Hello friends! Today I wanted to talk about what I love about working in SEO and why I’ve really enjoyed my SEO career for the past five years.
I’ve been working in digital marketing agencies since 2015: I’ve spent 3.5 years of my career specialising in SEO, and 1.5 years working in PPC. I’m currently an SEO consultant at an agency in London called Distilled, and I love what I do.
Without further ado, listed below are the main reasons why I love my career.
8 Reasons Why I Love Working In SEO
1. There’s a lot of variety
The main thing that I’ve really enjoyed about working in SEO is the variety in the job.
I’m someone that needs a lot of change, stimulation and challenge (I guess you could call me a typical Gemini!). In SEO, you get all of these things rolled into one.
There are three ways that you can experience variety in your SEO career:
- Variety with your clients
- Variety with your tasks
- Variety with your chosen specialism
I cover off each in more detail below.
1.1 Variety with your clients
If you’re working in an agency, especially in a small agency, you normally work across several clients. This is great because it gives you insight into a range of different industries, business models and SEO challenges. As a result, you learn a lot very quickly.
For example, for a time I was working across three clients: one was a luxury jewellery brand, one was a luxury fashion retailer and the last one was a B2B (business-to-business) sales software company.
To be really honest, the B2B website wasn’t the most fun topic in the world, however working on this client was a really great opportunity to learn the different challenges that a B2B website has compared to a B2C (business-to-consumer) website.
Being able to work across three different clients at once was also a great way to change things up and make sure I wasn’t bored. Each day I could come into work and focus on a different website, which was awesome!
Just bear in mind that if you work client-side (aka in-house), then you would of course only be working on that one business, so you don’t get the same variety that you do in a small agency. Also be aware that if you’re in a big agency, you’re generally only on one client at a time, so again you lose this variety.
So this point really does only apply if you’re working in a smaller SEO agency. However, for me it’s a big plus of the job!
1.2 Variety with your tasks
The second way that there’s a lot of variety within an SEO career is that the type of work you’re doing is just so varied. As an SEO consultant in an agency, I am literally doing different work every single month.
It is extremely rare that all my clients will need the same task doing at the same time. In fact, I don’t think that has ever happened! Why? Because my clients are in different stages of their SEO development, have different challenges and just need different work doing, pure and simple.
To illustrate this, one of the tasks you can do in SEO is a competitor analysis. I will literally do one of those in a whole year. I really enjoy doing this type of task, but I probably do one about once a year.
Even in the very unlikely case that two of my clients needed the same work doing at the same time, I can easily hand off one of those tasks to a colleague. That’s the beauty of working in an agency with a flexible structure like Distilled. We can all hand off work to each other, and muck in when needed.
1.3 Variety with your chosen specialism
Another way in which there is a lot of variety in this career is that the term ‘SEO specialist’ is very broad. A job in SEO actually covers a wide range of disciplines, from content creation all the way to the more technical end of the spectrum.
On the complete flipside, you could be a content specialist, coming up with creative ideas, auditing blog content and getting involved with writing.
Both of these types of specialist fall under the SEO umbrella. Not only does that make for a very stimulating career (because you can literally decide whether you want to be super technical or a free-spirited creative) but you can even do a bit of everything within a single role!
As a consultant at Distilled, it is honestly up to me whether I want to be technical or creative, or even just somewhere in the middle! Not only that, but literally day-to-day I can pivot between these disciplines. I could be building a Google Data Studio dashboard or doing some analytics one day, and then another day I could be reviewing a client’s content, coming up with content ideas or writing briefs for copywriters.
To be honest, I think that amount of flexibility is pretty damn awesome. And you know what? Best of all, it means that on a single team you have such a variety of skills and talents all coming together to do great work.
You’re all doing SEO, and you can all call yourselves SEO specialists. But you’ve all got different strengths to bring to the table. It makes for a really diverse working environment, and that is just great.
2. Project-based nature of the work
To give a bit more insight into how it works being a consultant at an agency: every month I agree with my clients the work we’re going to be doing for them in the upcoming month.
We do those tasks, and at the end of the month we deliver and present them to the client.
The next month, we do something else. A totally new set of tasks.
