Home / Career Guides / SEO Manager

SEO Manager Career Guide

What is an SEO manager?

An SEO (search engine optimization) manager is a professional responsible for strategizing, implementing, and managing a company’s SEO efforts to increase its online visibility and improve its rankings on search engines. This role is critical in the current digital age, where a strong online presence can significantly impact a company’s reach, customer engagement, and overall success.

These managers combine a deep understanding of search engine algorithms, user behavior, and digital marketing trends with technical and analytical skills. By optimizing website content, structure, and user experience, they aim to make the site more attractive to search engines and more accessible and appealing to users.

In a landscape where search engines often serve as the primary gateway to information, products, and services, their work contributes to a company’s ability to compete, attract traffic, and convert visitors into customers.

Duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of an SEO manager encompass a wide array of tasks aimed at maximizing search engine performance. They conduct keyword research to understand what terms their target audience is using and how they can align content to meet those search needs.

They work on on-page optimization, which includes enhancing meta tags, headers, content, images, and internal linking structures. Off-page optimization is also part of their scope, involving strategies like backlinking and social media promotion.

They often collaborate with content creators, web developers, and other digital marketing professionals to ensure that SEO best practices are integrated across all online activities. They monitor and analyze performance using tools like Google Analytics, identifying trends and making data-driven adjustments.

Their role also involves staying current with search engine updates, industry trends, and competitor strategies, ensuring that the organization’s SEO tactics remain effective and compliant with best practices.

Work environment

SEO managers primarily work in an office or remote environment, as their tasks are heavily computer-based. They may be part of an in-house marketing team or work for a specialized digital marketing agency. Collaboration with other departments, such as content development, web design, and advertising, is common.

Attention to detail, analytical thinking, and creativity are essential traits for these professionals. The dynamic nature of search engine algorithms requires continuous learning and adaptation, making this role suitable for those who enjoy challenges and constant evolution.

Typical work hours

Typical work hours for an SEO manager are usually full-time, with standard business hours. However, flexibility may be required due to the fast-paced nature of the digital world, where updates, changes, or urgent tasks may arise outside of regular hours.

Ongoing professional development, such as attending workshops, webinars, or conferences, might also be part of the role, contributing to the ongoing effort to stay ahead of industry changes and innovations.

This role offers a rewarding career path for individuals interested in the intersection of technology, marketing, and user experience. With opportunities for specialization and growth, it is a field that continues to expand as businesses seek to leverage the power of search engines in an increasingly connected world.

How to become an SEO manager

This career guide section outlines how to become an SEO manager. The journey involves acquiring specific SEO skills, getting the right education, gaining relevant experience, and keeping up to date with industry trends.

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, communications, or a related field. The courses often cover key topics, including business strategies, consumer behavior, market research, sales, and digital marketing.

Step 2: Gain knowledge in SEO and digital marketing

Building expertise in SEO is critical. Familiarizing yourself with keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, link building, and SEO-friendly content creation is imperative. A robust understanding of digital marketing, including social media, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing, can be beneficial as well.

Step 3: Gain practical experience

Securing an internship or entry–level job in digital marketing or SEO will offer hands-on experience. This experience in orchestrating SEO campaigns, tracking and analyzing results, and making necessary adjustments is vital for a future SEO manager.

Step 4: Learn to use SEO tools

In-depth knowledge of SEO tools and analytics programs, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and SEMRush, is essential. These tools help monitor website traffic, recognize patterns, and generate insights to improve website ranking.

Step 5: Stay updated on SEO trends and search engine updates

The digital marketing landscape, including SEO, changes regularly. Search engines update their algorithms often, so it’s important to stay informed about these changes and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Step 6: Obtain certification

While not always required, SEO certifications can set you apart from the competition. Certifications demonstrate a proven level of expertise and dedication to staying updated in this ever-evolving field. Consider certifications from Google, SEMRush, or other recognized organizations.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

After gaining relevant experience, knowledge, and, possibly, certification, it’s time to start applying for SEO manager positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your SEO and managerially relevant skills and experience. Be prepared to discuss your experience with successful SEO campaigns during job interviews.

How much do SEO managers make?

SEO manager salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. The compensation is uniquely impacted by their ability to drive organic traffic, expertise in keyword research, and familiarity with SEO tools and software.

Highest paying industries

  • E-Commerce – $108,000
  • Online Advertising – $102,500
  • IT Services – $100,300
  • Enterprise Software – $98,000
  • Marketing Consulting – $97,500

Highest paying states

  • California – $111,200
  • New York – $109,400
  • Washington – $108,700
  • Massachusetts – $105,800
  • New Jersey – $104,600

Browse SEO manager salary data by market

Types of SEO managers

This career guide section highlights the various career types and areas of specialization for SEO managers. Below, we explore the unique attributes and responsibilities of each job specialty.

