There are different paths you can take if SEO is a career you’re considering. For example, you might work on your own as a consultant, freelancer, or contractor. In this case, you would find clients and partner with them on individual projects without being an employee.
Another path is to work for a digital marketing agency.
You might also work in-house for a company doing their SEO.
If you’re considering SEO as a career, what should you know? What are the upsides but also the potential downsides?
Great Things About SEO Careers
There are quite a few pros of a career in SEO, which are highlighted.
SEO Is in High-Demand
One of the big reasons to think seriously about a career in SEO if you’re considering it is that it’s in-demand, and that’s unlikely to change. Think of how pervasive online search is. That’s only likely to increase in the coming years.
Every business, whether they sell goods or services, needs a competitive online presence. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but is now considered a “must-have”.
Whether it’s a local business that needs foot traffic or an online-only business, if people can’t find it online, it will be difficult to succeed.
The SEO industry is valued at around $80 billion right now, and again, there is little indication that’s going to do anything but continue to go up.
SEO is not something you learn or train for, and then you’re done. It’s an evolution. The algorithms and best practices are always changing; therefore, your skills and knowledge need to keep pace.
There’s a lot of excitement in that. You can constantly tweak campaigns based on the knowledge you acquire daily. You can try new strategies and everything you do is an experiment.
These are compelling concepts to a lot of digital marketing professionals.
You Don’t Need a Degree
Student loan debt is staggering in the United States. It’s becoming more common to look for career paths that don’t require a traditional four-year degree. SEO is one option.
You can easily start your career without a degree or any certifications.
It’s most common for SEOs to be self-taught. You can learn about the industry and best practices by reading relevant content and taking online SEO courses, most of which are self-paced and relatively inexpensive.
Making Good Money
If you have a strong skill set, can produce good results, and be reliable and accountable, you can do very well in your SEO career.
For example, if you focus on general SEO and work on a freelance or contract basis, you may be able to make anywhere from $100 to $150 an hour.
If you specialize in local SEO, the average billing rate is $127 an hour for agencies and $102 an hour for individuals.
Working from Home
When you work in the digital world, you have flexibility. You can often make your own schedule and work from anywhere in the world, or simply work from home. These are things that people often want out of their careers, and you can make it happen if you work in SEO.
If you work for a business or an agency you might have less flexibility, but most of what you do can be done remotely even in these instances. Even just working from home one or two days a week may help give you better work-life balance.
Working for Yourself
The idea of working for yourself goes back to the freedom and flexibility that can come from working as an SEO.
If you work as a contractor or freelancer, you have the ability to choose your schedule and work environment. You can facilitate a sense of work-life balance, and you don’t have to answer to a boss. When you have developed a reputation and a reliable set of clients, you can choose the projects you’re interested in working on.
If you start an SEO business, you can do so with little or no capital. All you need are your skills and a computer and you can launch a potentially lucrative business.
Challenges to Having a Career in SEO
While there are a lot of perks to a search engine optimization career, you do have to weigh the potential negatives.
Above was touched on the idea that SEO is always changing and evolving. A lot of people like this. They can constantly learn, grow, and develop and in doing so boost their career. However, is that something that you find appealing?
What can be a pro of working in SEO can be a con for some people.
You have to stay up-to-date on everything happening with algorithms and best practices not year-to-year but week-to-week.
If there are major changes that happen, you may have to adjust your campaigns and strategies quickly and accordingly.
When changes happen, it can also significantly affect client traffic and rankings, so you will have to troubleshoot and attempt to recover them.
Must be a Self-Starter
Working in SEO very much requires that you are motivated and a self-starter. This is the case in a few different ways.
First, you need to feel compelled to learn constantly. If you aren’t someone with a natural curiosity and a willingness to learn, SEO might not be the right career for you.
If you aren’t working for an agency or a business, you’re also going to have to spend time getting new clients and submitting proposals. Once you win the proposals, it’s up to you to make your own schedule and ensure the work is getting done.
If you work for yourself and from home, staying motivated and on-task can be incredibly challenging.
Some people thrive doing so, but not everyone does. You have to be honest with yourself about your strengths and limitations.
When you work as an SEO, you’re interacting directly with clients. You don’t have the buffer of an employer to manage clients, at least if you work as a freelancer. Clients can create many headaches.
They might want to monopolize your time, make unreasonable demands, or they could be slow to pay you.
These are just a few of the ways these relationships can go bad.
There are things you can do to safeguard against this, including fully vetting a client before agreeing to take them on. As time goes by, you won’t necessarily feel the need to take every job that comes your way, which can help you avoid bad clients.
You will also probably get a better feel for red flags before you work with someone, the more experience you have.
So what’s the big takeaway? Is SEO a good career?
Ultimately, the SEO career path is a good one! It allows you tons of flexibility and great pay. But don’t go into it without having a clear understanding of what challenges may be involved.