With the digital transformation gaining traction over the last few years and an increasing number of companies pivoting to digital marketing and ecommerce, SEO manager has emerged as an attractive career option.
The importance of SEO cannot be overestimated and a 2023 survey of marketing professionals showed that over half saw a positive impact on marketing performance and other business goals after they optimized SEOs. Furthermore, more than four in five respondents saw a positive impact in general from SEO optimization.
Whether you are an online publisher, an ecommerce store owner, a digital marketer, or a seller on an ecommerce marketplace like Etsy, knowing about SEO is of utmost importance. While small businesses might be able to work on their SEO strategy individually, larger companies need SEO managers to manage their efforts.
SEO Manager in a Nutshell: Should You Pursue a Career in It?
An increasing number of companies are now looking at SEO optimization as they scale up their online presence. More than an add-on to marketing efforts, SEO optimization is now a necessity for any business – big or small – looking at the ever-rising competition.
An SEO manager manages a company’s overall SEO strategy – from ideating, planning, implementing, monitoring, and finally finetuning it as and when necessary.
Surprisingly, there are no formal higher education programs or degrees specific to SEO. However, having a degree in communication or marketing – especially online marketing – will likely be helpful. An SEO manager’s career path typically starts with a junior SEO analyst or other somewhat related roles like writer or marketing intern and extends up to the head of SEO.
The median salary range for a SEO manager in the US is higher than the US median salary which makes it a financially rewarding career option.
However, if you want to make a career in digital marketing and become an SEO manager, there are several things that you need to know which we’ll discuss in the article.
What Does an SEO Manager Do? Responsibilities Explained
The SEO manager’s job responsibility in an organization is quite diverse and includes the following:
Keyword research is often the starting point for anyone looking to optimize the SEO and is therefore among the key responsibilities of a SEO manager. In a nutshell, an SEO manager should shortlist the keywords that the business should target so that the content can rank higher in organic search. Keyword research requires SEO managers to weigh the volume of search terms with the keyword difficulty, a metric that defines how difficult it would be for your page to rank for it.
Managing Digital Content Strategy
The next logical responsibility of an SEO manager would be to help manage the organization’s digital content strategy. Among others, it would mean managing the content on the company’s website and ensuring it has SEO value and furthers the site’s search engine presence.
Along with managing the content on the website, the SEO manager also sometimes looks after the social media strategy to finetune it for SEO optimization – including building an online community of followers on different platforms.
The SEO manager is often responsible for website monitoring and analyzing user metrics using tools like Google Analytics. They use the data derived from these platforms to further optimize the SEO of the website to bring in as much traffic as possible.
They usually manage and help finetune on-page and technical SEO as well, though many technical SEO-related tasks are assigned to developers or the product team as they are generally better equipped to deal with them. On-page SEO refers to optimizing the content for SEO which includes targeting the right keywords, having the appropriate images, and optimized linking.
Technical SEO is more broad-based and is related to the overall website rather than specific content. To increase search visibility, the SEO manager needs to ensure that the website is as accessible as possible for search engines so that they can index, crawl, and render your website pages as quickly and easily as possible. Customer experience improvements are often roped in with technical SEO as well.
Getting backlinks to your website from authoritative websites is incredibly important for SEO because it builds your website’s authority and is thereby among the key responsibilities of an SEO manager. The higher your site’s authority, the easier it is for your pages to rank high on search engines.
There are all kinds of strategies that SEO managers use to build backlinks but one of the most important is ensuring content is as useful, shareable, and informative as possible.
Market and Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is another vital part of the SEO manager’s job as SEO is all about beating other websites to rank higher. SEO managers need to always be on the lookout for new keywords, strategies, backlink initiatives, and more. Carefully watching your competitors is one of the best ways to do that.
Education & Skills Needed to Become an SEO Manager
There is no formal degree for an SEO manager and while a degree in communications or digital marketing would be helpful it is not always necessary – and most companies don’t specify any minimum educational requirements while posting jobs for a SEO manager.
However, multiple institutes and platforms provide “SEO-certified” courses – both online and offline. Some of these courses are free while others charge a fee. It might be a good idea to get one of these courses on your resume as it would strengthen your credentials.
Meanwhile, you’d need a lot of other skills to become an SEO manager. These include
- Strong written and verbal communication skills: Since an SEO manager would need to interact frequently with both internal and external parties, they need strong written and verbal communication skills. Also, good interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for someone looking to make a career in the field of SEO.
- Knowledge of SEO best practices: You’d need detailed knowledge of SEO best practices including keyword research, on-page and technical SEO, website architecture, and HTML.
- Analytical skills: A SEO manager would need strong analytical and data analysis skills as the job requires a lot of playing around with data.
- Knowledge of SEO tools: Knowledge of SEO tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Semrush, and Screaming Frog is also among the skills that an SEO manager should have.
- Content writing skills: Since an SEO manager will need to oversee on-page SEO and writing and might also need to write content themselves, they should also have strong content writing skills.
- Also, if you aspire to make a career in SEO you should have a flair for marketing and should be able to come up with digital marketing strategies for the organization.
