We analyzed 7,051 job postings on Glassdoor and LinkedIn to better understand the current SEO job market.

In this new report you’ll learn:

  • Average SEO position salaries
  • Skills that employers look for
  • How COVID-19 impacted SEO job demand
  • Industries that hire the most SEOs
  • Lots more

Let’s dive right into our findings.

Highlights and Key Findings:

1. The mean salary for a US-based SEO professional is $60,548 per year.

2. Companies based in CA, CT, NY and NJ pay the highest annual salaries for SEO pros (mean salary of $72.6k/year). Those located in UT, PA and IL pay the least (mean salary of $48.7k/year).

3. SEOs that know how to code get paid more than those that don’t. Specifically, SEO job postings that require knowledge of a specific programming language have a 7.3% media higher salary compared to similar job postings without a programming language requirement.

4. Companies hiring for SEO talent post job titles that contain the terms “Senior SEO manager”, “Head of SEO”, “SEO content writer”, “SEO account manager” and “Marketing manager SEO”, and “SEO digital marketing”.

5. Only 22.9% of SEO job postings are for technical positions (for example, “SEO analyst”). The vast majority (77.1%) are looking for SEO professionals with non-technical skills, like “SEO strategist”.

6. Cities that recruit the highest number of SEO professionals include New York, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta and LA.

7. The most common skills that recruiters look for in an SEO include “marketing”, “content”, “search”, “analytics”, “data” and “tools”.

8. The industries that are most interested in filling SEO positions are: Advertising & Marketing, Staffing & Outsourcing, Internet, IT, Publishing, and Enterprise Software.

9. 29.8% of SEO positions require a bachelor’s degree. Only 7% require a master’s degree. And 64.3% don’t have any degree requirements at all.

10. The most common programming languages required by companies hiring SEO help are HTML, CSS, Javascript, Go, SQL and PHP.

11. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down the number of SEO job postings. In fact, postings for SEO positions seemed to slightly increase during the height of the crisis.

12. 63.4% of SEO jobs require experience with a specific tool. The most common tools that employers cite are Google Analytics, SEMrush, Google Search Console, Moz, Ahrefs and Screaming Frog.

The Average SEO Annual Salary is $60,548/Year. Although Salary Varies Significantly By City and State

We used to find and analyze salary data for SEO job postings in the United States.

We discovered that the mean annual salary for an SEO position is $60,548.

Average SEO salary

However, this figure varies significantly based on a number of different factors. Namely, the city and state where the company is located.

First, we broke down the average SEO salary by city. Here’s the full breakdown.

SEO salary by city

Perhaps not surprisingly, SEO jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area pay by far the most.

Research by Deutsche Bank discovered that San Francisco is the US city with the highest salary across all professions. And this seems to apply to careers in the SEO field.

In fact, the average SEO job salary in San Francisco is 2.64x higher than similar positions based in Naperville, Charleston, and New Orleans.

We ran the same salary analysis by state.

SEO salary by state

Again, California-based companies pay the most for SEO help. With Northeast states located in and around New York not far behind.

On the other end of the spectrum, Utah, Pennsylvania and Illinois came out towards the bottom of the list.

SEOs That Can Code Get Paid More Than Those That Can’t

Speaking of salaries, we found a slight connection between coding requirements and higher salaries.

Specifically, we found that SEO jobs that require coding skills have a 7.3% higher median salary vs those that don’t require web development skills.

Higher median salary for SEOs that code

Which suggests that SEO professionals should invest in their coding skills.

For example, take a look at this job posting from our data set.

Job listing with coding requirements

This job requires “Deep technical experience with HTML, CSS, JavaScript”. And the salary for that position is $120k, which is significantly higher than the $71.6k average SEO job salary for that state.

The Most Popular SEO Job Post Titles Are “Senior SEO Manager”, “Head of SEO”, and “SEO Content Writer”

Next, we decided to analyze the words and phrases that employers use to describe SEO positions.

This is important for two main reasons:

First, SEOs looking for a job can optimize their LinkedIn profiles for the specific terms that recruiters look for. This will not only help people find them. But prospective employers will also likely consider them a better fit for the position if their LinkedIn profile is a 1:1 match for the job title they’re looking for.

Second, these words and phrases can help SEO professionals know where to upskill. For example, knowing that many SEO titles use the term “manager” could help you focus on improving your managerial skills.

To help us find the most common terms used, we tokenized job titles into single words. And visualized their relative frequency.

Most common words in SEO job titles

(Note: stop words and words that appeared less than 7 times were removed).

As you can see, the most common single words used In SEO job titles are “Manager”, “Specialist” and “Marketing”.

In a second step, we analyzed sequences of words in our dataset of job titles.

Most common phrases in SEO job titles

This analysis revealed that employers are posting jobs that include phrases like “Senior SEO manager”, “Head of SEO”, and “SEO Content writer”.

We also discovered that, based on the fact that the second most common phrase was “remote work possible”, that a large number of SEO roles are remote. Not surprisingly, mentions of this specific phrase seemed to increase after COVID.

Only 22.9% of SEO Jobs Emphasize Technical Skills

Is SEO a highly-technical job that involves crawling, indexing and deep knowledge of canonical tags?

Or is it more of a soft skill that’s more about content, copywriting and social media?

It’s really a mix of both.

Which is why we wanted to figure out the type of SEO positions that recruiters look for most often: technical SEO positions? Or SEO roles that focus more on non-technical skills?

Here’s what we discovered:

Highly technical SEO jobs

77.1% of SEO job titles include non-technical descriptions, like “manager” and “marketing”.

While only 22.9% of job titles in the SEO field included technical terms, like “technical” and “analytics”.

