How Do I Get an SEO Job at an Agency?

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Hey everyone,

Not sure if this is the best place to post this thread within the forum, but here I go anyway.

I've been doing this blogging thing for a couple of years now, albeit much more seriously the last 6-8 months, and I've been thinking about looking into SEO jobs, whether that be at a company or an agency. I figure this is something I'm passionate about and I'm kind of at an impasse/dead-end right now career-wise.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on going this route and I'm also interested in hearing how you guys broke into the SEO world. I figure an SEO job could pay the bills and teach me a lot of things regarding the industry.

I'm not sure how valuable my blogging experience is considering I haven't made any money yet (in the process of setting up Ezoic). I think I have a solid grasp of on-page SEO but I'm constantly learning new things about SEO in general.

Based on my experience, do you think this is enough to get my foot into the door? Would love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks,
Titan243
 
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I've personally found there to be 3 main rungs on the SEO ladder within an agency:
  • Junior - here you're going to do the leg work. Your going to pull data, build spreadsheets, hunt for link oportunities and do a lot of the unsexy work that's needed. You'll also be given a detailed SOP to follow which is where you start to learn the craft
  • Mid-level - here you're going to still do a lot of the leg work but you might be asked to look at a dataset or page and make suggestions on what needs to be changed and then to do it. Somebody will probably hold your hand on more complex tasks but you'll be given some autonomy on those manual tasks.
  • Senior / Lead - here you'll have a lot of autonomy, will look at a lot of data and form a strategy based on what will get the client results. You then form a roadmap and have your Mid-level and Junior do the work. You'll also be face to face with clients and expected to present in front of others.
  • Bonus: Management - here you'll be off the tools completely, have to deal with client and staff issues, read through the strategy document and basically forget how to actually DO SEO.
Then you can specialise a little bit.
  • Copy is always in demand and someone who can write and make sure the content is optimised is worth their weight in gold.
  • Technical SEO is all about making sure that the website is technically sound and setup to optimise how Google crawls the site.
  • Outreach is all about link building and to be honest is becoming more and more of a PR roll.
I broke into it after an ecommerce business I was working at needed to rank higher in the search results and as the most techy person on the team it was down to me.

From there I went into an agency and it was a baptism of fire - it can be very high pressure when things go wrong for clients but this is where you'll really learn your craft. Because you see so much data, you start to get a feel for what really works and moves the ranking needle.

But, the grass isn't always greener. As with all agencies, there's a lot of pressure to deliver results and for me it was too much so I moved to an in-house roll that is much more relaxed and allows you to really understand the industry and competition rather than just seeing them as rows in a spreadsheet.

Anyway, it's a rewarding career in an industry that's constantly changing but just be aware that the grass isn't always greener and it does have ups and downs like all jobs. You'll feel like a donkey when you start and you might be asked to do tasks that are 'below' you but you've gotta put in your time as an apprentics, show you can be trusted and you'll soon climb the ladder partly due to the high turnover in agencies.
 
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I've personally found there to be 3 main rungs on the SEO ladder within an agency:

  • Junior - here you're going to do the leg work. Your going to pull data, build spreadsheets, hunt for link oportunities and do a lot of the unsexy work that's needed. You'll also be given a detailed SOP to follow which is where you start to learn the craft
  • Mid-level - here you're going to still do a lot of the leg work but you might be asked to look at a dataset or page and make suggestions on what needs to be changed and then to do it. Somebody will probably hold your hand on more complex tasks but you'll be given some autonomy on those manual tasks.
  • Senior / Lead - here you'll have a lot of autonomy, will look at a lot of data and form a strategy based on what will get the client results. You then form a roadmap and have your Mid-level and Junior do the work. You'll also be face to face with clients and expected to present in front of others.
  • Bonus: Management - here you'll be off the tools completely, have to deal with client and staff issues, read through the strategy document and basically forget how to actually DO SEO.
Then you can specialise a little bit.

  • Copy is always in demand and someone who can write and make sure the content is optimised is worth their weight in gold.
  • Technical SEO is all about making sure that the website is technically sound and setup to optimise how Google crawls the site.
  • Outreach is all about link building and to be honest is becoming more and more of a PR roll.
I broke into it after an ecommerce business I was working at needed to rank higher in the search results and as the most techy person on the team it was down to me.

From there I went into an agency and it was a baptism of fire - it can be very high pressure when things go wrong for clients but this is where you'll really learn your craft. Because you see so much data, you start to get a feel for what really works and moves the ranking needle.

But, the grass isn't always greener. As with all agencies, there's a lot of pressure to deliver results and for me it was too much so I moved to an in-house roll that is much more relaxed and allows you to really understand the industry and competition rather than just seeing them as rows in a spreadsheet.

Anyway, it's a rewarding career in an industry that's constantly changing but just be aware that the grass isn't always greener and it does have ups and downs like all jobs. You'll feel like a donkey when you start and you might be asked to do tasks that are 'below' you but you've gotta put in your time as an apprentics, show you can be trusted and you'll soon climb the ladder partly due to the high turnover in agencies.
Did you feel your experience at your ecommerce business was more than enough to land your agency job? Or were you taking anything you could get at that point?
 

Steve Brownlie

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It's just like any industry - if you don't have the experience needed to land the interview for the job you want just start lower down the chain and 'get your foot in the door'.

