How I Got Hired As A SEO Specialist Without Any Experience
Sup guys! 👋
As the title indicates: Recently I've signed my first contract of employment in the SEO world.
I've learnt a lot of good stuff about SEO here. A part of this realization goes out to you guys.
Last year, as the pandemic hit badly, I've been forced to look for employment in different industries. I'm not going to say that it was easy and bs like that, but the only good thing with the COVID-19 madness, was the fact that I finally got to study, learn, practice and be paid at something that I wanted to do for a long time: Digital Marketing & Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Right! But how do you do those things when you don't have any experience or education whatsoever?
1) Be Patient ⌛
If you have read a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know that seeing results while applying it, takes time. Well, becoming a Search Engine Optimizer without any experience is not so different either.
For me, it took almost an entire year to get to a point, where my employer considered that I can bring value to the company. And when you don't have experience, nor education around the area, you really need to know your shit when it comes to SEO.
And by that, I don't mean that you need to become a 'keyword wizard'. I mean that you must provide certain evidence in order to get hired. If you are at the start of your SEO learning path, start thinking of building and ranking a website.
This kind of 'evidence' take a bit of time. Don't stress. Plan! And…you know, be patient!
2) SEO Courses & Certifications
A respectable chunk of SEO professionals wouldn't give a duck about SEO Courses and Certifications.
In the contrary, I say that you would probably need it, like I did.
A set of good Digital Marketing and SEO courses would strengthen your fundamentals and most of them can boost your LinkedIn profile or resume.
SEO Course in your area
If you're lucky enough to live in a big city with a respectable school running a professional SEO Course, don't think twice, join.
This kind of courses can teach you a lot: Technical, On-Page, Off-Page SEO along with some marketing extras.
Besides the diploma that you're going to get at the end, once the course finished, the chances of getting a job locally in Digital Marketing would highly increase.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization by coursera
For those of you who can't attend a SEO course at a respectable school, the best alternative will be SEO Specialization Course @ coursera.
Besides the certification, this course can get you set up with the major tactics and know-hows when it comes to ranking a website on Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
The best thing about this, there's a financial aid in place to help those who can't afford it.
The course takes about 5 months for completion. It is offered by University of California.
Google Digital Garage
These free courses from Google acted as an intro to Digital Marketing for me. Here I got a glimpse of what SEO is and the basics of website optimization.
Google awards you with a diploma once your course is completed. This won't get you a job, but again: You have to consolidate your offering when it comes to a future job interview.
Analytics, Tag Manager and Data Studio
This trio would probably be easy to study and get certified by Google. But, oh my, would be certainly different while working with them, and believe me, you would need them as a Search Engine Optimizer.
All the SEO agencies that I know uses at least on of these bad boys. And guess what? They want new employers to at least know the difference between them.
Is it enough to just get the cert for Analytics, Tag Manager and Data Studio?
Nope. The employer wants to see how you are using these tools. So, without any client to manage, you will practice with *cough obvious cough* your future website.
3) Building Your Website 🚧
When it came to building my own website, I've tried to select a niche, where not a lot of domains are fighting for the same keywords. As I am Bulgarian, I've decided to focus on a Bulgarian-language content blog, so I could easily occupy 1st SERP on the keywords that I've targeted.
Before looking at any Content Management System (cms) or trying to buy a domain, I would suggest to have 2-3 articles already written about your topic.
Keyword Research, SEO-friendly Copywriting and using various SEO tools to ease your work comes in place here. I'm not going to cover all these because this is already a long-ass post and there are people in this subreddit who shared some excellent stuff.
One thing I have to say, when I've started out, I didn't want to spend a whole budget on hosting, domain, tools etc. So, I've used Keyword Planner for the Keyword Research.
I do recommend writing about something that you like, or something that you are good at.
For example: If you are into furniture restoration, then put the Keyword into Keyword Planner, search for the volume, pick some keyword with low-medium volume and write about it.
If you want to be smart from the beginning, watch what the guys from 1st SERP are writing and write better and longer content.
Content Management System (cms) – Why is important?
My cms was WordPress. A lot of employers are looking for people who know how to manage a website via cms, so take your time and study everything here.
Again, there are ton of guides about Yoast SEO, how to compress images and such online.
Don't stress with website's aesthetic, and put your energy into writing excellent content and optimize your website to be fast(If you got here with the reading, I bet you know that the website has to load in < 3 seconds).
Google Search Console
Link your website with Google Search Console (GSC). GSC is one of the most important tools for a SEO. From traffic to website health, GSC is the thing that I check on a daily basis while at work.
