SEO specialist stock photo.

An SEO specialist (search engine optimization specialist) is a business professional that can also go by many other different titles; digital marketing manager, search engine marketing manager, SEO manager, internet marketing specialist, etc. Although studies show that most small businesses are still doing their own SEO and digital marketing work, many businesses are making the investment of hiring an SEO specialist for their company (they’re not cheap). Does an individual need to go to college to become an SEO specialist? Yes and no.

There are no undergraduate degrees that go in depth and teach search engine optimization although they may provide a brief introduction. That’s because SEO will have already changed by the time the textbooks will have been printed and the teachers will have developed their lesson plans for the semester. Search engines are always changing their algorithms to stay one step ahead of the people trying to game the system and are now geared largely towards providing a quality user experience.

Search engine optimization also relies heavily on various types software, apps and analytical tools. Popular SEO tools and software include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Spyfu, Inbound, Hootsuite, Buffer, Screaming Frog, SemRush, Moz and Google Trends. It would be impossible for an instructor to be able to keep up with all of these applications and teach students how to use them. Instead, SEO specialists are forced to learn about these tools on their own via Youtube video tutorials or learning from other their coworkers. Not everyone will be able to understand all of these tools simultaneously but instead should choose three to four that they’re most comfortable with.

The most ideal undergraduate degrees an SEO could earn include degrees in marketing, computer programming, web design or journalism. Journalists would make excellent SEO specialists because so much of SEO is centered around the quality of content that you’re providing to readers. The best content is content that a) solves a problem and b) answers questions or provides value. Your content should be interesting, funny and informative; journalists are often well known for their creativity.

Search engine optimization is a very “tech” or “Silicon Valley” type of job. Just like Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, a college degree is not always a key indicator of success in the tech field. Experience and the ability to retain and learn new concepts are the biggest factors for success in the tech industry. Those traits are also required to be successful in in the digital marketing world as well. Working as an SEO specialist can be an exciting career mainly because SEO techniques and practices are always changing. No two weeks are ever the same and if they are, you aren’t doing it right. With that said, how could someone fresh out of high school or college with no SEO background go on to become an SEO specialist?

  1. Seek an internship with an SEO agency or marketing firm. Internships = hands on experience.
  2. Start your own blog or website and slowly teach yourself the most important aspects of content writing, promoting your content on social media, building links to your website, etc. Having your own website will leave a paper trail that you’ll be able to show potential employers in the future.
  3. Purchase books such as “SEO for Dummies” on Amazon. Even a basic book like this one will go a long way in providing an introduction to the SEO world. Baby steps!
  4. Follow prominent personalities in the digital marketing world such as Tai Lopez, Gary Vaynerchuck, Matt Cutts, Neil Patel and Brian Dean. Many of these figures have their own Youtube channels and are constantly churning out helpful content for aspiring digital marketers.
  5. Attend various SEO and digital marketing conferences. Many of these conferences are held in tech-heavy destinations like San Francisco, San Jose, Austin and New York City. Some of the best SEO conferences include SMX West, Pubcon, the Growthhackers Conference and Searchlove. At these conferences, you will be able to network with other digital marketing professionals and potentially land an internship or job if you’ve followed the other plans of action above.

Are you a small business owner that is unable to hire a digital marketing professional for your business but need help honing it’s digital strategy? John Mann SEO Consulting can help. We are a small SEO company in Nashville, Tennessee that is passionate about helping brands increase their online visibility to help scale the business. To learn more about our services and to schedule your free consultation, give us a call at 615-491-9819 or complete our inquiry contact form.