The Fate Of an SEO Intern Ends Up Doing Lots of Roles!

The Summary of Discussion 2: The Fate Of an SEO Intern Ends Up Doing Lots of Roles!

Anybody else start as an SEO whose roles eventually morphed into a whole lot of other things by the virtue of staying in a company? Any advice on getting sharp with SEO again?

Started out with search engine marketing and eventually my roles shifted to ecommerce, social media, webdev, client relations as the need arose.
Now after a few years as a generalist I've been contacted by a large company who wants me to helm their SEO operations.
I'm a bit rusty at this point and would love advice on getting sharp again at Search engine optimization.
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I'd honestly do a mix of competitor research and self tests.
So make a list on paper of fifteen or so keywords that you think the new company might have a page that would rank for. Accuracy isn't important, don't cheat with tools that tell you.
Then, search the keyword in an incognito browser. Were you right? Wrong? What showed up? Anything that surprised you? Find patterns in the titles and on the actual landing pages for the first page of results. Then, go to page five for the same search, and do the same thing. See if you can tell the differences.
Then, go to Google trends. Put in your original keyword, see how it's been trending for the past year, then five years. See what alternatives it recommends. Can you think of other orders to put the words in your keyword phrase? Synonyms, like lawyer or attorney? See if it triggers better or worse search volume.
Then put in your whole list into Google AdWords. See what shows up there, both for traffic volume and for recommended related searches.
This should show you what the current landscape is like and how good your intuition currently is. You'll remember how it works as you do the exercise.
Then it's a matter of reading the algorithm updates, like how important mobile load speed is/etc, and reading what people think is coming next for search.
From there, you'll know what you need to do to learn or brush up on. But that's just what I would do in your shoes.

DeepKaizen ✍️
This sounds like an excellent exercise to get into the groove of things again.
Thank you
This is super valuable man! Thanks
Great advice.
I used to watch the Neil Patel video's and get to learn so many things.
Also, now a days mostly people prefer to use SEMrush and Ahrefs tools, so it is better to get used to them.

If you work with a small to midsized business SEO pretty much winds up morphing into social media manager random website troubleshooter inventory management vetting new products and suppliers email marketing sms push etc lol. I agree its easy to lose focus of your expertise. Id say keep an eye on search engine news search engine journal etc just keep up to date on whats going on play around with SEM Rush and run audits as often as you have time just try to stay up with the industry and keep your skills fresh

DeepKaizen ✍️

If you work with a small to midsized business seo pretty much winds up morphing into social media manager random website troubleshooter inventory management vetting new products and suppliers email marketing sms push etc lol.

True. Smaller companies need to be light on their feet. I hope i can say I've learned alot to my benefit.
might have to play around with sem rush
100% accurate. I did a little online Public Relations (PR) for a local biz client. Made some new contacts, and I have a fuller resume. Social media became part of my package at the start of the year.

DeepKaizen ✍️
If the name of the game is generating leads why not use all applicable methods right?
PR as in journalist outreach is a pain tho
PR can be a pain, but in my area there are about a dozen outlets. Once the initial reach is done, its easier for future needs.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all of those things and more and knowing how they work well with each other to produce gains in search results. What you should be putting your experience to is a SEO or digital product manager role since it sounds like you have a lot of relevant experience in many roles now.

DeepKaizen ✍️

SEO is all of those things and more

yes indeed.
It disturbs me when people try to gatekeep seo to certain narrow areas when its about the goal not the method