My first work in SEO was mostly writing work for SEO agencies that I wanted to do more work for just so I could get to know the editors etc. That led to me getting bigger contracts with them to handle links and more and... the rest is history...
 
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Did you feel your experience at your ecommerce business was more than enough to land your agency job? Or were you taking anything you could get at that point?

I went it an a junior level and the interview reflected that. They certainly didn't ask me to present a full strategy, in fact the questions were more about understanding how the web works that anything else.

Believe me, you'll be amazed at how much more than the average Joe you actually know just by reading this site and a few journals.
 

bernard

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It's pretty easy to get an SEO job.

I would say everyone who shows some drive and can demonstrate some technological skills will get a shot at it. Bonus points if you can create content in some way.

There's no education or fixed requirements for being an SEO, though the field is moving more towards specialized roles where the technical parts get more technical and the creative parts get more creative, which means they will begin to recruit more typical candidates from marketing or data science and so on.

For now, I would still guess that it's a business for those willing to go for it.

There's really no way to prepare you for an SEO job, you'll just have to look for jobs and apply or try to reach out. You'll start at the bottom, but as mentioned, you'll have a good chance of quickly moving up. There's nothing saying you can't go from Junior to Management in 2 years in SEO, provided you're an actual talent. You could also be stuck doing boring stuff for a low salary.

That's important, the salary. SEO salaries are not great. They're rather low, at least in Junior positions. They're nowhere near the salaries you could expect if you're a talented data scientist out of college or working in finance.

However the upside to SEO is that you can basically decide your own salary if you're skilled enough. Just open your own agency in a few years if you feel like it.

Do note that you won't make it big in SEO unless you're either extremely technical or good at the extrovert parts of the game. If you can't meet and sell to clients and if you hate doing public speaking, then you better be really damn good at something else or you will never really get a high salary.
 
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That's important, the salary. SEO salaries are not great. They're rather low, at least in Junior positions. They're nowhere near the salaries you could expect if you're a talented data scientist out of college or working in finance.

However the upside to SEO is that you can basically decide your own salary if you're skilled enough. Just open your own agency in a few years if you feel like it.

This is an important thing to note. The money sucks compared to programming or data science, however, you'll learn some skills to start a side project to top-up your salary really quickly, especially if you can write.
 

Mr Potato

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I'm passionate about and I'm kind of at an impasse/dead-end right now career-wise.
Why not continue to work your job and do SEO in your spare time until you can generate enough to go out on your own. If you are able to get really good at it you can probably make more working for yourself.
 
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This is an important thing to note. The money sucks compared to programming or data science, however, you'll learn some skills to start a side project to top-up your salary really quickly, especially if you can write.
I guess the good thing is that “money sucks” is subjective. I’m a communications major/comp sci minor who hasn’t held a job that pays more than $35k a year up to this point.

I live 1hr 30 mins from LA, so I’m starting to look for some jobs there. Looks like entry lvl starts at $50-60k ish. Granted cost of living is higher as well.
 
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On most job boards, they let you view only the newest jobs from within the last week within the geographic area you're interested in, that have the keywords you've searched for. Therefore, if you scrape the data every Monday, you can figure out how many new SEO jobs open up in your area and remotely, as many job boards also show remote jobs. With that, it's only a matter of time that you find your job, one that compensates you at a fair amount. You can figure out the fair amount by going on many, many interviews and discussing compensation for the duties of the job. Also, by going on many job interviews, you'll get really good at discussing yourself, SEO, your SEO abilities, and your cultural fit to the company. The first 3 are self-explanatory. The last one is that, if you're working a 9-5 and are going to see people 40 hours a week, you want to hire someone who fits in with the rest of the people there. Law firms are notorious for hiring like this but this is everywhere. Figure out what the people there value and that's how you fit in, with common values. It can be family, travel, globalism, quantitative, customer-centric, egalitarianism, democracy, health, care, equal-opportunity, activism, helping the poor, and innovation. You can tell from the workplace itself as well as the culture you're in. Most work place problems are because of cultural fit. Humble yourself, as you're the new guy in the polis.

As for your blog, yes, put that in the resume. If you're in a country that uses CVs, you can put that in the hobbies section as it's not an education or job experience. It might be good to talk about it and what you learned. It depends on who's interviewing you, the role, and the company.

Finally, no one here discussed this but it's very important: make sure you negotiate good. Your first compensation package will be used by the company when it come time for raises. It'll also be used by your next employer too. You want to start your (new) career on a good foot. There's more to compensation than just salary. You can negotiate with equity, bonuses, paid time off, sick days, insurance, parking permit, retirement plan, work from home days (pre or post covid), possibility of remote work (I wouldn't bring this up if it's an "old fashion" company on the first day), choice of desk and computer equipment, and more. You gotta be creative and know who you're negotiating with and the company's culture.

Once you're hired. The attitude you want to have is someone who is eager to work and learn. You are the new guy. You also have a prize in mind, which is whatever promotion you see open after a few months. Figure out what the company needs and go for it. That's how you open yourself up to a re-negotiation of salary. Keep doing that and you'll be really well off in your career.

Also, to be fair, I know people who are well off and who did not do this at all too but I don't think you have the formal qualifications that they do. I'm thinking of people with MBAs from top schools who've worked for the big five. IMO, what I laid out might be your best bet, but it's only from my experience and what I know about the market. You have no formal qualifications and have to put in sweat instead of going the higher education route. Both routes have their drawbacks and benefits but it's tech: you can't just go to work and expect good union benefits.

