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SEO Job Listings Reportedly Down 37% Year-Over-Year

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Job listings for SEO roles dropped 37% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to last year.

Analysis by specialty job board SEOJobs.com compiled data from over 80,000 job listings posted by 4,700 employers in 2023 and early 2024.

The report cites the increasing use of AI in search as a critical factor impacting SEO hiring.

Mid-Level Roles Hardest Hit

While senior SEO positions saw a 3% year-over-year increase in Q1 2024 and entry-level roles rose 1%, mid-level SEO jobs experienced a 6% decline compared to Q1 2023.

Nick LeRoy, owner of SEOJobs.com, attributed this disparity to AI automation handling routine tasks. That suggests companies require experts capable of higher-level work.

He states:

“Tasks historically mapped to an entry-level position are now being done faster and cheaper with AI technology…

… These entry-level SEOs are now expected to have a base-level knowledge of search AND the soft skills to compete against their mid-level peers with 3+ years of experience.

… Companies want to “do more with less,” which means hiring cheap junior resources and paying for proven experience/results via senior SEOs.”

On a more positive note, LeRoy finds that remote SEO opportunities grew in Q1 2024 after dipping late last year.

Lack Of Salary Transparency

The SEO job report also highlighted the industry’s need for salary transparency.

Only 18% of job listings provide pay details, though there may be more wage disclosure as more states legally require it.

Economic Pressures

Alongside AI disruption, broader economic conditions appear to weigh on SEO employment.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the pullback in listings coincides with a slowing of job growth in the U.S. labor market.

The BLS recently reported that “employment was little changed over the month in major industries,” including professional and business services. SEO roles often fall under this sector.

6 Ways SEO Professionals Can Stay Competitive

As AI’s role in search grows, the most successful SEO professionals will likely be those who can combine technical mastery with strategic thinking, analytical skills, and a lifelong commitment to learning and professional development.

Here are some potential strategies to differentiate yourself in today’s job market:

1. Develop AI Expertise

With AI playing a prominent role in search, understanding and leveraging AI technologies will be critical.

Professionals utilizing AI tools like natural language processing, content generation, and semantic analysis will have a competitive edge.

2. Focus On Strategic SEO

As AI automates many technical and execution-based SEO tasks, employers will likely prioritize hiring SEOs with strategic abilities.

Professionals adept at competitive analysis, audience research, content strategy development, and conversion optimization may be in higher demand.

3. Build Analytics Prowess

With AI’s impact on search rankings and user behavior, the ability to extract insights from data will become even more valuable.

Expertise in analytics platforms, statistical analysis, data visualization, and communicating data-driven recommendations can set you apart from other candidates.

4. Specialization

While some SEO professionals take a generalist approach, increasing specialization within disciplines like local search, e-commerce, enterprise-level SEO, or a particular industry vertical could appeal more to potential employers.

5. Emphasize Soft Skills

As technical duties become automated, soft skills like communication, problem-solving, creativity, and adaptability may carry more weight in the hiring process.

SEO professionals who can collaborate across teams and articulate strategies can separate themselves.

6. Build A Personal Brand

Developing a solid personal brand through blogging, public speaking, publishing authoritative content, and engaging on social media can raise your profile. This increased visibility can lead to new job opportunities.

Parting Thoughts

While the short-term outlook is challenging, the role of the SEO professional is transforming, not disappearing.

Those able to adapt their value proposition and align with new demands can find viable career opportunities.


Featured Image: PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock

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