Shit I went from pure SEO, to digital ad sales, to a digital marketing generalist (and the only person with any functional knowledge of local SEO), to being the SEO department manager at a digital agency.
Coming into my current role I was really worried that I'd fallen out of touch because I hadn't focused purely on SEO in years… turns out, it really is like riding a bike. There's been a few updates, but the fundamentals are the same. There was definitely an adjustment period at first, but 8 months in I feel like I never spent any time away from it at all.
I have found as a consultant with start-ups and small businesses my work morphs to marketing manager. From market analysis to marketing strategy reports the jobs do change.
Overall, I think having these expanded roles actually makes me better at SEO because I gain context for the technical side. But, I do see the need to stay up-to-date on SEO knowledge, and for that I read I run pages through MOZ and other free tools to check trends. You could also create some sites to dig into the tools available in WordPress or Wix, their SEO tools, and the message boards where people share code and tips.
Good luck!
Apparently I'm a web designer, site maintenance guy, password manager, hosting sign up guy, blame it all on this guy, setup a meeting guy, manage our 10+ sites all on your own guy, and why is my site not ranking first guy. So yeah, can confirm it's a big f*cking challenge to stay up to date when working in a smaller company. Anyways, I think SEO skills actually never go away. As long as you catch up on the stuff you've missed out on you'll be back pretty quickly. Might be a bit rusty at first but I think you'll be fine once you dive in. Good luck!!
SEO is a process that can be started from anywhere keyword research & Optimisation, Content Planning & Optimisation or linK building. I'd suggest you to take a look at your data (Search Console, Google Analytics or any other tool) for any site that you are working on and try make sense as to where you can identify problem or improvement areas. Simply go on improvising and gauging the effect and then going over to the next improvement area and so on. Try to learn more about solutions for a particular problem area, to me this is the easiest and shortest way to get engaged in any project and learn while you work on.
If you go on identifying where to Start learning from, believe me, you'll be spiralling around infinitely and may not come to any conclusion and more importantly never have the confidence to work independently. All the talk about Action Taking is just about initiating and yo may initiate from anywhere as I just mentioned at the start.
I always encourage diversifying your skillset. Sticking strictly to SEO will greatly limit your employability and your possibilities for promotion. Nearly no company has a Director of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it's rare to get even a manager role without a much more diverse skillset than just SEO.
Branch out. SEO skills are going to become less and less in demand as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over that role. You'll want a much more generalized knowledge of all types of digital marketing skills in order to be most employable and to move vertically into higher paying positions.
I'm kind of the opposite. Always been a webdev and still what I enjoy doing. Ended up trying to do a start up with somebody else and hiring an SEO expert is expensive so my job now requires me to learn SEO until the business starts to cover its costs at least.
Would love some tips! We used Ahrefs which told us a bunch of things to fix and pushed the health score to 94 but I'm honestly not sure how to push it on search engines. I've created a sitemap and added it to Google search console, thought about creating an automated twitter feed but I'm kind of out of my element here. The keyword we are using is not that competitive for the area we work in either.

DeepKaizen ✍️
Were cut from the same fabric (albeit I'm less skilled in webdev) in that i optimize a lot on the tech.
That's great and its the remaining 5% of optimizations those at the top compete on at higher levels but marketing needs to come in.
You gota make compelling content and THEN distribute deftly.
Learn your audience, make a content plan, hire some content creators then iterate on content, format and medium based on market feedback.
Its vague i know but without details about your field its all i can intelligently share.
Just my 2 centavos.


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The Summary of Discussion 1: The Fate Of an SEO Intern Ends Up Doing Lots of Roles!

Started a new job as an SEO specialist, and it's not what I was expecting…

I was recently hired as an SEO specialist, something I'm very new to. My background is in traditional marketing – running email campaigns, designing packaging, analyzing various consumer demographic data, etc. I wanted a change of pace, so I got myself certified in Google Analytics, polished-up the resume, and started applying to jobs… A LOT of jobs. It took nearly 5 months, but I was finally hired.
In today's economy, i'm just grateful to have gotten a hired, let alone somehow making a, let's call it a "minor" career change… BUT I am struggling with what this new position entails. The bulk of my work revolves around WordPress, and not just building copy and SEO strategies, but building out full webpages. When I started this job, I had no idea that I would be responsible for building out page layouts using templates, and having to modify the containers, columns, and basically everything else on the page. It feels like half of my job is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the other half very basic, entry-level web development. I feel so behind in my knowledge. Tasks take me extra-long because I'm having to Google WordPress features every 2 and half seconds. I don't want to lose my job, and I fear this is going to catch up with me.
For those of you in SEO, how many of you feel that this type of web development is a normal part of your day to day? If you did not come from a web development or software engineering background, how did you make the transition? Also, if you have any advice to offer someone like me that could help me start covering some ground, I would greatly appreciate it!
Thanks in advance!!
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I can't speak for everyone, of course, but this is very similar to what my first SEO specialist position was like. Lots of WordPress editing and learning on the fly via googling. In my opinion it's one of the best ways to learn SEO however, because you reaaaallly get your hands on a lot of SEO concepts, as opposed to just reading about them and delegating to a developer who might not know what you're talking about.
I'm now in a role working with larger, enterprise clients and their internal developers and I definitely credit my hands-on time in WordPress with helping build my developer "creds" that are helpful for communicating with devs.

Totally agree!

I'm an SEO specialist and the majority of our job is building out site pages. I wouldn't separate the two since a lot of optimization is also based on how the site functions (speed, structure, etc). I will note I don't use WordPress too often (only have a few clients that use it) since the majority of my clients use a proprietary Content Management System (cms). Don't sweat not knowing everything – you're still new and learning. Any company hiring someone new to SEO should know it'll take time and some mistakes along the way to learn. Good luck! It's a fun part of marketing to be in, albeit a lot of work haha

Agreed. With a big chunk of SEO being on-page, there's going to be a fair amount of WordPress tasks.
It will get easier with experience.

