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 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.

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.

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 and not just a great marketing slogan.

We are looking to hire many SEOs that think they are great at SEO and have reasonable experience to prove it even if 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 still looking for experts to add to our staff as well.

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

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)
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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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