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SEO Job Titles: SEO Career Paths Explained

SEO jobs are the most sought-after career opportunities in digital marketing.

Petrit Halitaj

SEO Manager

SEO Job Titles: SEO Career Paths Explained

SEO jobs are the most sought-after career opportunities in digital marketing. As of July 2022, there are over 207,000 people on LinkedIn with SEO in their titles. In addition, the demand for SEO courses increased by over 500% between January 2016 and January 2022.


Standing out can be challenging.


However, understanding the career path required to grow is the recipe for success. By identifying the steps and SEO jobs you should acquire to progress into advanced roles, you can navigate the competition and grow your career effectively.


Let’s begin.

SEO Experts and Their Roles in the SEO Industry

SEO experts or specialists are marketing professionals who develop, test, and evaluate SEO strategies to boost websites’ ranking and traffic. They adopt techniques and tactics to get websites on top search engine results and attract visitors. They also use their expertise to help you attain higher search engine rankings.


Numerous career opportunities exist in the SEO industry, so as an SEO expert, you have many areas to explore based on your interests and skills. However, generally, you’ll focus on two main concepts.


High-quality backlinks boost a website’s authority, enhancing search engine optimization. You must possess these skills as an SEO specialist to drive visitors to companies’ websites and optimize keywords and visitor experience.


As an SEO expert, among other responsibilities, you’ll be required to:


– Gather, collect and analyze SEO trends, and customer behavior

– Monitor and report website analytics and search engine marketing campaigns

– Research and implement relevant keywords

– Develop high-quality backlinks

– Research and understand the competitors’ SEO strategy

– Optimize website content for SEM

– Provide recommendations to developers on search terms, rankings and analytics

– Run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns

– Engage with other businesses on link building

– Adopt user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization practices

– Develop and implement effective content strategies

– Distribute content on social media

seo career

What Skills Do You Need for SEO Jobs?

You need specific industry skills to boost traffic, create strategies and execute other SEO-related tasks effectively.


For example, basic HTML and CSS skills will help you keep up with the algorithm-changing metrics.


Essential knowledge about meta tags, status codes, H1, etc, will help you resolve crawl-based issues. Keyword search, backlinking, competitor analysis, and other SEO-related skills are also critical for SEO experts.


Non-technical skills required to succeed in your roles include critical, analytical, and research skills. Project management, flexibility, and communication skills are also top requirements to execute your responsibilities successfully.


Primarily, becoming an SEO expert requires a diverse set of skills. You must acquire the essential expertise, from industry-specific to soft skills, to deliver your roles excellently.

How to Get Into the SEO Industry

Breaking into the SEO industry can be intimidating when you don’t know how to go about it. So, here is a step-by-step guide to kickstarting your career in SEO.

Learn the Basics

There are many SEO careers you can pursue, and they all require a fundamental knowledge of SEO. So, your chances of landing your first role and subsequent positions hinge on your ability to master SEO basics.


So, you need to understand the fundamentals of search engine optimization, what it is, how it works, and why it’s crucial. Here are a few steps you can take:


– You should learn about organic searches, keywords search, and creating content matching users’ intent.

– Gain knowledge on on-page optimization and how to build website authority. Learn the link-building basics and learn about user experiences.

– Look up Google Ads campaigns, market research, and competitor analysis.


Understanding these basics gives you a good start, you can execute primary SEO roles and build up your skills.

Know How to Use SEO Tools

As an SEO expert, you must acquaint yourself with essential SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, Moz, Mailchimp, and SEMRush. You must be skilled in SERP tracking, backlink checking, and traffic analytics tools used to perform primary SEO functions. Maximizing these SEO tools requires understanding how the search engine works.

Build Your Portfolio

Employers want to know if you can deliver on your role, and the way to do this is to showcase your knowledge and skills with your portfolio.


You may not have projects you’ve executed for companies as a beginner. In this case, it is best to develop hypothetical situations and implement your skills to solve them.


The key is to demonstrate your knowledge of the essential skills your dream employer seeks.


Use factual data to showcase your skills in your portfolio. Walk them through completed projects and results.


Identify the goals you planned to accomplish, the challenges you faced, and how you overcame them. Showcasing these details in your portfolio will give employers insight into your expertise and increase your chances of being hired.

Get Your First Client

Put your portfolio on your website and optimize your site to attract clients. Implement the SEO practices you’ve learned and enhance your page so that employers can find you easily.


Pitch to clients, go to job boards or visit freelance platforms to register your account and find clients. Landing your first clients will help attract other clients. In addition, it will help you gain hands-on experience that will help you progress into more advanced roles.

SEO Levels and Career Opportunities

Here are the typical career opportunities and SEO levels based on hierarchy.

Seo levels

SEO Apprentice

SEO apprentice jobs are entry-level SEO jobs for newbies in the industry. Apprentices can be new college graduates with basic knowledge of SEO looking to grow in the industry.


SEO apprentice responsibilities include:


– Knowledge of basic SEO principles

– Fixing broken links

– Analysing data in Google Search Console and Google Analytics

– Implementing inbound link-building strategies

– Familiarity with keyword research tools


SEO apprentice jobs require limited skills and education. The actual job experience requirement is also very minimal because the goal of this job is to get experience.

