I started my SEO career 20 years ago, and in this guide, I will teach you what an SEO manager does and what skills are needed to perform the job. I’ll also give you some tips on how to get a job as an SEO manager.
What Is An SEO Manager?
An SEO manager is responsible for planning, executing, and managing a business’s SEO strategy. This includes everything from finding the best keywords to target to planning content and optimizing a website for SEO.
As the head of all SEO operations, SEO managers are also responsible for managing a team of SEO specialists. They will delegate tasks to their team members and offer guidance to ensure all projects are on track and executed effectively.
SEO managers can work internally for a single company or at a digital marketing agency where they handle SEO for clients.
SEO Manager Education
While earning a degree can be helpful, no formal education requirement is needed for a career in SEO.
If you want to pursue a degree, some recommended areas to major in are marketing, business, digital media, digital marketing, and computer science.
These will provide useful knowledge to help you early in your career before you gain on-the-job experience.
SEO Manager Skills
Performing the various responsibilities the position entails requires SEO managers to build a diverse set of skills.
The most important are:
Strategic thinking: SEO managers must be able to think strategically. The position’s core responsibility is to develop SEO strategies that the business can use to achieve its marketing objectives.
Project management: SEO managers have to plan and oversee multiple projects simultaneously. This requires strong project management skills to ensure everything stays organized and delivered on schedule.
Analytical thinking: The SEO manager role is a highly analytical position. You need the ability to review data and reports to find areas where you can improve your SEO strategy.
Communication skills: SEO managers frequently interface with their own teams and with clients. As such, it is essential to be an effective communicator as it helps ensure everyone is on the same page and projects run smoothly.
Technical expertise: Like other types of digital marketing, SEO professionals rely heavily on software and other tools to perform their work efficiently. Some tools you need to know to use as an SEO manager include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and Screaming Frog.
SEO managers need a basic understanding of HTML and CSS to make site updates.
Conversion rate optimization: An SEO marketing manager must know how to optimize web pages for conversions. This is known as conversion rate marketing. With this skill, you can turn more of your web visitors into customers.
On-Page SEO: As an SEO manager, you need to know how to optimize the various on-page elements of web pages to help boost their SEO friendliness.
Technical SEO: SEO managers need to know what technical SEO factors Google considers when ranking sites. You can then configure your website to follow all SEO best practices.
Copywriting: SEO managers need to understand what goes into effective copywriting. This allows you to oversee the creation of high-quality content that is engaging for your target audience.
Adaptability: SEO managers must be flexible and ready to adapt to emerging trends. SEO changes frequently as Google modifies its algorithm and competitors adjust their SEO strategies. Similarly, technology also advances rapidly. This requires SEO managers to learn how to use new tools continuously.
SEO Manager Responsibilities
Now, let’s look at what a typical day in the life of an SEO manager will involve. As stated, a wide variety of work goes into managing a company’s SEO.
Below are some of the important day-to-day responsibilities of an SEO Manager:
- Developing and implementing SEO strategies
- Performing Keyword research
- Working with Off-Page SEO tasks
- Managing the SEO team
- Implementing On-Page SEO tasks
- Optimizing a website’s technical SEO
- Planning a content strategy
- Attend meetings
- Analyze data and prepare reports
1. Developing and implementing SEO strategies
The overarching responsibility of an SEO manager is to create the business’ SEO strategy.
To do this, you must first understand the company’s overall marketing objectives and how the SEO strategy fits them.
You can then create a strategy beyond just ranking for target terms but also aligning with the business.
When creating an SEO strategy, SEO managers will spend much time on audience research.
By researching your audience, you better understand the target market and what particular pain points they are trying to solve.
You can then evaluate how your business can help with these issues.
2. Performing Keyword research
SEO managers perform regular keyword research to find the best search terms to target for their SEO strategy.
This process tends to involve the use of several third-party software. These tools provide the monthly search volume for keywords and how difficult they are to rank for.
During keyword research, an SEO manager will analyze the current ranking competition to understand the search intent for a keyword better. This will clarify what type of content Google prefers to rank for that search term.
