SEO as a Career: Everything You Need To Know (Step-By-Step)

SEO has become a critical part of online marketing, leading to the birth of SEO as a career. But, it is by no means an easy field to work in. After spending many years in this ever-evolving field, I’ve learned that I will never stop learning and will need to adapt constantly.

But, even though it can be difficult to stay up to date, an SEO career is also incredibly rewarding. You can see the effects of your work right in front of you through real-time data.

So, let’s delve into the different opportunities you might encounter, the challenges you will face, and the skills you will need to help you decide if an SEO career is right for you.

Why Consider SEO as a Career?

Search engine optimization as a career path is a relatively recent thing. It is still a little bit unconventional, but the field is growing rapidly, according to a survey by Artios.

Paired with this sudden high demand for SEO specialists, as well as the financial implications of digital marketing and the benefits of SEO, you can also expect a lucrative average salary. And there are growth opportunities.

Search engines like Google are constantly being updated to give people better results. That means that you will not only have to keep learning and growing, but it also increases the amount of work available to you as an SEO specialist.

Skills Required for SEO Professionals

Let’s take a look at some of the skills that might make SEO careers the right fit for you.

  • Analytical skills
  • Technical understanding of websites
  • Content creation and optimization
  • Keyword research
  • Adaptability and the desire to continue learning

You will also work with a larger team most of the time, or at the very least with your clients, so it is important to develop your soft skills. You will also need a wide range of administrative skills to be a successful SEO professional.

Career Pathways in SEO

Since SEO careers can be related to anything relevant to digital marketing, such as website algorithms and search marketing, web design and user experience, or building a content strategy, there are a couple of different career pathways that you can consider.

Some might be slightly more creative and involve developing social campaigns or building a brand’s online presence, others slightly more analytical. However, there will be a mix of both in all fields related to SEO.

Likewise, SEO specialists can find work in any field that requires digital marketing. This includes anything from Wall Street and real estate to influencer branding.

Similarly, there are many opportunities to freelance or start your own business, but there are also many opportunities to join a digital marketing agency or work in larger marketing teams. 

Technical SEO

Technical SEO roles focus more on performance and the intricacies of website infrastructure.

You might be involved in the web design process and work with web developers.

This is a great option if you know a little bit of coding and can understand the basics of languages like JavaScript or have some other technical skills that can help you optimize the user experience simultaneously, although it is not always necessary.

Content SEO

Content SEO refers to the optimization of the content being put out, rather than the website that it is being released on. This involves social media marketing, search engine marketing, and more. 

Take this blog article, for example. If you have found it, then it is likely that the words on the page have been written in such a way that the search engine’s algorithms thought it appropriate to show it to you based on your query.

As the writer, I had to have some knowledge of what the algorithms were looking for to increase the chances of the article being seen.

Local SEO

Local SEO focuses on increasing the visibility of a local business. Usually, the location data is based on the location where the search was conducted. However, the location might also be tied to a keyword.

It’s like when you search for hiking spots. First, you see hiking spots in your area. Any articles that pop up will be related to your location. You won’t see articles on the ‘best hiking trails in the Amazon.’

This can become quite complex, as some things exist in multiple locations

E-commerce SEO

E-commerce SEO is rather self-explanatory. It optimizes online stores. The goal of this optimization is to increase the visibility of the product and drive sales.

You will need some knowledge of the e-commerce platform and other marketing channels, such as search engines.

Challenges and Opportunities in the SEO Industry

Many challenges are emerging in the growing field of search engine optimization. However, two of the most prevalent challenges include the ever-changing nature of the algorithms and the changes in emerging technology.

Evolving Landscape of SEO

Search engine algorithms are updated regularly, and new technologies emerge, shaping the way websites are ranked and optimized for search.

Keeping up with these changes requires staying informed and adapting strategies to remain competitive.

Industry Trends and Emerging Technologies

Just as you monitor trends when pruning content, staying abreast of industry trends is crucial in the world of SEO. From voice search optimization to mobile-first indexing, you need to capitalize on emerging technologies and gain a competitive edge.

