The 2016 Inbound Marketing Jobs Salary Guide is here! In this post, we’re focusing on a single significant finding: SEO jobs and salaries have declined this year in the US. But don’t forget to download the full infographic for the breakdown of inbound marketing salaries by job title and cities in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the UK.
Back to today’s headline: should the decline of SEO salaries worry inbound marketers? Does it confirm the dreaded “death of SEO”?
The opposite is true: the decline in inbound marketing jobs and salaries actually means that SEO is on the rise. Instead of existing as a siloed function, SEO is expanding into a common skill universally featured among different roles.
But first, the data:
7% Decline in Number of SEO Jobs in the Top 20 Cities
The overall number of SEO-related jobs has declined by 7% in the top cities in the United States.
From our data in 2015, 70% of the 20 cities we looked at saw their SEO-related job listings go down. The larger cities saw a modest increase in number of jobs or remained flat.
6% Average Salary Decline in SEO Job Titles Evaluated
The average salary decline was 6%, with SEO Coordinator seeing the highest decline at 19%. All job roles saw a salary decline except the Account Manager role, which saw a slight salary increase of 1%.
SEO Becomes a Universal Skill — Why Job Decline Is Good for SEO
A 7% decline in jobs and a 6% decline in average salaries might sound scary for those in the SEO industry, but it actually points to a maturity, not a deterioration, of the SEO industry.
Instead of SEO as a job skill held by a single marketer on a team, SEO is becoming a needed skill for a diverse set of professionals across the organization.
SEO is leveraged by executives to understand drops and gains in revenue, by content marketers to make sure what they create is found by a larger audience, and by product managers to ensure they’re creating and naming products to align to their customers needs. The list goes on; SEO now touches many more roles as a foundational part of how companies function and grow.
Here are some thoughts from industry leaders on how the decline in SEO jobs is in fact good news for the industry.
1. Rand Fishkin (Moz): SEO Continues to Grow in Importance
“I strongly suspect this is indeed because SEO is becoming less a job title and more a job requirement/skill. We saw that trend beginning a couple years back, and I think it’s getting stronger and stronger.
As a skill, SEO continues to grow in importance. We saw it move up on LinkedIn’s list of skills that get people hired all the way to #4 – the highest it’s ever been.
The growth in the number of jobs that require SEO as a skill would, naturally, lead to the average salary going down as more entry-level and less-experienced folks enter the profession. In our survey data, we see that years of experience strongly correspond to salary increases, as do more expensive geographies (and the broadening of SEO to less expensive job markets would also be a downward driver of average salary).
None of this is to say that folks in the industry should ignore the numbers here – just that we should balance them against a full picture of the field’s trends.”
“I strongly suspect this is indeed because SEO is becoming less a job title and more a job requirement/skill… The growth in the number of jobs that require SEO as a skill would, naturally, lead to the average salary going down as more entry-level and less-experienced folks enter the profession.”
-Rand Fishkin, Moz
2. Brian Dean (Backlinko): The Changing of the SEO Role
“It looks like the idea of an “SEO” is changing fast. More and more executives realize that some of the best people out there to boost search engine rankings DON’T identify themselves as “SEO professionals.”Instead, they call themselves “inbound marketers” or “content marketers”.
I also imagine, instead of hiring 10 SEO people, companies are hiring 5 SEOs and a mishmash of UX pros, content marketers, designers and copywriters. In other words, the marketing team of the future.
That being said, there will always be a role for a true SEO within a marketing team. So I expect this trend to stabilize soon.”
“It looks like the idea of an “SEO” is changing fast. I imagine, instead of hiring 10 SEO people, companies are hiring 5 SEOs and a mishmash of UX pros, content marketers, designers and copywriters. In other words, the marketing team of the future. That being said, there will always be a role for a true SEO within a marketing team.”
-Brian Dean, Backlinko
3. Patrick Reinhart (Conductor): SEO is Still a Young Profession with Ebbs and Flows
“It’s an interesting finding, although not a surprising one in my opinion. SEO is still a relatively young profession when you think about it, and it’s not surprising we saw such staggering growth over the last few years. It’s also not surprising that we are seeing it level out now that more companies are aware of its importance.
As SEO has been put more into the spotlight at larger brands, my gut tells me that most of these companies are looking internally for someone to take on the work first and prove it’s worth the investment before they look externally and add budget for it.
As for the average salary declining, I can see that being a result of companies bringing more entry-level workers in to aid senior strategists who are already established, or more senior strategists leaving to become independent consultants looking for more work / life balance outside of a larger entity.
Not every year is going to be booming, and this is most likely just the normal ebbs and flows of this still very new profession.”
“SEO is still a relatively young profession when you think about it, and it’s not surprising we saw such staggering growth over the last few years. It’s also not surprising that we are seeing it level out now that more companies are aware of its importance.”
-Patrick Reinhart, Conductor
SEO salaries and jobs have declined. But it’s obvious, SEO is still as important as ever. What are your thoughts on this new data? Share in the comments!
Make sure to download the infographic and get salary data for inbound marketing jobs by title and city!
This study was created in partnership with Blue Nile Research.