You did learn SEO but can't get a job? This is what I did and would do to get started
Based on popular demand, I decided to create this brief guide. It might be a little over the place as I am writing it from the top of my head and based on personal experience, so, apologies in advance if the structure is a bit off.
I will assume that you know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and can actually deliver upon expectations. So, you have done your studying, your testing, ranked for a few keywords, have something to show for it, and now feel like you are ready to make the transition into full-time employment.
Before applying for it, reverse engineering is super important. What do most employers want? Who do you want to work for? Is it their first opening? Have they done SEO before?…
Unlike popular opinion, I am confident that credentials matter in many instances. In some instances, those credentials do not simply have to do with who you worked for but your self-learning qualifications.
Prior to getting my first role, I had learnt about SEO, did some free work, helped friends with businesses, outreached to companies… did it all. Hardly any traction.
I then started looking into job descriptions on Indeed and reed and found common trends among them, from a duty standpoint. On an SEO Executive role, most of these duties were:
• Full site audits
• Performing keyword research
• Researching and prioritising relevant topics to make a content plan.
• Error auditing, diagnosing, and solution handling, fixing crawl errors, render issues, Core Web Vitals (LCP, FID, CLS)
• Site maintenance (redirects, broken links, site clean up, duplicate content.
• Performing regular On-Site audits and implementing improvements.
• Link Building
• Backlink quality check (disavowing damaging backlinks).
• Developing and implementing the SEO strategy.
• Briefing technical site improvements, schema, PageSpeed, sitemaps/ carrying technicalupdates.
• Content creation
• Competitive Research
• Keeping a standard of SEO upkeep on the site.
• And sometimes site migrations.
Nice, then there is always a section that talks about tools:
• Screaming Frog
• Keyword Planner
• Google Data Universal Analytics (UA)
• Google Ads (for keyword testing)
• Google and Amazon Autocomplete (not a tool but great to find subtopics in content creation)
• Google Tag Manager
• Hubspot (or another Client Relationship Management (CRM))…
So, once I saw what most employers said they wanted, I assessed where I was, and truthfully, I was not great at all of these duties or using those tools. From experience, half the time, you do not end up having to do all they say they want on the JD, but that is something you will only find out after getting the job. So, the focus was to get that job first.
After doing that, I did training again and got up to speed in everything I mentioned. My CV was okay but underwhelming, to say the least, and I know that most employers judge CVs based on many genuinely irrelevant metrics. Here is what I did after:
• Google Analytics certification (free)
• Google Ads Certification by Google (free)
• SEMrush certification (FREE)
• LinkedIn skill Tests (FREE)
• I also got a Skill Test badge for HTML, and a couple of other things.
These courses above give you a certification, the LinkedIn skill test does not, but if the results are positive, you get it on your profile and will get a preferred badge every time you apply for a job and be recommended to recruiters. Some of these tips sound trivial but believe me, many employers are still trapped on the certification/degree era. In fact, I saw many openings for an SEO Specialist and Bachelor's degree as a requirement, so you get the idea…
You have now done all of this. Your CV starts looking a bit busier with RELEVANT AND APPEALING INFORMATION. You have started getting active on LinkedIn, you have a few badges of skill tests you have taken, you talk about your experience, what you have done so far… you are not getting any traction. You start wondering why is it that you get no callbacks.
If you have done any SEO work whether it be free or paid, you will likely not have that issue as there will be references on your CV and they are a form of employment you will be able to talk about. So, since I kind of skipped over it (hence the disclaimer at first), let's touch on ways to get that Social Proof moving. Right now you are playing the long game. I get it, working for little or free is not fun. But, the leverage you have is very low right now. The best way I have personally seen one can get the ball rolling is by being transparent.
Spend some time on Indeed, Reed, Total Jobs… and see who is looking for SEO. Do not just apply. Call. Let them know who you are, the fact that you have started doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and want to get your foot on the pedal. I would not recommend offering free work right off the bat to agencies, as, if you can actually add value, are likeable, and are not scared to lead the conversation, at least one will definitely be willing to offer you at least an internship. There is a chance where the Agency might push you to the limits with very limited pay, this part is all about luck. However, remember, you are collecting leverage and experience, so, it is almost a good thing. I personally took a lot of crap when I ws getting started as my plan was to own my own Agency since day one. So, working a lot for whatever was not a concern for me. Now, you have been on an internship for a few months, whether it be in-house, agency, or helping local businesses. You now know SEO in its truest form, you have been in the trenches. You speak the language and have faced many complex issues, created content that ranked, learned more about technical SEO and you are a fluent legitimate and tested SEO.
You have two ways to go about the next steps. Talk to the employer who you are doing an internship for about getting a full-time role, or applying for a different role. Making your now packed CV with certifications and experience public on Indeed, REED… will certainly get some traction. Recruiters will contact you and Indeed will suggest YOU (Especially if you not only add your PDF CV, but also fill the CV builder there from head to toe. Remember creating a NICE Cover Letter, many great templates online you can tailor to adjust to every company you apply for)
The main difference this time will be that you have experience handling clients, many say that changing jobs in a short time frame is not attractive, and it is true if that is all you do. No problem if it is the first time. Your biggest point in leverage is getting a job while you still have the other one. Being made redundant makes it more complex but having a job (even as an internship) as you apply can balance the scale, and in some instances, if you have actually become GOOD and make it obvious in the interview when questioned, swiftly mentioning that you are interviewing with other companies (inoffensive lie or truth if it is true) subconsciously adds FOMO to the interviewer. (Side note, in an internship you will literally do the same as most, so, my personal advice is to use the title of the role you were fulfilling on your CV).