On-site SEO manager

On-site SEO managers generally focus on optimizing web content and design for search engine crawlability and user experience. They perform detailed site audits, create and implement SEO strategies, and work with other departments to ensure consistency in the website’s SEO practices. These professionals need a good grasp of web design and a solid understanding of SEO best practices related to content and site architecture.

Off-site SEO manager

Focusing on factors external to the website itself, off-site SEO managers work to improve a site’s reputation and visibility. This is often achieved through link-building, social media presence, and influencer marketing. Professionals in this role need strong relationship-building and negotiation skills, along with a clear understanding of web analytics and link acquisition strategies.

Local SEO manager

A local SEO manager can be a key player for businesses with a physical location or those that serve a specific geographic area. The role involves optimizing page elements, developing location-specific web content, and managing online business listings and customer reviews. Knowledge of local search ranking factors, map listing optimization, and geo-targeted keywords is essential.

Technical SEO manager

Technical SEO managers dive deep into the code-level aspects of a website to enhance its compatibility with search engine guidelines. They deal with issues related to site algorithms, indexing, rendering, site speed, and mobile-friendliness. Professionals in this role need strong coding skills, deeper knowledge of website architecture, and a solid grasp of how search engines crawl and index websites.

SEO analytics manager

This role involves extensive work with SEO data and analytics. SEO analytics managers track and analyze the effectiveness of SEO strategies, perform competitor analysis, and make data-driven suggestions for improvement. Proficiency with tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO software and data analysis skills are key to succeeding in this role.

Top skills for SEO managers

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as an SEO manager.

Understanding of SEO principles

Being knowledgeable about search engine optimization principles, the latest tactics, and industry trends is vital for an SEO manager. This would include understanding all aspects of on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

Analytical skills

The ability to analyze, interpret, and leverage data is a key skill. It helps optimize website performance, traffic, and ranking. Proficiency in analytics tools such as Google Analytics is typically required.

Content development and management skill

Developing content strategies that can improve organic search results forms an essential part of their job description. The ability to create, manage, and refresh engaging content will provide a competitive edge.

Technical knowledge

Sound knowledge of technical facets of SEO, from site speed optimization to schema markup, is fundamental. Being familiar with HTML, CSS, and web coding is also beneficial.

Project management skills

Coordinating various aspects of SEO, from keyword research to content creation, requires good project management skills. This includes time management and the ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently.

Strategic thinking and planning abilities

Effective SEO strategy development entails long-term planning and strategic thinking. This aids in managing resources, predicting future trends, and keeping up with ever-changing search engine algorithms.

SEO manager career path

As an SEO manager, you have various career opportunities to choose from. With the skills you’ve honed in search engine optimization, analytics, and strategy development, a progression in your field is likely to occur as you accrue experience. Substantial industry growth offers promising avenues for increased responsibility and professional development.

After excelling in your role as an SEO manager, one potential career move is advancing into a senior SEO manager or SEO director. In these roles, you would oversee multiple SEO managers, develop tactics for a wider range of products, and frequently liaise with higher-ups. You would be accountable for larger, more impactful decisions and gain landscape knowledge about the company’s strategies across all departments.

A promising alternative is transitioning into an SEO consultant role. By leveraging your profound SEO knowledge, you can provide significant benefits to a variety of clients or companies. You would be adept at planning, executing, and managing SEO strategies to maximize the client’s website performance.

Landing a role as a digital marketing manager becomes an appealing prospect for many in your place. Having a profound comprehension of SEO could complement the required skill set, allowing you to better strategize all elements of a company’s digital marketing efforts. Being proficient in SEO aids in processing online consumer behavior insights, improving content tactics, and developing strategies.

Finally, a leap into entrepreneurship, founding an SEO agency, can be an enriching endeavor. Scaling from a single individual to managing a team of SEO experts, business owners not only deliver expert service but also learn how to handle the challenges of business ownership.

In the world of digital marketing, this role continues to evolve as search engines like Google and Bing continually update their ranking algorithms. Staying up-to-date with these changes is key for SEO managers to ensure the brands they serve maintain or improve their visibility in search results.

Technological enhancements also directly influence the scope of their work. For instance, the emergence of voice search technology and mobile-first indexing are trends reshaping the focus of SEO strategies. Additionally, the growing use of artificial intelligence in search algorithms is driving a move toward more organic, high-quality content and user experience. In light of these trends, SEO professionals must be well-versed in understanding both technical SEO and content strategy.

Employment projections for SEO managers

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, under which SEO managers are categorized, are projected to grow by 10% through 2031. This is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand is driven by the need for organizations to maintain their digital presence and ensure their products and services are effectively reaching an ever-expanding online audience.

SEO manager career tips

Understand SEO algorithms

An important aspect of being an SEO manager is to possess in-depth knowledge about search engine algorithms and their fluctuations. These algorithms change regularly, which affects the visibility of websites on the internet. An understanding of these algorithmic changes can help create strategies to boost a website’s ranking, page views, and overall discoverability.

