How to train entry-level SEO hires so they can contribute right away

Entry-level in the SEO world can mean many things.

It may mean that candidates have little to no experience.

Or it may require a handful of SEO work years under their belt. 

The majority of SEO jobs (64%) don’t require a college degree, according to Backlinko’s SEO Jobs Report. But most require two to five years of experience.

Many SEO agencies lean heavily on entry-level or newbie SEOs. That’s because it’s more cost-effective.

This business model can work but it typically will require intensive training.

You must always protect the quality of your work and keep clients happy.

You don’t want to run into a situation where your junior SEO is giving guidance that is not on par with the SEO experience of even your client base.

Assuming you’ve already qualified your hires through some critical SEO interview questions (modified for an entry-level candidate), and assuming that your candidates have the soft skills required to be successful at SEO, here are some ways to get your new SEO hires up to speed and contributing.

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Make sure new SEO hires are up-to-date with industry best practices 

Right off the bat, you want to make sure they understand SEO best practices and concepts. If they have little experience with SEO, that means getting them trained in key areas.

Different types of SEO learning resources accomplish different things. For example: 

  • SEO training courses can offer a broad overview of SEO as a whole or key areas of SEO (for example, technical SEO, on-page optimization, writing content for SEO, etc.). While a general intro video is a good place to start, your trainees will benefit from a structured course. When it’s from a trusted resource, this is a great way to get entry-level folks up to speed on important concepts.
  • In-depth articles and e-books can give a unique perspective on an SEO issue or topic in a short amount of time. There is no shortage of SEO experts who contribute thought leadership either on their own websites or on third-party industry sites.
  • SEO industry news sites are essential daily reading for anyone working in our industry, no matter your level. They can help your entry-level SEOs get familiar with what’s happening now with Google and search marketing in general. SEO is a fast-moving industry with lots of changes, so encouraging your staff to spend time reading these websites as part of their continuing education is critical.
  • SEO events can offer an intensive deep dive into SEO. These multi-day events (either online or in-person) contribute to any SEO’s education, especially if they’re a newbie.

Beware of just sending your newly hired junior SEO into the wild to find their own educational resources. Provide a list of trusted sources they can learn from. But encourage them to come to you with opportunities they are interested in as well. 

Most importantly: Give them a training budget. Investing in them is an investment in your SEO agency.

Make sure new SEO hires are trained on your SEO methodology

Some new SEO hires may bring unique skills to the table, and you do not want to inhibit them from doing so. 

But make sure they have a framework with which to work. Being armed with industry best practices starts your SEO new hire off on the right foot.

Beyond that, most agencies have a way of doing things. Training on your agency’s procedures and preferences is a matter of making sure you have those practices documented so that your new hires can get up to speed right away.

This also includes the ways that your agency manages projects (this is almost as important as the work itself).

Create a checks and balances system

Letting any new hire’s work go unchecked could lead to issues for your brand’s reputation and your business’s bottom line.

To protect your clients and your brand, make sure that more senior staff are included in any projects the new hire is working on for a period of time. A senior SEO working alongside the entry-level SEO can ensure that the work is sound.

This also allows the senior staff to mentor new hires as they collaborate on a project.

There is no better SEO training than hands-on experience, and this mentorship will offer education on both the way you do SEO and how to handle clients.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About The Author

Bruce Clay is the founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing optimization firm providing search engine optimization, PPC management, paid social media marketing, SEO-friendly site architecture, content development, and SEO tools and education.
Clay authored the book “Search Engine Optimization All-In-One For Dummies,” now in its fourth edition, and “Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals.” He wrote the first webpage-analysis tool, created the Search Engine Relationship Chart® and is credited with being the first to use the term search engine optimization. Bruce Clay’s renowned SEO training course is available online at SEOtraining.com.

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