Most web based careers are pretty well defined. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you accept your brief, take it away and work on it, and hope that your client or your boss approves of it. If you are a web designer, you assess your client’s requirements, draft a proposal for a web design and, all being well, go off to build it. However, the same can’t really be said for a career in search engine optimisation.
This is mainly because SEO is a subtle blend of science, talent and a little luck.
All SEO jobs demand that you first have a thorough grounding of the basics of optimisation. For example, it’s absolutely vital to understand the dire consequences of employing nefarious Black Hat search engine optimisation methods, and how to identify those methods lest you utilise them by mistake. Anybody blithely indulging in such practices will attract a bad reputation, and won’t last long in the field. Likewise, it’s essential to be aware of any link building methods that, whilst not getting you banned from search engine results pages, can see the rankings for a site plummet. Links from irrelevant, Eastern European hosted domains for example are a classic example of this.
As for the ‘luck’ part… the major search engines never divulge their search algorithms, partly to protect their intellectual property, and partly to make sure the user experience is a good one. As a result, this means that many SEO jobs are a challenge, as an optimisation firm constantly has to guess how the search engine operates, and which way the ball will roll today. The element of luck comes in getting this right, but an ethical SEO firm will make their own luck in this respect by having a deep understanding of SEO and a thorough knowledge of every development the search engines make.