Where Have All the SEO Experts Gone?
Ari Nahmani joins the show to chat about the state of talent and knowledge sharing in the SEO industry:
Is there a lack of SEO talent out there?
What might be the root cause of there being fewer great SEOs in the industry?
What does a lack of SEO talent mean for SEO agencies?
SEO talent is the engine that drives the entire industry. But what happens if there is less talent out there? In this episode, we discuss the possibility of there being less SEO talent and how changes in knowledge sharing may be the culprit!
Here's a recap of what we discussed on the podcast.
Has a Lack of Knowledge Sharing Drained the SEO Talent Pool?
According to Ari, who runs an SEO agency, finding really good SEO talent has become exponentially more difficult. Obviously, that has a major impact on agencies that are constantly trying to beef up their SEO teams. How are you supposed to succeed as an agency if you are constantly scouring the world for strong SEOs?
Let's take a step back and analyze what's happening and why - specifically as it relates to changes in knowledge sharing among the SEO community.
Finding a Good SEO Employee Is Harder Than Ever
SEO, as a service, is more in demand than ever. While this is certainly a welcome development it does thin out the SEO talent pool. This is true both in terms of the available SEOs and the ability to train them. In the past, SEO agencies had the time to train talented people and develop them into strong SEOs. With today's demand, this is no longer the case. Agencies are maxed out from their workloads and need to bring in talent that is already up to speed. They need SEOs who are ready to start from day one.
On top of that, SEO was easier back in the day. There was simply less to know. Moreover, simpler sort of "techniques" tended to work. The SEO environment today is far more complex. It's the perfect storm. There is less time to train new SEOs and more for new SEOs to know.
The net result is that it is far harder to find a good SEO who is ready to work and achieve from the get-go.
Is the Specialization of SEOs Killing the Talent Pool?
As SEO has gotten increasingly complex more and more SEOs are starting to specialize in various aspects of the overall trade. In other words, SEOs are being siloed (perhaps).
This, logically, makes it far harder for SEO agencies in the hunt for an SEO generalist to fill their needs. It's not always possible for an agency to hire multiple people to fill various tasks, as would be required when hiring specialists.
What some agencies seem to be finding is that their SEO hires have all sorts of knowledge gaps. One SEO may be wonderful at content strategy but unable to properly handle a site audit and so forth. It's getting harder and harder for SEO agencies to find that one person who can fill various roles.
For the record, I personally think this means that agencies may need to change how they operate. But, I can understand that from a pure cost perspective, the specialization of SEO is not easy on an agency's bottom line.
Why Is Harder to Find Good SEO Talent
While it's hard to definitively say there is less good SEO talent out there it's even harder to speculate as to why there might be less SEO talent out there. However, since we are speculating, one reason might have to do with changes in the way the SEO community shares knowledge.
While in the past there were formal places for the SEO community to share knowledge that doesn't exist to the same extent. As the community was first getting started there used to be more opportunity for peer-reviewed content. To that, folks were eager to take advantage of those opportunities and as a result, a ton of SEO information was being shared on a consistent basis.
Fast forward to today and those same people who were sharing so much knowledge are a bit older and have more on their plates. The folks who used to share so much content and develop so much SEO thought are now running their own companies, have families, etc. Simply, the people who used to devote so much time to share their SEO knowledge just don't have the time nor incentive to do so.
That gap has not been entirely filled (at least in this author's opinion). Sure, there are new people sharing new information but it's not the same as it once was. The opportunity to share and the incentive to share is not the same as it used to be. As a result, the level of knowledge swapping is not what it once was. Where there used to be an oversharing of information in the past, it's hard to find really good SEO information out there today. Moreover, today's environment is overcrowded with superficial content. The really prolific content that used to be created just isn't coming out as often.
The consequence of less SEO knowledge being disseminated is quite possibly less informed SEOs. It's not just less information being shared per se it's also the character such knowledge sharing lent to the community. With less knowledge being shared the community's identity as a knowledge community is slightly diminished as well.
If you, as an SEO, want to really improve you have to put the extra time in. Reading articles or engaging on social media after hours is all part of the commitment to learn and grow as an SEO. If the community is not driven by knowledge innovation to the extent it used to be there's perhaps less incentive to put the extra effort in to grow as an SEO.
There just seems to be fewer SEOs with their own opinions with their own SEO thoughts who are keeping up with the changes happening to the industry.
SEO Agencies May Need to Change Their Models
If you ask me, after hearing from someone who runs an SEO agency... I think some agencies may need to change their model and expectations. The nature of SEO has changed and it means there are perhaps fewer SEOs out there who can "do it all." That's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, having people who really specialize in something can be a very good thing. It does mean that agencies might need to adjust a bit. That's not easy at any level but it may be the cold reality.
At the same time, it's on SEOs to put the extra effort in to grow in their profession. If you want to take your SEO to the next level you have to really put the effort in to read about changes in the industry. More so, you have to think for yourself and use the information you are reading to develop your own SEO outlook. There's nothing more prolific than having your own thoughts and feelings about the industry. Critically thinking about SEO is a must if you want to up your game.
Here's to a future of more SEO knowledge sharing with smarter and smarter SEOs!
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on the real challenges of enterprise SEO.