My first year as an SEO Executive

By Wolfenden
3rd November 2022
By Matthew Larkin


November is National Career Development Month, and we’ve been reflecting on our incredible collective progression as well as individual achievements.

Our team spans a diverse mix of experience and skillsets, but in every team, we welcome people into the team who are taking their first step into the world of digital marketing, whether they’re recent graduates, or those making a career change.

Our team is growing all of the time, and we love supporting and training industry newbies to help them on the right career path for them, so we thought it’d be a good chance for those who’ve been in the industry for a year to reflect back on what agency life has taught them, as well as advice for anyone looking to take that step.

First up in this series is Matthew Larkin, our SEO Executive:

What 3 words would you use to describe your first year as an SEO Executive?

Challenging, rewarding and engaging.

What has surprised you the most about working in this industry?

How fast-paced the industry is! Since I began there have been four Google algorithm updates (I have been told this isn’t normal…!) and staying up to speed with these has certainly kept me on my toes.

But even in the wider industry and different channels, it’s changing all of the time – and in the SEO team we have to be aware because of potential impacts to organic performance or even opportunities.

Although I work within the SEO team, there’s a lot of visibility at Wolfenden of wider teams so I’ll watch the updates and trends coming through and it’s generally on a daily basis, it’s a challenge sometimes keeping my knowledge up to speed but that’s also what I love, I never stop learning.

How did your preconception of what the role as an SEO Executive would be like compare to what it’s actually like?

Aside from being much more fast-paced, the actual role and my day-to-day responsibilities are similar to what I was expecting. I chose the role because I wanted a really varied career, working across a variety of industries and experiencing a different challenge every day, and that’s what I’ve got!

What have you enjoyed most about being an SEO Executive?

For me, it’s been the variety. I get stuck into so many different businesses, some of them are really inspirational and some are just so interesting.

What have you found the most challenging?

I think it’s been trying to frame my day-to-day tasks with the wider picture in mind. I’ve got a good handle of a lot of technical SEO tasks and auditing and analysing techniques, but the next step would be to develop my strategic mindset – taking a step back and thinking about how my tasks align with the overall goal.

Recently with the support of my manager and team, I’ve been trying to think about what results I’m trying to achieve and work backwards from that point, helping me to better prioritise the tasks I’m on with.

What would be your top tips for succeeding as an SEO Executive – and in the agency world in general?

Within SEO, try and focus a lot of time at the beginning of the role in getting familiar with all the tools you have at your disposal. A lot of tools and platforms – such as Ahrefs, Google Analytics and Google Search Console – you’ll generally perform quite similar tasks on day-to-day, but there’s a wealth of data to unlock in them if you know how, and this is what will help support your strategic ability later on.

Spending time getting to know your way around these early on as well will help you perform tasks much quicker, so you can spend more time getting to grips with other elements of an SEO strategy.

In terms of preparing for the agency world, just immerse yourself in the industry any way you can – we’re lucky at Wolfenden that we have a really open culture of sharing any industry news or trends, but it’s important to keep on top of this yourself, too.

What are the best things you’ve learnt whilst in the role?

That success comes from collaborating with others. I’ve learnt that working closely together with various teams and experts across the agency, including client services, content and digital PR, helps us all achieve a client’s goals much more effectively as a group.

And also that people are there to support if you ask for it, don’t be afraid to question something or run an idea past someone else to give it a sense check just to give you that reassurance and confidence that you’re heading in the right direction.

What have you learnt about yourself?

That I can be good at time management and organisation! This is a key skill for most people working in the agency world, and something I’ve worked on and had support on over the past year.

What advice would you give to someone preparing to enter the digital marketing world?

It may feel like you’ll never get up to speed and there’s too much to learn, but just give it time, keep asking questions and be proactive about immersing yourself in different tools and platforms, as well as industry news and trends; and soon you’ll start to realise that you’re performing tasks on your own that you had no idea how to do at the start!

If you’re coming into the agency world from university or college, be prepared for a much faster and intense learning period! But you’ll see the results much quicker, too.

What’s one of your goals for the year ahead?

Focus on improving my technical SEO knowledge and skillset, I really enjoy this element of the role and want to build my confidence in becoming a true expert here.

If you’re interested in entering the digital marketing world, we might have a role for you – check out our careers page or drop us a note if you’re unsure what could be right for you.

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