You might mess up your first interview (I did), but head up. Keep applying. Interviews are a skill in itself, and luckily, 85% of companies ask the exact same questions. After every interview, take notes of the questions you were asked and study them. You will 100% get better. I personally applied non-stop and interviewed day and evening, to the point where I genuinely stopped caring, as I was tired of it. Surprisingly, after so much studying, interviewing and prep, I knew what they were going to ask, what to say, and getting to Stage 2 became literally a no-brainer. Stage 2 was usually just as easy. It was more about talking to other members who asked me similar questions as in stage 1 but it tends to be someone more Senior who often actually knows about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They will ask you questions on top of your answers. Breathe. Think, answer. Do not be afraid to ask back. "Would you mind getting a bit more specific?" If you do not understand the question, and they will be more specific 9 times out of 10.
Some of the questions they will ask:
• Tell us a bit about yourself: Briefly talk about your background, and then talk about your experience in SEO, the type of clients you serviced, why you chose SEO, feel free to crack an inoffensive joke to lighten up.
• What tools do you use?: Talk about the tools you use (I listed many before)
• Where and how do you stay up-to-date with SEO, and Google's algorithmic changes?: Talk about blogs you check (Backlinko, SEMrush blog… I made a post about this)
• How do you conduct Competitive Research?: Explain your process
• What is your process to create content?
• Sometimes about Link Building but only once for me. More often than not, they have somebody or a department in charge of it, but every case is different.
• Lastly, they will ask whether you have any questions. ASK THEM QUESTIONS! Questions at the personal and company level
Questions to ask:
• How long the interviewer worked there for and his/her journey
• Their culture
• Why the interviewers chose to work for that company
• Where the company sees itself in the next 5 years
• Career progression
• What they would expect from you within the next 3-6-9 and 12 months.
Doing all I mentioned will undoubtedly get you to the last stage of the interview, which is the project. It usually entails an Audit or a presentation. Create a great thorough Audit and present it, touching on every point. Make it engaging and like a conversation. Try to stay away from many buzzwords. They are trying to assess whether you would be able to communicate and explain issues to clients in an efficient, easy to understand manner. If you are not given the role, try again. I did many interviews and maaaany last stages. Remember, you may have done it well, and someone did it better. There are more people interviewing for the role. Think long-term, do not get discouraged.
Good luck! Feel free to expand on things you think I may have missed or ask any questions. I will try to respond to them all.
All of that to get paid 50k or so on an entry level SEO position? You could have started your agency from the get go and made more money from the start.
Yes, you could, but the experience you get by working with Agencies dealing with massive accounts like Nestlé, Bucherer, Ford… will not be sampled by you doing it with no prior Agency experience. I have worked with massive accounts and witnessed the onboarding process, I know their fee structures and modelling. I heard them selling, I saw them delivering and working on complex technical issues. Thanks to doing it this way, I started my own Agency with maybe 10% the struggle many others did and it still was tough.
The likelihood of you closing a large account with no prior work experience or the network is very very low. At least for the first few years (unless you are a natural).
I would confidently say that 70% of agencies that started the Agency purely for money are the ones destroying the reputation of SEO as a whole because more often than not they know little about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and hire salesmen who sell clients dreams.
Also, running an agency is heavily glorified and sold as something SO EASY. It is not. It can be done with no prior work experience but you will piss off many clients until you are up to speed.
> The likelihood of you closing a large account with no prior work experience or the network is very very low. At least for the first few years (unless you are a natural).
Well if you have no experience, you wouldn't or at least should have the common sense not to go after those accounts anyways.
> I would confidently say that 70% of agencies that started the Agency purely for money are the ones destroying the reputation of SEO as a whole because more often than not they know little about SEO and hire salesmen who sell clients dreams.
We're in a marketing forum, please don't insult the intelligence of other marketers by pretending that we don't do what we do because of money. You might have any number of reasons, like changing the world, or making a better more caring type of SEO agency but the main goal is always money.
With that being said, good business is good money. So if you are doing a shitty job you won't get very far for long. In the early days many may have gotten away with it but if you really wanna make money you'll build an agency that gives a shit and delivers on its promises.
> Also, running an agency is heavily glorified and sold as something SO EASY. It is not. It can be done with no prior work experience but you will piss off many clients until you are up to speed.
This we can agree on, matter of fact if all some one wants is to do SEO then opening an agency is not for that person as ideally you'll only do SEO yourself as long as you do not have enough clients to pay others to do it. As long as you get to the point where you have enough clients to hire others and still be able to pay yourself your job becomes growing and managing the business and not actually doing SEO at all.
Thanks to everyone that has responded so far.
I have already stated about it being too many clients and they said very similar to what Miriam said but there has been no sign of reduction in clients only an increase!
We had another email today asking why a site isn't performing well. We're going to have a meeting but my boss isn't there (on holiday) but will strongly make my points based on the above to the others.
I need them to take this seriously as the bad reputation thing looks like it could be happening as so many sites haven't even had basics done right and if these clients go elsewhere this will be easily discovered.
I can understand it's hard to let go of clients (like relationships!) but I really need them to take action If this mess.
I have been looking into copywriters and link building externally today also.
It was meant to be an nice little job 3 days a week but I have turned into an SEO Manager with a junior! You won't even believe I'm only an a contract too! Although I highly suspect they'll want me to stay on.
I took this from the link I posted as an example. Prime example of someone who just does it for money. Burnt clients, burnt staff… Mess.
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