(Although, as I mentioned earlier, SEOs with coding skills get paid more. So that’s important to keep in mind here. Just because a title is more common doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily more desirable).

In short: most SEO positions are for non-technical positions that emphasize non-technical skills like “strategist”, “manager”, and “writer”.

We also looked at the terms used in job descriptions. Here’s a word cloud of terms that employers use in job descriptions when hiring SEO professionals.

Job description terms – Word cloud

Companies Based In New York, San Francisco, Austin and Chicago Have the Highest Number of Job Offers in the SEO Industry

We analyzed our database of SEO job postings by city and state.

First, we found that these US cities had the highest number of jobs for SEO professionals.

US cities with highest number of SEO jobs

Here’s a detailed breakdown of this data.

US cities SEO jobs breakdown

We also looked at SEO job postings by state. US states with a large number of postings for SEO positions include California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina.

SEO job postings by state

Industries With The Highest Number of SEO Job Postings Include Advertising & Marketing, Staffing & Outsourcing and IT

We decided to break down SEO job postings by sector and industry.

Specifically, we wanted to answer the question: which industries hire SEO talent the most?

First, we analyzed the number of SEO job postings by sector.

SEO job postings by sector

Business services and IT are the two sectors that hire for SEO help most often. This finding probably won’t surprise anyone in the SEO industry.

After all, US businesses spent approximately $700B on marketing services, according to industry research by Borrell Associates. And all of those digital marketing agencies need SEO staff to serve clients.

We also decided to look at the number of SEO positions posted by industry. Here’s what we discovered.

Number of job postings by industry

Again, no big surprises here. Advertising and marketing businesses are by far the leaders when it comes to hiring SEO professionals. You also have industries that tend to do well with or without SEO (like banks) hiring relatively little in the way of SEO help.

64.3% of SEO Positions Don’t Require a College Degree

Does a college degree help you land a competitive SEO position?

According to our data, not necessarily.

We found that 64.3% of all SEO positions have no degree requirement at all.

SEO positions with no degree requirement

However, a fair number of SEO job postings (29.8%) did require a bachelor’s degree of some kind. Very few looked for candidates with advanced degrees.

For example, take this posting from our data set.

Job listing with no degree requirement

This is a relatively high-paying managerial role. Yet the position doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

That said, if you’re looking for a job in SEO, a bachelor’s or master’s degree isn’t going to hurt you.

But it’s clear that search engine optimization is such a fast-changing field. Which is why most employers aren’t super interested in candidates that learned SEO from a university. Instead, they prefer candidates with lots of hands-on experience from optimizing sites in the real world.

The Most In-Demand Programming Languages In SEO Are HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Go, SQL and PHP

As we covered earlier, only a small fraction (22.9%) of SEO job postings are for technical SEO positions. And that technical-focused SEO positions tend to pay more.

Which is why we wanted to dig a bit deeper into what specific technical skills employers look for in an SEO pro. And what coding languages they want candidates to have experience with.

Here’s what we found.

Most in demand programming languages

Considering that HTML and CSS are essentially the building blocks of developing websites and web apps, it makes sense that these two skills would come out on top. And when you keep in mind that 96.2% of all websites online use JavaScript, it also makes sense that employers would seek out technical SEO professionals that know JS.

We also looked at the combination of languages that businesses hired for when looking to fill SEO roles.

Combinations of programming languages in job descriptions

This was essentially a remix of the above findings. HTML again dominates the list. CSS and JS are also in high demand.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Didn’t Seem to Negatively Impact The SEO Industry

Mass shutdowns in response to COVID-19 led to millions of people filing for unemployment.

We hypothesized that job postings for SEO professionals may significantly slow during and after the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the data shows that businesses were still hiring SEO professionals during the pandemic. A trend that has continued even as shutdowns in many states were lifted in late May and early June.

SEO job postings during COVID pandemic

For this analysis we divided a timeline as “before” and “after” COVID. We considered “after” COVID the day that the number of COVID-19 infections hit 100 in the US. And we looked at SEO-focused job postings on LinkedIn during that time frame.

Although the US economy took a hit during COVID, it appears that the SEO industry may have gone unscathed. In fact, job postings have significantly increased.

On further analysis, this finding makes sense. Shutdowns forced many businesses to go online for the first time. Or to scale up their existing online presence. Which may have led businesses to realize that they need to hire SEO help to succeed online.

Most SEO Positions Require 2-5 Years of Experience

Next, we looked at the length of experience that SEO positions required.

Here’s the breakdown:

Years of experience required for SEO position

As you can see, many SEO jobs require between 2 and 5 years of experience in the field.

This is likely due to the fact that the SEO field is relatively new. There simply aren’t many candidates out there with 10+ years of SEO experience.

There’s also the question of how valuable a certain number of years of experience is in the world of SEO. SEO, like coding, is a performance-based type of role.

Having years of experience is nice to have. However, most employers want SEO professionals that can help them rank higher in Google. Whether that ability comes from 1 year or 10 years of experience doesn’t seem to matter much in the eyes of most employers.

36.6% of SEO Positions Cite Experience With a Specific SEO Tool

Most SEO professionals use a number of tools as part of their job.

We were curious to see how many job postings require experience with a specific piece of SEO software. And which tools were cited most often.

Firstly, we found that 63.4% of SEO job postings require candidates to have first-hand experience with a piece of SEO software.

Number of tools mentioned in job descriptions

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the other roles won’t involve using an SEO tool. They likely will. It’s just that a certain percentage of employers may be comfortable training new hires on the tools that they use most often.

