Search engine optimization jobs a growing option for those with writing skills

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See also “Content writers: Coming from a major near you

Journalism is seeing a decline in job outlook, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, journalism students and some news reporters are looking elsewhere for work.

Christine Hogge, the marketing content manager at Avetta, says those with journalism skills who are flexible in their career trajectory should search for SEO writing positions. She says these positions call for communications and marketing training similar to the training for journalism.

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to how well a website ranks in search results. Better SEO means a business is more likely to show up on the first page of results when someone searches the web through a search engine like Google.

SEO rankings are based on a variety of factors: the individual webpage, the way things are coded, the user experience and how relevant the webpage is to the search in question. Changing the words used on the page is one way to help a page rank higher than others. If the keywords used in the web search match words used often on the site, the site receives better search engine treatment.

This writing element is where journalists come in. To boost SEO, websites don’t just use search terms; they also have to have interesting stories people want to read. These two things combined lead to SEO success, according to The Content Factory. With a background in writing, journalism students are more prepared to write content involving specific topics or terms.

Eric Serdar, SEO strategist at BambooHR, said SEO is going to continue to grow and require more attention from businesses.

Google is taking up a lot of the search engine results listings with its own content in things like featured snippets, carousels of product photos and “people also ask” boxes, Serdar said. These features make it harder for independently-produced website links to appear at the top of a search engine results page.

People are going to be fighting to get in those sections to get traffic to their sites,” he said.

According to Tyler Cook, SEO account manager at Boostability, as search engines continue to innovate, SEO will continue to innovate.

With this innovation, there is a continued need for those working with SEO to implement new strategies, which can be the hardest part of the job, Cook said.

A challenging aspect of SEO can be working to boost a less-than-great product, according to Serdar.

“I used to work in agencies, and we would have clients where they didn’t have great products or weren’t good companies,” he said. “SEO doesn’t create value in a product — it exposes value. So, if you have a poor product, then SEO is just going to reveal that you have a poor product.”

Not only are SEO-specific jobs becoming more popular, but understanding basic SEO for regular content writing jobs is also in greater demand, said Hailey Bunker, a pre-management student at BYU.

“I don’t think it will be possible to get hired in marketing in the near future without a digital marketing skill set,” she said. “Marketing is migrating primarily to digital platforms as more and more of humankind’s time is spent online.”

Because this field is so new, SEO skills are currently being learned on the job or through online resources, Serdar and Cook said. They both said they learned most of their skills in their current jobs.

I honestly didn’t know anything about it when I first got the job and have learned while working,” Cook said.

Students can also look for classes offering digital marketing practices. BYU has a topics in business management class that teaches some digital skills, according to Bunker. Even with this class, she said she continued to learn through online resources.

Although the field is new, SEO can be an enjoyable job, Serdar said.

My favorite part of the job is being able to dig into the data on the different strategies that we’re implementing,” Serdar said It’s so exciting to see when you implement something and you can track the success it’s having and report back to the organization on the impact of what you’re doing.”

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