There’s a lot of talk in the industry on how to do SEO, but its rare that I find a lot of advice about how to navigate SEO from a career standpoint.
Tony Verre has done some great posts on this site in the past and more recently the moz featured a post on career advice from 21 big names in the SEO industry, but ultimately I find content on the topic is lacking.
In the last six months I’ve applied for positions from Seattle to Nashville and a few locations here locally, but have failed to really get the response I had hoped for. These failed attempts have had me searching for advice and moreso re-evaluating my SEO career. \
Is my current job what’s hurting me in the search? Could the steps you take along the way in your SEO career actually hurt you in the long run?
Like many SEO’s I stumbled upon the trade. I didn’t get into SEO because it was my lifelong dream, in fact prior to 2006 I didn’t even know what SEO was.
I was thrust into the SEO spotlight in 2007 based on my abilities as a customer support rep for a web design and internet marketing company. I was a hard worker, I learned quickly, and I had an amazing rapport with our client base and a great understanding of basic SEO and web design.
It was then that I began to eat and sleep SEO and internet marketing. My desire to learn made me an asset not only to my clients, but the team I worked with and ultimately the company. Within a year I was a regular contributor on the company blog and newsletter.
If you have the opportunity to work for another company, in a different environment and you feel it is a proper fit I highly suggest it.
I had a couple opportunities come my way that I ignored because I wanted something I felt was “perfect”. Two years into my SEO career I thought “perfect” had come when I was offered the opportunity to follow the manager I worked under at the time to a new company doing similar work within a different niche.
In many ways it was the perfect opportunity, as it created a quick opportunity for growth, but where it hurt me was in the ability to see how other managers, other companies managed accounts, clients and the like.
Working under the same person was easy. I knew the expectations, I understood who I was dealing with and ultimately she allowed me to bring to the table a number of new ideas and opportunities for the company and their clients. But ultimately my knowledge was limited to what she gave me in terms of managing clients.
They say that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint, and looking back I would say the same should apply to your SEO career.
In late 2009 the manager I worked under left the company and based off of my expertise, knowledge, and past leadership experience I was a prime candidate to take over as department manager. I was offered the position a short time after her departure and have continued in that role since.
However, as I look for new opportunities now, I recognize that this may have been the single biggest mistake in my SEO career.
Though I have seen some great successes with this and had some amazing opportunities I am still only working with the cards I had dealt to me initially. I have no knowledge of how other agencies or companies manage their clients or in-house SEO efforts.
There just isn’t enough out there on the business of SEO to help out in that department and no matter how good I am at what I do, there will be that learning curve when the next opportunity comes.
When it comes to SEO’s we are a dime a dozen these days. Sure, some of us are more qualified than others, but everyone and their cousin claims to be an SEO.
It’s just the nature of the business and no matter how big you think you might be, you’re probably a medium sized fish in a big pond of SEO’s.
Never has this been more apparent than during my recent job search. Landing a spot as a regular contributor here, as well as Search Engine People, being interviewed by Raven Tools, and more recently being given the chance to guest post for the Bruce Clay Blog felt like major milestones in my SEO career.
But in the midst of a major job search even these haven’t been enough to land me the new job opportunities I had hoped.
As I continue to look for an opportunity with a company that can use my current expertise and build upon it I recognize that I have put myself in a tough position.
With the experience I have in the trenches in addition to my experience as a manager I am fully capable of running a team, executing current best practices and seeing success.
On the flipside my limited experience with varying methods of how to manage SEO, clients and the like has me left me vulnerable. There are still a number of things about the business and how companies are managing clients and SEO efforts that I am probably completely ignorant to.
No matter where you are in your SEO career I strongly suggest you take a step back and evaluate your steps up until this point.
Are you hurting the long term efforts of your SEO career with decisions you are making right now at your current job? If you have, how will you cope with these decisions in the future?
Take this opportunity to find your weaknesses and find a means of strengthening those skills. It could make a huge difference in the long run.