The SEO industry continues to thrive and more and more SEO managers are only working with outsourced, overseas providers or contract labor.
In the two major IT recessions I have lived through, thousands of highly skilled workers were sent to the unemployment office. In fact, rather than hire a skilled unemployed IT worker, Microsoft’s Bill Gates asked Congress to increase the number of B-1 visas so that his company could hire more foreign nationals and save money. Other companies marched in line with Microsoft and did the same.
With a move to seek cheaper labor overseas, companies are turning to directory submissions in India, copywriting in the Philippines and other writing tasks that find their way to the cheaper market in parts of Europe and Asia.
Companies that are now depending on SEO departments consisting of from 5 to 15 people will further look to cut costs and manpower. Though many SEO departments are considered a profitable link to a company, CEOs and the Board of Directors they are responsible to seem to care more about the price of their stock than the impact of laying off a few SEO writers and how that impact will affect the writers’ families.
Today the SEO industry is flying high and there are more jobs being created than can be filled by experienced SEO technicians. As specialization, which has already showed signs of creeping into the industry, becomes even more prevalent, it will help to create jobs for those who want it.
I believe that the demand for the SEO service industry will peak around 2011 – 2013. This means that there will be real SEO service bureaus which will help small businesses to achieve search and social media visibility.
The problem comes when businesses feel the need to cut back. The growing trend for SEO optimization writers and technicians will eventually peak and when this happens the need for SEO specialists will disappear from the job market so it’s important to take a closer look at the jobs we do and how they may be bundled with other skills.
Currently the SEO industry is heading for more specialization, creating niche jobs in the short term but with costs continuing to rise, companies are looking for creative ways to manage and reduce their costs.
Here are some of the newer long-term types of specialists that are currently developing in the sub-SEO industry:
Trends Analyst – A trends analyst needs to go beyond just looking at search trends to looking at active business intelligence, current consumer sentiment and gauge marketing patterns. The goal is to project these new trends before they appear on the market…the more accurate these projections are the more necessary this person will be. Companies that take the time and effort to train and hire these analysts will certainly see an improvement in their search and online marketing performance. Companies such as large retailers and manufacturers along with large agencies will benefit from recruiting and developing trends analysts.
Feature Copywriter – A feature copywriter is really an online journalist who is responsible for writing news and feature stories and blog articles. The stories and articles they write are used on general purpose web sites, entertainment and news sites. But the feature copywriter’s skills can also be handy for corporate web sites where the company provides information like corporate histories, executive profiles, and also stories about the company’s functions and projects. Because this is a research-intensive position, it is best to fill it with writers who are creative, independent workers and self-motivated.
Landing Page Copywriter – Mostly used for pay-per-click advertising, they can also find use landing pages in organic SEO. The strong landing page copywriter understands A/B testing and is able to put together strong sets of reports. They can also be trained to become trends analysts.
Ad Copywriter – Ad copywriters must be able to work beyond the pay-per-click networks and master different copy formats and A/B testing along with regional results analysis and targeted keyword placements. Ad copywriters must be able to manage local search listings and niche directory listings.
Meta Copywriter – It is still important to be able to create good titles, meta descriptions and page URLs for organic search results. The meta copywriter should be able to do much more such as organizing a copywriting team in an effort to build a massive website. Here the meta copywriter would serve as both a section editor and copy manager with the responsibility of breaking down job tasks and handing out assignments. A meta copywriter should be able to work with all types of copywriters and does not have to be a senior copywriter.
Today’s SEO technicians, while doubling up as meta copywriters, must also be able to assume responsibilities for non-copy tasks such as:
Link Specialists – Must understand link theory not only in asking other sites for links but in developing link networks for both internal navigation and external link promotion. It is important for link specialists to have a good understanding of A/B testing and scalability in testing. This is a person who is able to notice and predict trends and would also be a perfect candidate to become a trends analyst. This is a research-intensive position that focuses on crawlability, indexing rates and all things link-related.
Optimization Analyst – A person who can perform on-page optimization with their eyes closed. Must have the ability to look at a web site and almost instantaneously list what can be improved. They should also be able to look at a link profile and determine which links are helping and which ones are not. Of course, they must have the ability to assess the relative competitiveness of a query space.
The optimization analyst is another candidate to move into a trends analyst position and perform quality control for the rest of the team.
The SEO manager should be able to do everything an optimization analyst must do.
I’ve sought to outline positions that can be developed into independent service models. Each of these positions can be outsourced with several of them having already been developed for outsourcing by various firms.
If your job is shaping you into a specialist, the best thing you can do is to create opportunities for professional growth from your current position into other areas of specialization. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have all the tools your company needs to promote you to an SEO Specialist or Search Strategist.
As the industry continues to grow and develop, make sure you’re not left behind because you can’t specialize when it’s deemed necessary but also make sure that your skill has not been lost to attrition because of your improved abilities.