Do you remember the recession in 2008?
Companies were cutting back on their advertising budgets and focusing on SEO more than ever.
According to Rand Fishkin’s Moz post at the time, Why Companies Are Investing in SEO During the Economic Downturn:
“The jobs and contracts section of the Marketplace has been humming in November, and anecdotal conversations with other SEO firms tell me there’s quite a bit of business to be had for both in-house and external SEOs.
If you’re an SEO looking for work, you have probably noticed an array of requirements for various roles. From agencies to startups, medium sized to large organizations, the basic knowledge and tools needed for SEO are common, while each role and organization might need some specifics that you aren’t quite used to seeing.”
Cut to 2020 with the economic crisis forming due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are bound to repeat ourselves.
SEO roles are popping up all over.
According to Brian Dean at Backlinko:
“The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down the number of SEO job postings. In fact, postings for SEO positions seemed to slightly increase during the height of the crisis.”
In June 2020, Tom Rayner posted a tweet that shocked the SEO tweetosphere:
TripAdvisor requiring a masters degree for an SEO role 🤣 pic.twitter.com/SeCf1fNUQ7
— Tom Rayner (@tjprayner) June 27, 2020
When I looked at the role, I saw this:
While some complained about the expert level knowledge of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, and demonstrated experience in analysis and presentation creation.
It all made perfect sense to me.
Sure they are asking for qualifications that seem to be out of an SEO’s skills and experience, but it doesn’t mean that SEO professionals should get angry or frustrated.
What we should be doing is understanding what companies are asking for and hone our skills to match.
To get a good understanding of what others are seeing, I started a Twitter thread of my own:
The most common responses covered the basics:
- Ability to identify the target audience.
- Know Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Collaborating with stakeholders.
- Complete website audit.
- Performing keyword research.
- Render a competitive analysis.
- Define and execute on strategies.
What stood out for me the most were responses around:
- Knowledge in technical SEO.
- Familiarity with Tableau.
- Running SQL queries.
- Knowing RegEx as part of the requirements.
Companies are becoming more sophisticated in their optimization strategies – and SEO professionals need to respond in kind.
Being able to pull analysis with SQL queries, working with Tableau, manipulating data in Excel with pivot tables and complex formulas, and being able to present the data across organizations are all a part of what companies are looking for.
15 Common Requirements in Enterprise SEO
The 15 most common requirements in enterprise SEO include:
1. Local Optimization & Tools
While you may find that smaller businesses and agencies like an SEO with local experience, some enterprise organizations need the same experience on a larger scale, including:
- The auto industry (cars.com, CDK, AutoNation, etc).
- Ecommerce that are also brick-and-mortar chains (Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, etc).
- Restaurant chains (Darden Restaurants, Centerbridge Partners, etc).
- Even the medical industry.
Knowledge in working with Yext, SweetIQ, RenderSEO, Rio SEO, and other local aggregators will help to optimize the company’s website, on Google and Apple Maps, Yelp, and other sites for locations.
2. Presenting to Senior-Level Executive Teams
The ability to communicate with executives is a skill that not many people possess let alone an SEO.
SEO professionals are successful because of their attention to detail, however, executives don’t like to delve into the specifics.
Drafting up simple presentations explaining why SEO is important on just a few slides with the total ROI is all that executives want to see.
An SEO that presents the bigger picture is one that will grow in their career.
3. Knowledge in Enterprise SEO Tools
The scale at which an enterprise SEO works within a large organization makes it virtually impossible without the tools that can handle the capacity.
Tools like ScreamingFrog, Conductor, DeepCrawl, Botify, BrightEdge, and seoClarity make the job a lot more efficient and provide the data needed to help champion the work to completion.
4. Build & Manage a Strong Team of Experts
Many companies are just discovering that they need an in-house SEO.
Some might have fulfilled the role with an individual contributor but realized that they need a strong team.
For SEO professionals who are at the level of management and understand what it takes to build a team will find that there are more roles available and more opportunities for advancement.
5. Ability to Manage an Agency
Most companies have agency help when it comes to SEO.
Knowing how to work with an agency and ensure that the organization is getting its money’s worth is a desirable skill.
Coming into a role with a plan on how to communicate and hold the agency accountable will prove desirable.
6. Developing Content Roadmap
How many times have you heard “Content is king!” for SEO?
Knowing how to develop content for SEO and work with copywriters on a roadmap is an important skill to possess.
Showing companies that you can work with teams and prove continued growth with a roadmap is valuable.
7. Evangelizing SEO Best Practices
Companies don’t always follow best practices with SEO.
Time is often spread thin after hiring which makes it even more important to evangelize best practices within the various teams.
- Marketing teams need to know what keywords their audience is using.
- Copywriters should understand how not to keyword stuff or to choose the right synonyms.
If these teams know what to do, then it helps the SEO be more efficient in their work and therefore more desirable in their role.
8. Knowledge of Bugs & Feature Requests
Many times, SEO professionals will enter an enterprise-level role without an understanding of what it takes for engineers to fix a quick bug or the lengthy process it takes for a feature request.
Understanding what the difference is and asking the organization before starting will prove that level of experience.
9. Technical SEO Skills
Technical SEO skills such as:
- XML Sitemaps.
- Structured data (JSON).
- Python, OOP, C#, PHP, Java, etc.
SEO professionals aren’t expected to be engineers.
However, the more knowledge an SEO has with the languages, the easier it will be to gain the respect of engineers and stakeholders within the organization.
For example, Marcin Lewicki had reached out to me for help on what skills companies are looking for in technical SEO.
It was an important discovery that would get any SEO hired on the spot.
10. Ability to Interpret Data & Make Clear, Concise Recommendations
SEO is very data-driven and organizations expect a high ROI.
Having the ability to look at the level of impact a change or strategy will have compared to the effort it would take to get the work done is what will help prioritize and champion the work.
11. Create & Execute a Strategy of Initiatives
Being able to look at all of the work needed for SEO and structure it all into a strategy with a plan to execute with goal estimates to report against is important.
While audits have a task list, being able to organize that work and coordinate with the teams to execute on a timeline is a desirable skill in enterprise SEO.
12. Improve Complex Processes or Work with Engineering Teams to Build New Tools
Some large-scale organizations like Microsoft or Amazon have the engineering power to develop complex processes and machine learning systems that will benefit SEO.
Having the creative mind and ability to communicate the need and benefit required will escalate the value of an SEO professional.
13. Manage Tests for SEO & Prove the Value to Scale
Large organizations deal with millions, if not billions, of visits from SEO impacting millions (or billions) in revenue.
Making a small change for SEO can be a drastic impact in a positive (or even negative) way.
Testing strategies is important to minimizing loss and proving the positive impact that the work can have.
14. Keep Updated in Algorithms, Competitive Landscape and the Industry
SEO pros are always keeping abreast of changes in Google, Bing, and other search engines while engaging in discussions and attending events so we bounce off ideas with our like-minded counterparts.
Going into an interview with a plan on how to keep up-to-date on industry trends and algorithm updates will impress the hiring manager.
15. Proven Data-Driven Approach to Solving Complex Problems
SEO professionals have a unique advantage with Google’s Keyword Planner or other tools for data to predict the outcome of work completed for SEO.
From potential search volume for target terms, CTR improvement with an average position change, or using a crawler to show a significant number of pages with an issue, knowing how to use the data to build a case for SEO is important.
Working as an SEO in an enterprise environment can be extremely rewarding and lucrative.
Any SEO that makes the effort to gain the skills that companies are asking for will have multiple offers to choose from and a solid career ahead of them.