I love the short-term project-based nature of being an SEO specialist. Honestly, if I had to do the same big project over a year or something, I would get so bored. I really need it to be switched up and different, which is exactly what it’s like working in an SEO agency.
3. Great culture
The next thing I love about working in SEO is the culture.
Because SEO and digital marketing are very young industries, you generally find that the people working in this type of career are quite young. I’ve actually worked in four different agencies throughout my career, and everyone’s been pretty much of a similar age to me.
Why is this even important?
Let me give you an example from a friend who went and worked at a big car manufacturer when he graduated from university. He told me he was the youngest person on his team by 20 years. 20 years!
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, can you imagine how hard it must be for a fresh grad to form friendships with a colleague who is at a totally different life stage than them? Who has likely got a mortgage, kids and all of these other responsibilities that you simply don’t have in your early twenties?
My friend actually struggled to bond with his colleagues. There just wasn’t enough common ground over which to connect. People didn’t stick around for beer o’clock on a Friday – instead, they (understandably) wanted to get home to their spouse and kids.
However, when you’re in a digital marketing agency, the vibe is totally different. People are generally quite young and it’s a very energetic, sociable and vibrant atmosphere. Your colleagues want to have fun, make a joke and have a laugh. People come to work to have a good time as well as work hard. ‘Work hard, play hard’ – that’s the mantra. I’ve worked in four digital marketing agencies, and it’s been the same in every single one I’ve worked in.
I’ve made so many great friends at work. Not just at Distilled, but also at my previous agencies. It’s really important to me that my colleagues aren’t just colleagues, but are also friends. I do feel very blessed about that, especially given the crisis the world has just been through. I can’t imagine how much harder and more isolating it would have been to work from home through a lockdown, if I couldn’t connect with my colleagues on a personal level each day. If all we ever spoke about was work, I think I’d die a little inside.
One more thing on culture before I move on: a lot of people in this industry either fell into it or were drawn to the small agency vibe. As a result, you’re around quite like-minded people that have similar values to you.
To put it bluntly, people generally don’t go into digital marketing for the money! While you can certainly earn a good living, it’s definitely not glamorous in the beginning. For those of us in the industry, we’re not sticking around for the pay. But we care about being somewhere with a good culture and work-life balance. So you’re generally around quite like-minded people, and it’s just a great place to be.
4. Community spirit
The next thing I love about working in SEO is the community spirit in the industry.
What on earth do I mean by that? Let me explain.
There are lots of SEO conferences and meetups that take place throughout the year. What’s fantastic is the level of openness and knowledge sharing that takes place at these events. Everyone’s trying to help each other out.
For example, someone might go up on stage and make the audience laugh with their presentation, by basically admitting that a piece of work they did for a client was a total failure.
Can you imagine being a lawyer, going to a law conference and seeing someone getting up on stage and openly admitting that they totally messed up a case? It’s highly unlikely that would happen.
In SEO, it’s a different story, and there’s a very good reason for this: in SEO, there is no definitive rule book.
There are no set guidelines for ranking in position #1 in Google. Many times it can feel like we’re just taking a random stab in the dark, crossing our fingers and hoping something will work.
Google does have some guidelines of course, but there’s not a nice neat ‘rule book of SEO’ that everyone abides by. Everyone’s just trying to find their way and do the best they can, and it’s because of this that everyone comes together and tries to help one another out.
That creates a really nice community spirit. We’re not in competition with each other, we’re just trying to help one another do great work.
To be totally honest, until recently, I actually found the lack of clear-cut rules super frustrating. I just wanted to learn everything I needed to know for SEO and then just be a great SEO. I wanted someone to just give me the rulebook or write a freaking rulebook for us all to follow already!
But that’s just not the way it works. Google doesn’t tell us exactly what we must do to rank in position one, and they can’t for two reasons.
Number one: they’re patented. They can’t just share their algorithm, because someone would run off and create another Google.
Number two: SEOs can be assholes. We would game the system like nobody’s business. How do I know? Because it’s what people have tried to do since the beginning of Google!
