice on how to get into SEO work, including information about various digital marketing career paths, at Digital Marketing Career Zone.
Keep up to date with industry news, jobs, recruitment and networking events by following digital marketing companies on Twitter and reading their blogs. Relevant professional organisations can help, for example the IDM and the IPA have blogs which cover key topics and developments in digital marketing.
Most companies and organisations with an online presence, especially those selling products and services, will require some level of help with their SEO. For this reason SEO specialists are very much in demand, but you will need to be creative in your job search.
Positions in SEO may be called SEO specialist, but they are also likely to be called:
Large corporates will employ SEO specialists within their marketing departments. SMEs are also likely to employ SEO specialists but you'll probably have a wider marketing remit. Many SEO specialists choose to go freelance, or work in a small consultancy.
For entry into this type of work you could look at entering a digital marketing agency to get experience before moving on.
Look for job vacancies at:
Details of marketing work placements and graduate jobs are also available at CIM's getin2marketing: Work Placement Resource. Specialist recruitment agencies such as these, advertise SEO vacancies, but you will need to prove that you have some knowledge and experience:
Once in the role of SEO specialist you will usually receive on-the-job training in the digital marketing tools used by the company. These vary but, for example, could include:
Many companies provide financial support to undertake professional qualifications such as those offered by the CIM. These include:
For more information see CIM Qualifications.
The IDM also has professional qualifications, including:
For a full list of available qualifications see the IDM Professional Marketing Qualifications.
The training offered in a smaller organisation is likely to be practical and intensive with more wide-ranging responsibilities early on. This may suit some graduates better than working for a larger company on a graduate training scheme.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is important in SEO work due to the fast-moving developments in emerging technologies. It is possible to take a range of short courses to help with this. The CIM, IDM and IPA offer courses on digital marketing topics such as:
These are designed to fill any gaps in your knowledge and to update you on new developments in digital marketing tools and platforms.
Other training courses specifically covering SEO training from beginner level to advanced include those offered by:
As an SEO specialist, various career paths are open to you. You will generally start your SEO career in a junior role on an internship and then move to SEO executive. As your career progresses you may become an SEO manager or account manager, then head of SEO to head of digital. However, you could equally move from SEO executive to a copywriter role and move into a broader digital marketing route earlier on.
Progression to more experienced roles such as SEO manager could happen within two to five years if you work for a company which offers on-the-job training and encourages CPD. There is an increasing requirement to gain further qualifications to enter senior marketing roles.
If you reach digital account director level, you will have overall responsibility for managing accounts, strategy and digital marketing campaigns. You will take on additional responsibilities such as budgets and training and mentoring junior members of the team.
Once you have experience and can show that you meet the specified criteria, which includes a certain level of CPD, you can achieve chartered status with the CIM. This can help with career progression and further information is available at CIM: Chartered Marketer Status.