Second, we wanted to answer the question: for those postings that did require experience with a tool, which specific tool were they most interested in?

Here are the tools that employers want SEO hires to know how to use.

Tools that employers want SEO hires to use

Google Analytics was (by far) the most commonly cited tool. According to BuiltWith, 85% of the top 100k websites in the world have Google Analytics installed. And considering that Google Analytics is a key tool for doing SEO-related work, it makes sense that it would come out at the top of this list.

The rest of the top 6 were a mix of paid and free tools that are 100% dedicated to SEO and SEM: SEMrush, Google Search Console, Moz Pro, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog.


I really hope you enjoyed this report. You can see a full breakdown of our data analysis right here. We also have a GitHub repository of the data that we used.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which finding from today’s report did you find most interesting?

Or maybe you have a question about something that I covered.

Either way, I’d like to hear from you. So go ahead and leave a comment below.

    1. Thanks Keller. I’ve seen these sorts of breakdowns in other industries. But not SEO for some reason. Which is why we decided to analyze this data and report on it. Overall, I’m super happy with how it turned out.

      1. As someone new to SEO, I appreciate having data on which technical skills (coding languages and apps) I need to become familiar with. I wonder if you’d consider doing a similar report for Australia?

  1. Hey Brian, great article and great insights as always.

    Out of curiosity, how much technical SEO do you perform for Backlinko? Specifically, in regards to using HTML, CSS, and JS for site optimization?

    And in order to have a shot at running a successful blog like yours (I’m just getting into blogging), how necessary are those skills compared to being a good writer or researcher?

    1. Thanks Gordon. I don’t personally do a lot of technical work at Backlinko. But we do have a developer on the team. That said, if you want to run a blog it’s definitely helpful to have some basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JS. But you don’t necessarily need to be a technical SEO pro to succeed with blogging.

      1. Thanks for the reply Brian!

        As a follow-up, when you decided to focus heavily on case studies did you add aspects of gathering, parsing, and visualizing data to your skill set or do you leave that to the pros such as FrontPage Data in this case?

        (I promise, no more questions after this. Thanks in advance!)

        1. No matter what type of study we do, someone else (not me) definitely does the gathering, parsing etc. I’m not remotely technical enough to do that sort of thing.

  2. Really interesting analysis, Brian. I’ve been looking for stats to support my theory that SEO is something that a business cannot ignore. This post is perfect for that purpose.

    1. Thanks Hazel. You’re right: it’s interesting to see that demand for SEO jobs didn’t really decline during COVID (in fact, it might have increased). Which goes to show that businesses understand that SEO isn’t something you can skimp on.

  3. This was great and reassuring. I’ve been a little worried about how Covid was going to affect SEO, but there’s reason to be positive!

    1. Thanks Dan. It was hard to make firm conclusions about job demand during COVID. But it looks like it may not have hurt demand for SEO jobs all that much. Which is definitely a good thing for the industry.

      1. Yea I mean who can predict anything right now, but data doesn’t lie and this appears well researched, so it seems reasonable to be optimistic!

  4. Interesting how most jobs don’t require a college degree. I wonder if this is specific to SEO or is this part of a larger trend for companies to look for specific expertise rather than the overall accomplishment of a degree.

    1. Hey Aaron, that stuck out to me too. I think it’s probably a mix of both. I don’t think that many employers cared if their head of SEO had a degree. Especially because 99% of the time that degree was in history, nursing or something else completely unrelated to SEO. And I also think it ties into the trend of tech companies not caring about degrees at all.

      1. LOVED this! We’re moving, and it’s cool to see the job postings and potential opportunities for someone like me, who’s been doing this for 10+ years. Also really cool to know which tools these employers are looking for experience and expertise with. I’ll need to brush up on AHREFs. I really liked your in-depth post on that earlier.

        Thanks again for awesome, actionable content!

  5. Interesting that ahrefs is number six on the list when it seems to be one of the top two or three favorites among people who practice SEO.

  6. Thanks Brian once again for a detailed report!
    It was interesting to see which seo tools to specialise on and encouraging to know lack of years of experience is not a hinderance!

    1. Hi Christine, you’re welcome. The SEO field is definitely all about results. In fact, that’s one of the things that I like most about it. So fancy degrees and years of experience don’t really matter. It’s all about whether or not you can rank.

    2. Thanks for this article, Brian! According to numbers, it seems a very perspective job. And as an SEO Specialist now, I’m very glad, that I’ve changed my occupation three years ago🙂. It’s a very useful and interesting article for me, especially about Seo tools. Thanks!

  7. I agree but for freelancers, COVID 19 situation has been impacted on them as most of the companies stopped their SEO projects and they don’t want to invest now due to this crisis.

    1. Hi Neha, I’ve heard the same thing from SEO freelancers that I work with. It’s definitely unfortunate. But hopefully demand for SEO freelancing will pick up like it looks to be for full-time SEO jobs.

      1. I think its dependant on area as well, as an SEO freelancer I actually was busier during covid. Only had one client pause but got a lot more enquiries from businesses pivoting to put more focus on their website because closing their premises had made them realise they needed a stronger web presence. Lockdown has been slow to lift here in Scotland and even now we still have a lot closed so many business have been pushing the online side of business, which was a benefit for us.

    1. I was surprised too. It could be that lots of companies have developers on staff. And they take care of coding-related tasks. Or that most companies have a simple site structure (like a blog or services business) that doesn’t need a ton of technical SEO work.

  8. People who didn’t know any programming language, also be able to (some are much better than SEO’s who code) rank their websites or their client websites in 1st position of Google on such super competitive keywords, so why are they not paid like SEO’s who code.

