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The Increasing Demand for Search Marketers: A Plea for Honest Work

“the times, they are a-changin’…”

At a recent search marketing conference here in Dallas, a common joke permeated throughout several presentations. The joke was that search marketers always come on stage and start their talks with, “Our industry is always changing.” While it’s easy to make light of a very general throwaway phrase, our industry really is always changing, and fast. The joke would have little to no merit if people using it would back up its truth with actual data. Enter the data and SEO software professionals at Conductor in Manhattan.

“a change would do you good…”

One of the greatest indicators of industry growth and change, without having to even look at money, can be pure number of jobs. Conductor smartly started its research with data pulled from LinkedIn. The word SEO appeared in a LinkedIn members’ title and/or description 279,047 more times from July 2011 to July 2012. This is a 112% increase over the course of 1 year. Another study shows a 1900% growth in SEO professionals, agency or independent, since January 2006.

In a more detailed review of the data presented in the infographic below, Nathan Safran of Conductor argues marketers are starting to understand and respect SEO as a channel. He believes this is one of the reasons for such an increase in jobs listed in LinkedIn profiles and jobs available to fill the job market.

One thing to note is the word SEO in a LinkedIn profile is something taken on faith for sure. SEO is a skill one can list in a profile while that person is not truly in the industry. However, the fact remains that people are claiming the work at an alarmingly fast rate.

“don’t go changin’ to try to please me…”

Aside from the increase in the pure number of jobs in the industry, the infographic below shows the average salary for specific titles and search marketing work. This information is always good to have because you can find other studies to compare data from last year; more importantly, without this information it can often be hard to see the value placed on search marketing. One question agency ownership, shareholders, and even the little guy working independently often asks is how to quantify what search marketers do. What is the value? Search marketing can be so abstract, so how do you measure the true value in dollars, something both agencies, independents, and clients all understand.

“i’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

I heard Ruth Burr, Lead SEO at SEOMoz, speak recently and she said something that I truly believe is important and related to the information presented below. She pleaded with search marketers to do good, quality, honest work “for the Internet.” The data from Conductor shows great trust and belief in search marketing as a legitimate marketing channel for businesses large and small. However, the word SEO still leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths because so much of the industry is doing dishonest, short-cut work while chasing the algorithm. (Chasing the algorithm is not bad, but most who do it try to cheat the algorithm while chasing it.)

I believe what Ms. Burr is trying to say is even more important in correlation with the insane increase in those claiming to work in SEO. With so many people entering search marketing and with so many large, respectable companies finally turning to our industry as a legitimate marketing channel, we must do good, quality, and honest work not only for the Internet, but for our future in this industry. There are obviously jobs to be had—companies are shifting marketing budgets toward search marketing and more people are entering our field every day. Let’s do our work well and success will be ours individually and across our industry.

To download the full salary guide by city and job title, please visit the Conductor resource center.

Conductor Research SEO