When it comes to entering the field of Search Engine Optimization there’s no degree that encompasses all the skills you’re going to need on the job. After all, there’s no such thing as “majoring in Search Engine Optimization” at your state university. (At least, not yet!) So, what do you as a college student look to study in order to prepare yourself for a career in the rapidly growing field of SEO? Well, look no further as here are five great choices you can make to jump start your career in this burgeoning industry.
If you’re looking to work in the field of marketing (as most potential SEO specialists are), then it makes a lot of sense to look into a degree in marketing. A degree in marketing will give you the overall textbook knowledge to enter the industry on the whole. Though the information learned through “textbook marketing” doesn’t always apply to “real world marketing,” a basic grasp of how the marketing world works can be a great way to get your food in the door for potential employers. Just be sure to brush up on your SEO skills.
Perhaps a strange degree choice for SEOs on the surface, the skills learned by obtaining a Statistics degree offer a wide variety of important skills necessary for the potential SEO specialist. Among these is statistical analysis; as an SEO specialist your job will regularly entail looking at web statistics and perusing through Google’s Analytics services. Because of this, being able to effectively understand the trends and data analysis and linking it to your marketing and search engine optimization strategies is key, and a Statistics degree and equip you with many of the tools to complete these objectives.
In most cases, a business degree is a good generic degree to enter a variety of efficiency and profit-oriented enterprises in the world. Obviously, there are a variety of different sub-degrees within the field of business. A degree in business administration will give you a broad range of skills that will allow you to understand the fundamentals of business. More useful perhaps is a degree in Business Information Systems if offered by the institution you plan on attending. These degrees teach you skills in software and data analysis with an emphasis on the business side of things, but more of a technical slant than your average business degree.
Though it may come as a surprise, a liberal arts degree can come in handy when it comes to the field of Search Engine Optimization. Though certainly less technical and “business-focused” than our prior degrees, English can offer some other important skills value to the potential SEO specialist. For one, English majors typically know how to research and write well. With content development often being a sizable portion of the SEO field these days, having someone used to writing and developing well thought out and quality thought can be invaluable for your clients. They understand language use (which can be useful for keyword analysis,) and English majors also tend to have a varied broad academic background which gives them good insight into how people (and thus consumers) think, especially when it comes to search engine use. Even Google is now hiring humanities PhDs in droves, likely in order to better understand how their users use their systems and language in search queries. If Google’s using English majors, why shouldn’t you?
5. Computer Science
Though most Computer Science students opt for fields of web design or software programming, the understanding of computer software can be a critical tool for an SEO specialist. With Google and other search engines boasting complex algorithms to find search results, someone who can make sense of it all can be a valuable asset to your team. Computer scientists often have great insight into how software systems (and thus search engines) work and can help shift marketing strategies to help counteract the rapidly changing algorithms of the search engine giants.
…Or Maybe No Degree?
Full disclosure: you’re probably less likely to be hired without a college degree. Though no degree leads directly to a career in SEO, many degrees teach skills that can be valuable for understanding the profession. That being said, search engine optimization is a field based upon results. If you can produce fantastic results that rocket your client’s sites to the top spot in the PageRanks and have proven to do so in the past, then a smart employer will grab you regardless of whether you’ve got a PhD or didn’t graduate college. SEO is, after all, a rapidly changing field within marketing. With its constant shifts and the ever-updating search algorithms, you can’t learn SEO from a textbook (it would need to be updated all the time thanks to the changes engineers make to search engines every day!). Likewise, many sites such as SEOMoz now offer valuable knowledge that allow you to learn the skills necessary to becoming a great SEO specialist.
Ricardo Casas if the CEO and founder of Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin, TX based Internet Marketing company with practices SEO. With over a decade of experience in the field, Casas has intimate knowledge of the rapidly changing field of SEO and the skills necessary to be successful in the burgeoning industry.
Photo Credit: Emanuele Tolomei (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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