Hi! 👋 We’re so glad to feature you on SEOjobs.com. Please introduce yourself to our site’s readers.
My name is Ross Hudgens (Twitter | Linkedin), and I live in Austin, Texas I’ve been in the SEO industry for approximately 14 years.
Can you share with us how you entered the SEO industry?
I got a business degree from Chapman University in Orange, California, with a marketing emphasis I started originally in creative writing. And realized that there weren’t many jobs in that area and decided to move over to business. Turns out, I eventually found a combination between the two, in the content marketing world. When I was in college, I scanned documents for a company called JANIX they were a pharmaceutical company that did research studies and essentially scanned documents. That was my job as a College student. The CEO was very nice and she said, “Market our website for us. I know you’re a marketing major”. So I googled some things and found SEO and started doing some (very bad) SEO for their website. This led me to eventually realize, “Hey, I want to try this. Get some jobs in this field and see how things progress.” So I found an internship at a local beachfront SEO firm and did that for no pay. It was a great way to get real SEO experience added to my resume.
From there, I found a job with Sujan Patel, who was the founder and CEO of Single Grain, now Of Ramp Ventures. He was my first boss and I got an SEO analyst job with him working out of his apartment in Orange County. I believe my starting salary was around 40,000 USD.
At that point, I had learned a lot from my experiences there and I find myself very lucky to have met him early on. He’s now a friend here in Austin, Texas. From there I was introduced to a company called Billy.com based out of in San Francisco. This had me move up there for work. After some time there, I saw limited growth opportunities at that company and was offered a SEO manager job in Seattle.
It took a few leaps and few risks to progress my career, but it worked out well
How did you start to learn SEO? What are you currently doing to keep up with the ever-changing SEO industry?
I started to learn SEO simply by hustling on the side. I started a personal blog which now today would be more like a LinkedIn or Twitter profile. I spent my nights in San Francisco hustling and working hard to build a personal brand. I continued to practice SEO and on the side I was able to get a few clients. In addition to my day job and side clients, I was really passionate about learning learned about the industry through reading articles and being active on Twitter.
I followed the core people who were blogging a lot in the industry and was an active reader of the Moz blog. These really helped me keep up to date on the evolving SEO space. In terms of what I do today, Twitter is my main place for SEO content and staying up to date. LinkedIn is also a great source as well as Sparktoro which provides a great “trending list” filled with curated resources based on the most shared content
Can you share what motivated you to start Siege Media? Did you always envision owning a large agency?
Originally didn’t set out to start my own business. What sort of led me in that direction is that I wanted to continue to grow my career and did that through hustling on the side and nights and weekends. This included actively working and building a personal brand. This without a doubt led to more positive things in my career.
That led me to some promotions and raises from that process. And eventually, I got a boss who micromanaged me and that kind of made me realize that maybe I am set up for this entrepreneurship thing. I had a few clients at that point (on the side) and decided to take the risk of jumping and starting my own thing — Siege Media.
I didn’t set out to start a large agency either, I’ve always been challenged by growth and new opportunities that come from it. Growth has been a natural byproduct rather than just setting out to do that.
What recommendations would you give to someone interviewing for an SEO position?
I’m biased, of course, but I recommend starting at Agency. I think it is a good place to accelerate your learning. Not always is it going to be as well compensated as an in-house role, but the skill set you’re going to build and additional exposure from a networking standpoint will be huge. I also do recommend If you just don’t have experience, be willing to do something/anything for free. Get an internship! Also, you can start your own website and try things on your own. Starting your own website can be a good way of learning and also just representing yourself online at the same time. In terms of standing out, I do think niching down is helpful. Are you an SEO? What kind of SEO are you? Do you work in finance? Do you work in travel? Are you a technical SEO? Are you a content SEO? Are you a digital PR person?
I think representing yourself well, online is a positive as well. This is SEO so people Google (you) so what is on your Instagram/Facebook? Do you have photos of yourself drinking or what have you? that’s not going to likely have a positive outcome. In a reverse situation, if for instance you are on Twitter, where the SEO industry is active, are you sharing industry content? This can help demonstrate a history of you clearly reading up on industry content that clearly shows passion and fire. That’s something that would definitely stand out to me as well.
What recommendations would you give to someone who is looking to join the SEO industry and get their first full-time SEO position?
Be honest with the person who is interviewing you. Never claim to know more than you actually know and don’t try to overexaggerate your experience or expertise to land a job. Make sure the position is one that you’re qualified for. Some of the best ways to get experience is to have a test site that you can experiment on and see if you can increase ranking for.