The 2020 SEO Jobs Report
In this new report you’ll learn:
- Average SEO position salaries
- Skills that employers look for
- How COVID-19 impacted SEO job demand
- Industries that hire the most SEOs
- Lots more
Let’s dive right into our findings.
Highlights and Key Findings:
1. The mean salary for a US-based SEO professional is $60,548 per year.
3. SEOs that know how to code get paid more than those that don’t. Specifically, SEO job postings that require knowledge of a specific programming language have a 7.3% media higher salary compared to similar job postings without a programming language requirement.
4. Companies hiring for SEO talent post job titles that contain the terms “Senior SEO manager”, “Head of SEO”, “SEO content writer”, “SEO account manager” and “Marketing manager SEO”, and “SEO digital marketing”.
5. Only 22.9% of SEO job postings are for technical positions (for example, “SEO analyst”). The vast majority (77.1%) are looking for SEO professionals with non-technical skills, like “SEO strategist”.
9. 29.8% of SEO positions require a bachelor’s degree. Only 7% require a master’s degree. And 64.3% don’t have any degree requirements at all.
The Average SEO Annual Salary is $60,548/Year. Although Salary Varies Significantly By City and State
We discovered that the mean annual salary for an SEO position is $60,548.
However, this figure varies significantly based on a number of different factors. Namely, the city and state where the company is located.
First, we broke down the average SEO salary by city. Here’s the full breakdown.
Research by Deutsche Bank discovered that San Francisco is the US city with the highest salary across all professions. And this seems to apply to careers in the SEO field.
We ran the same salary analysis by state.
On the other end of the spectrum, Utah, Pennsylvania and Illinois came out towards the bottom of the list.
SEOs That Can Code Get Paid More Than Those That Can’t
Speaking of salaries, we found a slight connection between coding requirements and higher salaries.
Which suggests that SEO professionals should invest in their coding skills.
For example, take a look at this job posting from our data set.
The Most Popular SEO Job Post Titles Are “Senior SEO Manager”, “Head of SEO”, and “SEO Content Writer”
Next, we decided to analyze the words and phrases that employers use to describe SEO positions.
This is important for two main reasons:
First, SEOs looking for a job can optimize their LinkedIn profiles for the specific terms that recruiters look for. This will not only help people find them. But prospective employers will also likely consider them a better fit for the position if their LinkedIn profile is a 1:1 match for the job title they’re looking for.
Second, these words and phrases can help SEO professionals know where to upskill. For example, knowing that many SEO titles use the term “manager” could help you focus on improving your managerial skills.
To help us find the most common terms used, we tokenized job titles into single words. And visualized their relative frequency.
(Note: stop words and words that appeared less than 7 times were removed).
As you can see, the most common single words used In SEO job titles are “Manager”, “Specialist” and “Marketing”.
In a second step, we analyzed sequences of words in our dataset of job titles.
We also discovered that, based on the fact that the second most common phrase was “remote work possible”, that a large number of SEO roles are remote. Not surprisingly, mentions of this specific phrase seemed to increase after COVID.
Only 22.9% of SEO Jobs Emphasize Technical Skills
Is SEO a highly-technical job that involves crawling, indexing and deep knowledge of canonical tags?
Or is it more of a soft skill that’s more about content, copywriting and social media?
It’s really a mix of both.
Here’s what we discovered:
77.1% of SEO job titles include non-technical descriptions, like “manager” and “marketing”.
While only 22.9% of job titles in the SEO field included technical terms, like “technical” and “analytics”.
(Although, as I mentioned earlier, SEOs with coding skills get paid more. So that’s important to keep in mind here. Just because a title is more common doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily more desirable).
In short: most SEO positions are for non-technical positions that emphasize non-technical skills like “strategist”, “manager”, and “writer”.
We also looked at the terms used in job descriptions. Here’s a word cloud of terms that employers use in job descriptions when hiring SEO professionals.
Companies Based In New York, San Francisco, Austin and Chicago Have the Highest Number of Job Offers in the SEO Industry
We analyzed our database of SEO job postings by city and state.