All the employers are going to look into your resume to see if you had any experience with it. So, integrate it, be comfortable with it and start using it to your advantage to rank higher.
Google Everyting You Don't Know
I am not the smartest guy alive, so I've been using Google A LOT while building the website.
I remember when I've discovered what XML sitemap was and I've spent an entire day to find out how would this help me and my website ranking.
The point here is if you're stuck with something, search it on Google, find the answer and try to understand the issue. And if you repeat this process over and over again, I guarantee you will be prepared for the interview and the job itself will be easy.
I guess it depends how much do you want to become an SEO.
4) Apply for SEO Jobs
Have you build your website and made it rank on Google's First Page on a few keywords?
Good. It's job hunting time!
I've applied for jobs mainly on LinkedIn. For me it was the best alternative, as most of the companies around me have a LinkedIn presence.
Here, I've tried to showcase my SEO Certificates and SEO work as good as possible. I've even put the website that I've created as a 'current company'. And I've brought a bit of attention doing this.
"We do appreciate you taking the time to interview with us, but…"
Not going to lie, from the moment that I've started job hunting until the moment that I've got hired, I've lost my patience. A couple of times. As it was still Lockdown, most of the companies didn't advertise any jobs, or the jobs that were out there had a very high number of applicants. But, I guess these days things are getting better.
Just to give you an idea, I had 3 interviews in total. I felt like the most prepared SEO Specialist going to the first 2, but they told me I don't have what it takes.
Of course, that is going to bring you down. But, I don't know how (I believe because I'm stupid enough), I kept applying for jobs and send direct messages to employers around my area.
At the 3rd interview, I've decided to put a lot of accent on what I've accomplished on my website and how I can do the same work for the employer. Aaaand I've got the job.
I'm not going to give you a 'Wolf of Wall Street' speech about 'how to get the job' or some bs like that. No. What I want you to realize, is that, if you really want this and put enough time and effort in it is 110% possible.
Let's take me for example. I was 'declined' at my first two interviews. But, even if it took a bit of time till' my 3rd, one thing has always been present in the back of my mind:
'If I've managed to get 2 interviews so far, it will be just a matter of time till' the 3rd. And most probably I'll be more prepared and confident for that."
Is this from watching too much Naruto? I don't know. 🍥
5) Pro Tips 🤓
Something that I didn't really cover here, are Backlinks.
Not too important at this stage of building and ranking a website for a bunch of low volume keywords. But, it is something that you should definitely try to implement to your website and be confident with.
"If you have good content, many people will be linking to you."
Yes, but no. As you are the beginning of your website, no matter how good your content is, no High Authority Domain will be linking you.
Is there a Facebook group that shares the same topic as you? – Fine, make some noise there.
Are there any small websites locally who shares the same view as you? – Fine, send them a nice offering that can benefit both of you.
Is there a local newspaper that supports new businesses and blogs alike? – Fine, send them a letter of how important is what you do for the community.
And if you can't get any, that's fine too.
At this stage, the employer won't need to see any high traffic coming to your website. What he really wants to see is that you know how important backlinks for a business are. Getting your feet wet would certainly give you an advantage.
Marketing and SEO work hand in hand.
You cannot be an excellent SEO without a sign of marketeer living inside you.
A book that I read at the moment and I would really recommend for you too is: 'This is Marketing' by Seth Godin.
Actually, it doesn't really matter if you just started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or you're a long-time marketeer BO$$. This book has changed how I think about what I do, professionally and personally.
You don't need to know how to write them, just to have a general idea of basic HTML. If you got until the end of this post, I believe it won't be a problem for you.
My first experience with coding was with Code Academy.
To be honest, that happened back in highschool, when I've decided that I want to become a developer.
I sucked badly at it. But at least, now I have a general idea of what is what.
I really encourage you to do the same. Give away 2hrs from you Netflix & Chill time and try to learn how to code on Code Academy or any website alike.
Believe me, there's a big chance of you liking it.
'I have a full-time job, how should I do all this?'
Pease don't be stupid enough to quit your full-time job in order to pursue a career that a guy from Reddit told you can be achieved.
Usually there are ways around it.
If it's too much and you cannot do all these in your time off then ask for part-time, or do it on your annual leave, or do it as 1hr a day, every single day.
Bottom line is:
If you know that this is for you, you will get out of your comfort zone.
I knew it was for me, and now I have the chance of enjoying what I do and get paid for it. And you can do it too.
The secret is that this is no secret.
Hard work, dedication and most importantly patience is the answer for a lot of our problems.
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