SEO internships – part 1: a smart career choice

So, you’ve heard about SEO, but want to know more. What exactly does it entail and are the long-term career prospects good? Do you have the skills it takes for a role within this exciting industry?

In this short series of blogs, Ed Hallinan, former Inspiring Intern and now web-editor for digital consultancy InterGreater, will be giving some insight into why internship seekers from a wide variety of backgrounds are well-suited to a career in SEO.

What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In the simplest terms, this is the art of helping websites rank as highly as possible for ‘natural listings’ on search engines. To help explain what natural listings are, see the example below:

Here, we have searched the term ‘graduate jobs London’. Indicated in red are the ‘paid for’ listings. In order to get their websites placed in the paid for areas, businesses pay Google for each click they get (pay per click or ‘PPC’ advertising).

In blue are the natural listings. These listings are free and although they are lower down the page, they are estimated to receive 80% of all user clicks. Clicks through from google with no advertising costs understandably get companies very excited. After all, more and more business is done online, and the internet creates the potential to reach out to millions of target customers.

Like many other companies, at InterGreater we provide SEO consultancy services to help businesses rank as highly as possible for important search terms for their business (known as ‘keywords’). As the trend towards online commerce builds momentum, and competition increases, the demand for SEO continues to grow.

How does SEO work?

SEO is all about building and marketing critical content. There are also risky, non-recommended shortcuts that can be taken to achieve quick results. However, Google is constantly evolving its ranking algorithms to discredit these ‘darks arts’ of SEO (referred to as ‘black hat’ techniques).

For safer, long-term SEO results, a business must create genuinely informative content that appeals to its target customers. If this content is interesting, unique, and well-promoted, other websites will be encouraged to link to it in a ‘natural’ way. In turn, Google sees these links as votes of confidence and the more high quality links achieved, the higher the site and specific pages will rank. This is why strong strategic blogging is so important.

Content promotion is also critical as this can kick-start the process of key third parties finding and linking to content. Social media promotion via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other key networks can be particularly effective. The more these networks grow, the more credit Google gives to social links.
These are just some of the ‘white hat’ techniques we use at InterGreater. Unlike typical SEO agencies, our focus is on training businesses to understand and implement these critical practices.

What skills do I need?

When embarking on a career in SEO, the most important attributes are:
• research skills
• writing skills
• creative thinking
• analytical skills

As such, the role suits people from a wide range of backgrounds and is certainly not just limited to IT graduates. For example my degree was achieved at the Royal College of Music! Whilst working my internship with InterGreater (achieved via Inspiring Interns), I continued to work part time as a freelance musician. Through the tools and thought processes I was taught to use, I was able to work out that optimising my website for the term ‘bridal wedding music’ would be great as it has lots of searches, but low competition. I then went about writing related content and finding ways to market that content to achieve key links and improve my rankings. So although I trained in music, the research, creativity, writing and analytical skills I had developed were all combined as part of my successful SEO internship.

Alternatively, someone with an English degree might be excellent at blogging and writing interesting posts that people would want to share. Scientists or mathematicians with analytical skills can use online tools such as Google Analytics to see where in the world site visitors are clicking from, and use the data to plan a keyword strategy for the future.

In short, if you can think laterally and are able to apply knowledge from your degree in a relevant way, you have the potential for a career in SEO. With a little research and brushing up of web skills (there are many helpful introductory articles out there) an SEO role would be a wise choice for the future.

I’m interested how do I learn more?

This is the first article in a short series of blogs on SEO. Coming up we’ll be discussing:

• how to write great content
• how to get those all important links
• how to win that vital internship

In the meantime, if you want to take the next steps and start building up a more in-depth understanding, I recommend reading the SEOMoz beginners guide to SEO. This was the first detailed material I was directed to at InterGreater and it really helped me build some initial know-how.

If you’re interested in all things marketing, don’t miss our latest marketing internships, advertising internships and PR internships.

Why not browse our latest SEO internship here!