How do I go from zero to working as an SEO professional? What has been your experience?

Forum White Hat SEO How do I go from zero to working as an SEO professional? What has been your experience?

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    Hi guys! What has been your path to working as an SEO professional? By that I mean how did you learn SEO and how did you convince your first clients (or an SEO agency) that you know what you are doing. I’m curious because it’s one of the areas where there doesn’t seem to be any formal path, no degrees and certificates, and such.

    Bonus question, if you are an SEO agency, how do you test applicants? Especially the ones with no prior experience.


    Id love to learn more about this as well


    I worked at a bar. A regular gave me the opportunity to write title tags and meta desc. I worked my way up the company. Now I’m happy.


    I always ask to see their personal website, showing me sites of client accounts they’ve worked on does not impress me, but a personal website does. I consider this the equivalent of an SEO or web developer resume. There are certifications from Hubspot and SEMRUSH you can take, but certifications mean very little since it’s easy to cheat/hack these answers online as well.

    Having a strong web developer background, content writing background will go a long way, and help give you a competitive advantage over others.


    First I took a course, got an inbound marketing certification, and started applying for internships. After an internship doing digital marketing at a bigger corporation, I applied for as many jobs as I could, and got a job working at a white label seo provider, more or less copying and pasting stuff. A little bit more that a year later, applied for a big agency, and after 8 months there, got a job working with some big ticket e-commerce clients at more of a boutique agency.

    Start taking all the free courses and certifications you have. Build a website and start ranking for some easy keywords. Try building a couple of back links.


    Build your own sites, do a lot of experiments, fuckup a few, and learn by that at least for a year. Be up to date with Google updates and then try to find some clients.


    I started off, like many others probably, as a content writer for various companies, blogs, and online retailers. They won’t always tell you this, but the way a lot of people train their copywriters is to have them write SEO-friendly content. Finally, I found an agency that needed “SEO writers”, and after a couple months they had me doing full-blown SEO.


    I entered the field through content writing. Got a gig writing blog posts and landing pages for an SEO agency and learned from my coworkers.


    After graduating with my BBA in ’15 I started as a e-commerce sales rep with a consumer electronics distributor for a year and a half. Then I saw they had a copywriting position open in their marketing department, so I interviewed and got that job. That’s where I first learned about SEO. Then I decided that the blend of IT+copywriting could be really flexible in the future. So I started taking Google Ad courses and SEMrush courses to learn and get some qualifications to bolster my resume.

    After a couple months of that I started searching for entry level SEO positions. I got lucky and got called in to be interviewed for an SEO Specialist position with another local consumer electronics distributor/ manufacturer who had never made a focused effort towards SEO. I got to learn a lot and got some good experience doing some menial SEO work while still learning about more technical SEO work. After a year in I started getting the same taste of corporate atmosphere that I got from my copywriter position, so I started looking for a new job.

    My next hiring would be for an SEO Manager role at a n SEO agency. I knew I was underqualified for the position and the CEO knew that as well, but they decided to hire me. I pretty much just wanted the experience. That was a shit show with the CEO having me be responsible for all SEO work for 17 clients, which all needed around 3-5 pages of weekly reporting each, with insights. These ranged from the food industry and auto dealers to attorneys and medical dispensaries.

    I did that for about 89 days until I got fired for the first time. However, I would have to stay up till 2am on Friday nights to finish my reporting and was insanely stressed from the position, so I took it pretty lightly. I learned a bit, but mainly about looking for red flags in jobs haha. A couple days before I got fired I overheard the CEO demanding that her assistant/copywriter do one of her other employee night class homework because he forgot about it and she needed him working. Nucking futs. When she called me in for a surprise meeting with the execs on a Friday morning, I was caught off guard. I was already dreading the Friday reporting with every fiber of my being, so when they called me in and said that they appreciate the work and effort that I’ve put in, but that effective today I am no longer an employee at their agency. I literally started full-on chuckling when she finished and I said, “Whew, that’s a relief. Thank you, I don’t know how much longer I could’ve done this. AND I get the Friday off AND I don’t have to do reporting?? Today’s a great day!” Lol I truly meant it too. I was very happy to be done with that place.

    Next I got to my current position as an SEO Specialist for a precious metals mint/distributor. I’ve been here for a year now and I’m liking parts of it, but once again, bad management ruins the day. Our director of marketing isn’t very communicative with the rest of the department and likes to do work himself. He also controls the narrative of what work gets done and when for the execs that he reports to. There’s more to it, but I won’t bore you with the details. Long story short, expect to have a few shitty jobs and build your experience, but be on the lookout for red flags. One of the flags I missed with my current job is that the onboarding was a mess, with me having to figure a lot of it out on my own and still be learning new things about our company, months in.

    I hope this helps. It may sound overwhelming, but the truth is that you don’t notice it when you’re busy living live. Sure it took a lot of stress and learning, but it didn’t feel like a huge mountain to climb when I just put one foot in front of the other and put emphasis on the words “one thing at a time”.

    Good luck!


    If you don’t have any on the job experience, I’ll definitely want to see what websites you have worked on yourself.

    These websites better;

    1. Rank for some competitive keywords.
    2. Have good quality and decently written articles on them.
    3. Be designed in manner to generate leads, collect emails, or conversions.
    4. Have some good backlinks.

    This tells me you have a basic understanding of how to buy a domain, setup a WP website (easy using page builders like Elementor and Divi). and write content consistently.

    Not everyone can take the time to properly setup a website targeting a niche.


    Build a website for a low competitive niche, medium competitive niche, and a difficult niche.

    Rank all 3 to the top positions and then start using those sites to pitch to clients.


    I started my career as a freelance copywriter and most of my gigs were for writing large batches of product descriptions. This was back when having a certain keyword density with primary, secondary, and tertiary keywords was a thing people did.

    Eventually I put together a copywriting portfolio of product pages and long-form content I had written. This was enough to land me a full-time job as a copywriter at a small agency. A few months into the job, they landed a client who asked if we did SEO. At the time, we didn’t, but the owner remembered I had somewhat of a background in SEO and so we ended up taking on the work.

    Ended up moving into an in-house position with a Fortune 500 company doing more content writing with an optimization focus. Ended up leaving there for another agency position where I did more “formal” SEO (i.e. audits, KW research, site architecture, etc.)

    Now I do all of this on a contractual basis for various clients.


    i learn the concept of selling SEO from youtube. then i went out and sell seo services to my local market in Singapore. And I tried doing SEO myself. Surprisingly i managed to rank! lol.. wasn’t that hard at all. Especially for local market.


    Went from Barista to SEO intern at a lead Gen agency for title loans building my skills in SEO and CRO, then got a remote gig doing local SEO for clients around the US…now I’m a Sr. Account manager for legal websites


    If I had to teach someone today, then I would probably start this way:

    1. Learn to write (for the web)
    2. Learn how to code a web page in HTML and CSS
    3. Learn how to edit images (for the web)
    4. Learn how to manage a hosting service (cPanel or the like)

    In a year of so, he should know enough to become an SEO assistant and start working seriously for someone else.

    To reach the level of SEO professional you are asking for, he would probably need to stay with me as an apprentice for two or three more years. I just mentioned the very basics. There is still a lot to learn.

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