SEO is one of the most cost-effective forms of digital marketing. It allows companies to get in front of a large audience of people that are interested in what they sell.
Implementing an effective SEO strategy to capitalize on this source of traffic involves the work of various digital marketing professionals. One of these roles is the SEO manager.
SEO marketing managers are responsible for creating the overarching SEO strategy to drive more organic web traffic to the business.
I started my SEO career 15 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?
So, what does an SEO marketing manager do?
An SEO manager is a digital marketing role that is responsible for planning, executing, and managing a business’s SEO strategy.
Because SEO is a multifaceted discipline, the role tends to cover a wide range of duties and responsibilities. This includes everything from finding the best search terms to target to planning content and optimizing the business’ website.
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 make sure 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 on behalf of clients.
SEO managers that work with clients must actively report and communicate with them to ensure their efforts are aligned with the business objectives
Skills and Education Requirements of an SEO Manager
While earning a degree can be helpful, there is no formal education requirement needed for a career in SEO.
If you are interested in pursuing a degree, some recommended areas to major in are: marketing, business, digital media, digital marketing, and computer science
These will provide you 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.
Below are some of the key abilities you need to develop to become an SEO manager:
Strategic thinking: SEO managers must be able to think strategically. The core responsibility of the position is to come up with SEO strategies that the business can use to achieve its marketing objectives.
Project management: SEO managers have to plan and oversee multiple projects at a time. This requires strong project management skills and the right project management software 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 important 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 of the tools you need to know to use as an SEO manager include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and Screaming Frog, among others.
To make site updates, SEO managers also need to have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS.
Conversion rate optimization: An SEO marketing manager needs to know how to optimize web pages for conversions. This is known as conversion rate marketing. With this skill, you are able to 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 so that it follows all SEO best practices.
Copywriting: SEO managers need to understand what goes into effective copywriting. This gives you the ability 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 any 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 continuously learn how to use new tools.
SEO Manager Job Role and Responsibilities
Now, let’s take a look at what a typical day in the life of an SEO manager will involve.
As stated, there is a wide variety of different work that 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 and communication
- Analyze data and prepare reports
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 into them.
You can then create a strategy that goes beyond just ranking for target terms but also aligns with the business as a whole.
When creating an SEO strategy, SEO managers will spend a solid amount of time on audience research.
By researching your audience, you get a better understanding of 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.
Performing Keyword research
SEO managers perform regular keyword research to find the best search terms to target as part of 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 get a better understanding of the search intent for a keyword. This will clarify what type of content Google prefers to rank for that search term.
Working with Off-Page SEO tasks
Off-page SEO 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 are able to get plenty of high-quality backlinks to your website, you can quickly boost your domain’s authority.
SEO managers spend time creating a link building strategy to find relevant websites to get links from.
This can involve scanning competitor backlink profiles to find opportunities or doing some manual research for opportunities in your industry.
Managing the SEO team
SEO managers oversee a team of SEO professionals that are 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 different tasks to team members and monitor their progress to ensure everything is in order.
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
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 make the technical aspects of your site are optimized both 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 such an integral part of the user experience, Google will weigh your website’s performance when determining rankings for keywords.
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. If they find any, they change the link on the respective pages and create a URL redirect for the non-existent page.
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 using 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.
Planning a content strategy
SEO managers spend time actively creating a content marketing strategy that will help the business reach its SEO objectives.
During this process, the manager comes up with topic ideas based on keyword research and the business’ product/service offering.
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 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 out of date and in need of updating.
Reviewing and editing content
While SEO managers do not normally create content themselves, the position often involves reviewing and edit copy from writers to ensure it is aligned with both the business’ goals and the user’s search intent.
Attend meetings and communication
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 current status of the project.
SEO managers also hold regular meetings with their teams to ensure all projects are on track and driving the intended results.
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, as well as changes to conversions.
After creating a report, the manager shares them with clients and other stakeholders on a recurring basis. The timing varies by engagement, but typically this is on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.
How to Get an SEO Manager Job
Below are the steps needed to become an SEO manager without prior SEO 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 that 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, 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 cut down on your learning curve as the step by guidance makes it easy to see how to implement concepts in practice.
Step 2: Get an SEO certification
As you start to 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 need to complete all the course material and oftentimes pass a final assessment before you can receive the certificate.
Google does not have an official SEO certification so you will need to get a certificate from a third-party provider.
There are plenty of options available, each certification varying in its cost and quality.
The course covers everything from the basics of how SEO works to secrets from experienced SEO professionals.
The course also includes step-by-step instructions and detailed examples on 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 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 you can 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 give you the ability to share your knowledge with others and can 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 come up with a list of target keywords and develop a strategy and content for those terms.
When you are able to rank for these keywords, you can use the results to further validate your skills as an SEO professional
Step 5: Apply for an SEO Manager Job
Once you start to gain more and 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 per year.
SEO managers help companies reach more customers by designing and implementing effective SEO strategies.
There are numerous skills needed to be an effective manager including everything from keyword research to hosting meetings for clients.
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 simply need to start building your SEO skills, get a certification, and find an entry-level SEO position.
Over time, you will build the necessary experience to make a viable candidate for an SEO manager position.