This doesn't really answer your question but I would encourage you to look with a longer perspective view on this. I own a growth marketing agency and years ago I was in a similar position with various learning curves. Just know that with anything new there's going to be tons of frustration and despairβ€”we often forget that part.
I see this as you getting more experience and more well rounded in providing multiple services. Especially connecting your prior experience with this newer web and WordPress experience.
Obviously this is a biased viewpoint as we and myself offer fully-integrated and holistic growth marketing services. But that well rounded angle has been perhaps my most valuable asset over the years.
sonicroots ✍️
Thanks for all the feedback! I'm definitely putting my all into it and doing everything I can to learn and make the most of my new gig. I'm more concerned that my lack of knowledge will be more trouble to the company than it's worth, and they'll let me go (hopefully not). But as many of you said, making mistakes and struggling is part of the learning curve, and hopefully my new boss will keep that in mind :)

SEO can include a large variety of challenges. Some people end up focusing, others work on the bigger picture, but either way, having spent some time practicing the basics is useful. Imposter syndrome hits lots of folks, I'd guess it affects well over half the people I work with at Google too. Don't let it hold you back from learning and doing awesome things.
Be honest with your employer. Tell them that you are eager to learn and improve, but that you are concerned about your WordPress struggles. Ask them what their expectations are. A good employer will value your attitude far more than a basic skill you need to upgrade. You might find you were worrying about nothing. However, if they express concerns better to know sooner when there is still a chance to address it — rather than finding out in a termination meeting.
In terms of learning WordPress, I expect that if you have a head for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you will find you pick-up WordPress pretty quickly. If you are using a popular theme or page builder — find a community that specializes in that tool. Sometimes that might be on Reddit, but there are great groups on Facebook too. When you have a specific problem, you can often get quick, direct feedback rather than having to use more generalized tutorials.

Yeah I can relate. Most of my clients use a simple cms and WordPress websites are of varying complexity but sometimes you stumble across something very confusing. Sometimes you might feel confident about your technical knowledge in any particular area tangential to SEO, and then take on a new client and their set up is bewildering. I find it helps to be honest with the people you're reporting to about any unexpected challenges.
A lot of your problems can likely be resolved by copy-pasting the code from one page into a new page and then editing the plain text HTML directly.



I was recently hired as an SEO specialist, something I'm very new to.

I fear this is going to catch up with me.

Unpopular opinion incomingβ€”why are there so many people taking jobs as SEO specialists and SEO experts with no experience who are brand new to it?
I feel like we see a post like this every few days, usually right above another post from a company asking if the SEO person they hired is wasting their time and money.
Being "Google analytics certified" and having done marketing in the past doesn't qualify you to be an SEO specialist.
Did you misrepresent your skills to the company that hired you? Pretty crummy thing to do IMO, and probably why you're struggling.

sonicroots ✍️
I definitely didn't, I was very open about making a career change and about the goals I set forth for myself. To answer your question, though, it's pretty simple: first of all everyone needs to start somewhere, and usually people new to a field take less pay, myself included. I took a major pay-cut when I took this job… taking someone on without any SEO experience gives the employer the opportunity to train that person the way they would like without any pre-existing bad habits. Nothing crummy about making a career change and starting a job without any prior SEO experience in an entry level position, we all do that at one point or another. The only thing crummy here, I believe, is your condescending and unwarranted reply.

I appreciate your response, and I do agree with some of the things you said, but not all of them. I'm sorry you interpret a response you don't like as condescending, but I guess welcome to the internet.
Nothing wrong with a career change and cool you decided to choose SEO. And if it truly is an entry level position and you told the company that you know nothing about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), also cool.
However, the term specialist generally denotes someone who already has a lot of knowledge about how to do something. Additionally, the fact that the company is clearly expecting you to know a lot of things already (the whole reason you're here asking questions), it doesn't sound like they expected you to be completely lost in the sauce on this stuff.
If I may interject here… specific titles vary a lot from company to company. I don't think it's fair to use that as a way to pass judgement on them, and then to accuse them of potentially lying to their employer. I mean I kind of get where you're coming from, but you're really grasping at straws on that one… but hey, someone has to be that guy, might as well be you
Happy to be of service. I can certainly agree that many titles are ambiguous at different companies. I don't know if I can agree that specialist is one of them, though.
I disagree. That's a lot of assuming just based off the word "specialist." When I read their job title I immediately thought entry level. That's a pretty common title for entry level positions. And a lot of companies are looking for people just like OP due to lower salary and they can train them.
When I first started my job I was a specialist and had no SEO training whatsoever. No one at my company does as a specialist (or if they do it's very little). They take the time to train us and give us a skill set. Not saying that's the case with OP but from the sounds of it, that seems accurate.
sonicroots ✍️
You nailed it! To be honest, my specific title was the least of my worries. I cared more about finding a company/team that was willing to take me on and show me the ropes… but just as you said – the amount of entry level positions I found with the title "specialist" was practically endless
Yeah haha it's funny they use the title for entry level, but I feel like it's kind of understood at this point specialist = entry level (for marketing at least)