3. Working with Off-Page SEO tasks
is the process of improving your website’s authority to help it rank for your target search terms.
SEO managers must incorporate off-page SEO into an SEO strategy otherwise it is hard to rank for competitive keywords.
The most common and effective form of off-page SEO is link building. When you can get plenty of high-quality backlinks to your website, you can quickly boost your domain’s authority.
SEO managers create a link-building strategy to find relevant websites to get links from.
This can involve scanning competitor backlink profiles to find opportunities or manually researching opportunities in your industry.
4. Managing the SEO team
SEO managers oversee a team of SEO professionals responsible for executing the various tasks needed to bring the SEO strategy to life.
This can include SEO specialists as well as content writers. It can also include developers if technical changes are needed for the site.
The SEO manager will assign tasks to team members and monitor their progress to ensure everything is in order.
5. Implementing On-Page SEO tasks
Part of implementing an SEO strategy requires continual on-page optimizations.
By fine-tuning the website’s on-page SEO, your pages are better positioned to rank for your target terms and bring highly targeted traffic to your website.
Some of the things an SEO manager will review for SEO friendliness include:
- Ensuring URLs are concise
- Formatting heading correctly
- Adding the appropriate meta data to each page
- Optimizing images
- Ensuring pages use keywords appropriately
6. Optimizing a website’s technical SEO
In addition to optimizing for on-page and off-page SEO, the SEO manager position also involves regularly working on technical SEO tasks.
Technical SEO is the process used to ensure your site’s technical aspects are optimized for users and search engine crawlers.
Here are some of the important technical elements that an SEO manager can work on:
Site speed: Most users will leave a web page if it takes too long to load. Because loading times are an integral part of the user experience, Google will weigh your website’s performance when determining keyword rankings.
SEO managers oversee regular performance tests using tools like Pagespeed Insights to see how fast their site is loading. If pages or the site as a whole are underperforming, the manager will look for ways to reduce the load times.
Fixing broken links: If a link on your site points to a page that does not exist, users will arrive on a 404 error page. This negatively impacts the user experience, so Google doesn’t like to see broken links on your site.
SEO managers use software tools to scan their sites for broken links. They change the link on the respective pages and create a URL redirect for the non-existent page if they find any.
Making sites mobile-friendly: Google uses mobile-first indexing for its search engine, meaning it weighs the mobile version of your site first when determining rankings.
Because the mobile experience is important to the end user, SEO managers must ensure all their pages are mobile-friendly. This involves checking core web vitals in Google Search Console and other mobile-friendly checker tools.
Checking for duplicate content: Duplicate content appears on multiple pages on the same site. Google doesn’t like duplicate content as it can confuse search crawlers, making it so they can’t tell what the original version of the content is.
As a result, they don’t know which page to show in the organic rankings.
SEO managers use software tools to find duplicate content across their sites. They can then remove content altogether or consolidate duplicates into a single page.
7. Planning a content strategy
SEO managers spend time actively creating a content marketing strategy that will help the business reach its SEO objectives.
The manager develops topic ideas based on keyword research and the business’s product/service offering during this process.
The SEO manager then creates content briefs for pages that address these topics. Or they delegate the task to another team member, who then creates the briefs for the content.
Auditing current content –
SEO managers actively audit the current content on their website to see if it is achieving its objectives.
This analysis can help inform you what types of content are performing well to know what to focus on in the future.
The content audit process also allows you to find any material that may be outdated and need updating.
Reviewing and editing content – While SEO managers do not normally create content themselves, the position often involves reviewing and editing copy from writers to ensure it aligns with the business goals and the user’s search intent.
8. Attend meetings
In addition to handling their own day-to-day tasks, SEO managers must actively engage and communicate with clients and other stakeholders.
This can involve correspondence via email as well as regular meetings. During these meetings, the SEO manager will discuss strategies and the project’s current status.
SEO managers also hold regular meetings with their teams to ensure all projects are on track and driving the intended results.