Career Path for an SEO Manager
Typically, a career in the SEO industry starts with internships or entry-level positions like a junior SEO analyst and content writer. Also, somebody who joins entry-level positions in digital marketing can also eventually rise the ladder to become an SEO manager.
Meanwhile, after spending some time in entry-level SEO positions you can aspire to become an SEO strategist or a deputy manager who has higher responsibilities and salary than junior analysts.
The next logical career progression would be the role of an SEO manager. It is not the end of the road in terms of career progression and you can rise to the rank of senior manager and director in SEO. One can also transition to other senior roles in marketing within the organization.
SEO managers can also move to the C-suite – especially in the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) and even the role of a CEO is not out of bounds if one has the requisite leadership, business, and management skills.
Also, if you have entrepreneurial skills, you can also start your own business including pivoting to being a freelancer. A lot of small and medium-sized companies seek the services of individual SEO freelancers to optimize their SEO strategy.
You can also launch your own digital marketing agency or an advertising agency where you can help companies manage their digital advertising and social media strategies as well as build backlinks.
Furthermore, you can also start your own institute to teach digital marketing and the best SEO strategies to others. You can begin with a website offering insights into best SEO practices and eventually pivot to training others.
Because of the tremendous importance of SEO skills in today’s search engine-dominated world, you have a myriad of options available to you as an SEO expert.
SEO Manager Salary Ranges
According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for an SEO manager is $92,415.
Search Engine Land estimates that a junior SEO analyst’s salary ranges between $62,000-$101,000 while that for an SEO manager ranges between $80,000-$120,000 annually. It also estimates that the salary for a senior manager in SEO – which can be the position of a director or head of SEO – ranges between $109,000-$192,000 annually.
The salary range for SEO professionals who reach the C-suite is between $192,000-$550,000.
There are also regional variations in the salary of SEO professionals and Search Engine Journal’s 2022 ‘State of SEO’ report revealed that the median salary for SEO managers in Australia was higher than the global average. However, SEO professionals in Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Pakistan had much lower salaries.
Meanwhile, companies often provide a wide salary range for SEO professionals when they are looking to hire candidates. For instance, electric vehicle giant Tesla has posted a job vacancy for an SEO manager offering an annual compensation between $64,000-$240,000 and is looking for candidates with a minimum of three years of experience.
The following factors might impact the salary that you receive in the SEO profession
- College degree: While there is no formal educational qualification for SEO managers, a degree in communication or digital marketing from a good university would help strengthen your chances of negotiating a better salary.
- Years of experience: The number of years that you spend in the industry would also impact the salary and a higher experience would lead to a higher salary and is perhaps more important than a degree.
- Technical skills: Your technical skills with SEO tools like ahrefs or Semrush and or coding knowledge to help with technical SEO could fetch a larger salary.
- Communication skills: Candidates with better interpersonal skills and verbal and written communication skills may also end up earning higher salaries than other SEO professionals.
How to Become an SEO Manager
To kickstart your career as an SEO manager, you can begin by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in marketing and try finding internship opportunities in the field of SEO. You can simultaneously build your expertise in fields like keyword research, on-site and technical SEO optimization and learn more about best SEO practices.
Learning tools like Google Analytics and Semrush would also be helpful. Another practical way to build your career in SEO would be to look for freelance SEO opportunities in entry-level fields like content writing.
You might also start your own website and then optimize it for SEO and improve its rankings. The website along with any other successful freelance assignments to employers when you start scouting for jobs after your bachelor’s.
You might also enroll for one of the SEO courses online to gain more insights and polish your skills. Some companies like SEO Career also provide internships in SEO and have collaborated with other companies to provide full-time job offers to their interns.
The use of AI in marketing is also rising so some AI skills would also help in becoming a successful SEO manager.
Is SEO Manager a Great Career Worth Pursuing?
SEO manager is definitely a good career option worth pursuing especially if you have a flair for marketing and data analysis, and are willing to learn – as the SEO industry is ever-evolving.
The ecommerce industry is growing fast and is expected to reach $5.8 trillion in 2023. eMarketer expects the ecommerce market to rise in high single digits over the next few years and reach $8 trillion by 2027. Rising ecommerce sales and continued digitization would also lead to more demand for SEO professionals. Remember that ecommerce is only one field that relies on SEO heavily and businesses in every single industry need SEO expertise.
Also, from a salary perspective, the median salary of SEO managers is higher than the national average. Finally, if you aspire to make your career as an SEO manager, the field also opens up several freelance and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The job satisfaction levels in SEO managers are higher and a survey by Search Engine Journal showed that 69% of SEO professionals are satisfied with their jobs – which is higher than the average job satisfaction levels.
However, the industry has its own sets of drawbacks too and 43.5% of respondents in the survey were frustrated with tight deadlines. One more challenge for anyone pursuing a career in the SEO industry is the frequent changes to Google search algorithms which 80% of SEO specialists feeling that it would negatively impact their career.
That said, a career as an SEO manager still looks like a good option to pursue considering that it is a growing industry with rising demand for talent. The career is also relatively easy to pursue as it does not require costly high education degrees and is a skill-based profession, best suited to people who are adaptive to change.