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5 ways marketers can support entry-level SEO talent

Despite almost two years of massive societal and market transformation, the SEO industry has remained largely intact. In fact, it’s expanded far beyond its prior reach.

“Rewind to March 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning — people couldn’t go in stores, so they went online to buy their products,” said Abby Reimer, SEO manager at marketing agency Uproer, during her session at SMX Next. “With that, you saw a lot of businesses prioritizing their website and their online search presence, naturally leading to an increase in the need for SEO.”

“The demand for SEO has increased; however, the supply has not,” she added.

SEO job posting increases despite pandemicSEO job posting increases despite pandemic
Image: Backlinko

Like many industries, entry-level SEOs are often undervalued, making it difficult to land a relevant job when starting their careers. But, with such a high demand for their expertise, marketers and brands would be wise to capitalize on their talent.

Reimer says focusing on entry-level talent and training them to become senior-level SEOs can:

  • Bring in a much larger pool of candidates;
  • Make it easier on your budget; and
  • Increase diversity in your organization as well as within the SEO industry.
graph showing the importance of diversity in SEO entry-level hiringgraph showing the importance of diversity in SEO entry-level hiring
Image: North Star Inbound

Neglecting these promising professionals could prevent your organization from growing in an ever-changing changing market. Here are five ways Reimer recommends marketers attract and support entry-level SEOs.

Reach out to colleges and universities

“One tactic our company has seen a lot of success with is reaching out, whether to your alma mater or a local university, and asking to be a guest teacher in certain marketing classes,” Reimer said. “Professors love this because it gives them a chance to take a break and let their students hear from someone who’s doing this day-in and day-out.”

Local colleges and universities offer plenty of opportunities to connect with up-and-coming marketing talent. As a professional in the industry, you can offer to give a guest lecture, mentor students or connect with the organization’s career center — essentially, whatever you can do to show you value entry-level prospects.

“This gives you a great chance to mentor a few students who you think might be potential hires by giving them resources and a roadmap for learning SEO,” she said. “By the time that they’ve graduated, they have the experience and the knowledge to get started.”

Connect with programs for students and recent graduates

Many higher education institutions have programs that help students and recent grads find jobs. Marketers can connect with instructors or program organizers to find the most applicable programs, then make connections with students interested in an SEO career.

“The nice thing about these programs is that the students and grads who are joining them are already motivated,” Reimer said. “They’re generally very passionate about marketing, so it’s a great way to meet motivated candidates.”

Yet, it can be hard to find these organizations, says Reimer: “I will say that these programs are a little difficult to find just by Googling. When you go to universities, talk to the professors and students and ask them if there are any of these programs that you can get involved with, either as a mentor or as a sponsor.”

Work with recognized digital marketing organizations

Digital marketing organizations are designed to attract industry talent from around the world, so marketers should make sure to check them out. There are plenty of organizations to choose from, but Reimer pointed to a few well-known groups doing good work:

“The nice thing about these organizations is that not only could you meet people fresh out of school, but you can also connect with people who have several years of experience under their belts,” she said, “So it gives you a wider range of candidates to talk to.”

Ask for referrals from team members

One of the most effective ways to connect with talent outside of your organization is via team referrals. Chances are that your team members have connections you’re unaware of, so it’s important to ask them to keep a lookout for potential hires — offering incentives when necessary.

“We’ve gotten quite a few of our hires from referrals,” said Reimer, “Just ask other people on your team if they would be willing to share the job description with anyone they think is a good fit.”

“Most importantly, incentivize them — offer a referral bonus, or a gift card or a free lunch,” she added.

Speak at beginner-friendly SEO events

While there was already a slew of SEO-themed conferences before the pandemic, an increasing number of beginner-friendly SEO events and media are popping up, no doubt due to the increased SEO demand. These include virtual conferences, webinars, podcasts — even local marketing events. They’re often important hiring avenues for agencies.

“This is how I got my start in SEO,” Reimer said. “I attended a beginner-friendly digital marketing conference and I met my now-boss there. He was speaking about SEO and said that his agency was hiring.”

“These conferences are a great way to not just meet entry-level people, but even people who have a year-plus of experience in the working world who are just looking to get into something new,” she added.

Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (free registration required).

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