"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Henry David Thoreau
When Henry Thoreau said this, he was living in a different era, an era in which the internet did not exist. For David Thoreau comprehending meta-data and link building would be impossible but he still realized an ultimate truth. That it is not true appearance that is significant, the way it is perceived by others is what truly counts. For search engine optimization, this is an important concept.
In SEO, there is a lot that could be seen but it's what is perceived that counts. It counts more that a website is perceived to be popular than if it really is or not. However, it seems that the opposite holds true for SEO as a career. Some perceive it in an unfavorable light, but there is a great opportunity for those who grab it. In reality, Search Engine Optimization is a viable profitable and opportunity rich career choice.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website to rank highly on major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. SEO is a subset of internet marketing and is really a process of optimizing a website for any user (or robot) that will visit it. Comparable to optimizing a brick and mortar store by hanging signs and bringing in more foot traffic and inevitably more sales because the new sign made the store more visible. Such is SEO, except the store is a website, and the signs, traffic and visibility are all virtual.
Because of the increased use of the internet and search engines, SEO's role in marketing and advertising has become vital to business success. Because of that SEO has become an indelible part of any businesses overall strategy. Unless either search engines or the internet goes away, there will always be some form of optimization.
There is some speculation that search engines will evolve into personalized, individualized and compartmentalized search, which may only include sites that have either paid to be there or cooperated with the search service in some way. While this may be true even in this scenario there will be a need for an "intermediary". Someone who helps business owners with websites and users find each other.
Since the search industry growth has been huge and is expected to increase at the same rate of current growth the need for SEO professionals has increased dramatically. In addition, because the industry is relatively new there is no official school to learn SEO. Therefore, there are not enough trained SEO professionals to meet the demand of labor.
This sounds bad but for someone interested in SEO as a career this is a great thing. There are not only many different SEO positions to choose from but also all of them offer a great wage. And even though it is encouraged, a college degree isn't necessary.
There is a big discrepancy in the search engine world about what SEO's in different positions should make. The consensus is that a base minimum should be around $30,000 a year. Most likely, for an entry-level position this salary would be representative of a Content/copy writer, link builder, SEO researcher or client relations coordinator. Pay for these positions can reach up to $75,000 a year and in some cases up to $100,000.
An SEO with a little bit more experience can make a base salary of $50,000 yearly in positions such as Search Engine Specialist, SEO director, Search Marketing Consultant or Campaign Manager and depending on the company can make up to $100,000 and even $200,000 a year for a search marketing consultant.
These salaries are steep and an SEO expert can fill positions such as Team Managers, Director/Manager of Organic Search or VP/Director of Search Marketing. In a position like this, salaries are expected to be extremely high starting usually somewhere around $80,000 starting and can make up to $200,000-300,000 dollars a year in wages.
Aside from the extremely high salary grade for SEO professionals, the educational requirements are extremely lax. Considering that, formal education does not teach SEO at all; those without degrees have a unique opportunity to obtain high paying and secure jobs.
In addition, many things you will learn in the course of duty will provide you skills and talents for the future should you decide that SEO is not for you. Some of the skills any SEO will learn are; writing, effective communication, organization, marketing methods/techniques, overall advanced computer literacy, team building/leadership and discipline (time management or Self-motivation).
How to Learn SEO
Since there is, no "School of SEO" or anything like it there is some confusion on how to learn search engine optimization. Many wonder how the original professionals learned all of the methods widely practiced today. In the beginning the O.G's learned by a combination of trial and error and study. Back then there weren't the kind of easily accessed resources we have today. They would read approved methods from major search engines and experiment.
Now trial and error plays it's role but there are methods of accelerated learning that make the process easier. The best way to learn SEO is start reading up on all the most popular blogs like SEOmoz, Bruce Clay, SEObook, Andy Hagan, Matt Cutts and websites like Searchenginewatch , OrganicSEO, SEroundtable, Searchengineland. There are many resources available beyond this short list and it is encouraged for anyone interested in SEO to read up on everything available.
There are also seminars and workshops barely springing up such as searchenginestrategies and searchmarketingexpo. As the industry grows, there will be expanded opportunities for workshops, seminars and classes and it is advantageous to attend as many of these as possible. There will be cheaper more accessible and more content rich programs in the future and eventually there will even be a career path for those who can teach SEO.
Finally, there is the absolute best way to learn; practice. If you want to learn quick and put what you have learned into practice even quicker getting an entry- level job at an SEO firm or large company with an in-house SEO staff is the best way to go.
Although you should continue private education and read a lot, learning from a job is the best way to learn because you get the benefit of learning condensed knowledge vis a vis you will learn more, faster. This route also helps eliminate a lot of the trial and error and you will make less major mistakes because your teachers should have already made them. Moreover, there is just no substitute for human interaction; learning from an experienced SEO is like learning from a private tutor.
Search engine optimization careers are still in their infancy but one thing is certain. Search Engine Optimization is a viable profitable and opportunity rich career choice. SEO' specialists will always be around, their job description and pay may change but their service is so important to current and future business operations internationally that this whole SEO is not hype and is not another Dot-com bubble.
The great internet era that is and yet to come only reinforces the need for various marketing services. Competition is low; salaries are high and opportunities even higher. The risks are small and the benefits great. As Robert James Waller said, "In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once; no matter how many lifetimes you live".
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