5 Pillars For A Great Career in SEO

With an increasing sentiment of marketing doing digital, there is no doubt more and more people are entering the SEO field at record rates. If you plan to be one of the hopefuls to establish a great career in the industry with all markers in your favor, there are a few processes you can follow to place you in the best possible position to thrive in this competitive landscape.

Let’s see what they are!

1. Be Alert To All Opportunities

While not endless, there is a myriad of opportunity in SEO. With multiple career sites, social networks and job boards available, there has never been a better time to start your digital marketing career.

As we have covered previously, it’s crucial to look where the SEO jobs are. Currently, the most common and prevalent choices include:

We’d recommend subscribing to all of the above. Yes, there is bound to be some overlap of listings between them, but it is vital to have your presence on all available properties, should an opportunity arise on just one of them at any given time. Only surveying one or a couple of options is short-sighted and will prolong your search, as well as keep you ignorant on how companies value the role and how motivated they are in finding someone to fill it.

Set up alerts where possible. Be attentive to all openings at all times.

It should be said that even after you have found a role, that is no indication you should stop looking. There is always the chance that this particular company may not be a good fit. There could be a cultural clash or another unforeseen reason to indicate you should look elsewhere. If you haven’t been paying attention to what is out there, you could be back to square one instead of smoothly transitioning into a better role.

Always be alert and ready to seize an opportunity when it presents itself.

2. Stand Out From The Pack

Applying for roles is one thing. Getting noticed is another.

Most resumes look the exact same way: a white document with black text scattered all over the page. It’s boring, repetitive and not ideal if you want to make an impressionable first impression!

Standing out from every other applicant is easier now than ever before. With visual resume builders like EnhanCV and VisualCV, yours can go from mundane to outstanding in a matter of minutes.

For example, which of the two following individuals would you have noticed in a sea of applicants?

Bad resumeGood resume

Better yet, who would you rather interview? Who looks like they are more serious about this role?

Taking advantage of a service like EnhanCV or VisualCV can make all the difference between getting your dream job and missing out time and time again. With that in mind, when it comes to return on investment, it is worth every penny and then some.

Note: it is important to continually update your CV, experimenting with new additions and designs. After all, it is a living document which represents who we are and strongly influences how people perceive us. We’re quick to split test webpages to see what words & elements people respond to the most, so why aren’t we doing the same with our careers?

Don’t cheap out on an opportunity to stand out from the pack — it will cost you more than you can afford.

3. Never Not Follow Up

The follow up is a phenomenal way to prospect, negotiate, and yes, build a career.

Following up is an integral skill to learn early on because it will separate you from others who are vying for the same attention, sale or position.

According to InsideSales, 50% of all sales happen after the 5th follow up — and yet most reps give up after just 2. With email, adding at least one follow-up message increases your reply rate by 11% (source: Woodpecker.co).

The money is in the follow-up.

When applying for coveted roles, be sure to follow up on them regularly. This will not only display your initiative and assertiveness, but there is always the chance someone may have forgotten to review or completely missed your application. These things happen all the time, and you will never truly know what happened with your profile until you follow up on it.

Your time is valuable — you cannot spend it in speculation and overthinking.

This discipline is just as practical once you’ve been established into a role and are looking to advance to the next level. Whether you’ve requested consideration for a promotion, applied for a higher position or anything in between, following up can (and often does) make all the difference!

4. Have An Answer For Everything

The job interview is usually harder than the job itself. It requires multiple levels of screening, personality tests and other unconventional methods to assess whether you are the right fit for the company.

In addition to the traditional personality trait examination and scenario-based questions, prospective SEOs may have to endure an audit test. This typically involves analyzing a specific webpage and highlighting where changes should be made for the purposes of greater optimization. How well you perform this task seems to indicate how experienced and prepared you are to be a SEO analyst. It may be a daunting task, but it’s important to be prepared for it.

There are many SEO audit tools out there to give you a sense of what elements to immediately look for when analyzing a page. Testing a variety of pages and can help you become more familiar and comfortable with quickly diagnosing where things go wrong for most websites.

But that may not be sufficient these days. In the not-too-distant past, some events have transpired which have had a significant impact on the industry and employers may expect you to be across them. For example, certain questions may arise such as:

  • What was the Penguin algorithm update?
  • What is E-A-T?
  • What is structured data?
  • What was the Panda algorithm update?
  • What is dwell time?
  • What’s your greatest career achievement?
  • How would you handle a manual action penalty?
  • What was the Hummingbird algorithm update?

Taking the time to understand and absorb the history and evolution of the industry will position you to succeed in the long term, not to mention in the interview (if asked). It’s far and away better to have an answer for all possible scenarios, than to take the chance that it won’t arise.

The cost is too great to ignore.

Invest your time in learning industry jargon & terminology. It will pay back in spades.