9. Analyze data and prepare reports
SEO managers regularly use analytics platforms to review the performance of their websites.
Through this analysis, you can see how effective your strategy has been at achieving the business objectives.
Among the key data regularly reviewed are:
- Overall traffic
- Average rankings
- Organic conversion rate
- Number of ranking keywords
- Month-over-month traffic changes
- Year-over-year traffic changes
- Top performing pages
By analyzing these metrics, an SEO manager can know what is working well and what should be a focus area for improvement.
SEO managers create regular reports detailing the overall results of their SEO efforts. These reports can include increases in traffic, changes in keyword rankings, and changes to conversions.
After creating a report, the manager regularly shares it with clients and other stakeholders. The timing varies by engagement, but typically, this is monthly or bi-weekly.
How To Get An SEO Manager Job
Below are the steps needed to become an SEO manager without experience.
- Step1: Build the necessary SEO skills
- Step 2: Get an SEO certification
- Step 3: Get an entry-level SEO Job
- Step 4: Start your own SEO blog
- Step 5: Apply for an SEO Manager Job
Step 1: Build the necessary SEO skills
The first step to starting a career in SEO management is to learn about SEO and build your skills.
SEO is not hard to learn but will take some time to develop all the abilities needed to become an expert who can oversee successful projects.
The most efficient way to grow as an SEO is to take an SEO course.
With an SEO course, you can learn about all the key areas of SEO, including technical, on-page, and off-page, from a single resource.
Many courses provide checklists and other resources you can use when applying what you learn to your real-world projects.
This can drastically reduce your learning curve as the step-by-step guidance makes it easy to see how to implement concepts in practice.
Step 2: Get an SEO certification
As you develop your SEO skills, you’ll want to get an SEO certification.
Certifications help validate your skills to potential employers and clients. They also show that you took the time for self-dedicated study to further your career.
Certifications are generally offered through online education platforms as part of a digital marketing course.
You must complete all the course material and often pass a final assessment before receiving the certificate.
Google does not have an official SEO certification, so you must get a certificate from a third-party provider.
Plenty of options are available, each certification varying in cost and quality.
The course covers everything from SEO basics to secrets from experienced SEO professionals.
The course also includes step-by-step instructions and detailed examples of how to apply the concepts taught in the course.
Step 3: Get an entry-level SEO Job
After you become SEO certified, it is time to put your skills to work by getting an entry-level SEO position.
At your entry-level position, you will have the opportunity to work on real-life SEO projects and to learn from experienced SEO professionals.
The best entry-level position to get on your path to becoming an SEO manager would be an SEO specialist.
You can also work as an SEO content writer to get an introduction to how the content creation process fits into an overall SEO strategy.
You can start in-house for a company or look for an entry-level position at an agency.
Step 4: Start your own SEO blog
Next, you want to start your own blog with content centered around SEO.
This will allow you to share your knowledge with others and help you establish yourself as a thought leader in the SEO space.
You can also use the blog to practice what you’ve learned. You can devise a list of target keywords and develop a strategy and content for those terms.
When you rank for these keywords, you can use the results to validate your skills as an SEO professional. further
Step 5: Apply for an SEO Manager Job
Once you gain more experience as an SEO professional, you can begin looking for a position as an SEO manager.
It will take some time before you have the experience necessary to land the job, as many companies will want to see a proven track record of success before handing over the reins of their SEO strategy,
But, if you are patient and continue to develop as an SEO professional, you will find an opportunity that aligns with your experience and skills.
How Much Do SEO Managers Make?
The average annual salary for an SEO manager in the United States is $72K.
This amount increases with experience. Managers with 10 to 19 years of experience make an average of $89K annually.
SEO managers help companies reach more customers by designing and implementing effective SEO strategies.
Numerous skills are needed to be an effective manager, including everything from keyword research to hosting client meetings.
While there is a lot to the position, you can become an SEO manager even if you do not have any formal education or prior SEO experience.
You must build your SEO skills, get a certification, and find an entry-level SEO position.
Over time, you will build the necessary experience to become a viable SEO manager candidate.