Why There Are So Few Vice Presidents for Search Engine Optimization

A few years ago I was in the supermarket when I overheard half a phone call.

Apparently someone had called and wanted to speak to the vice president for vegetables.

The operator who answered the call politely replied, “Well, we have three vegetable vice presidents. One is responsible for fresh vegetables, another for canned vegetables and the third for frozen vegetables. So which one would you like to talk to? “

It’s fun, but it also makes you think: Why Are There So Few Vice Presidents for Search Engine Optimization?

If you do a search on Indeed you will find that there are 5,527 open positions in the US for an SEO manager.

And the average salary for an SEO manager is $ 87,442 per year.

But you will also find that there are currently no vacancies for a VP of SEO in the US.

On the flip side, there are 981 open positions for a Vice President of Marketing – and the average salary for a Vice President of Marketing is $ 171,370 per year.


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Um, okay.

Why is that worth mentioning?

The business case for a VP of SEO

According to BrightEdge Research, 53% of trackable traffic to the average website comes from organic search.

This share of traffic ranges from:

  • 64.1% in B2B locations.
  • 59.8% at technology locations
  • 53% in media and entertainment locations.
  • 41.4% in travel & hospitality locations.
  • 41% in retail and e-commerce locations.

Why There Are So Few Vice Presidents for Search Engine Optimization

But no other canal comes close – except for direct traffic.

One of the first sources of direct traffic is organic search traffic, which comes back to websites at a later date.


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In terms of revenue share, organic search is also the largest trackable channel with an average share of 44.6%.

This share of sales also ranges from:

  • 58.8% at technology locations.
  • 52.7% in B2B locations.
  • 40.6% at travel & hospitality locations.
  • 36.4% in retail and e-commerce locations.
  • 34.7% in media and entertainment locations.

If you look at your top conversion paths in Google Analytics, you will likely find that organic search plays an important role in the initial determination when users are looking for solutions to a need.

Many of these people then use the direct channel after better understanding the available problems, solutions and vendors.

So, yes, I could set up the business model for having at least one VP of SEO in most large organizations.

If organic search generates 53.0% of your website traffic and 44.6% of your sales, this is more important to your success than vegetables for a supermarket.

And for some large companies, I could even set up the business model of giving at least some SEO responsibilities to three out of five vice presidents:

  • A VP of Technical SEO responsible for website usability and preparing for Google’s upcoming Page Experience update.
  • A VP of on-page SEO who would also be responsible for content marketing.
  • A vice president of off-page SEO (aka link building) who is also responsible for social media marketing.
  • A VP of Digital Advertising who is also responsible for PPC advertising (also known as paid search).
  • A VP of Digital Analytics who is also responsible for the search console tools and reports.

All of these vice presidents would report to a chief marketing officer who would be responsible for the digital marketing strategy.

Would this require a reorg?

For the vast majority of large companies, this would be the case.

However, such an organizational structure would reflect the current practice rates as well as the requirements for skills, training and experience in digital marketing.

In fact, the 2019 OMCP Role Boundary Study of 4,000+ professionals found that these five disciplines – along with digital marketing strategy – are needed by most organizations and businesses.

Why There Are So Few Vice Presidents for Search Engine Optimization

Hence, most large corporations require multiple executives with strategic vision to guide important aspects of their SEO efforts.


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Because they can’t afford to leave their fate to an understaffed, underfunded, and underqualified SEO manager – even one with exceptional tactical skills.

What SEO Managers Need to Learn to Become a VP of SEO

Even if the top executives in large organizations or very large corporations are so enlightened that they create the position of VP of SEO – or place key aspects of SEO in the responsibility of vice presidents of other disciplines – it doesn’t guarantee they will be inundated with applicants who are qualified to hold these positions.


Check out the skills that help SEO managers find jobs.

In fact, they include:

Now, look at the skills, education, and experience required to become Vice President of Marketing – a position that currently exists.


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In fact, they include:

  • B2B sales.
  • Digital marketing.
  • Performance Marketing.
  • SaaS.
  • Attribution modeling.
  • Lead generation.
  • Customer segmentation.
  • Marketing automation.
  • Martech.
  • Pardot.