  9. Hey Brian, I’m applying for SEO content writing jobs. I’ve been blogging and ranking my affiliate site for over 3 years, but my rankings have fallen drastically after the Jan 2020 core update. Since my current rankings aren’t too impressive, what is your best suggestion for making myself stand out from other applicants? Thanks for your help!

    1. HI Ty, I’d be transparent. And say that you’ve run your own sites over the years. And that gives you a more well-rounded view of what makes a site successful (more on why that’s key here). You got hit by an update, but you’re working through it and trying to get back on track.

  10. Amazing insights. I started learning SEO as soon as the pandemic started. Some of my main sources of learning are this blog and the Neil Patel blog.
    I created a practice WordPress site where I do all my experimentation. I am already taking small gig to help out businesses in my neigborhood.

  11. Trust me Brian, its impossible to find this kind of research shortlisted on Seo jobs… Yes, people go through glassdoor & other job portals but it isn’t as clear as you made it…
    The most interesting part that actually made me happy is the fact that nothing is affected for webmasters (seo experts) during this covid-19 pandemic..
    Thank you so much for always motivating people to the best of your ability….

    Love from India

  12. >it’s clear that search engine optimization is such a fast-changing field. Which is why most employers aren’t super interested in candidates that learned SEO from a university. Instead, they prefer candidates with lots of hands-on experience from optimizing sites in the real world.

    Thanks Brian. It’s great having industry leaders around who can step back and share a birds eye of the field. I took a Digital Marketing class back ~2010 at NYU Stern and can testify that the universities even back had to work hard to keep abreast of the ever changing developments.

    With that said, I thought it’d be helpful to mention @Ginny Marvin’s June 2020 article . As the field continues to change and AI and ML become more pervasive, my sense is that the income and opportunity divide you touched on (i.e., those with vs those without programming skills) is only going to increase. May we all keep growing our skills as people + machine > people alone or machines alone. Cheers.

    1. You’re welcome, Dave. I’ve never personally taken a class on marketing. But I’ve heard that most are similar to your experience: way behind the times.

  13. That’s a terrible average salary for SEOs. If you do it right, and choose the right clients, you should be easily making 6 figures.

    I would say that SEOs who know how to do results-driven CRO is where it’s at. Coding is something you can hire out if you really need to.

    Great article!

    1. Hey Ryan, keep in mind this is for full time SEO gigs. Not freelance or SEO services work. That’s a whole different ballgame.

  14. Wow, what a breakdown. I just finished my masters in Business Communications and have continued running my own one-man operation. I actually had no idea of the standard salaries (I am based in Denmark but I believe we compare pretty directly to American standards).

    Loved the content. I believe getting industry inside-information might be harder for SEO’s than in other industries?

    Kind regards,


  15. Great post Brian! I just learned a lot of information I never knew before! And thanks for all your hard work, my website has grown so much thanks to your strategies!

    1. Hi Fiona, thank you. And I’m glad to hear that you’re seeing results from my strategies. Props to you for putting in the work 👍

  16. None of this information is really all that surprising, but two comments – 1) the fact that folks doing paid media get paid often times 30-100% more than organic demonstrates how little SEO is actually valued 2) those with technical skills would make more money by applying those skills to just being developers. This just goes to show that SEO is a dying field and a dead end career.

    1. Those weren’t my conclusions from this at all. 1) do you have data that paid media folks get paid that much more? and 2) that developers get paid more than SEO pros?

      1. Marston – Until the day search engines are no longer used (so, never?) SEO will be a career. People will always be searching for content, and smart businesses will always want to understand how to show up.

        Also, even a brief search for “paid search specialist” on Glassdoor shows companies are offering a similar salary level to organic positions. I appreciate differing opinions, but before using words like “dead end career”, please have data to back it up.

    2. @Marston, “SEO is dead” for 20 years already. Everybody heard about this if they are working with SEO long enough. With paid media it is much easier to measure results. With SEO (white hat) it is a long shot and you can’t see results instantly so it is much harder to measure performance.

  17. Since I keep coming back to your site and really value your content, I might as well leave a comment and say thanks for sharing!
    Keep up the good work

    1. You’re welcome, Floris. Feel free to stop by the comments section anytime. The Backlinko community is a great group.

  18. Hi Brian!

    Thank you for such a detailed compilation. It is really helpful! When you say coding, how would an SEO manager who doesn’t have a background in coding learn it? What aspects of coding should he/she learn?

    1. Hi Suraj, you’re welcome. That’s tough to answer because there are a million ways to learn how to code. But I’ve heard good things about one month HTML.

  19. Hey Brian,

    Thanks so much for this post. As an amateur SEO (only running my own sites) I’ve always wondered about getting into the industry. I’m sure there’s thousands of others in the same boat.

    This has been massively eye opening, and made me realize there’s real career possibilities out there. And what I can focus on to get there.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Craig, you’re welcome. The SEO industry is great to be in. Especially if you have experience running your own sites. I cover why that is in this post.

  20. Hey Brian, great findings from this study. I was wondering how Covid-19 would impact SEOs and digital marketers. Now that businesses are moving online, more and more of them would need to optimize their site and content. Which also means that existing digital marketers should buckle up for new competition.

    The spike at the end of May is quite interesting.

    1. Exactly. Demand for digital marketers probably went down a little bit at first. But as more companies moved online, they quickly realized that they needed people to help them get found. Which might explain that spike in May. Although it’s hard to say for sure based on our data alone.

  21. I just love the fact that higher number of SEO jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Sounds cool since am yet in college.

    1. Hi Njoya, that’s definitely the case in my real world experience too. If you can rank sites, you’ll have no issue finding work in the SEO field. If you have a degree? Great. If not? No biggie.