Good luck!
 

eliquid

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@Titan243

I'd give you a slightly different viewpoint, direction, and advice than what is posted here already.

But I'd need to know one thing first, why do you really want an SEO job?

Think about this long and hard.. ask a couple of whys along the way to narrow it down.

Is any of it financial-based? As in, you want to earn a good living in a job doing something you could also learn from ( that being SEO ).

Or do you just want to learn SEO, without really needing a paycheck?

Let me know.
 
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@Titan243

I'd give you a slightly different viewpoint, direction, and advice than what is posted here already.

But I'd need to know one thing first, why do you really want an SEO job?

Think about this long and hard.. ask a couple of whys along the way to narrow it down.

Is any of it financial-based? As in, you want to earn a good living in a job doing something you could also learn from ( that being SEO ).

Or do you just want to learn SEO, without really needing a paycheck?

Let me know.
I’d be lying if some of them weren’t financial-based. I’m 28 and not where I want to be financially - so that’s definitely a part of it. I also imagine that I’d learn a lot of SEO best practices that I could implement on my blog in process of working an SEO day job. I figure I’d be hitting two birds with one stone.

Ultimately it would be nice to make a living off my blog, but I’m under no illusion that’s going to happen within the next couple of years. I’m currently working in a temporary position, which if it does become permanent, starts around $35k a year which definitely isn’t ideal. I picked up a teaching degree before the school year started but was unable to find a job. Covid definitely played a role in that, but trying to teach PE also didn’t help haha.
 
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Ultimately it would be nice to make a living off my blog, but I’m under no illusion that’s going to happen within the next couple of years. I’m currently working in a temporary position, which if it does become permanent, starts around $35k a year which definitely isn’t ideal. I picked up a teaching degree before the school year started but was unable to find a job. Covid definitely played a role in that, but trying to teach PE also didn’t help haha.

To tell it to you directly, you're stupid and lazy. You're stupid because I'm assuming what I wrote went over your head. You're lazy because you could have had a job by now.

Look at my screenshot. There's 784 new remote SEO jobs within the last 7 days on Indeed. If you apply to every one, which would take 40 hours a week, you can have a job in 2 months. That's 7,000 job ads, X applications, Y interviews, and Z offers. This includes the time to show up to interviews, wait for them to talk to enough applicants to make a decision, negotiate pay, etc.



Indeed is for "traditional" jobs. Angel.co is good for startups. I'm not familiar with other job boards and if you're outside of the US, you can still apply to remote jobs that are posted in English too.

I wonder what they teach you in the physical education curriculum. Having a blog in itself won't make you stand out, unless your writing is spectacular, which it is not. If you actually are looking for a job, go on HubSpot and Google Analytics and get those free certificates. That shows initiative and that you were smart enough to understand some intellect. It's also a formal qualification, so everyone who has those qualifications are known to have the same knowledge. Your blog didn't get traction and all it shows was that you could register an account on BlogSpot and post articles. Any 14 year old can do that. What they're looking for in the job interview is the market value for your labor. Your blog has 0 market value other than the fact that it's installed and has posted articles.

Other than that, yeah, you're in a tough position. Good luck.
 

eliquid

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I’d be lying if some of them weren’t financial-based. I’m 28 and not where I want to be financially - so that’s definitely a part of it. I also imagine that I’d learn a lot of SEO best practices that I could implement on my blog in process of working an SEO day job. I figure I’d be hitting two birds with one stone.

Ultimately it would be nice to make a living off my blog, but I’m under no illusion that’s going to happen within the next couple of years. I’m currently working in a temporary position, which if it does become permanent, starts around $35k a year which definitely isn’t ideal. I picked up a teaching degree before the school year started but was unable to find a job. Covid definitely played a role in that, but trying to teach PE also didn’t help haha.

$35k today isn't what it was back in 2005, but at 28 years old myself... that was less than I was making and I held down 3 roles at one place as both the web programmer and Internet marketer for a ecommerce company.

I built 3 ecom stores by myself for them and was pushing thousands of leads daily both organically with SEO, and with PPC. And I was only making $30k a year with 6 years of experience already.

Plus, I had to drive about 1.25 hours each way to this job every day.

I also was married with 3 kids. So you might be in a much better position than I was at 28.

At 29, I got a break because I developed one of the first SEO plugins for Wordpress and noticed someone installed it from the city next to mine and it looked like they owned a big agency, so I wrote to them and asked them if they liked my plugin so much, how about they hire me?

It was an extreme longshot. More of a joke really. But I was in silent desperation for something better. Back then, you couldn't raise a family on $30k even in a rural area of the country. I needed something to happen in my life and was desperate.

That email worked out.

I ended up landing a remote position with THAT agency which ended up being headquartered in Canada. They paid me like $85k a year and fully paid for my healthcare, cell phone, gave me a laptop, etc.. Still not big money, but it was the biggest money I had ever gotten and I was now NOT paying for healthcare and not driving to work and I was doing just 1 job now instead of 2 or 3. It was a massive change.

One year later, I ended up doing over 7 figures NET profit on my own. I got laid off from that big agency and struck it out on my own.

