Dennis Black, our SEO consultant chats to you about the industry…
We like to keep you up to date on the "goings on" in all our markets so we placed a camera in front of our Senior Consultant, Dennis Black and asked him to discuss his market Search Engine Optimization or SEO to you and me. Not able to listen? read the transcript below...
Have you noticed any changes or trends in the SEO market since you started recruiting in it?
I’ve been recruiting for the SEO market for about two and half years now, and I think there has been some massive changes in that time. It’s a very dynamic market and is continually changing. One of the main changes is more of an integrated digital marketing approach rather than looking at any one area of digital marketing in isolation. I think there has been much more of a shift towards content marketing and getting more involved with the social side of things. I think with SEO in particular two of the largest updates in the last six to twelve months is the ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm. Which is basically a whole new algorithm that altered the way in which we search, for example how we used to keep our eyes on the key words, this is much more conversational language. So, rather than searching for ‘Trainers, London’ you would search for ‘I want to buy a pair of trainers in London’ and Hummingbird will take that and bring you more accurate search results. This has meant for people in SEO that there has to be much more of a focus on relevant content rather than just strapping the same keyword into the article. It focuses on rather than ‘ranking’ in certain search results it will is how it answers to the best ability to the queries of the users. I’m not saying it has taken away from the aspect of ranking and results but it is certainly a new way of using search.
I think one of the highest contested updates within SEO was hundred percent secure searching, which essentially means that no keyword data is provided and website owners don’t know what keywords have been used when searching to end up on their site. This obviously makes things a lot harder and this has seen a trend of more people using paid search and doing a lot more work in analytics to get around this. Another one I touched upon earlier is the digital and PR content focused element to SEO. There is huge focus now on creation and distribution of content. It’s a skill set that people are certainly now looking for. I think the traditional PR has moved a lot more digitally focused, so that has changed a lot how the industry has focused and how it is maybe leading to a lack of technical skills.
What type of skills are clients looking for when hiring?
It seems to go in cycles, which is obviously harder for us recruiters! At the moment it is very much technical. I believe the large agencies have somewhat diluted the skillset as such, which is something you can find you struggle with is good techy SEO’s with HTML, CSS, PHP with computer development skills and coming from a computer science background, but they also want them to have client facing skills and with them both together its quite a hard skillset to come by. They are also looking for content focused and outreach professionals, and then you have your standard account manager roles and they are always in the market for those kind of candidates. I think across SEO there is no easier skillset to fill.
What challenges are agencies facing when hiring?
The challenges they face when looking for SEO professionals would firstly have to be the nature of the competition out there, as it is very much a candidate led market. There are not many candidates that are looking within SEO. All the agencies I am looking for all seem to be looking for the same candidate with the same skillset at the same time as that is what the market dictates. So if you get a 9/10 SEO candidate on the technical side I would have anything from ten to twelve opportunities for them to choose from. Because of that they have the pick of the market and the power in a way. So therefore it is hard for agencies to stand out in the crowd and give them a unique offering and be able to offer them something else, whether that be financially or within the job role. Having that unique selling point is most definitely one of their biggest challenges.
Other challenges would be time constraints. Agencies are busy by their nature, so therefore there is usually a lot of time taken in the rotation of getting things signed off etc. With the market moving so quickly the smaller more independent agencies are a lot better at turning things around, for example if they see a candidate they like on the Monday they can usually see them again on the Thursday, with a possible offer by Friday. With the larger group agencies it is usually a slower process and could possibly then miss out on some top quality candidates. I also think that because of the diluted skillset out there, and because there are so many group agencies and SEO teams of thirty plus you will be looking at skillsets that were once a technical SEO that had experience in client facing and account managers that do the content strategies and an all-round SEO. Agencies still look for that type of candidate which is somebody that can work on the technical side but can then get involved in delivering pitches and it doesn’t really exist as within a team of thirty plus there are many very defined roles and no need to have someone who is technical working on the pitches as there would be three or four people working on each of those areas within the team. So that is definitely a bit of a stumbling point for some agencies. These type of people only really exist in the smaller independent agencies, but then you are faced with the challenge that why haven’t worked with clients at the same level as larger agencies and it’s the question of whether they are ready to step up.
If you had the perfect candidate how would be able to help them?
If I had the perfect candidate, I firstly would have numerous jobs for them, they wouldn’t have to work with anyone else as the perfect candidate in my sweet spot of around £35k, like an SEO consultant I would have about 10-15 jobs that I could speak to them about. Out of those I would expect to get them five first interviews. Then moving forward probably three second interviews and looking at two to three offers at the end of the process all with great agencies. Aside from the actuall jobs I would be able to offer them honest opinions about the agencies. I would be able to look at exactly where they want to go with their career so if they are a technical SEO, or they would want to be at the forefront then I would again know where to send them where they would be using the best tools and where they would be able to learn the best SEO techniques. I would be able to direct them towards the right agency for those who are more content focused or for those who are more creative so again I could advise them on that. I could help with interview tips; there is a lot I have picked up over my years’ experience.
Do you agree/disagree with Dennis? Do you have something to add? Then please let us know in the comments section.