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September 29, 2006

SEO: Too simple to make a long-term career?

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This may come as a shock to some of you, but according to a thread over at v7n, SEO is just a hobby and not something you can have a sustainable future doing since there are so few jobs in the field.

Heh. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the ground.

One member even goes far enough as to call SEO “too simple”, another says it’s still not a legitimate profession, and a third implies that SEOs can only make their money by cold calling. Cold calling? Hurry, someone get these people to an SES convention. Certainly at Bruce Clay, we’ve never had to make a cold call to get a sale.

It’s both amusing and disheartening to hear people (and Web development people, no less) talk about an industry I’ve grown to care about in such a defeatist manner. I realize that SEO is still a relatively young industry, but surely we’re past the point where outsiders picture us sitting at home in front of our computers (likely in our pajamas) calling innocent businesses trying to trick them into shelling over $5,000 for a number one Google ranking.

But perhaps not. It appears from the thread that one member has based his entire impression of the SEO industry on one negative experience where an SEO firm charged him $3,000, guaranteed him top rankings, and then failed to deliver any real value. While I’m sorry for his loss and disappointment, that’s the price you pay for aligning yourself with a company that guarantees top placement. Be thankful you didn’t lose more. Any reputable SEO firm will tell you, in SEO, there are no guarantees. That’s part of what makes the industry so exciting.

I’ll admit it was shocking to hear members profess that Internet marketing has no future. For a split second I was concerned. Should I be looking for another job? Darn, I had just gotten comfortable here. Perhaps I should get out while I’m still young?

But then I realized that these people are wrong.

Interest in SEO and Internet marketing is going nowhere but up. And with good reason, with more companies investing in SEO, the game is getting harder (and more fun). Every search engine update has the potential to change the rules completely. And that’s what makes this job fun: relearning what you thought you already knew.

I invite anyone who says SEO is “too simple” to come and spend a few days with us. You’ll learn that it is anything but. There’s nothing simple about learning the ways of the engine, how to perfect methodologies and learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s a puzzle and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

V7N Senior Member Marketing Guy says the reason SEO isn’t stable is because companies recruit recent college grads so they can train them and pay them lower wages. While this may or may not have been true in years past, it’s definitely not the case today. SEO has grown by leaps and bounds over the past ten years.

If you’ve read this month’s SEO Newsletter, you caught Susan’s article about the emerging importance of training. Part of the reason training has become so important is because the industry is coming increasingly more sophisticated. It’s getting harder to achieve the kind of rankings clients used to take for granted. But I like that. It means we have to work harder, be more creative, and design better sites. SEO isn’t going to fizzle out, it’s going to blur into all aspects of business.

As I watch the mess of Bruce Clay, Inc. employees buzzing around the office on a Friday afternoon, I see that this industry is in no fear of falling away. SEO is not a dying art form, it’s a methodology that will soon be worked into the marketing strategy of every viable company. We’re not doing magic; we’re offering a real service.

Special thanks to the folks at SEW for including this thread in their SearchDay post today. I needed the chuckle, and so did the rest of the office.

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