In just one year, I went from $30k to $85k. While some may smirk, this is lifechanging for someone that routinely made less than $34k prior from age 15 to 28.

The next year, I was my own boss and making 7 figures NET annually. Life changing again.

Your life can change in just a few months, and it can happen multiple times too. Just hang on and face every day until it does.

Back then, in 1999-2007, there were no courses online or degrees ( for internet marketing ). Barely anything was written about the subject. There were no plugins for Wordpress ( I made one of the first ones for WP 2.0 ). Sure things were easier to rank for back then, but there was also no training or people to hold your hand or scripts/apps/SaaS/plugins to help you along really.

I am now 42 and I've had over 100 jobs in my life. Most were 2nd jobs at full-time or part-time. Some were 3rd jobs or contractor roles. I've learned a lot about jobs, hiring, making money, SEO etc.

Here are some of "job" rules I once lived by. Of note, these rules may not be for you or others. These are based off my experience and my beliefs:


1. You have to be valuable to someone else. Even if that value is just "perceived". What you feel is worthless or common, someone else might see as extremely valuable and unique. You need to learn the language of communication and what others are looking for/needing and then translate that into you fitting that bill. Most people have no clue what they actually want, even though they told you they want XYZ. You need to learn how to navigate this and then place yourself as the one that can do it.

As an example, most "jobs" I have held.. the job description required a degree. Many times it was a Masters degree, but mostly it was Bach. level. I don't have a degree though.. but I still applied and always got an interview still. I ended up getting the job the majority of the time even though I don't have a degree and I wasn't a wizard at Excel and I wasn't XYZ in the job description.

You got to learn to speak the language of value and know what these people really want. For example, if this is a Director level position, they probably want someone ( no matter what tech skills they put in the job desc. ) to own the numbers, own the program, take it off their hands, and plan all the strategy and manage it - being a good "manager" would be more important in this role than being a good "seo". You wont be learning on the job, you are bringing in value you already have.

If this is a Analyst position, they don't want someone to own it.. they want someone to "take orders" pretty much and do the "seo". Taking orders is more important though. They want a cog in the wheelhouse. Most things will be learned on the job at this level and you will be creating value mostly.

You got to learn that. The job description means shit most times, at most companies. But you gotta get that "gut" feeling and learn things like this so you can speak to their core need for this job.


2. The fastest way to higher salary for a job seeker, is to jump jobs. I just know someone is going to try to kill me on this one, but that's my experience. It's happened to me dozens of times already and proved itself to me.

I can stay at a company for 2-3 years and only get a 2% or 3% raise. I can stay at a company only to learn this year they are not matching 401k at the end of the year because of financial reasons, or that they are laying off my department. I can also find out they are getting VC and installing all their cronies and now I lost out on the promotion I was promised. I could go on and on. I can be the hardest worker on the team that stays late and brings in more leads/sales and contributes to extra projects and the girl that just got hired 3 months whos knows the bosses wife ends up getting the promotion I was promised.

The best 2 from my life are the ones where I came in and transformed the company from doing 7M the year prior to 20M the year I was there via online sales where I was the ONLY online marketing person in the company and I was getting paid $28K for it.. and when I asked for a yearly raise to $34k they told me they didn't have the money.

I put in my 2 weeks and got my $34k at another company. 4 months later the company that "didn't have the money" was calling me and asking me to come back and that they now "had the money" suddenly. Wow.

The 2nd example is where I negotiated work from home if I met X KPI for online sales at a company. I met it and asked for my work from home benefit. I was confronted with, "maybe we will let you work from home 1 day a week.. I need to think about it". That didn't sit well with me, as I had came from working from home 100% prior to this role and my boss directly knew from our negotiation I wanted to work from home 100%. Also the whole "maybe we will let you" didn't sit right with me either. Im not a child and Im not asking permission here...

I gave my 2 weeks after a year of working with them and landed a job where I would work from home 100% and increased my salary 50% at the same time.

I've got dozens of personal work examples of this. But staying at 1 company no matter how valuable you are just doesn't work out for me, if I am seeking "better". To a certain limit, I can increase my salary 20-30% job hopping, something most people will not get staying at a company long term.

If I exclude self employment/companies I own, I have been able to go from making $7 an hour at Six Flags when I was 15, to salaries of $150k with fully paid for healthcare deductibles, monthly bonuses, and ownership equity in the company.. all by jumping to another job to get to that level.

Someone out there will find you "valuable" and pay you what you are worth eventually, but you might have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that company.

Also, you just never know when a management change will screw something up for you. Management changes have been probably the #1 reason I missed out on something and it's happened many times to me. I've lost more positions and contracts to "management changes" than any other reason and management changes in companies seem to happen a lot.

If I wanted more money, more than 2-4% annual increases, jumping the job has been the fastest and most rewarding means of doing so.


3. Everything is 100% entirely on you. Reading my story above, you might notice some common themes.

I reached out to the agency that installed my plugin and I took the chance. ( trying to improve my life )

I made a plugin. ( im out here doing things, not waiting for them )

I worked more jobs than I should have, routinely taking on 2-3 job roles but being paid for 1. ( creating value where I could )

I had to balls to walk away from every job I ever had if I didn't get what I thought I deserved. ( i had to believe in me, but more importantly I had to fight for me )

I was a top performer. ( I didn't lay back and do nothing, i was always trying to out perform something )

I started in an age where there was really no information about SEO or PPC. I had to be a self starter ALWAYS. ( self start, self learn, constant improvement, doing on my own and not waiting for permission or waiting for something to come to me for me to learn it )

Management changes were the largest ( but not only ) reason I seemed to get stunted in my career. That wasn't their fault, but mine for not being prepared. Remember, everything is 100% on you. If you aren't prepared for life, life will wreck you in some way. I had to learn this the hard way many times.

