So, you want to work in SEO?
Click on our careers page and you’ll discover that we’re hiring. In fact, we have been hiring for some time now…
It’s not that we’re incompetent at promoting ourselves – far from! Instead, like most businesses, we’re selective when it comes to recruiting new talent.
Tamar is a digital marketing agency; SEO, Social Media and Mobile are part and parcel of what we do. Much of the work I do for Tamar, however, revolves around the former.
I sit next to our Head of Search, Asad, which believe it or not has its perks. While some may call it eavesdropping, I ultimately get good visibility on applicants and as a result can honestly say we have received our fair share of applications over the last few months. Yet, there is a negative correlation between this and the amount of candidates we have accepted.
My concern (particularly in regards to SEO) is that many of these applicants have a weak understanding of search and the incremental role it has in building brand awareness online. Consequently, come interview day, this “weakness” ends up translating into the applicant being unaware of what the role of a “Search Executive” actually entails.
In short, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.
Yes, I did just Google that and had our unsuccessful candidates done the same, then they would know the reason for why we ask “Why do you think natural is best?” on our application page – it’s not because we’re environmentalists!
I have discovered that working in SEO requires the adoption of various different mind-sets. Let me explain…
Thinking like a doctor…
Like any B2B business, our clients turn to us when they need our support, resources and expertise. Often, a client will come to me with a problem that needs a solution – this is where I need to think like a doctor. First, I need to examine the symptoms: has there been a drop in rankings? Is Googlebot having trouble accessing the site? Has Google detected any malware on the site? These are just a handful of problems that a client may come to you for, so be prepared.
Next, I diagnose the symptoms. Here, the client should be treated like a patient; a combination of compassion and good communication is essential, especially when explaining to them what the problem is.
Then, I operate. This is where your expertise as an SEO will be called upon. For example, a drop in rankings, can be caused by a number of different factors. It could be that a competitor has jacked up their link building activities, which in turn would force you to respond accordingly by amping up your own.
Or it could be that your client has been penalised by Google for black hat SEO activities that were carried out under a previous agency’s watch. Treating this could involve manually removing link spam or using Google’s Disavow Tool, which is then followed up by filing a reconsideration request.
More often than not, operations are followed by check-ups. As such, you should be ready to provide your client with a post operation report. Analogously, did Google revoke the penalty? If so, are rankings moving in the right direction?
Thinking like a detective…
Albeit a little cheesy, I recently found myself at the scene of an SEO crime. Without disclosing too much information (being a detective and all), I discovered that a client of ours had been penalised by Google for poor quality work that was carried out by a third-party agency.
This was uncovered by examining the client’s backlink profile i.e. assessing the quality of all inbound links, which revealed an array of black hat SEO activities. Part of my detective duties involved questioning (not to be confused with interrogating) the client, which involved asking questions like “who carried out this work?”, “when was this work carried out?” and “what work was carried out exactly?” These answers were then cross-referenced with the data we extracted from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Majestic SEO, which gave me a clearer picture of the situation.
Thinking like a scientist…
SEO is a game of experimentation, and thus the mind-set of a scientist is compulsory. You will constantly be required to formulate new ideas and strategies by combining a mixture of SEO activities. For instance, a solid link building strategy may include a concoction of multiple activities, such as optimising your client’s internal link structure, attracting natural editorial links, blogger outreach, directory submissions, press release aggregation/distribution, infographic submissions and so forth.
Because experiments revolve around trial and error, such concoctions need to be evaluable. If an experiment turns sour, you will need to go back to the drawing board and revise your strategy, which requires tenacity.
Ultimately, I have learnt that the above-mentioned professions will always go hand-in-hand, although there are probably more that can be added to the list.
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments box below.