First, we found that these US cities had the highest number of jobs for SEO professionals.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of this data.
Industries With The Highest Number of SEO Job Postings Include Advertising & Marketing, Staffing & Outsourcing and IT
We decided to break down SEO job postings by sector and industry.
Specifically, we wanted to answer the question: which industries hire SEO talent the most?
First, we analyzed the number of SEO job postings by sector.
After all, US businesses spent approximately $700B on marketing services, according to industry research by Borrell Associates. And all of those digital marketing agencies need SEO staff to serve clients.
We also decided to look at the number of SEO positions posted by industry. Here’s what we discovered.
Again, no big surprises here. Advertising and marketing businesses are by far the leaders when it comes to hiring SEO professionals. You also have industries that tend to do well with or without SEO (like banks) hiring relatively little in the way of SEO help.
64.3% of SEO Positions Don’t Require a College Degree
Does a college degree help you land a competitive SEO position?
According to our data, not necessarily.
We found that 64.3% of all SEO positions have no degree requirement at all.
However, a fair number of SEO job postings (29.8%) did require a bachelor’s degree of some kind. Very few looked for candidates with advanced degrees.
For example, take this posting from our data set.
This is a relatively high-paying managerial role. Yet the position doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
That said, if you’re looking for a job in SEO, a bachelor’s or master’s degree isn’t going to hurt you.
But it’s clear that search engine optimization is such a fast-changing field. Which is why most employers aren’t super interested in candidates that learned SEO from a university. Instead, they prefer candidates with lots of hands-on experience from optimizing sites in the real world.
Which is why we wanted to dig a bit deeper into what specific technical skills employers look for in an SEO pro. And what coding languages they want candidates to have experience with.
Here’s what we found.
We also looked at the combination of languages that businesses hired for when looking to fill SEO roles.
This was essentially a remix of the above findings. HTML again dominates the list. CSS and JS are also in high demand.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Didn’t Seem to Negatively Impact The SEO Industry
Mass shutdowns in response to COVID-19 led to millions of people filing for unemployment.
We hypothesized that job postings for SEO professionals may significantly slow during and after the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the data shows that businesses were still hiring SEO professionals during the pandemic. A trend that has continued even as shutdowns in many states were lifted in late May and early June.
For this analysis we divided a timeline as “before” and “after” COVID. We considered “after” COVID the day that the number of COVID-19 infections hit 100 in the US. And we looked at SEO-focused job postings on LinkedIn during that time frame.
Although the US economy took a hit during COVID, it appears that the SEO industry may have gone unscathed. In fact, job postings have significantly increased.
On further analysis, this finding makes sense. Shutdowns forced many businesses to go online for the first time. Or to scale up their existing online presence. Which may have led businesses to realize that they need to hire SEO help to succeed online.
Most SEO Positions Require 2-5 Years of Experience
Next, we looked at the length of experience that SEO positions required.
Here’s the breakdown:
As you can see, many SEO jobs require between 2 and 5 years of experience in the field.
Having years of experience is nice to have. However, most employers want SEO professionals that can help them rank higher in Google. Whether that ability comes from 1 year or 10 years of experience doesn’t seem to matter much in the eyes of most employers.
36.6% of SEO Positions Cite Experience With a Specific SEO Tool
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the other roles won’t involve using an SEO tool. They likely will. It’s just that a certain percentage of employers may be comfortable training new hires on the tools that they use most often.
Second, we wanted to answer the question: for those postings that did require experience with a tool, which specific tool were they most interested in?
Google Analytics was (by far) the most commonly cited tool. According to BuiltWith, 85% of the top 100k websites in the world have Google Analytics installed. And considering that Google Analytics is a key tool for doing SEO-related work, it makes sense that it would come out at the top of this list.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which finding from today’s report did you find most interesting?
Or maybe you have a question about something that I covered.
Either way, I’d like to hear from you. So go ahead and leave a comment below.
October 6, 2020
October 3, 2020