Main thought from this is, you better always be "doing" and "doing" and "doing" to get yourself where you need to be. No sleeping in late or thinking, "eh I will fill in this job app tomorrow". If that thinking has crept in, you already are losing.


4. People only seem to remember the "last thing" you did wither what you did was true or not. You might have took them from $7M to $20M in 12 months. You might have took them from $800,000 to $40M in 12 months.

You might have worked weekends and late nights for them to get multiple projects out the door on time when no one else on your team would dare do this.

You might have custom coded systems to help automate and improve their lead flow system on the side as the PPC marketer to help better your own job and not charged them a dime for it or even worked on it on their time.

You might have brought them 3 big ass clients when you got hired that now spend each $300k-$500k monthly ( total over $1M in ad spend ) that they would have never landed on their own. You brought them in the door and did the intros and even did the contracts.

But damn, if you accidently drop the F bomb on a client call or forgot to check a backup that didn't run or entered in $50.00 when you meant $5.00 for a PPC bid on a late night push they gave you last minute and lost the company $2k or $3k grand one day when you normally make them $40k a day profit, that's all they need to fire you or demote you in some way. Maybe not give you your 2-4% raise in 4 months at your annual evaluation.

The point ends up being... no matter all the multiple great you did for 2 years, most times you will be evaluated and measured on the last thing you did.

At most companies, you are only as good as what you last did for them. So you better always be performing 120%, 100% of the time.


5. Ageism is real. Older workers are devalued. I'm not old enough ( or in a position now ) to really feel this.

But my parents are. I have friends who are. People at the top of their game, getting let go or not hired for what seems to be age.

Of course, Im not in the room when the interview happens or when the team meets to decide what to do, but you can pick up on things after a while.

At some point, people expect that if you are 50 or 60 you should more than likely be in a senior or senior management role. They might not verbally say this or acknowledge it, but if Becky is 59 and still just an accountant at XYZ company helping the CFO or Controller, they can probably find someone cheaper, faster, and more energetic to do extra projects if they hire a 23 year old accountant to replace Becky. Maybe they just hire Bench.co and outsource it and do away with the hassle of Becky.

The reason I bring this up, you are 28. At some point, you will cap a ceiling on what jobs you can get based on your age.

Would you rather be trying to be senior level at 30, or trying when your 59 like Becky?

People like fresh and new. They are more willing to give a new person a shot at Director or VP ( who held prior experience ), then promoting Becky to that level.

You can get that experience job jumping now, not when you are 59 and gave most of your life to 1 company that never really promoted you.

This also ties into "doing" and giving 120%, 100% of the time. In 20 years time you might not be able to get a regular SEO job, you have to have the chops to fit into a senior role by then so you need to start now.


5. Sometimes, your boss is dumber about the topic than you. Most people that will be your boss, will be people that once did SEO ( hands on ), but more than likely do not do it now. They don't keep up with the industry or do it hands on, but more manage the department and planning of it. They might be client facing now and handle the client relations if there are no account managers, etc.

But if you are wanting them to "teach you" SEO, I would stay away from that.

If you want to learn SEO, you need to be doing it every day on your own.

Sure you can hold a job doing it too, but if you are wanting your Director or someone similar to teach you, you might be getting old or inaccurate info passed down to you. Plus, they might be a good Director or SEO, but a poor teacher.

So many things can hinder you learning on the job really. I wouldn't put my eggs in a basket to be learning from them.

If you really want to learn, you are going to have to do it yourself daily on your own project to really learn. Go ahead and get the job too, but be fully prepared to dig in 4-5 hours nightly after work on your own if you really want to learn.

Remember, they are in a position to now manage things, not really always do it hands on. They might pass you to a junior SEO to learn from.. and what is a junior SEO really gonna know?

There is just too many things that can go wrong here. I wouldn't want to learn on the job honestly.

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$35k today isn't what it was back in 2005, but at 28 years old myself... that was less than I was making and I held down 3 roles at one place as both the web programmer and Internet marketer for a ecommerce company.

I built 3 ecom stores by myself for them and was pushing thousands of leads daily both organically with SEO, and with PPC. And I was only making $30k a year with 6 years of experience already.

Plus, I had to drive about 1.25 hours each way to this job every day.

I also was married with 3 kids. So you might be in a much better position than I was at 28.

At 29, I got a break because I developed one of the first SEO plugins for Wordpress and noticed someone installed it from the city next to mine and it looked like they owned a big agency, so I wrote to them and asked them if they liked my plugin so much, how about they hire me?

It was an extreme longshot. More of a joke really. But I was in silent desperation for something better. Back then, you couldn't raise a family on $30k even in a rural area of the country. I needed something to happen in my life and was desperate.

That email worked out.

