Observation on our SEO Industry and the Job Market for SEOs

Letters spelling out "SEO" with a magnifying glass for the letter "O."
I have been here since the beginning. I have been called the “Father of SEO” in part because I have been here for so long — I started three years before Google! And the industry has certainly evolved over these 26+ years.

As a company, we have always taken our place as mentors and teachers of how SEO should be done. Often unpopular, frequently disagreeing with what “works” because it is just not right, and speaking up for SEO as a trade … that is us.

The Industry

The industry has grown over the years as people have learned and prospered as SEOs. Many people with a lot of experience have become leaders of in-house departments as SEO became a many billion-dollar industry. I congratulate you all on your success. But with this evolution came the plague of all successful industries — demand exceeding supply.

BCI saw prospective clients complaining that they had gone through three or four other SEO agencies who knew less than the client did about SEO. The client was actually teaching their agency how to do SEO!

Clients now know even more about digital marketing, and these superficial SEO firms are struggling. Clients come to us looking for expertise they can’t find elsewhere. I guess our training courses, conference masterclasses, and websites were successful.

Company of Experts

The obvious solution for us was to build a company of experts — and so we did. Currently, our SEO and PPC staff average about 15 years of experience. We are leaders in our space and growing rapidly. Clients have learned the hard way that if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. We are the agency companies call when SEO really matters. We are hiring remote staff and paying well above competitive wages. And we are not experiencing the knowledge gap plague.

But now, we are seeing a strange problem. Because of COVID, the demand for SEO competency has never been higher. And demand is driving up salaries for great SEOs. The SEO firms that were not hiring experts find even their novice staff wages dramatically increasing by up to 50% — and with no way to increase billings 50%. They are losing their skilled workers at a fast pace and paying more for what is left. Many smaller agencies may fold this year as margins fade.

Small agency survival depends upon reducing their time spent per project during a time when Google is changing 12 times a day, and the competition is hiring SEO-skilled people … a rock and a hard place for many smaller SEO firms. They cannot produce quality results in less time with amateur staff.

SEO Help

So how can we help our industry now?

We love teaching SEO. We built SEOtraining.com as a way to train continuously instead of once and done — we put our money into helping the entire industry. We are committed to continuing to build our industry. At our core, we are and will remain expert mentors and teachers.

I decided that what our industry needs is to properly develop senior SEOs into experts. There are many people that really are very skilled but lack 10+ years of experience. These folks are looking for challenging work solving SEO puzzles that excite them. And they are fumbling around in a pool of failing agencies.

The role of an industry leader is not just to make money. A leader accepts the role of industry teacher.

We have developed mentors and resources to bring others to their expert potential. And so we will. Being the Father of SEO is an obligation, not just a great marketing slogan.

We are looking to hire many SEOs who think they are great at SEO and have reasonable experience to prove it, even if it is far less than 10 years. We will bring them into our agency as remote workers and develop them as experts. We will compensate them well and provide opportunities to work on a lot of broad as well as complex, deep-dive projects along with our existing industry experts. And we will keep doing it. And, yes, we are also still looking for experts to add to our staff.

It is time to build the next generation of experts. If that person is you, then contact us.

FAQ: How has the SEO industry evolved and what steps can professionals take to succeed in this dynamic field?

The SEO landscape has evolved dramatically since its inception, becoming a cornerstone of modern digital marketing strategies. As an industry expert, I’ve witnessed its progression firsthand and can offer valuable insights to help professionals excel in this dynamic field.

Profound shifts have marked the journey of the SEO industry. From its humble beginnings, where keyword stuffing reigned supreme, to today’s complex algorithms prioritizing user experience, the industry’s evolution has been relentless. Search engines like Google have refined their ranking mechanisms to emphasize quality content, relevance, and user intent. Professionals must recognize this shift and align their strategies accordingly.

Evolving Approach

One crucial evolution is the transition from keyword-centric tactics to a user-centric approach. Beyond keywords, it’s about crafting content that fulfills user intent and provides genuine value. Today’s successful SEO professionals understand the importance of comprehensive, authoritative, and engaging content that resonates with the target audience. This shift not only improves rankings but also enhances user satisfaction.

Technical Prowess

Technical prowess is another key aspect of the industry’s evolution. Mobile-friendliness, page speed, and secure browsing have become critical ranking factors. Professionals must ensure websites are optimized for various devices and offer seamless experiences. Regular audits and optimizations are essential to maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Staying Informed

In this dynamic field, staying updated is paramount. SEO professionals must dedicate time to continuous learning and staying informed about algorithm updates, industry trends, and emerging technologies. Networking with peers, attending conferences, and following reputable industry blogs can provide valuable insights to adapt strategies effectively.