  22. This is THE most comprehensive research material on SEO jobs anyone can find on the web. You and your team did a fantastic job and I’m sure this’ll stay on the top list of thousands of SEO/SEM professionals. Thank you so much for this post Brain (& team).

    1. Thanks Ramzi. Yeah, it’s interesting that this data is kind of just sitting there. But until now no one had collected and analyzed it.

  23. Thanks for the informative content on SEO job postings. I’m still amazed to see that 64.3% of job postings don’t require a college degree.

  24. “Two Thumbs Up” Well researched and well written!

    I like the “highlights section” at the top, then the detailed comments and graphs in the main body. It’s a lot to absorb in one sitting, so I’ve bookmarked it for an additional read tomorrow morning.

    (Suggestion: Provide a “read more” link from the end of a highlight to the expanded discussion later in the post, and a “return” at the end of that particular discussion.)

    Kudos, and thank you.

  25. Impressive Research Based Content. I am pretty
    Sure It will help many others like me. Though I am Very much at My Initial Phase of Starting SEO as my career. After reading it I feel somewhat secure that i am moving in the right direction.

    You are Awesome. Learnt alot From Your Every post.
    Thanks Brian

  26. Awesome Brian! With this information, now I have a better picture of the SEO industry in terms of offering as a service. And it gives me to think about doing it even more than I use to do it.

    Brilliant info! Thanks!

    1. Hi Ricardo, no worries. That was the idea behind this report actually. There wasn’t really any large scale analysis of SEO job data. Which is what encouraged us to run this analysis.

  27. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this informative post, as usual. This is pretty useful for SEO guys like us who can now demand the right amount for their services. Thanks for your tremendous contribution to the SEO community.

    Best Regards,
    Himanshu Tyagi

  28. Thanks so much for this Brian. It will help me in pitching for new clients, having known industries with high SEO demand.
    Again thanks for the good work you’re doing.

  29. Thanks for this report, Brian! I found it interesting that SEO job opportunities took a slight upward turn despite COVID-19, which gives me hope that I will be able to survive as a writer during these unprecedented times. I write long-form blogs and SEO content.

    I wish you the best and look forward to more reports and valuable information from you in the future.


    1. Hi Rebecca, you’re welcome. Yes, that’s promising for sure. I’m not 100% sure how demand for full time jobs apply to freelancing. But I’d imagine there’s a lot of overlap. Like I mentioned in the report, businesses are scrambling to move online. And they need expert help (content, SEO, PPC, social) to help spread the word. Which bodes well for the industry.

  30. Thanks Brian for another great post!
    It’s interesting that you mentioned “SEO is a relatively new field”. Many SEOs feel they have been doing this for years when in fact there is plenty of opportunity to learn, grow and utilize these skills in so many different industries. I loved the analysis.

    1. Hi Kunal, you’re welcome. For sure: SEO is new. Plus, it’s changing all the time. So there’s always something new to learn and figure out. That’s actually why it’s such a fun industry to be a part of.

    1. You’re welcome, Leah. Good idea. For that I think we’d have to do a survey of some kind. But it’s doable.

  31. Very insightful and intresting, as I’m in a middle of a Job Switch it gave me a fair idea how’s the market looking, a similar report on Digital Marketing as a whole would be awesome!

  32. Amazing Brian, as usual, you mentioned a lot of details in USA. I wish if you can list more information about SEO jobs in Europe with salaries.
    Thank you for your efforts

  33. Hello Brian,

    I was wondering how do you go about collecting data to make posts like this. Do you utilize a specific service provider ? Any insight would be helpful as I would love to make case studies like this in the near future.

    1. Hey Darrell, it depends a lot on the study. For a study like this we usually work with someone to scrape and analyze data that’s out there. For others (like this one), we do it all in house.

      1. Brian, As a old, self taught SEO guy who was learning “how to” when Google launched their 2003 SEO GUIDE your research and analysis are always some of the best I’ve seen. Thank you for all you do for myself and others. Because in today’s world and economy Branding and SEO are top skills to have.
        Be well,
        BJ Bronstad
        Are you branding you?

  34. Hai Brian,

    I am big fan our your content. As per my analysis too Covid situation more agencies looking for SEO Professionals.

    Same like this Can you make research on SEO charges? And which industries are spending more money?

    Some of people spreding “SEO Dead” can you give clarity with your blog.

    We are looking forward to learn more from your Blogs.

  35. This is what I enjoyed the most 😀
    The Average SEO Annual Salary is $60,548/Year. Although Salary Varies Significantly By City and State

    Thank you very much for this effort. I really enjoyed 👍

    1. No worries. Nope. I think that they’ll be human SEOs as long as there are search engines. The job is 50% art and 50% science.

  36. Thanks for the good work Brian. This will be helpful in pitching, knowing which industries to target.
    As for SEO jobs, I have also noticed some basics in graphic design as a requirement

    1. You’re welcome. That’s interesting. But it makes sense. In my experience, design makes a huge difference in a site’s SEO (in an indirect way).

  37. I found “The COVID-19 Pandemic Didn’t Seem to Negatively Impact The SEO Industry” section most interesting because I thought that COVID-19 would have had a positive impact on the SEO industry, since more people would be searching for products online? Great report as always!

    1. Hey Josh, that’s probably what happened. More people are searching for products online. More businesses are moving online. Which leads to a boost in demand for SEOs.

  38. Thanks Brian! Excellent research as usual, and perfect timing for me as I’m writing SOP for “SEO Assistant”. Thanks to you and your team, now I have a complete list of persona/job descriptions that I can outreach too!