I ended up landing a remote position with THAT agency which ended up being headquartered in Canada. They paid me like $85k a year and fully paid for my healthcare, cell phone, gave me a laptop, etc.. Still not big money, but it was the biggest money I had ever gotten and I was now NOT paying for healthcare and not driving to work and I was doing just 1 job now instead of 2 or 3. It was a massive change.

One year later, I ended up doing over 7 figures NET profit on my own. I got laid off from that big agency and struck it out on my own.

In just one year, I went from $30k to $85k. While some may smirk, this is lifechanging for someone that routinely made less than $34k prior from age 15 to 28.

The next year, I was my own boss and making 7 figures NET annually. Life changing again.

Your life can change in just a few months, and it can happen multiple times too. Just hang on and face every day until it does.

Back then, in 1999-2007, there were no courses online or degrees ( for internet marketing ). Barely anything was written about the subject. There were no plugins for Wordpress ( I made one of the first ones for WP 2.0 ). Sure things were easier to rank for back then, but there was also no training or people to hold your hand or scripts/apps/SaaS/plugins to help you along really.

I am now 42 and I've had over 100 jobs in my life. Most were 2nd jobs at full-time or part-time. Some were 3rd jobs or contractor roles. I've learned a lot about jobs, hiring, making money, SEO etc.

Here are some of "job" rules I once lived by. Of note, these rules may not be for you or others. These are based off my experience and my beliefs:


1. You have to be valuable to someone else. Even if that value is just "perceived". What you feel is worthless or common, someone else might see as extremely valuable and unique. You need to learn the language of communication and what others are looking for/needing and then translate that into you fitting that bill. Most people have no clue what they actually want, even though they told you they want XYZ. You need to learn how to navigate this and then place yourself as the one that can do it.

As an example, most "jobs" I have held.. the job description required a degree. Many times it was a Masters degree, but mostly it was Bach. level. I don't have a degree though.. but I still applied and always got an interview still. I ended up getting the job the majority of the time even though I don't have a degree and I wasn't a wizard at Excel and I wasn't XYZ in the job description.

You got to learn to speak the language of value and know what these people really want. For example, if this is a Director level position, they probably want someone ( no matter what tech skills they put in the job desc. ) to own the numbers, own the program, take it off their hands, and plan all the strategy and manage it - being a good "manager" would be more important in this role than being a good "seo". You wont be learning on the job, you are bringing in value you already have.

If this is a Analyst position, they don't want someone to own it.. they want someone to "take orders" pretty much and do the "seo". Taking orders is more important though. They want a cog in the wheelhouse. Most things will be learned on the job at this level and you will be creating value mostly.

You got to learn that. The job description means shit most times, at most companies. But you gotta get that "gut" feeling and learn things like this so you can speak to their core need for this job.


2. The fastest way to higher salary for a job seeker, is to jump jobs. I just know someone is going to try to kill me on this one, but that's my experience. It's happened to me dozens of times already and proved itself to me.

I can stay at a company for 2-3 years and only get a 2% or 3% raise. I can stay at a company only to learn this year they are not matching 401k at the end of the year because of financial reasons, or that they are laying off my department. I can also find out they are getting VC and installing all their cronies and now I lost out on the promotion I was promised. I could go on and on. I can be the hardest worker on the team that stays late and brings in more leads/sales and contributes to extra projects and the girl that just got hired 3 months whos knows the bosses wife ends up getting the promotion I was promised.

The best 2 from my life are the ones where I came in and transformed the company from doing 7M the year prior to 20M the year I was there via online sales where I was the ONLY online marketing person in the company and I was getting paid $28K for it.. and when I asked for a yearly raise to $34k they told me they didn't have the money.

I put in my 2 weeks and got my $34k at another company. 4 months later the company that "didn't have the money" was calling me and asking me to come back and that they now "had the money" suddenly. Wow.

The 2nd example is where I negotiated work from home if I met X KPI for online sales at a company. I met it and asked for my work from home benefit. I was confronted with, "maybe we will let you work from home 1 day a week.. I need to think about it". That didn't sit well with me, as I had came from working from home 100% prior to this role and my boss directly knew from our negotiation I wanted to work from home 100%. Also the whole "maybe we will let you" didn't sit right with me either. Im not a child and Im not asking permission here...

I gave my 2 weeks after a year of working with them and landed a job where I would work from home 100% and increased my salary 50% at the same time.

I've got dozens of personal work examples of this. But staying at 1 company no matter how valuable you are just doesn't work out for me, if I am seeking "better". To a certain limit, I can increase my salary 20-30% job hopping, something most people will not get staying at a company long term.

If I exclude self employment/companies I own, I have been able to go from making $7 an hour at Six Flags when I was 15, to salaries of $150k with fully paid for healthcare deductibles, monthly bonuses, and ownership equity in the company.. all by jumping to another job to get to that level.

Someone out there will find you "valuable" and pay you what you are worth eventually, but you might have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that company.

Also, you just never know when a management change will screw something up for you. Management changes have been probably the #1 reason I missed out on something and it's happened many times to me. I've lost more positions and contracts to "management changes" than any other reason and management changes in companies seem to happen a lot.

If I wanted more money, more than 2-4% annual increases, jumping the job has been the fastest and most rewarding means of doing so.


