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Getting a Job in SEO

Jul 30, 2008
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

When search engines decide what pages to show in response to an inquiry, they consult their indexed database of millions of web pages and decide which are the most relevant results, and in what order they should show them. A job in SEO involves figuring out what search terms a particular website should try to rank highly for and then helping the site to move up the rankings for these terms.

In some industries, like travel, high rankings in Google and Yahoo can provide a huge increase in sales and revenue, and SEO is becoming increasingly regarded as the form of marketing that provides the best return on investment for many niche businesses.

What does an SEO job involve?

Search Engine Optimisation begins with keyword research, finding out exactly what people are typing into search engines, and then evaluating these keywords and key phrases on a number of criteria (frequency of search, level of competition, relevance to the client website and so on.) A number of key phrases are selected for each page on a site, and the content and code of a page are enriched with these key phrases.

For seriously significant increases in rankings, however, you need to increase the number of one way links coming into a site. Links are regarded as votes of confidence by search engines - the more links you can get, the higher that page will rank (although individual links vary greatly in value). A job in SEO focuses heavily on attracting links to a client's website, often by creating viral content (articles, videos, applications and so on) that spreads around the internet and generates links.

How do you get into it?

There are no specific qualifications required for a job in SEO, although a degree is preferred by many companies. Typically, if you want to work in-house at a large company they will require you to have several years experience, while an agency may be willing to take you with no experience and train you up if you display some of the right skills. Entry level jobs in SEO are advertised through a number of online sources, and there are even recruitment agencies (like mine!) that deal specifically with online marketing jobs.

What skills do you need to succeed?

A job in SEO requires a broad range of skills. You'll need analytical and organisational skills to do keyword research and understand website statistics, combined with the creativity to produce great content and think up effective strategies for link building campaigns. Strong writing skills are very useful, as you will be expected to produce plenty of written material, and some degree of HTML and basic web design knowledge can also come in handy.

Above all, if you want a job in search marketing you'll need a passion and understanding of the internet, including concepts like social media and Web 2.0. SEO is a rapidly evolving business, and you'll have to be able to stay on top of all the latest online developments in order to be good at your job.

How much does it pay?

Salaries for search marketing jobs vary greatly depending on your level of experience, location, size of company, and whether you are working in-house, for an agency or as a freelancer. An entry level job in SEO might pay between 20,000 - 25,000, but as your experience increases, so does your earning power. Higher level people could potentially earn over 50,000 if they've got the right skills and experience.
About the Author
Gail Kenny is the managing director of Puregenie, an online travel jobs website. The site deals with jobs in the ever growing travel sector and offers a wide selection of PPC and SEO jobs , as well as other roles involved in maintaining a presence online. Although the site is mainly travel focussed, it also displays vacancies in the hospitality and leisure industries.
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