  39. Great article Brian!
    Is there any certification for SEO just to validate the experience? The employers asking for any certificate?

  40. Great info Brian! The goal of my YouTube channel is to get more people into enterprise SEO. I definitely will share this on my live show this Friday. I would love to have you on as a guest one of these days if possible 😊

    1. Sounds good, Dre. I’m not doing any interviews right now but I hope that I have a chance to come on the show someday.

    1. Thanks Simon. Both companies are private. But from what I’ve seen SEMrush has a much bigger user base compared to Ahrefs.

  41. Brian, thanks for your in depth research into salaries. As an SEO practitioner, I’d be more interested to know how to convince people of the value of good SEO. I’ve seen ads offering $15/hour for SEO work, including web design knowledge etc. This is less than the pay at some fast food restaurants. I’d rather flip burgers for the same price- less thinking and research!

    1. Hi Philip, As someone that worked at a fast food restaurant as a kid, I think you might change your mind about that, LOL.

      But seriously, that’s true for any industry: writing, design, coding etc. There’s always a market for legit experts that charge higher than the market average. Always.

  42. This helps me as an SEO with about 2 years experience so far know what additional training to get and what cities are paying well when it comes time to seek future prospects. Thanks Brian!

  43. Hi Brian,

    I am coder here and knows HTML, CSS, JS, and react, currently learning node.js and along with already learned SEO and doing together. If you know coding and SEO or SEO and coding then it s the best combination.

    PS : I am more into coding and software development but liked SEO model of building and selling sites and sold 4 sites so far this year.

    PPS : A guy who can code can do anything ( Personal opinion)


    1. Hi Imran, I 100% agree. Coding + SEO is a great combination. And considering they pay more for SEOs that can code, employers seem to agree.

  44. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this insightful post. This is very useful for SEO guys.

    I’m surprised to know that only 22.9% of job titles in the SEO field included technical terms.

    BTW Tweeted this article.

    And waiting for your next awesome article. 💚

    Sumit Sao

  45. Wow-what a numbers, Brian.
    More power to SEO consultant across the globe. Thank you so much for the detailed analysis of the SEO jobs, Brian.
    Looking forward to more SEO consultancy jobs in the future post COVID.

    Stay strong everyone.

    Thanks & Regards,

  46. Great information Brian. The US market looks very ready for SEO. I would love to have data from Upwork as well since it’s one of the biggest platforms for outsourced SEO work.

    1. Thanks Kekeli. We might do an analysis of Upwork in the future. For this study we wanted to focus on full-time jobs. But we may look at freelance gigs next time.

  47. Hey Brian,
    Wonderful breakdown. I started my blog after getting less offers . And I don’t regret. Because your own venture has no limits. You can grow and scale it in any point of time. Would love to know your thoughts on this .

  48. It’s amazing, helpful and informative blog for anyone who is seeking job in SEO field.

    Have a question. As a fresher how one can get freelance project from big freelancing website?

    Waiting for your response!

    As always, love read your blog. Looking for another great one.


    1. Hi Vivek, that’s tough to really get into in a blog comment. But the gist is that you want to specialize in one thing. And have results in that one thing. That helps you stand out.

  49. Didn’t know SEOs get paid this much. Buh I had a feeling that SEOs with programming skills would definitely earn higher than those without. All-in-all, you’re awesome with the way you analyzed the info. And this is a little more than epic to me.

  50. I was really sad because I initially thought this was a general jobs posts SEO article. If you already have something on that topic can you please point me in that direction? If not, would it be a worthwhile topic to cover in the future? Love all your stuff Brian, keep it up!

    1. Hey Denis, for this report we only looked at SEO full time jobs. There are a few FT link building jobs. But they’re relatively rare. Most link building is done as part of an SEO’s daily job, by an agency or by a freelancer.

  51. Dear Brian – This is perfectly timely information. I appreciated the state-by-state breakdown and being an SF-Bay Area native I’m not surprised the pay here is great although we may see that change with remote/covid influence. The pay goes to housing and if we see SF based companies start to hire people from say rural Nevada, we could see those $s change in the future (another study?! LOL). Well thank you for compiling this information. I’m a marketing SEO geek but I’m still not sure I can learn coding even though it’s commercially viable! 🙂

    1. Hi Erica, thank you. Exactly: SF has high salaries. But insanely high rent and real estate prices. So there’s a balance there. And you’re right: as everyone hires more remote people, it will be interesting to see if they pay less for people outside of the bay area.

  52. Hi Brian,
    excellent job! as always your articles are very “centered” and concrete, I really appreciate them, too bad that here in Italy SEO is not yet considered so important as to be considered a job in itself, but rather a simple skill to have for webmasters, we still have a long, long way to go

  53. Dear Brian,
    First of all, I want to thank you for publishing these statistics.
    As I live in a developing country these types of statistics can lead me to a deep understanding of the SEO industry in the Uinted States.

  54. Wow this is great! Now I know I am underpaid. Lol. Thank you so much for creating this post. This will inspire more people to learn SEO. It also shows how important SEO is for all business whether there’s a pandemic or not. Now, it’s time to learn coding!

    1. HI Kareen, you’re welcome. Absolutely: SEO is a pretty durable skill that will always have at least some demand.

  55. As I said on LinkedIn Brian an excellent piece of research and analysis. If you don’t mind sharing, how long does it take your team to put together something as substantial as this?

    The Srch Agency

    1. Hey Chris, thank you. I don’t keep track of the time we put into our industry studies. But it’s at least 100 from start to finish.

    1. Yeah that surprised me too. It could also be that Search Console is so common that it kind of goes without saying that an SEO pro would need to be familiar with it.

