If you are in this business long enough, someone will come up and ask the question. To some of them, it is the most important question in their lives: "How do I break into SEO?" I honestly get this question several times a month. And each person that asks me is ready for my answer. Some seem ready to take notes. They expect that I am going to rattle off some kind of canned answer that will unlock the secret to their future career. But I don't, because it isn't that easy. Some people readily accept that it isn't that easy. If it were easy, they wouldn't need to ask. In fact many folks ask a longer question. "How do I break into SEO, because I don't have..."
  • ...a technical background. This is one of the most common worries. People believe that they need to know how to program or at least code HTML or else they are doomed.
  • ...a marketing background. Yeah, people who actually have a technical background worry that they need something else.
The truth is that almost no one breaks into SEO with both a marketing and a technical background. So, no matter who you are, you probably don't have all the skills required to optimize for organic search. But as SEO grows, you don't really need all those skills anymore. There are plenty of jobs out there for folks who are specialists. They don't know everything about SEO--they just know enough SEO, that when coupled with other skills make them employable. That's why when people ask me the magic question, I always ask them a question back. What do you already know? People are always struck by this question because they don't expect the magic formula to have anything to do with them. But it does:
  • If you have a background in direct marketing, you can learn search analytics.
  • If you came from PR, you can come up with social media ideas or write blog posts.
  • If you understand copy writing, you can do content optimization or paid search copy writing.
  • If you are a programmer, you can fix infrastructure problems.
You probably get the idea. SEO is no longer some kind of monolithic profession. where you must know every part of it to get a job. If you have any skills that border on organic search marketing, adding SEO skills to that mix makes you far more employable.  And that is always the right way to break into SEO, by building on what you already know. 

Originally posted on Biznology.





Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.

Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.






Comments (6)

The best way to break into SEO is to simply start doing SEO. Create your own site, and market it and try to make money from it (either selling something, affiliates, ads, whatever)

The best SEOs are the ones who cut their teeth doing it for themselves. Until you're actually invested in doing it, you hit that next level.

Also, it gives you instant examples and success stories to bring up in an interview and to show off when asked for experience. That, and I know several people who won't hire an SEO who isn't blogging or running their own sites as well.

Your take on the topic makes some sense. The opinion that to make it into the SEO field or to land an SEO related job or work, one doesn't need to know the topic inside out! Well, it is true to an extent if you ask me.

Like I have been hired to write content, that is SEO optimized to the core. Well, to be honest, I don't know SEO inside out! But thankfully, I had good writing skills and could address the basics of SEO well while writing articles. That allowed them to employ me!

I found the link to this article on Kingged.

Arun

As Ryan says just do.
I found that this field one has to know many different aspects and can be an allrounder and not always an expert but simply just hire experts. The trick is conversion of sale.

I agree with Ryan that the best way is to dive into it and play with the numbers if you are able to. Starting out most people do not have a background in both marketing and programming, but it is not difficult to gain rudimentary skills in the one you are lacking in. In my opinion the best place to start in SEO is a small startup. Again very similar to what Ryan said.

Exactly. It seems I know only 10% of SEO. Still I can make any page on to the top.Yet i can't give exact answers to 95% of SEO questions. Its difficult to explain but an SEO must have sheer analytical abilities and control over his imagination.

Your take on the topic makes some sense. The opinion that to make it into the SEO field or to land an SEO related job or work, one doesn't need to know the topic inside out! Well, it is true to an extent if you ask me.

Like I have been hired to write content, that is SEO optimized to the core. Well, to be honest, I don't know SEO inside out! But thankfully, I had good writing skills and could address the basics of SEO well while writing articles. That allowed them to employ me!

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > How do you break into SEO?