5. Keep Your Finger On The Pulse

If you are not in a constant state of learning, you’re falling behind.

This has never been as true as it is in your career. Like with riding a bicycle, in order to progress, you must keep moving. In this field, you’ve never peaked and will never arrive to a point where you no longer need to continue educating yourself.

Keep your finger on the pulse through various avenues, such as:

i. Blogs

Blogs are a beautiful thing. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people willingly publish high quality pieces of content for our consumption, for free. There is a blog for any and every topic under the sun — SEO being no exception. Almost every major company now has a blog, as well as any small business who is serious about their online presence.

It’s a profitable idea to subscribe to as many as possible to see what insights they share, which you can utilize to further your skills & career. Over the years, we’ve accumulated our feed to over 270+ digital marketing blogs, which we absorb on a regular basis. The ideas, strategies and knowledge you can obtain by consistently following a multitude of blogs is immeasurable.

ii. Books

Non-fiction books are merely a collection of thoughts centered on a core principal or idea. Many authors pour their entire life’s lessons and experience into a single book, allowing you to access their accumulated knowledge over the years in a fraction of the time, for practically nothing (any price you pay for a worthy book will be returned to you with interest).

Similar to blogs, books are an excellent way to gain awareness and proficiency on any subject matter — some would even say books are superior to blogs, since only the most relevant and necessary information makes it into a book, whereas a blog could lend itself to lower-tier ramblings such as predictions, opinion and clickbait. Nevertheless, you can never do enough reading!

iii. Podcasts

If reading isn’t your forte and time is of the essence, taking to audio may be a viable option. There are a plethora of digital marketing podcasts you can listen to during your commute, workout, lunch break or other recreational time. And podcast search engines make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Podcasts are particularly helpful when you are seeking to learn how similar companies or individuals navigated their way through comparable experiences you may currently be facing. CEOs, executives and thought leaders frequently appear on podcasts in an interview format, providing constructive information you may not otherwise have had a chance to attain and use to your advantage.

Considering there is no cost to the listener apart from their time, an investment in podcasting pays massive dividends.

iv. Tools

Luckily, there is absolutely no shortage of tools for any aspect of SEO. Whether it’s for audits, keywords or rankings, having some extra powerful SEO tools at your disposal will catapult your career in ways you would not expect.

Having complementary tools as a second point-of-reference and supplementary data set is not a bad idea at all. If anything, it’s a wonderful advantage — if everyone in your organization is limited to a single tool, who says you should be, too?

If your company uses SEMrush, you can open a Serpstat or SE Ranking account also.
If your company uses Keyword Revealer, you can try KWFinder or SpyFu too.
If your company uses SERP Woo, you can go for AccuRanker or SERP Watcher as well.

There is nothing stopping you from diverting resources out of your own paycheck into additional tools, which will only further your understanding on client campaigns and properties. This will allow you to have the edge on your colleagues while making better informed decisions for the client, all while impressing your superiors with your insight & willingness to go beyond the requirements of the role. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.

v. Events

There are a few SEO & marketing themed conferences, events and meetups you can attend to expand your network and your knowledge at the same time. It may take some time to accumulate most of them into a single resource, but fortunately a kind soul was nice enough to compile the major SEO events for us.

While some (or most) of these events may be out of reach in terms of location or budget, surveying Meetup.com or even creating a local one could be an ideal endeavor to embark on — there are more marketing-oriented professionals in your area than you might imagine. In this way, by being the organizer of a group, you could immediately be seen as a leader and authority in the niche and build your personal brand while also learning from people in your own community. What do you have to lose?

vi. Experimentation

Action beats theory, every time. In the SEO world, we often pontificate, speculate and try to decipher what employees of search engines mean when they phrase a certain sentence one way or the other. But in reality, the absolute best way to learn what SEO is all about is by experimenting with websites, preferably ones you already own.

It doesn’t really matter what any expert says will work, or what we have historically known to work in the past. The only things that matter are if a) what we are doing is working right now and b) we are still within webmaster guidelines.

Don’t know if word count is really that important? Experiment.
Wondering if caching is actually affecting visibility? Experiment.
Considering a CDN for security and speed? Experiment.

SEO is a verb, not a noun. Endless experimentation is in our DNA as search engine optimization consultants. We thrive on it. It makes our jobs fun and exciting. It’s how we really learn SEO, not from conjecture or guessing. To not experiment is to choose not to grow.

Register a domain. Start a website. Get a blog. Experiment away.

Final Thoughts

The foundation of a great career is made up of many factors, but we hope you can add a few points from here and adopt them as your own to improve and increase your happiness and longevity in the field of digital marketing. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding.

Happy career-ing!

About the author


Sebastian is a veteran digital marketing expert with 23+ years of experience across hundreds of brands, and curates a weekly marketing newsletter.