  56. Brian – awesome job at sorting through the data and showing the averages across the country. Being a freelancer still pays the highest… (i.e., Five SEO clients at $2,000 each = $10,000 a month = $120,000 a year.) …And lots more time to play Modern Warfare the end of the day. 🙂 (Thanks again!)

  57. It’s still not clear to me how SEO works 😊 though it seems interesting. Do you need a lot of training to be one? I keep hearing about this SEO as an online job. Thanks for the information. I need more know how and how can I benefit from it.

  58. This was super interesting Brian, even as an Aussie! Feel like a lot of it is relatable but it is interesting to note some differences as well.

    1. Hey Erin, thank you. Yeah, I’d imagine there’s a ton of overlap in terms of salary, skills required and common tools.

  59. Awesome Brian. I didnt know SEO pay is quite average, and would expect much higher than 120k, at least for senior or head. I guess it also boils down how much client is willing to pay for seo services and the perceived value. Saw some social media strategist command much higher $$.

    1. Hey Chefoo, thank you. For this analysis we only looked at SEO jobs. Agencies and freelancers usually charge quite a bit more.

  60. Thanks. Very insightful. Just an idea, maybe you can create SEO survey every year, that covers a whole lot of things. Information like salary, techniques they used and other things.

    1. You’re welcome, Argo. That would be cool. We may do survey in the future that asks people that work in SEO what their job entails, techniques etc. Great suggestion.

  61. I’m really amazed knowing that how desperately companies want to hire SEOs for their business.

    Amazing data and insights already shared the article with my folks.

  62. Hey Brian, Thanks for your tips on SEO jobs position in USA. I use your website to build my SEO techniques. You are doing a wonderful job for small businesses. Thanks again

  63. Brian – wow what an amazing article and very well researched! I was curious if you saw a difference of salaries from in house “SEO manager” titles from SEO experts inside of agencies, like Helium SEO. Was there a measurable difference?

    Again – really appreciate the work that went into this report. Amazing.

    1. Hey Tim, good question. We actually didn’t look at that. But it would be interesting. I could see it going either way in terms of which one gets paid more.

    1. Hey Craig, you’re welcome. The SEO industry didn’t really have this sort of annual report on the SEO job market. So I thought it was high time someone created one. Namely, me 🙂

  64. Hi! Great article; however, my question pertains to those just getting into SEO. Can you recommend an online course that is both worth the time & money (i.e legitimate). Thank you!

  65. Does it mean you are hired only for SEO not for writing an article or blog post? Google algorithm(EAT) said that if you don’t know about the topic or you are not known for that particular topic like an author is known for a particular topic so your blog is not rank high. So the SEO expert is only an SEO expert?

  66. Amazing write-up Brian. I am an SEO professional from India. And to be honest, in India SEOs are underpaid when compared to other forms of digital marketing skills such as social media or SEM. I wish someday you could analyze the overall SEO scenario like above country-wise. Once again fantastic post.

  67. Hi Brian, This report was very much informative for people who want to pursue SEO professionally.

    Also, some days ago I landed an SEO job, the interviewer asked, why you are switching the job citing COVID issues.
    I replied that it is the best time to do this and gain more insights and experience in this field.😁

  68. Thanks for the wonderful report. Being in SEO, I always learn new things from your blogs. Your blog is really helping to gain knowledge as well as an implementation which are required for any kind of project.

    Thanks Again Dean!!

  69. I lost my SEO job in a digital marketing agency due to this epidemic. Agencies here saying they are not getting SEO projects so they can’t pay salary. The scenario in India is just opposite to the USA. But this article is motivating, hope everything will get well soon in India as well. Thanks

  70. That’s interesting. SEO professionals are earning way more in western countries as compared to Asian. I am from India and the average salary of an Indian SEO professional is not even close to the professionals from the US or Canada.
    Should I change my current location, Brian?

    1. It’s hard for me to say. The other side of the equation is that living in a place like SF is expensive.

  71. Thank you, Brian. That’s a fascinating post. Although it’s on US data, much of your findings are relevant to the UK market. I found the section about the industries offering the most jobs intriguing. I’ve recently left a publishing firm to manage my own SEO business and as print sales fall for publishers they need to adapt, fast!

    1. Hey Will, you’re welcome. And I 100% agree: there are of course going to be differences between the US and the UK. But like with language, culture etc. they’re probably pretty subtle differences.

  72. As I know HTML and CSS are used In SEO Jobs to serve a various purpose, but I have no idea about Javascript, Go, SQL, and PHP use in SEO Job?. Because whatever we want to changes in front-end design we can tell issue to tech team regarding SEO friendly template.

    1. Not all teams have a full time developer. Even so, it never hurts to have at least some understanding of the platform the site runs on.

  73. Some interesting data there. Thanks for creating this Brian, I think it will be useful for many who are pondering their circumstances in this industry at present, what the longer-term impacts of Covid19 will be, make it worthwhile revisiting this data perhaps in the autumn.

    1. Hey Stephen, thank you. Yup, it will be interesting to see how demand changes throughout the course of the year.

  74. Great insight, Brian. I am having more than 2 years experience in SEO. And I found that apart from HTML/CSS or php programming, Python coding also plays a vital role in SEO.

    I use python a lot as it helps me to – regularly monitor my competitor sites, scrape new keyword opportunities from thousands of forums, etc. Python only takes a couple of minutes to process a large amount of data.

  75. Greetings from Sri Lanka Brian,thanks so much for putting together this detailed SEO jobs report in a post-pandemic world!

    Please share your thoughts on two tools I use as no mention was made on them : and link-assistant SEO PowerSuite.