Holistic Success

To succeed in today’s SEO landscape, professionals must embrace change, foster creativity, and adopt a holistic approach. Understanding the audience, conducting thorough keyword research, and leveraging data-driven insights are fundamental. Balancing on-page optimization, technical excellence, and strategic link-building can lead to sustainable success.

Step-by-Step Procedure: How to Succeed in the Evolving SEO Industry

  1. Stay Informed: Regularly follow reputable SEO blogs, forums, and news sources to keep up with industry updates.
  2. Understand User Intent: Focus on creating content that addresses user needs and intent, rather than just keywords.
  3. Prioritize User Experience: Optimize website speed, mobile-friendliness, and security to enhance user satisfaction.
  4. Diversify Content: Experiment with various content formats like videos, infographics, and podcasts to engage audiences.
  5. Leverage Data: Utilize analytics tools to gather insights and make informed decisions for optimization.
  6. Master On-Page SEO: Craft compelling meta tags, headers, and optimize content for targeted keywords.
  7. Invest in Technical SEO: Regularly audit the website for technical issues and ensure optimal performance.
  8. Embrace Local SEO: If relevant, optimize for local searches by claiming Google My Business listing and garnering reviews.
  9. Build Quality Backlinks: Focus on acquiring authoritative and relevant backlinks to boost your site’s credibility.
  10. Utilize Social Media: Share and promote content on social platforms to increase visibility and engagement.
  11. Adapt to Algorithm Changes: Be prepared for algorithm updates by maintaining a flexible approach.
  12. Explore Voice Search: Optimize content for voice search queries as voice assistants gain popularity.
  13. Think Mobile-First: Ensure your website provides an exceptional experience on mobile devices.
  14. Network and Collaborate: Engage with other professionals in the industry to exchange insights and strategies.
  15. Monitor Competitors: Analyze competitors’ strategies and identify opportunities for differentiation.
  16. Offer Value: Prioritize providing value to your audience through informative and useful content.
  17. Track and Measure: Continuously monitor key performance indicators to evaluate the success of your strategies.
  18. Adopt Ethical Practices: Stay within search engine guidelines to avoid penalties and maintain credibility.
  19. Adapt and Innovate: Embrace new technologies and trends to stay ahead of the curve.
  20. Seek Continuous Learning: Invest in your professional development through courses, workshops, and certifications.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (19)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!

19 Replies to “Observation on our SEO Industry and the Job Market for SEOs”

Lots of valuable information can be found here. Everything in place and transparent. I recommend it to everyone and I will visit it regularly.

It’s really hard to find and retain good SEO staff in Auckland at the moment. We are find companies in the US are poaching our staff to work remotely.

All of it was just wonderful information to read. I liked every bit of it. Thank you Bruce for this awesome stuff.

Wow! Lucky to have found me here… Need to say a very big thank you. Until today, I never really understood the blog… Thanks a million, times…

I appreciate the value as you have explained everything so beautifully and Mind blowing Blog and for more information

That is more than enough to keep me busy for quite some time.It is an Amazing article

It will help to boost the rank of the blog,site or article on google …… Your ideas are simply great i loved

Web vitals are extremely important

As per one research, “SEO is a good career in 2022 because you can work in-house, take on clients, and even start and grow websites. Plus, the three of the most popular websites Google, YouTube, and Amazon.com, are also the biggest search engines.”

thank you too for sharing knowledge and experience

Very Impressive…. Thanks for the post

Excellent blog as always keep it up.

You crushed it again, Bruce!

Fantastic blog post!

But I disagree entirely with the premise. Your assumption that the really talented people are employees and remain employees is faulty or at the very least incomplete.

the really good SEOs all make a killing doing various affiliate marketing or affiliate marketing like activities (myself and some of my colleagues included), And the people who stay behind as employees of various agencies and corporations are always, who couldn’t make it on their own, when you really have to put your money where your mouth is.

Not a popular opinion I know, but in my experience (of 15+ years at this point) it’s the truth.

Anyway, great read, been a reader for 12+ years at this point, looking forward to more from you, it’s always fantastic. Jut thought I add this.

Shoutout to all my fellow SEOs making a living in the competitive affiliate marketing sector, best of luck to you all.

Robert Stefanski

Hi Simon, thanks for your comments! We appreciate your point of view.

Making it on your own and running a business (sales, accounting, customer service and in particular risk) is not for everyone. There are many great SEOs that work for a business because they can do what they love without the headaches. Besides, we all work for someone. We think many people would rather work on the agency side and learn every day than be in-house or on their own. Only a few of the great are great enough to be great on their own.

Good stuff as always Bruce. You continue to lead the pack.


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