3. Everything is 100% entirely on you. Reading my story above, you might notice some common themes.

I reached out to the agency that installed my plugin and I took the chance. ( trying to improve my life )

I made a plugin. ( im out here doing things, not waiting for them )

I worked more jobs than I should have, routinely taking on 2-3 job roles but being paid for 1. ( creating value where I could )

I had to balls to walk away from every job I ever had if I didn't get what I thought I deserved. ( i had to believe in me, but more importantly I had to fight for me )

I was a top performer. ( I didn't lay back and do nothing, i was always trying to out perform something )

I started in an age where there was really no information about SEO or PPC. I had to be a self starter ALWAYS. ( self start, self learn, constant improvement, doing on my own and not waiting for permission or waiting for something to come to me for me to learn it )

Management changes were the largest ( but not only ) reason I seemed to get stunted in my career. That wasn't their fault, but mine for not being prepared. Remember, everything is 100% on you. If you aren't prepared for life, life will wreck you in some way. I had to learn this the hard way many times.

Main thought from this is, you better always be "doing" and "doing" and "doing" to get yourself where you need to be. No sleeping in late or thinking, "eh I will fill in this job app tomorrow". If that thinking has crept in, you already are losing.


4. People only seem to remember the "last thing" you did wither what you did was true or not. You might have took them from $7M to $20M in 12 months. You might have took them from $800,000 to $40M in 12 months.

You might have worked weekends and late nights for them to get multiple projects out the door on time when no one else on your team would dare do this.

You might have custom coded systems to help automate and improve their lead flow system on the side as the PPC marketer to help better your own job and not charged them a dime for it or even worked on it on their time.

You might have brought them 3 big ass clients when you got hired that now spend each $300k-$500k monthly ( total over $1M in ad spend ) that they would have never landed on their own. You brought them in the door and did the intros and even did the contracts.

But damn, if you accidently drop the F bomb on a client call or forgot to check a backup that didn't run or entered in $50.00 when you meant $5.00 for a PPC bid on a late night push they gave you last minute and lost the company $2k or $3k grand one day when you normally make them $40k a day profit, that's all they need to fire you or demote you in some way. Maybe not give you your 2-4% raise in 4 months at your annual evaluation.

The point ends up being... no matter all the multiple great you did for 2 years, most times you will be evaluated and measured on the last thing you did.

At most companies, you are only as good as what you last did for them. So you better always be performing 120%, 100% of the time.


5. Ageism is real. Older workers are devalued. I'm not old enough ( or in a position now ) to really feel this.

But my parents are. I have friends who are. People at the top of their game, getting let go or not hired for what seems to be age.

Of course, Im not in the room when the interview happens or when the team meets to decide what to do, but you can pick up on things after a while.

At some point, people expect that if you are 50 or 60 you should more than likely be in a senior or senior management role. They might not verbally say this or acknowledge it, but if Becky is 59 and still just an accountant at XYZ company helping the CFO or Controller, they can probably find someone cheaper, faster, and more energetic to do extra projects if they hire a 23 year old accountant to replace Becky. Maybe they just hire Bench.co and outsource it and do away with the hassle of Becky.

The reason I bring this up, you are 28. At some point, you will cap a ceiling on what jobs you can get based on your age.

Would you rather be trying to be senior level at 30, or trying when your 59 like Becky?

People like fresh and new. They are more willing to give a new person a shot at Director or VP ( who held prior experience ), then promoting Becky to that level.

You can get that experience job jumping now, not when you are 59 and gave most of your life to 1 company that never really promoted you.

This also ties into "doing" and giving 120%, 100% of the time. In 20 years time you might not be able to get a regular SEO job, you have to have the chops to fit into a senior role by then so you need to start now.


5. Sometimes, your boss is dumber about the topic than you. Most people that will be your boss, will be people that once did SEO ( hands on ), but more than likely do not do it now. They don't keep up with the industry or do it hands on, but more manage the department and planning of it. They might be client facing now and handle the client relations if there are no account managers, etc.

But if you are wanting them to "teach you" SEO, I would stay away from that.

If you want to learn SEO, you need to be doing it every day on your own.

Sure you can hold a job doing it too, but if you are wanting your Director or someone similar to teach you, you might be getting old or inaccurate info passed down to you. Plus, they might be a good Director or SEO, but a poor teacher.

So many things can hinder you learning on the job really. I wouldn't put my eggs in a basket to be learning from them.

If you really want to learn, you are going to have to do it yourself daily on your own project to really learn. Go ahead and get the job too, but be fully prepared to dig in 4-5 hours nightly after work on your own if you really want to learn.

Remember, they are in a position to now manage things, not really always do it hands on. They might pass you to a junior SEO to learn from.. and what is a junior SEO really gonna know?

There is just too many things that can go wrong here. I wouldn't want to learn on the job honestly.

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This post is awesome. There's so much truth and value in this post even if you are not looking for a job. Thanks for sharing.

Even though I never had a "real" job in my life so much from this post resonates with me. Especially the hustle part. The "giving 120%, 100% of the time" is so true, not only for work but in all aspects of life. You always have to try to become better and evolve all the time.

I've been doing niche sites, mostly SEO for a long time. I've been doing this since 2009.
I was using WordPress when anybody else was still using Joomla/drupal when plugins were barely a thing. I learned basic PHP, just to be able to do some things. Might have even used your plugin haha.

