Is an SEO career for you?

Toby Schroeder, partner/lead designer, is working at Market Interactive located in the Haymarket in Lincoln, Neb.

Story and photos by Brent Reese, NewsNetNebraska

People interested in computers, marketing, and sales might consider working as a search engine optimizer for their career.

An SEO helps to get a business’s website noticed by building links, researching keywords and using marketing strategies.

College students who are looking at careers in the SEO field are going to be from a mix of different backgrounds, said Toby Schroeder, who has experience in web marketing, website building and SEO.  He is partner/lead designer at Haymarket-based, Market Interactive, a company that offers Internet marketing, content management, and software application development.

To prepare for a career as an SEO, Schroeder suggests getting into areas such as marketing, sales, and software engineering.  Many people overlook the sales aspect of SEO, but those skills are crucial to being a good SEO, said Schroeder, who initially had a website development background.

“You’re constantly selling, whether you’re selling to internal people within your company, your ideas, or whether you’re selling to a client; what you’re suggesting they do is worth money,” Schroeder said.  “Good sales people will succeed in about any career path and people who are meek and quiet have a limited range.”

Schroeder also said marketing is also a necessary skill. Marketing is like “taking creativity and then packaging it up in such a way that will help your customer make money.” That’s essentially why clients want SEOs, he said.

But other skills can be applicable also. Chris Timm, associate director at Career Services at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, recently helped a student majoring in statistics find a job. Timm noticed that some companies wanted people with statistical skills for an SEO type of role.

“I’m not sure that the job title at this stage would be called search engine optimizer, and it might be web development or database administrators, kind of thinking of those things,” Timm said.

Brian Thompson, partner/lead developer, is working at Market Interactive located in the Haymarket in Lincoln, Neb.

Like any career field, becoming an SEO has pros and cons. According to, the pros are that there can be a high demand, high salary, and high creativity for SEOs. They can make up to $80,000 a year. SEOs also get to use creativity to design and develop websites plus use advertising and marketing skills to broaden their job duties.  On the con side, SEOs must be extremely patient to cope with high frustration and to compete with bad practices. They can encounter problems with learning the differences in how search engines work, identifying the rapid changes in rankings and investing the time required to improve those rankings. They can also face unfair competition from people who practice bad link-building, which may lead to search engines penalizing a business’s website.

Schroeder says that sometimes link-building has gotten a bad name, because SEOs have created blog spam by adding unnecessary links to multiple websites that  are not connected to the website being promoted. This would boost the company’s website temporarily, but then the website would drop back down and, as a result, waste the client’s money. Search engines caught on to these dishonest tactics and started looking at relevance.

Schroeder says SEOs spend most of their time researching keywords relevant to a particular company’s business and then applying those keywords to pages and adding relative content. SEOs used to focus on making a website rank higher in Internet searches, but now it is more about getting people to the website.

“I mean at the end of the day, though you want to rank well, it’s not Google that you care about reading your site, it’s the people,” Schroeder said.

While knowing code used to be more important, Schroeder said that now a good SEO has to know how to look at a client’s site and overhaul it to make sure that each individual page has a keyword so any search engine can easily find the site.  This is something Schroeder says a lot of people don’t understand about SEO.

Then the SEO watches for about a month to see how the site lands in search engine rankings.  After the site is properly optimized and if a client still has competition, then the SEO starts building links to help boost the rank.

Then, the work of an SEO takes on the role of public relations and promotion for the client’s websites.

Toby Schroeder, left, and Brian Thompson are working at Market Interactive located in the Haymarket in Lincoln, Neb.

Brian Thompson, who is partner/lead developer with Schroeder at Market Interactive, said they believe SEO has to be an integrated strategy of both SEO and social media optimization.  Schroeder says that social media optimization means including services such as creating custom-designed pages with programs like Facebook and Twitter, teaching businesses how to use these pages to communicate with their clients, or just running these accounts for the business.

“It’s all about properly executed, honest promotion,” Schroeder said.

Thompson said that there are no secrets on how to do SEO once it is learned.

“We can give the exact road map to a customer and say, ‘here is what we’re going to do for you,’ we’re going to tell them exactly how we’re going to do it,” said Thompson.  “That’s where the experience comes in and that’s why I think when the new

SEOs come in, you can know the theory and you can know the process, but there’s more to it.”

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