    Is there any value in them or have you ever used them ?

    1. You’re welcome. I’ve used both tools. They have their place but they’re not nearly as popular as SEMrush and some of the other tools that employers look for.

  76. Hi Brian,

    Awesome research ! In fact, I just updated one of my blog posts to cite this particular article because it is so well researched. I know it will assist my readers (

    I agree 100% that SEO job posting increased as a result of the pandemic. But what’s more interesting is the increase in job searchers for SEO positions, which – based on the number of inquiries I get – has increased about 100%.

  77. Hey Brian Thanks for this super informative article. I am new to SEO and was looking for some guidance. I really liked Backlinko. Backlinko is the site where every SEO aspirant should go at least once. Thanks again 😊

  78. OMG! That’s an amazing insight you have provided us with a bunch of knowledge.

    I was curious to know which SEO tool is specifically topped in your finding.

    But, I’m a little concerned here as when I see the Google Trends (US) by searching for three tools only MOZ, SEMrush & Ahrefs.

    I found that there is very high competition between MOZ and SEMrush (including the data of 12 months, 5 Years, and from 2004 I guess), but still, MOZ searches are little higher than the SEMrush.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Well, thanks for helping bloggers by providing such a wonderful and deep insights.

    Have a great day!

    Stay Safe, Stay Healthy.

    1. Thanks Deepak. That could be that Moz has one of the most popular marketing blogs on the planet. That must really help their brand searches.

  79. As a freelance SEO myself, reading through this article definitely gave me some ideas on new things I can learn to potentially make myself more valuable to clients.

    Recently though, in the back of my mind, I wonder if the demand for things like keyword research and other on-page SEO tasks is going to go down in the future. Google seems to be favoring user experience and in-depth content more and more recently, so it seems the actual writing of content may be more important than the keyword research/optimization bit.

    Then again, keyword research can definitely help with content ideas, so there’s that. Maybe I’m worrying for no reason?

    Curious to hear your thoughts on this Brian.

    1. Hey Dylan, I’d actually say that sort of thing is becoming more valuable. Because it’s more complicated than just stuffing your keyword 57 times on a page.

  80. Epic post Brian. Here in the UK its been a little difficult to get work if you live outside a major city so I decided to start my own business. After reading this post I have started to re-write my LinkedIn profile in order to follow the data in the post. Keep up the good work.

  81. Super useful information you have gathered here, Brian!
    Thank you so much.

    I was surprised to see that the demand for SEO jobs did not decrease as the pandemic started. The rationale behind your data makes sense, however, with the drop in demand, I’ve seen a lot of news saying the marketing budgets are the ones that got most cuts. It’s good to know things are steady.

    1. You’re welcome, Lulia. It’s true that marketing budgets were cut. But a good chunk of that budget was allocated to digital. Which may be why SEO wasn’t impacted all that much.

  82. Greetings from the Philippines….

    I’m an avid fan of yours, I first bumped to one of
    your content on YouTube and I now have some organic traffic to my small personal blog.

    We’ll be learning more about SEO from your contents, and hopefully one of this days I will be able to offer SEO services on my website too.

    thank you so much for providing massive free information.

    More power…

  83. In my opinion, even though the overall SEO hiring may not have impacted due to COVID 19, There are sectors like travel and tourism sectors that have actually laid off SEO staff as a part of cost-cutting measures.

    1. Very true, Vinod. Most businesses took a hit. But there are a handful of industries that were really effected.

  84. Incredible…

    This is one of the most valuable posts for SEO avengers.

    And being frontend dev myself for 7 years I agree that learning only HTML and JSON alone is a holy skill to SEO professionals.

    In fact, I have an entire course dedicated to how to use HTML to write SEO optimized code on udemy.

    I’m scheduling this post to my community.

  85. Wow! this is a very informative content regarding the SEO jobs. And I also wonder how is the situation in Asia, I wish I could get more talent in SEO expertise. A bit challenging for me to get SEO talent as we don’t have a “method” to justify their past experience / performance. The candidate also not well prepared to showcase their job. I hope there will be a guideline for this hiring matter 😉

  86. Awesome article as usual 👍
    I want to share my personal opinion about SEO Salary in India.
    For SEO Executive – $3k/ year
    for Senior SEO Executive – $5K/ year
    SEO Manager – $10k/ year

    We should change the location for better salary
    What do you think?

  87. Incredible findings! I had some hunches for things, but this analysis definitely showed me the ultimate value of SEO within each industry. My only question is: Of the years of experience required for a job posting, which proved to pay the highest salary? For example, to get paid higher does it matter if you have 3 years or 4 years of experience? Or does that just not apply?

    1. Good question there, Joseph. We didn’t really do that sort of correlation analysis between variables. But I’d imagine that more experience = slightly higher salary.

  88. The average salary that you mentioned is far ahead as compared to any Asian countries, including India. I have personally seen that there is a spike in demand for professional digital marketers including SEO. Wondering, whether its a good time to dig into outsourcing work? Can you please share your thought.

  89. Great article Brian. I infer that since COVID has forced many businesses to shift to online business, there is greater competition online, hence the need to stay competitive has grown. I think this is the reason why the demand for SEO specialists has not waned.

  90. Hi Brian, the research and perspective you shared is super interesting and helpful.

    I’ve been making and ranking my own sites in different niches since July 2018, and have been able to acquire more than a million visitors in 2019 with transparent white-hat SEO and no link building. I’m also a passionate marketer with a good understanding of branding, social media content and PPC.

    Do you think a person like me who has not been a part of a traditional SEO team would be considered for a full-time SEO job?

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