What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (or SEO for short) is the process of improving a website so that it lists higher on search engines. These search engines are how most internet users navigate their way around the internet – so the higher your listing, the better your chances of finding new customers. SEO professionals are essential for any marketing campaign.
There’s one search engine that stands head and shoulders above the rest – Google. This website is so popular it has become a verb. Millions of users ‘Google’ things every day making it by far the most important search engine to list highly on. For this reason, most companies will want their SEO professionals to be highly versed in optimizing for Google.
There are a few techniques that SEO professionals use, which we’ll go into more detail about below. This is a highly skilled profession that requires a dynamic skillset. The rules are constantly changing and your understanding of them should as well. You’ll also need to keep up to date on the latest tools available to help you understand your website’s performance.
Search engine optimization is a broad discipline that goes beyond just keywords. It involves working with other businesses, making sure the website is designed optimally, and keeping on top of your organisation’s needs. It’s a hugely analytical role that requires someone that can quickly understand what statistics mean and how to use them to improve results.
How is search engine optimization used on Google?
Google is easily the most popular search engine in the world. For this reason, most search engine optimization work focuses on how to get searches appearing higher in Google searches. There are a few different SEO tools that can help with this process.
Analytics is where many search engine optimization specialists start. With a whole host of online tools to help you analyse how effective current SEO practices are, it has never been easier to set out a strategy. Analytics form the core of SEO – it simply wouldn’t work without a little bit of tweaking to the strategy every few days.
Keywords are the best known SEO strategy and they are certainly the easiest to implement. These words let Google know what your website is all about. More specific terms are preferred as these will reach a more precise audience that will be more likely to interact with the website in the desired way. It also lets Google know that your website isn’t just spam.
Other popular strategies involve metadata, backlinks, and website design. Metadata is all the information that is hidden behind the scenes – photo descriptions are a good example of this. Backlinks show how trustworthy your website is as Google recognises that other trusted websites have referenced it. The design can also impact search engine results, as websites that keep users on for longer will score higher.
Of course, these are just a handful of the strategies that professionals can take to enhance the SEO of their client’s website. In many ways, search engine optimization is a scientific process that needs constant testing. What works one week might not work the next. Google Ads and social media coverage will also help boost how well your website is performing.
How to become an SEO professional?
Search engine optimization comes with a broad range of tools, despite being quite specific in execution. This means you’ll have to take a holistic approach to learn the skill. We recommend nailing the basics first – learn a little bit about web design, content writing, and Google Ads before you dive into SEO. It involves a little bit of all of these.
A huge bulk of websites use WordPress CMS so this is the best web design option for you to learn. Once you’ve got that under your belt, figure out how to build a Google Ads strategy. They actually run free certification that will help you prove just how skilled you are. Finally, when it comes to content writing you should understand the basics of telling a story. It can be tempting to keyword stuff but it’s far more effective to include your keywords in a natural way.
Once you’ve got all of this figured out you can move on to SEO specifically. There are heaps of online courses that will teach you the fundamentals of the practice. Search engine optimization is such an individualised skill that you’ll end up figuring out your own methods. We also recommend getting acquainted with common tools like AHRefs and Moz.
So how do you get an SEO job? It’s totally possible to get a dedicated career in the area but to first build up your experience you’ll need to train in an adjacent area. Something like content writing, digital marketing or web design can help you figure this out. It also increases how many tools you have under your belt to make a decent income in the future.
What jobs require knowing Google SEO?
Search engine optimization is a career in its own right. It takes a lot of analysis and constant tweaking, so you’ll be kept busy enough simply by maintaining an SEO strategy. Usually you’ll find these jobs in web design companies, so you’ll be a sort of middleman between the client and the web designer.
With that in mind, understanding SEO is an important skill for website designers. You’ll have to build this right into the website itself, so having a good understanding of it will make sure your work is more effective. In a bigger company you’ll probably have a dedicated SEO colleague (or multiple) but it’s handy to know what you’re talking about.
Other adjacent roles include anything involving marketing and advertising. Digital marketing, in particular, relies heavily on search engine optimization. Google is the first place many of your clients will interact with the business, so it’s important to get this first impression right. It can even impact how effective your advertisements and marketing strategies pan out.
Finally, if you plan on running your own business it certainly doesn’t hurt to learn search engine optimization. This can save you a lot of money instead of hiring a professional but you have to make sure you know what you’re talking about. Your SEO strategy will have a direct impact on how well your business performs online, so take the time to get it right.
Speaking about running your own business – you can also build your own blogs and websites using SEO. This is a strategy adopted by many product review websites that rely heavily on search results and advertising to make money. SEO isn’t just a tool that can help your business – in many cases, it is the business!
Average SEO salary
A search engine optimization specialist is often one of the best paid members of the digital team. The average income in the United States for this job is $57k. You can easily expect to exceed that after three years on the job. Entry level positions are priced at around $39k, and this shoots right up to $150k+ for at least eight years of experience with a big company.
In terms of adjacent jobs, you need to think about it more in terms of how much it will add to your income. A digital marketing expert can expect to add over $20k to their earnings with a sound knowledge of SEO. Website designers with SEO skills can boost their income by about $25k. Perhaps the most impressive of all, growth hacking professionals can add $30k to their income with top-notch SEO skills.
So what about those who want to freelance? It really depends on the size of the business and how much experience you have. Freelancers should ask for around $30/hour at entry level for a small company with this increasing to at least $50/hour for larger conglomerates. At a senior level you can start to expect a seriously impressive income with at least $120/hour in return for high quality work.
How common is using SEO amongst digital nomads?
Search engine optimization is a career that can be done from anywhere in the world and many SEO professionals have already adopted a digital nomad lifestyle. In that sense the question isn’t how common SEO is among digital nomads but how common a digital nomadic lifestyle is among people who happen to be SEO experts? The answer is that it’s probably one of the most common careers for this style of working.
That being said, it’s much harder to get your foot in the door if you’re already on the road. If you’re new to SEO we highly recommend doing your time in an office before you ask to work on the road. Employers will need to trust you’re as good as you say you are.
Search engine optimization is a valuable skill for digital nomads. It’s one of the best jobs for working remotely since everything can be done online. It’s also an absolute must if you want to set up your own business on the internet. You just won’t get the Google listings without it!