Master analytical tools

Professionals in this role must be proficient in using analytical tools such as Google Analytics, Moz, and SEMRush. These tools can assist in tracking the performance of SEO strategies and give crucial insights into user behavior, website traffic, keyword ranking, and many other factors. Understanding these tools can help make necessary adjustments to improve the website’s performance over time.

Build a professional network

Networking is vital in this profession as it provides opportunities for learning about new SEO strategies, tools, and industry updates. Consider joining relevant networks:

  • Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)
  • SEO.com forum
  • SEO Mastery Summit

Stay updated with SEO trends

The landscape of SEO is always changing. New techniques, tools, platform updates, and best practices emerge frequently. Staying updated with these changes is not just beneficial; it’s vital. This can be done through continuously following SEO-related blogs, attending webinars, participating in online forums, and doing short online courses.

Pursue continuous learning

Continuous learning is essential to stay ahead in the SEO field. Here are some suggestions:

  • Enroll in advanced SEO training and certification programs such as Yoast SEO Academy, Moz SEO Essentials Certification, etc.
  • Attend SEO conferences and workshops to learn about the latest SEO strategies
  • Take online courses on topics like local SEO, technical SEO, etc.

Acquire relevant certifications

Though not mandatory, possessing relevant certifications can display your competency in SEO to employers. Some popular SEO certifications that could boost your profile include Google Analytics Certification, Google Ads Certification, and Bing Ads Accredited Professional certification. These demonstrate your familiarity with important tools and platforms used in SEO management.

Where the SEO manager jobs are

Top employers

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Walmart

Top states

  • California
  • Washington
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • CareerBuilder
  • Monster


What does an SEO manager do on a daily basis?

An SEO manager’s daily tasks involve a mix of technical skills, strategic planning, and communication. Regular duties can include keyword research, on-page optimization such as meta tags and content updates, setting up and interpreting Google Analytics and Search Console data, conducting SEO audits, and creating and executing strategies to improve search rankings and keyword performance. Communication with clients, team members, and other stakeholders in the company is also a regular component of this job.

What skills are essential to becoming a successful SEO manager?

An SEO manager should have strong knowledge of SEO best practices, data analysis, content writing, and editing skills, an understanding of coding and website functionality, and proficiency in using SEO tools. Above all, they should have an eye for details and be capable of identifying trends and insights from complex data sets. Having good communication skills is also important as this role typically involves presenting reports and strategy recommendations to company stakeholders.

Can an SEO manager work remotely?

Yes, SEO managers often have the option of working remotely. Most SEO tasks are accomplished online and do not require the professional to be physically present in an office. Many companies offer remote or flexible work arrangements for their SEO positions, especially in light of the increasing digitalization of business.

What type of education or degrees are most beneficial to become an SEO manager?

A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, information technology, or a related field is typically beneficial for a career as an SEO manager. However, SEO’s dynamic and fast-paced nature means practical experience and knowledge can trump formal education. Many successful managers from various academic backgrounds have learned SEO principles through hands-on experience, self-study, online courses, or certifications from recognized platforms like Google or HubSpot.

Do SEO managers need to know how to code?

While not always a strict requirement, having a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, or JavaScript can benefit SEO managers. Understanding how different code elements affect SEO can help make more informed decisions about a site’s design and structure. However, it’s more common for managers to collaborate with web developers for the technical aspects of website optimization while focusing more on strategic planning, analysis, and content optimization themselves.

How does an SEO manager interact with other parts of a company?

SEO managers often collaborate with multiple departments within a company. They work closely with content writers and editors to ensure SEO best practices are followed in creating web content. They may also coordinate with the IT or web development team for technical SEO matters. They sometimes collaborate with the sales, marketing, or PR teams to align efforts and strategize on improving the company’s online visibility and organic search performance. Additionally, they often report to higher management, thus requiring effective communication skills to explain complex SEO strategies and results.

Is keeping updated with changes in SEO strategies important for an SEO manager?

Yes, staying updated with the latest changes in SEO is fundamental for an SEO manager. This includes search engine algorithm updates, new SEO tools, and optimization strategies. The world of SEO is dynamic and constantly evolving, and effective managers must be ready to adapt their strategies to these changes to maintain a website’s search engine ranking and visibility.

What are the most common challenges faced by an SEO manager?

SEO managers face several challenges, including staying updated with constant algorithm updates from various search engines, ensuring the website’s optimization is up to par with these changes, and dealing with competition for search rankings. Managing expectations can also be challenging. SEO is a long-term process, and results may take time which can be frustrating for clients or company management. They must also juggle multiple projects and deadlines while continuously analyzing and adjusting their strategies based on performance data.

Does an SEO manager work independently or as part of a team?

An SEO manager generally works as part of a team. While they may perform certain tasks independently, such as keyword research or SEO audits, much of their work involves collaboration. They typically work alongside content creators, web developers, marketing experts, and other stakeholders to implement effective SEO strategies. Additionally, reporting and communicating results with higher management are important aspects of their role, calling for teamwork and coordination skills.