If you work in the SEO or tech industry in Austin, you've likely heard of Jeff Smith. As a veteran of the industry, Jeff has seen startups and large enterprise brands flourish in their SEO program under his direction.

Today, he serves as a vice president of marketing at his current organization. Here's what Jeff has to offer about building an SEO career from the ground up and having a continuously learning mindset.

Connect with Jeff Smith (right) on LinkedIn.

From Newspaper Editing to SEO

While I didn't pick up an SEO title until 2005, I've been working in the industry since 2003 and it was actually a non-SEO experience that directly influenced my career as it stands today and my ability to do SEO.

I began working for a newspaper in New Hampshire and Vermont. While in that role as editor, there happened to be a website called Cyber Rentals, a small, early-days-of-the-internet website that had launched in 1995.

Cyber Rentals hired me as an editor or both for the website and for their printed magazine. And, as fate would have it, editing a website turned out to be very much like what SEO became - page descriptions, page titles, link exchange - all things that we still see today. 

Within a couple years and some hard work from our small team, that site was purchased by HomeAway which is now known as VBRO. When a site migration happened after the acquisition, I moved into a role where I worked on SEO full-time, where I had many learning opportunities for technical SEO, international SEO, SEO at scale, and link development. 

Why SEOs Need More Than Just SEO Skills

As a non-technical SEO, with my background as an educator and English major, I wish I'd had more quantitative skills coming into the SEO industry. I've been able to learn the basics of Excel and have increased my skill level as years have gone on and a lot of what I've gained is self-taught and has filled some need along the way. 

Recommended Reading: Reliable Excel Tools Every SEO Needs in Their Back Pocket

Another skill I wish I'd started my career with is people management skills. As SEO teams grow and develop, it's important to know how to build out the right team with the right skill-set to meet the goals of your organization in order to scale across the board. 

One way that SEOs can combat these challenges is to learn from within the organization. Try to read from or work alongside other experts in your specific industry to gather insight into how to build or manage your team moving forward. The team development you can exercise today will help in the long run as you evangelize your organization in all things SEO.

Advice for Others in the Industry

Continuous learning is of paramount importance in this industry. As a matter of fact, I'd consider that important for all things in life! 

If you can keep learning whatever it is, then you can stay ahead of the game or stay interesting in your subject matter. But, in SEO specifically, we already do that with how quickly this industry evolves.

To be successful in SEO, especially if you want to become a leader in the industry, you need to be able to understand the other functions that you're working with. 

Recommended Reading: 9 Ways SEOs Bring Value to Every Team in Their Organization

Another piece of advice would be to be patient. As many SEOs already know, the work you do today takes time. The way the industry fully evolves also takes time. I remember this being especially true about "the year of mobile"; every year for four years it seemed was the year of mobile SEO transforming the industry. 

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