What it’s like to work in SEO

Working in SEO…

Everything always changes. All the time. Constantly.

Working in SEO, you have to be prepared to deal with change – and a lot of it. This can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on how you look at it.

The positives are that one, you are never bored – and two, your skills in resolving new issues are always improving. What works to improve keyword rankings for one client won’t necessarily work for another.

And even if you’re only working for one business, what worked in the past won’t necessarily work today. There is a lot of solving and experimentation involved in the job.

However there is no denying positivity can be struggle at the best of times – you can be celebrating that tricky keyword finally ranking your client’s website at 1st position, then crying into your coffee the next day when it drops 4 places in search results.

You have to be willing to adapt, as factors outside of your control will inevitably chop and change at any moment – a new competitor, a shift in the search algorithms or a change in budget.

It can be tricky to explain changes in traffic and keyword rankings

A few years ago, before Google’s search algorithms became real-time and  search engine news was more transparent, there were big, significant algorithm updates that Google would confirm to webmasters.

For instance when a ‘Panda’ update landed, or a ‘Penguin’ update arrived. These names correlated with the type of update that had occurred. We knew a Panda update was looking at fresh content signals and a Penguin update was looking at backlink quality.

So if rankings dropped, we knew where to focus our time for improvements. If rankings increased, we knew what we were doing right.

This transparency made it easier for those in SEO to explain to business owners and key decision makers what was happening with shifts in keyword rankings and traffic numbers. Today, the explanation (taken literally) would go something like this:

“Your keyword rankings have dropped since yesterday as we suspect there was an algorithm change to do with either content, mobile friendliness, site speed, links or indeed all of them…at the same time. It might have something to do with http vs https as well.  However we can only speculate at this time …”

Google will no longer confirm what is changing with its algorithms, namely because it is changing constantly. You have to be able to explain using your own interpretation, because there is unclear causality.

Be prepared for misconceptions and high expectations

You have to be prepared that those above your head will not have the same level of understanding of SEO as you. It’s likely that they will have a basic understanding; however they may be holding on to a few misconceptions.

It’s common for people to assume that they can have their business ranking number one for a stream of keywords in a small amount of time. It’s part of your job to educate them on this matter in a way that they can understand and  manage their expectations.

What did you wish you knew before starting in SEO?

I wish I would have known about SEO sooner! I never intended to get into SEO when I first started – I wanted to be a content writer. However, I soon found out how necessary it was to have a broad skill set in SEO to succeed (there’s no point in writing online if no-one can find it…)

As my skills and my understanding of all the different aspects of SEO grew, I realised I much preferred spending my time building keyword strategies and troubleshooting than writing! You do something different every day, and you’re never bored – there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a client’s website climb the rankings.

– Jade, SEO & Social Executive

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