If people really truly understood exactly how Google worked, then they could manipulate it. In the past, this is exactly what people did. For example, knowing that links were a ranking factor, SEOs would buy links pointing to low-quality sites that didn’t deserve to see the light of day, let alone the light of your computer screen. These crappy sites would then rank really high in Google, which was just bad for everyone involved.
We also mustn’t forget that actually there is a third reason why there is no ‘SEO rulebook’: Google is always evolving. While the core principles of SEO remain the same, every year new updates are rolled out. Any book written about SEO becomes obsolete literally within a matter of months.
So that’s why there is no neat ‘rulebook of SEO’. Google gives guidelines and of course some specifics, but other than that we’re on our own. This brings me on to my next point…
SEO is a challenging job. It can be stressful at times, but it’s definitely not stressful compared to a lot of other jobs. It is challenging though, and I like that. I couldn’t do a job if I felt like I wasn’t really using my brain.
When I worked in PPC, every single week I was doing exactly the same tasks. I got bored. The work was very repetitive and I didn’t feel at all challenged.
With SEO, the endless challenge is what keeps it fresh. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been on a call with a client and they’ve said ‘You know what, this has gone wrong and we don’t know why this is happening’. Do you know how many times I’ve simply replied: ‘To be honest, I don’t know why that’s happening either. Let us go away and look into this for you.’ Many times, I can tell you!
We then have to go away, do some investigative work, ask our colleagues what they think, and try to form a coherent solution to the problem. That’s not straightforward work. You’ve really got to think and get your detective hat on. It keeps you on your toes, which successfully keeps the boredom at bay, even five years into the job.
6. Quick career progression
In your SEO career you can progress really, really quickly.
Your promotion or pay rise doesn’t rely on a yearly review or a colleague being made redundant. I think we can all agree that’s a pretty crap way for your hard work to be recognised.
In a digital marketing agency, that’s not how it works. If you’re good enough, you will get promoted. If you haven’t been promoted and you should have been, then time to switch agency!
Twice in my career I’ve been promoted within nine months. Naturally with those promotions I received a pay rise – so that’s two pay rises in less than twelve months. This is not anything unusual for this industry.
I’m not going to beat around the bush when it comes to pay: at the beginning of your career, the pay is absolutely crap. I’ve known digital marketing agencies to pay their new staff £18,000 a year in central London. In my first job, I did an unpaid internship for three months. I think we can all agree that’s pretty poor.
However on the flip side, you just need to know that within three years you can more than double your salary. After three years working in SEO, you can be earning the same as a newly qualified accountant in a big 4 accountancy firm.
So if you’ve got the energy, hunger and drive to learn your craft, don’t let the bloody awful starting salaries put you off!
7. It’s easy to make a name for yourself
Another thing that’s great about having a career in the SEO industry is you can carve out a name for yourself, should you so choose. It’s very easy to make a name for yourself in this industry.
You don’t have to have 20 years’ experience to get up on stage and have people listen to, and respect, your opinion. You can have just five months’ experience and get up on stage – people don’t mind! Everyone’s voice matters.
One of my colleagues, Paola Didonè, spoke on the main stage at Brighton SEO just 12 months into her SEO career. She was speaking in front of an audience of thousands. How awesome is that?
You’re encouraged to have a voice. You’re encouraged to attend conferences. You’re encouraged to have an opinion. That makes for a very welcoming and open-minded industry.
8. It’s easy to work remotely
Last but not least on my list of reasons why I love working in SEO: it’s incredibly easy to work remotely. In fact not only is it easy, but it’s part of the status quo in an industry that is inherently online.
Because everything you’re doing is online, it’s very easy to work wherever you please. You’ll find it’s pretty standard practice in many agencies for people to be able to work from home one or two days a week.
Although I’ve never freelanced personally, the ease with which you can work remotely definitely lends itself to going it alone, if that’s the path you would like to choose. With other career choices it might be harder to freelance, but with SEO it can absolutely be done. And from what I’ve seen, you can get paid pretty well for it too.
To wrap up
So, those are all the reasons why I really like working in SEO. That was quite a long article, so if you’ve made it to the end, thank you so much for staying with me!
If you have any questions, you can always send me a message and I’m more than happy to answer. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you’re considering a career in SEO, then I’d say go for it!