It's not too unusual for a site owner to get so interested in the search engine optimization work they're doing for their own site that they consider a change of profession. I've seen it happen on the SEO Chat forums. This leads to an important question: how do you break into the field of SEO?
Mike Moran notes that he gets that question all the time. I'm not surprised. As a field, SEO has been growing along with the Internet – and in this economy, any area that's actually growing will attract interest. Unfortunately for those who ask the question, there's no “canned answer that will unlock the secret” to a career in SEO, according to Moran.
On the other hand, there are opportunities now that might not have existed before. Moran explained that “SEO is no longer some kind of monolithic profession, where you must know every part of it to get a job.” In some ways, it's becoming more like accounting. A bookkeeper doesn't need to know every single detail of corporate accounting to make a living; an accountant who serves mostly individuals doesn't need to know a lot about taxes for businesses; an accountant with small businesses for clients doesn't need to know much about how big companies like IBM do their taxes. Professionals specialize; that's become true in the field of search engine optimization as well.
That's why there's no canned answer to the question of how one breaks into SEO. You need to start with what YOU know, and not bemoan what you don't have. Moran wrote that a lot of people who ask him how to start their SEO career express concerns because they don't have a technical background. Sometimes they're worried because they don't have a marketing background. Those factors don't need to hold you back.
So what do you already know? If you have experience in direct marketing, you can take the statistics and such you've learned to get a handle on search analytics. If you've worked in public relations, you can climb aboard the social media bandwagon with campaigns on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, and/or write blogs. Copy writers can optimize regular site content or create ads for paid search and pay-per-click campaigns such as Google AdWords. And if you develop websites or do other programming, you can learn about the structural issues that cause websites to rank poorly – and find out how to fix them.
These are just a few examples of taking what you might already know and figuring out how to apply it to the field of SEO. Here's one more important point to keep in mind as you try to break in: SEO has grown and changed a lot over the years, and will continue to do so. If you want to be successful, you need to be prepared to keep learning in response to those changes. Good luck!
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