Sounds a lot like my first web marketing/SEO job. They had me writing, doing SEO research, editing, managing other writers, doing customer service, figuring out how to customize WordPress pages…
Very typical of smaller companies/startups that you end up spending 20% of your time doing the job you were hired for and 95% doing shit that just needs getting done (that's sarcastic math).
It's going to be tough, for sure. Good news is I've never met anyone who was in a similar situation, made it through, and said "I really wish I wouldn't have learned all that" afterward.
If you get really stressed, see if you can find a WordPress mentor, or even a paid teacher who can give you some 1-on-1 time.


It's definitely a major factor, but it's not necessarily common for every SEO Specialist position. I've work(ed) at two major digital agencies and never done any dev work. We had internal devs or the client might.
I understood that this is a big part of what a lot of agencies do, so I was upfront about finding how much dev support/dev work I would have to do in all interviews before I accepted any job.
Haha. Well, lemme share my story so you can relate… In my first SEO Analyst job I was hired for Optimising their On page score, ranking on certain keywords, and lastly to generate 500+ quality backlinks. But… BAM! I'd to work on 20 domains everyday for 9-10 hours. Creating cool WP templates for better readability and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Moreover, I had to check their Social Media Marketing (SMM) as well, since the trainee(SMM guy) was a newbie. BUT what kept me motivated to perform the Task was "I WILL LEARN SEO NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS." So, just keep going :)
It's a good thing considering the fact that you at least got a job. The stuff that you describe is entry-level, which would take at least a month or so and dozens of designs, but you'll eventually get used to it. No skill would go in vain, SEO and WEB DEV would be a good combination of skills to have. GOOD LUCK
I've been involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for 10 years now. At the start my role was 80% – 20% building pages and soft front-end dev stuff even though I was supposed to be just an SEO. The more you advance, the more you will be just working on SEO strategy. I'm currently an SEO Team Lead at an agency. I have only just flipped to 20% – 80% so I'm finally free of most of the repetitive and fiddly dev work. I now train and delegate more junior team members to do those dev tasks 80% of the time. The cycle repeats. Stick with it.
Web development has become a major part of any marketing position since the early 2010's. I've seen marketing departments shrink from dozens of people to maybe 6. The last company I was with had around 7 employees in marketing, they now have 2.
With that said, every marketing person has to wear every hat. Even the director or marketing manager is going to be in the trenches daily.
Knowing how to build and/or maintain a WordPress site is pretty much standard at this point.
Good news, you know layout design from your email days. So makes a site shouldn't be too much of a leap. Get yourself elementor pro and have a good time learning. If you have any WordPress questions, hit me up!
I feel you on that one! My title is "SEO Specialist" and I've never used Shopify. Learning the theme liquid was very difficult at first and it's all template based. However, now I'm very proficient in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and got a good handle on the Shopify platform.
Unfortunately a lot of companies don't want someone who just knows SEO. They want a website developer, graphic designer, copy writer, and Social Media manager. Google saved my life and career!
When I got my first marketing position after several months of redundancy after leaving a management role within a small pub company, I knew nothing and I just honest with my employers and managers from the initial interview all the way to my last day, and they respected that as they knew what to expect and the effort I was putting in.
I was lucky they were a manufacturing company and I was holding their digital presence from the ground up, so they had little in terms of benchmarks or expectations.
I did however learn more about Analytics, Tag Manager, content writing and everything in-between than I ever did during my time reading articles and watching videos.
If you have a marketing manager that knows their onions then ask them and be a sponge. If you don't then use this subreddit and similar subreddits/forums to ask questions. Someone will eventually point you in the right direction or give got the answer you need (can't promise it'll be the answer you wanted though).
From how you've had the initiative to come here, and how you've always mentioned you constantly Google for SEO answers, I have no doubt you've got the right aptitude and attitude to succeed.
For context, I have a Eng Lit degree, I have 10 years hospitality experience and zilch in regards to paid-for Marketing qualifications. I now have 3 years experience in marketing and about to leave my current marketing agency to become a Marketing Manager for another agency.
If I can do it, so can you.


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