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  • Raghavarao Battina

An SEO of Opportunity - 7 Career Paths for Today's SEO Specialist


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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is relatively new, only emerging as a business concept within the last two decades, majorly during the COVID19 pandemic. However, the practice has created an entirely new career field within businesses and advertising agencies. SEO drives how web users find organic content. With more than one billion websites on the Internet, competition is fierce for top rankings on search engine results pages such as Google, Yahoo, Safari, Bing, and more.

SEO jobs require professionals who specialize in learning and mastering the algorithms behind search engine results, enabling companies or clients to appear in online search results. Originally, the profession emerged from marketers working to promote their own organizations’ websites. As search engines like Yahoo and Google gained wider use, these technology companies began developing unique algorithms to determine where sites ranked for particular search terms. Once driven by keywords, search engine optimization is now a complex soup of code and content that can often seem daunting to the uninitiated. Typically, SEO is taught as a component of digital marketing. Many SEO professionals earn certifications to maintain their professional standings. Required skills for an SEO pro include data analytics, writing, marketing, research, web content, HTML, CSS, Javascript, link building, competitor analysis, and keyword research. Expertise in SEO tools like Raven, Moz, and others is also essential. As eCommerce eclipses traditional retail and most browsing takes place on mobile devices, the need for qualified SEO professionals has skyrocketed.

SEO jobs promise excitement and tremendous potential for growth. But how do you advance in your SEO career? Many SEO professionals stay within marketing, using their analytical skills and deep learning experience in digital marketing to carve out successful careers. Here are 7 popular roles and career paths for new and experienced SEO professionals looking to take the next step.

1. Search Engine Marketer

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing (SEM) are often lumped together but, in practice, they are very different. Search engine marketing encapsulates the paid or sponsored side of how search results rank. SEM requires competency in pay-per-click marketing (PPC), advertising, and customer relationship management (CRM). Glassdoor reports the average annual salary for a Search Engine Marketer to be $50,528. Mastery of platforms such as Google AdWords, Bing AdWords, and various web analytics tools is necessary for this position.

2. Business Marketing Consultant

Some search engine optimization specialists go on to become public speakers, professional business consultants, and marketing consultants. While this position typically requires demonstrated entrepreneurial or consulting success, it does afford the ability to work with companies almost everywhere, working with clients to improve marketing and strategic planning. Work includes advising clients on marketing solutions, strategic planning, implementing search programs, measuring effectiveness, and providing long-term support. The median salary for a business marketing consultant is $75,993 annually.

3. Digital Marketer

Digital marketing is a natural complement to the SEO experience. Digital marketers manage all types of online marketing including web development, SEO, SEM, PPC, and social media. These generalists must be able to create and implement marketing strategies, utilize SEO, work with content planning, understand and utilize social media as part of long-term strategies, use analytics and data management, and work with advertising platforms to drive paid traffic. A digital marketer earns a median salary of $60,714 annually, but relevant qualifications in web marketing, communications, and strategic marketing can boost earnings.

4. Marketing Analyst

Data analytics is the key component of search optimization, as any results and ROI stemming from search programs will be based on user activity and buying behaviors. Marketing analysts track and report the performance of initiatives, identify opportunities for new ones, and generate forecasts based on data. Marketing analysts earn an annual salary averaging $60, 823 and can benefit from qualifications in business analysis, strategy, market research, and SQL.

5. Content Marketing Strategist

When marketing professionals possess a natural bent toward the written word and salesmanship, content marketing is a growing facet of digital. Content marketers require SEO skills, as much online content is keyword driven. As web content, blogs, social, outreach material, videos, graphics, reports, infographics, and other content explodes online, so does the need for competent content producers. Content strategists earn a median salary of $72,742 annually.

6. SEO Manager

Search engine optimization often requires a team of analysts, data managers, SEO specialists, content strategists, and technology experts. The larger a company, the larger its SEO team. When a team reaches a sufficient size, a manager is necessary. Managers must understand search engine optimization and search engine marketing, overseeing and coordinating SEO professionals. SEO managers must possess supervision experience and have a deep understanding of SEO and digital marketing concepts. SEO managers earn a median income of $84,172, having an array of responsibilities depending on the company and the size of the team.

7. SEO Freelancer

While many advertising agencies and enterprise-level organizations employ search professionals on staff, small- to medium-sized companies often lack the payroll or the sophistication for a dedicated resource supporting SEO. Freelance and on-contract digital marketing professionals fill this niche. Having gained experience in other companies, freelancers offer their services as ‘guns for hire’ on fixed terms. Usually, the work is project-based or focused on a specific result (such as increasing search relevance in a particular product category). Many contract professionals Accept online SEO work from home, accepting jobs through digital job hubs such as Upwork and Fiverr. There is literally no ceiling to the compensation potential, as freelancers will charge based on experience, results, expectations, amount of work, and market demand for services.

The majority of many companies’ budgets are dedicated to digital media and eCommerce for an obvious reason – digital sales are directly attributable to revenue. That fact speaks to an expanding need for SEO professionals and all the various specialties required to run successful search campaigns. Gain the skills needed to develop a career in search and digital marketing.


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