Junior SEO Roles (SEO Analyst, Specialist, etc.)

SEO analysts and specialists are junior titles. They create and evaluate SEO campaigns. They also collaborate with other marketing professionals to get optimal results.


Strategic and analytical thinking are core skills for junior SEO jobs, as they will be required to create and review campaigns to boost sales.


Your responsibilities as an SEO analyst and specialist include the following:


– Performing keyword research

– Setting goals for campaigns and keyword strategies

– Analyzing website content

– Tracking web performance

– Collaborating with other SEO experts and stakeholders

– Creating SEO-optimized content

Senior SEO Specialists

Junior SEO specialists progress into senior SEO specialists to take on leadership roles in the industry. They oversee entry-level and junior SEO job activities.


There is a close similarity between the role of an SEO specialist and a senior SEO specialist. The difference, however, is that SEO specialists take on seniority and managerial functions that let them supervise and monitor junior SEO specialist roles.

Senior SEO Specialist SEO jobs demand the following skills:


– Advanced knowledge of organic search

– Practical communication skills with team members

– SEO audit skills

– On-page strategies execution

– Website visitor analytics

– Strategic planning

SEO Manager

SEO managers drive traffic and awareness for companies. Based on their levels of seniority, they delegate technical tasks and supervise various team leads. They also manage team members’ productivity and coach them.


As an SEO manager, you work less in SEO and do more managerial work. This includes being in charge of large-scale SEO marketing projects and overseeing projects’ progress from start to finish.


Primarily, you should have a broad skill set to handle various obligations like data analytics and strategies.


As an SEO manager, you may be required to:


– Manage projects

– Analyse data

– Manage brands

– Organize clients’ meetings

– Create and manage online communities

– Conduct market analysis

Head of SEO

After years of experience and honing your expertise, you can have a career as the Head of SEO. Heads of SEO, also known as SEO directors, have similar roles to those of managers. SEO directors focus on strategy, planning, and management.


They supervise other SEO jobs and teams managed by SEO managers. Therefore, team management, collaboration, innovation, and analytical skills are core requirements for SEO director jobs.


It takes some years to become head of SEO. Generally, you must have at least seven years of experience designing and executing SEO strategies. Since SEO careers for directors are result-driven, it’s vital to know how to evaluate different metrics for project development.


Besides a rich practical SEO experience, relevant educational background in management may be required.


As an SEO director, you are expected to:


– Strategise formulation

– Work closely with content and marketing teams

– Oversee on-site and off-site SEO strategies and implementation

– Set quarterly and yearly performance goals

– Collaborate with HR to identify departmental gaps

– Conduct data analytics and proficiency

– Identify new opportunities for a competitive edge

Employment Types

There are many ways that small businesses can implement content marketing, and the key is to find a strategy that works best for your business.

Here are some tips on how to get started:


Digital marketing agencies are a great place to kick-start SEO careers. They offer clients content creation, social media, and SEO services.


So, working in an agency will help you acquire hands-on experience from working with brands. You will also have the opportunity to work with experts.  


Agencies offer robust opportunities for growth. So, if you want to harness career advancement opportunities, agencies are good options. Besides hands-on experience, you will also have a good insight into how the industry works.


An in-house SEO expert works for an organization and manages their SEO needs. However, the disadvantage is that you may be limited in career development.


For example, if you are the only SEO expert in the organization, you may not be able to upscale into hire roles as levels of seniority may not exist.


However, you can create your team if you need more hands. In the process, you will develop a hierarchy structure where the team can advance their roles based on experience.


Self-employment means you work independently with or without a team. You will have to find leads and turn them into clients. Also, you must market yourself consistently, network, and build good relationships.


You will help your clients implement SEO campaigns, build strategies, and adopt SEO practices for their unique goals. In addition, you must be available to troubleshoot different issues that develop and be their consistent support system for SEO.


While self-employment offers independence and control over who you work with, it has its downsides. First, it limits the chances of career growth. However, you can build your team and start your digital marketing agency after some time.


Inconsistent income is also a disadvantage. While you can choose who you work with, you can’t predict how much you will earn monthly or annually.

SEO Industry Income

There are two significant ways to get paid as an SEO expert.


You get paid SEO salaries monthly if you work with an agency or in-house. You may also work out a salary-based payment structure with your clients as a freelancer. SEO salaries provide a consistent income flow, ensuring you will have the same picture in your paystub every month, which gives you a sense of security.

Salaried workers also have access to other benefits based on their agency or company, including paid vacation, sick time, and health insurance. However, they may work longer hours without overtime pay.

So, you may end up working longer than usual without getting compensated for it. You can prevent this by working with companies and agencies offering overtime incentives to their workers.


Hourly rates are most common among freelancers. But you can also request hourly pay from your employer if you work in an agency or company.


The upside about hourly pay is that working overtime or during holidays can double your income. However, attracting these incentives requires you to stand out among other employees and negotiate your worth.


The downside of hourly pay is that retirement, insurance plans, and bonuses are less common for employees with hourly rates.


Navigating SEO careers is easier when understanding the industry’s existing career path. The first step is breaking into the industry by landing your first client or role. Afterward, you can upscale your skills and grow with a clear career path.

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