It is a constant fight to the top of the search rankings, so you need to make sure you take advantage of tools that your competitors have.

How to Build a Successful SEO Career

If you are considering a career in SEO, there are a couple of things that you can do to get started.

Step 1: Networking and Professional Development

First, you need to network. This is especially important in ever-evolving fields like SEO because it allows you to stay up to date with changes happening in the industry. It can also give you various job opportunities.

You also need to make sure that you focus on professional development. There are online courses that you can take with most learning platforms, but there are also in-person workshops that you can attend. Just make sure that you get some sort of certification to prove that you are skilled.

Step 2: Create a Strong Portfolio

You need a portfolio to showcase your accomplishments. It can be filled with projects, case studies, and even testimonials to help you prove your abilities and land a job. Make sure that you constantly update it with your new work.

One of my personal favorites to include in my portfolio is a Google Analytics or Google Search Console page. This showcases real-time changes and proves my abilities to increase online visibility for real-world projects as an SEO expert. 


Step 3: Practice on Personal Websites

One of the best ways to not only build your experience in SEO but also grow your portfolio is to start your website and personal social media.

This will let you practice and refine your SEO strategy and techniques to improve organic visibility and will give you insight into different performance metrics. It can help you with content marketing, teach you adaptable skills, and give you insight into user behaviors for various platforms.

Overall, having your website is a great way to build your confidence, and you can even add it to your portfolio for validation purposes.

Step 4: Familiarize yourself with Tools like Ahrefs and KeySearch


There are certain SEO tools that you can leverage to meet your ultimate goals. Ahrefs and KeySearch are some examples of content optimization and keyword research tools.

These tools can be confusing at first and provide a lot of data and analytics. So make sure that you familiarize yourself with them to ensure that you can use them effectively.

Step 5: Pursue Information and Continuous Learning

SEO is a highly competitive field, with everyone trying to rank as high as possible all the time. This means that you need to be prepared to learn continuously.

You will need to immerse yourself in SEO-related content to stay up to date with trends.

You can watch YouTube tutorials or enroll in online courses to cover any gaps in your knowledge. However, one of my favorite ways to keep learning is through newsletters

Also, make it a habit to work with SEO every day. You need to practice consistently to master the field, so don’t be afraid to experiment or try something new.

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There are an incredible amount of opportunities for people with SEO skills looking for work. Whether you want to be part of a larger team or work as a freelancer, a lucrative SEO career might be available to you.

Don’t be afraid to get started. Even if you know nothing about SEO, there are plenty of resources for people of all skill levels.

Try starting by listening to some SEO podcasts. These are great for beginners as it offers a practical way to learn the basics. However, even seasoned experts can benefit by hearing about new market trends and technology. 

You can expect to learn and adapt for as long as you are in the industry. But that is one of the many things that make a career in SEO so great. 


What qualifications or certifications are required to pursue a career in SEO?

You do not need a degree or any kind of formal education to enter the SEO career path. However, because it can be a very lucrative career, there may be a lot of competition for search engine optimization jobs.

So, getting some industry-specific training or a degree in marketing can give your application a competitive edge.

Is it necessary to have coding knowledge for a career in SEO?

No. Coding knowledge can be helpful if you see a career opportunity gap in technical SEO, but it is not always required. Instead, focus on building your communication skills and SEO knowledge.

What are some reputable online resources for learning SEO?

Websites like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning offer professional qualifications from industry experts. These courses are great because they provide certification, which may lead to internship opportunities. 

Picture of Phillip Stemann
Phillip Stemann
I'm Phillip, and I've been in the SEO game since 2020, where I took it under the skin. I've grown multiple websites to thousands of clicks, and I'm sharing all my SEO knowledge through my content and YouTube channel. I started as a curious mind at 13 years old, programming and programming for many years before I discovered SEO. I then started with the technical part of SEO as it came naturally to me with my technical background, and then I took on all parts of SEO. I love helping other people grow their websites, and I help my clients do the same.

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SEO as a Career: Everything You Need To Know (Step-By-Step)

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