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SEO Manager Career Guide

How to Become an SEO Manager

There are over one billion websites in existence today—and it’s estimated that 547,200 new websites are created each day. With this massive number of sites, it’s a daunting task to stand out online. To mitigate this, search engine giants facilitate ever-evolving algorithms that help web users find relevant information. This means that companies can optimize their websites for the algorithm in order to be prioritized when users search for terms relevant to the company’s goods and services. This practice makes up a field of digital marketing called search engine optimization. 

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a method of digital marketing that focuses on a website’s presence on search engines such as Google, YouTube, or Amazon. SEO managers are charged with helping companies optimize their websites for the best search engine performance.

budget analyst crunching numbers

What Is an SEO Manager?

An SEO Manager is a type of digital marketing manager who is responsible for designing and implementing an SEO strategy within an organization. They orchestrate SEO work on strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Their main responsibilities include performing market research, researching relevant keywords, conducting competitive analysis, generating link-building opportunities, performing technical SEO skills, and working with content managers and content marketing teams to create relevant web pages. SEO managers will typically have a leadership role, but they can also work alone as they oversee training new SEO hires and delegate tasks on marketing teams. 

What Does an SEO Manager Do?

While SEO is just one type of digital marketing, a lot goes into optimizing for Google’s algorithm. SEO managers are responsible for a comprehensive suite of tasks ranging from strategy design to problem-solving to monitoring marketing trends. Some of their most important daily responsibilities include:

  • Developing and executing successful SEO strategies.
  • Managing a team of SEO specialists.
  • Conducting keyword research to guide content teams.
  • Reviewing technical SEO issues and recommending fixes.
  • Optimizing website content, landing pages, and paid search copy.
  • Directing off-page optimization projects (e.g. link-building).
  • Collecting data and reporting on traffic, rankings, and other SEO aspects.
  • Working with social media and pay-per-click (PPC) teams to optimize campaigns.
  • Researching and understanding the organic search habits of a target audience.
  • Keeping abreast of SEO and integrated marketing trends.

How Do I Become an SEO Manager?

There are no formal higher education programs specifically tailored to teaching SEO. However, SEO managers often hold a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field. Keep reading to learn the step-by-step instructions for starting your career as an SEO manager. 

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
  • Learn SEO basics like keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, and performance tracking through courses and resources.
  • Start using and mastering SEO tools such as Google Analytics, SEMRush, Hubspot, Ahrefs, and others.
  • Develop a portfolio of your best SEO work.
  • Apply for entry-level SEO roles to gain relevant work experience. SEO specialist or SEO coordinator are examples of entry-level positions.
  • Earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML) if your goal is to move into a management position in marketing or business. 

Best Degrees for an SEO Manager

Marketing – B.S. Business Administration

For those who want to lead brands and steer consumer markets:...

For those who want to lead brands and steer...

For those who want to lead brands and steer consumer markets:

  • Time: 67% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Marketing and PR manager
  • Director of marketing and communications
  • Director of publications
  • Customer intelligence manager
  • Marketing sales manager

Marketing is a creative and exciting field—and one where an undergraduate degree will open better opportunities.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,530 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

Management and Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree focused on change management,...

An online master's degree focused on change...

An online master's degree focused on change management, innovation, and leading teams:

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition: $4,530 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Director of operations
  • Executive director

Develop a comprehensive suite of leadership skills and your confidence to navigate changing business structures.


Next Start Date

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!

Apply Today

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Learn about Online College Admissions at WGU.


What Skills Does an SEO Manager Need?

In order to become an SEO manager, which is a mid-level role in the world of marketing, you need to hone skills acquired through both education and work experience. Some of the most important skills include:

  • Proven experience doing the work of an SEO manager, search engine marketing (SEM) manager, or any similar marketing role.
  • Knowledge of standard and current SEO practices.
  • Knowledge of HTML/CSS, which are front-end coding languages. These are helpful to know when making edits directly to a website.
  • SEO reporting. This skill is necessary to measure the success of marketing efforts, especially in SEO account manager client-facing roles.  
  • Familiarity with SEO tools such as Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, MOZ and web analytics tools like Google Analytics and WebTrends.
  • Excellent communication, organizational, and leadership skills.
male budget analyst

How Much Does an SEO Manager Make?

$77,680

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median income for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers of $133,380 per year, or $64.12 per hour. In 2021, the lowest 10% earned less than $77,680, and the highest 10% earned more than $208,000. An SEO manager’s salary lands somewhere in this range. 

What is the Job Outlook for an SEO Manager?

10%

According to the BLS, advertising, promotions, and marketing manager jobs are projected to grow by 10% between 2020 and 2030, which is slightly faster than the average profession. This equates to 31,100 job openings per year over the course of the decade. The growth of SEO manager jobs is likely to follow a similar trajectory.

Where Do SEO Managers Work?

Varies

It’s common that an SEO manager will work for a company that has a website that needs to be optimized so that more Google users find the organization. SEO managers may also work for agencies that have a variety of clients seeking search engine optimization. It’s common for SEO experts to work as freelance consultants, offering their services to small businesses and larger companies that want to make their websites more searchable.

Additional FAQs

Search engine optimization is a field of digital marketing that aims to increase a website's presence in search results on search engines, such as Google.

Brand managers maintain customer relationships through regular research, development, management, and assessment of a company’s marketing tactics and messaging.

While there are currently no formal education options for SEO, there are countless resources to learn SEO skills online. If you’re an ambitious self-starter, then you can learn SEO on your own and later apply for entry-level roles.

Interested in Becoming an SEO Manager?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this exciting career.

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