I'm curious. How many SEO Allstars have a Master's Degree or PhD?

annatindal

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2019
Messages
13
Hi Everyone,

I'm curious. I read Matt Southern's SEJ article and was particularly drawn to his comment that Google's preferred qualifications for a Search Analyst include a Master’s degree or PhD in computer science, engineering, statistics, mathematics or a related discipline.

Of the SEO Allstar's within the Local Search Forum (if you are reading this you are one!!) ... I'd love to know how many of you have a Master's degree or PhD. And, if not, where did you grasp the SEO skills to do your job? Other institutional training, self-teaching or previous work experience?

Thanks in advance!
 

Cherie Dickey

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jan 30, 2018
Messages
308
I do not have a masters or PhD. I do have a degree in Information Technologies, with a specialization in Visual Communications. How I became an SEO is a long story. The degree prepared me to work as an IT, and also a bit about Web design. However, I live in a rural area, so by the time I started working in my field, my Web design knowledge was outdated. I still work on computers on the side to stay current with that type of stuff.

After working as an in house graphic designer for a few years, I found the company I currently work for. We are a Web marketing agency that specializes in healthcare websites, and I am able to work from home so my location isn't an issue.

I started as an Admin on the SEO team updating directories, etc. This introduced me to SEO, and I became interested in learning more about it... so I started reading all I could, following blogs, etc, reviewing cases and recommendations our specialists were making, and eventually expressed interest in moving up to an SEO Specialist. Because the people I work for are so awesome, they gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in SEO. I've had a few SEO related positions over the years, each a bit more advanced, and in early 2019 I've moved on to PPC as well.

So, I guess, it was a combination of self teaching, and on the job training, combined with a semi-related degree that got my foot in the door?
 

Conor Treacy

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
162
I barely graduated high school and lasted maybe 2 months in college before dropping out. I had worked with a company since 10th grade, so I worked full time with them and helped build their first website. It launched my Web Design business while still working for the other company.

Two years later, I proved my graphic skills (self-taught) and they terminated their relationship with an advertising company giving everything to me (with about 25% of the pay ;) ). I learned, on the job marketing as a whole. I wrote radio scripts for commercials, graphics and advertising layouts for newspapers and magazines, updated the website, handled all PR. I was the guy! I was 19!

Fast forward a little, I worked for a large corporation and created their internal ticketing system, maintained 14 separate websites for their intranet. Again, all programming, etc was self-taught.

I launched a web hosting company for public use (not just my own design clients) in 2000 (I sold it in 2014 with 5,000+ accounts and 400+ server instances) - again, all self-taught.

So between the marketing, and lanching the hosting company, I started implementing SEO. I used it in my every-day life while running my hosting company. As time went on, I helped my wife launch her SEO Company in 2010, then sold my hosting company and now work full time with her doing SEO for clients.

SO... no degree, no formal training, all self-taught. 20+ years going strong in SEO!
 

annatindal

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2019
Messages
13
Thanks so much for your responses. I have close to 15 years in Marketing and none of my close peers or former colleagues pursued SEO after receiving a Master's or Ph.D. Many, however, are brilliant in the space. I know some PhDs must be out there but your responses are definitely more in line with what I've seen. My guess is the scope of the job at Google is skewed heavily to the analytical side of an SEO's job and therefore this qualification could widen the pool of applicant's that might not have the real-world experience but have the "left-sided" brain that would excel in their role.
 

MonicaH

Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2019
Messages
23
I have a PhD in Psychology and Statistics. Does that make me any better at SEO? I doubt it. Although I am definitely a "numbers geek" and am always trying to figure out what the numbers mean in terms of human behavior. :)
 

Conor Treacy

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
162
Oh, I guess I should add that my wife has a degree in Computer Science. After receiving it, she worked in sales for 10 years selling Auto Cad software and while she does build websites, I don't believe that degree has assisted in what she does today. Technology moves so fast that a degree from 15 years ago might be considered outdated?
 

Tim#

Member
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
28
I have a PhD in Psychology and Statistics. Does that make me any better at SEO? I doubt it. Although I am definitely a "numbers geek" and am always trying to figure out what the numbers mean in terms of human behavior. :)
This is quite interesting. When it comes to statistics and analyzing data, especially distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant data, which seems pretty simple to me, my degree really helped me. If I wouldn't have trained this, I wouldn't have tried to learn it on my own, to be honest. Probably because I was definitely not a numbers geek :D
 

MonicaH

Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2019
Messages
23
This is quite interesting. When it comes to statistics and analyzing data, especially distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant data, which seems pretty simple to me, my degree really helped me. If I wouldn't have trained this, I wouldn't have tried to learn it on my own, to be honest. Probably because I was definitely not a numbers geek :D
What the PhD gave me was a way of looking at data, thinking about what it means, and then figuring how (and whether) to apply the findings in real life. But many of the "fancy" statistical techniques and tools aren't something I use any more. Could I? Sure, with a big enough dataset. But the clients I work with don't provide enough data for that. So the kinds of analyses I do are things that can be learned without the PhD. On the other hand, I'm guessing that Google has a TON more data to work with so a PhD would come in handy there!
 

denis76682

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2020
Messages
29
What the PhD gave me was a way of looking at data, thinking about what it means, and then figuring how (and whether) to apply the findings in real life. But many of the "fancy" statistical techniques and tools aren't something I use any more. Could I? Sure, with a big enough dataset. But the clients I work with don't provide enough data for that. So the kinds of analyses I do are things that can be learned without the PhD. On the other hand, I'm guessing that Google has a TON more data to work with so a PhD would come in handy there!
Cool
 

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