To make decent money in this world you always have to evolve and learn new things. All without handholding. Well, that's if you want to perform constantly. That's if you want to level up quickly.
I learned everything by myself.
Granted I've watched and still watching courses and still learning new things almost every day. I'm doing well, but if I would have been always "giving 120%, 100% of the time", I would be doing even better.

@Titan243, if you want to be successful (or might I say very successful) in SEO, I recommend the "giving 120%, 100% of the time". Watch some affiliate/SEO courses if you have to, there are a few decent people out there who are sharing quality.

IMO you need to learn (and test) the basics by yourself to be able to level up easier/faster. I'm pretty sure the majority of SEO people are still not giving enough importance to the newer ranking factors like: search intent, CTR, dwell time. These things are becoming more and more important. But, you still won't be able to rank without learning the basics of onpage and offpage SEO.

People will help you out, if they see that you put in the work and you are trying to become a better version of yourself. I would always help someone if I see that he is really trying.

Also, don't be afraid to ask people what they think about your website. I won't be doing the work for you but might have some ideas to improve your sites and earnings.
Thanks to the small changes I made in the last 2 months, I grow my affiliate income by at least 50%. But I was thinking day and night about it. I was obsessed with it. I researched/read case studies about the ideas I had. I tested a lot. I still need to implement some CRO ideas.

I even asked (random) people for help, but only after I did my homework. Guess what? They helped me for free, probably because they saw my hustle.

SEO is and will become more and more complicated.

Anyway, my point is "you better always be performing 120%, 100% of the time." I'm sorry to say this (don't take this the bad way), but I don't see too much of "I will do whatever it takes" to level up fast in your posts. And that's bad.
The good news is, that you can fix that if you really want to do this and you want to reach high figures.
 

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To answer the DIRECT question of the OP: Call them. If you want a job CALL THEM. Make 2000 phone calls, meaning you actually got a hold of someone, and you'll get whatever you want out of life.

Every job I've ever had I took action, exactly like @eliquid and @janky are talking about. YOU have to be the driving force.

"Remember you are only 3000 phone calls away from your deal. Most of you guys aren't willing to make 3 phone calls." - Dan Peña

In getting a job, in getting laid, in buying businesses, in finding bankers, in finding accountants, in finding partners, in finding ANY you have to reach out.

NOT with a fucking email, but a phone call. Hiding behind an email or text message is weakness.

Forget the jobs I've had, every major project that I've worked on that has been successful I TALKED to the person I wanted to partner up with. "Hey let's jump on a call".

This is VERY VERY critical. Sales is very very critical. Whether you are selling used cars or trying to get laid for the night at a bar. Most people shy away from sales cause they think it's sleazy, guess what - NOTHING on earth happens until someone sells something. Someone has to convince someone else of something - period.

When you are on a phone call or have a meeting in person - anyone that's got above a 3rd grade education can tell when someone is passionate about something. It's in their voice, in their speech, in their speed of talk, in their mannerism, how comfortable they are, how confident they are.

ALL these small things matter. It's very hard to show passion through email and text. Some of you guys might love reading my content, but that's cause I've practiced storytelling by words. AND if you can sense passion from text content, what do you think it's like on a phone call when I'm trying to convince someone of something I genuinely believe in.

That's the problem with "sales men" - if you are selling a used car that you think is shit, it's sleezy. If you are selling a car that you genuinely believe will help this guy's wife feel safe driving their children around and it comes across because, as @eliquid alluded to, you figured out what's important to them, boom you got them.

So if you simply improve your communication skills.

If it was me I would not try to get an SEO job I would try to get a sales job where I am learning from sharks, even the mere exposure has helped me 1000x over throughout my life.

To answer an underlying question that @eliquid eluded to, "WHY"? Your answer is summed up as "to make money".

SEO It's not easy as it seems or is preached. To gain backlinks you have to outreach (best for phone call). To get guest-posts, to get Google visitors to buy from your affiliate links - copywriting is selling.

A lot of people get into SEO thinking they'll throw up a site, throw up content and sit and wait for Google to send them 10,000 converting visitors a day within a couple of months.

That ain't going to happen.

SEO: you gotta make sure your site ranks.
CRO: you gotta make sure your pages convert.
PPC: you gotta make sure your campaigns stay profitable.
KPIs: you gotta know what drives the needle - "What gets measures gets accomplished"
ROI: you gotta make sure what you are doing and putting energy towards makes you money.

The 5 above are skills that can be learned in a couple of days but take years to master (there are a lot more).

But just like it's preached you have to put in 120% effort in 100% of the time.

That then begs the question are you passionate about SEO to put in 120% effort in learning and mastering it for the next 2-10 years?

I personally wouldn't get a job if I was to start over - wastes too much fucking time. People do research and look for hand-holding cause of lack of confidence. Getting a job is going to put you in the grunt worker mentality where you look forward to a paycheck biweekly or whatever the fuck people get paid.

When you own your own business - you can make $5K one month, $10K the next, $30K the next, $100K the next. It all depends on how hungry are and how much effort you put in.

I hope it's obvious that the difference between the guy making $5K a month with their business and the one making $100K a month is sales - finding sponsorships, finding better offers, finding joint-ventures, finding partners, finding new sources of leads, finding new revenue sources, etc). If you want to double your money double your output of what's working.

If you got a business or even a job or some project and it is not where YOU want it to be or think it should be it is YOUR fault. First take 100% accountability then take action.