In other words, there is a complete separation between these two positions.

SEO managers cannot rely on years of additional experience to prepare to become vice president of marketing.

And HR reps who are looking for someone qualified as a vice president of marketing don’t know that SEO should be a required skill.

So how do SEO managers learn what they need to know in order to get from their current location to their desired location in the foreseeable future – and to their organization or company?

Well, the prosaic answer to this rhetorical question is:

  • Read a wider range of articles and books on SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, digital advertising, digital analysis, and digital marketing strategy.
  • Get cross-training in other marketing disciplines and a few years of SEO experience.
  • Take courses and earn certifications from industry associations such as OMCP and Google.
  • Attend other industry conferences (practically for now and in person when the pandemic is over).


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Get people to embrace change and be courageous

But I also want to give other “lovely” pieces of advice.


Because we must overcome strong emotions such as fear and anger if we are to successfully change the reporting structure and career paths of many people in large organizations and very large companies.

A bestselling business guru, Guy Kawasaki wrote in his book “Enchantment”:

“The process of enchantment … changes situations and relationships. It converts hostility into politeness and politeness into affinity. It turns skeptics and cynics into believers. “

He added, “When done right, enchantment is more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.”


Because the goal is “to bring about a voluntary, permanent and enjoyable change in other people.

By bringing in your own goals and desires, being personable and trustworthy, and formulating something that others can embrace, you can change hearts, thoughts, and actions. “

How do you get people to embrace change and be brave?


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Well, you can learn many lessons from Ted Lasso.

The character of Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, was originally created in a number of NBC Sports promos for her coverage of the Premier League seven years ago.

In the first promo, coach Lasso has just arrived in England to coach Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and he learns the hard way that across the pond, when it’s called football, “it does something different”.

On August 14, 2020, “Ted Lasso” was premiered on Apple TV +.

If you haven’t seen the series before, the official trailer features America’s favorite football coach crossing the pond.

In the reworked sitcom, Lasso is an American soccer coach from Kansas City who was hired to coach AFC Richmond, an association (aka soccer) soccer team in the Premier League, despite having no experience coaching soccer.


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Club football is fundamentally different from American football.

Even terms like “tackle” and “passport” have different definitions – showing that the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.

Even so, the “Lasso Way” encourages the team to embrace change and believe in themselves – and that is a successful strategy on both sides of the pond.

And digital “marketing” is fundamentally different from traditional “marketing”.

Relearn what you think you know about SEO

The “SEO” best practices that I learned in 2002 are fundamentally different from the “SEO” best practices that I learned the hard way to deploy and teach today.

However, following Google’s quality guidelines continues to be a winning strategy on both sides of the pond.


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So I can refer to Ted Lasso, a popular American who is considered a Rube but is smarter than he looks.

He loves to exercise and cares more about people than victories.

And like the coach at AFC Richmond, I had to learn all over again what I thought I knew about “SEO”.

After the advent of universal search in 2007 and the panda update in 2011 …

Then came the 2012 penguin update and the 2015 mobile-friendly update …

And then the DeepRank update in 2020 – and now the announcement of the upcoming Page Experience update in May 2021.

I felt like a stranger in a strange land where the word “soccer” doesn’t mean what I thought it meant.

So if we can use the “lasso path” to enchant people at all levels of our organization or company, to accept change and to believe in ourselves, we have a better chance:

  • “Change situations and relationships.
  • Convert hostility into politeness and politeness into affinity.
  • Turn skeptics and cynics into believers. “


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And it is also more likely that we will “make a voluntary, lasting and enjoyable change in other people”.


“By bringing in their own goals and desires, being personable and trustworthy and formulating something that others can accept.”

This will make it more likely that we will be able to “change hearts, thoughts, and actions” successfully.

This is more likely to lead organizations and companies to create far more vice presidents for search engine optimization than they do today.

And that’s a successful strategy for the entire industry.

More resources:

Photo credit

All screenshots by the author, November 2020

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