Staff turnover in the SEO industry is high. There is, certainly based on my own experience in Manchester, more demand for senior candidates (Manager, Head of etc) than there are candidates to fill the roles.

Recruiting in SEO can be a pricey game. So failing to retain staff (for reasons that are avoidable) is a nightmare scenario.

We’ll always have staff turnover to some degree. People desire change. Some leave the business because they’re simply not the right fit. But I think there are things that can be done to improve retention amongst staff you’d prefer to keep – beyond the salary!


Having gone freelance myself before setting up a small consultancy, I can testify personally that the main pull wasn’t financial. It was about flexibility. And a recent poll suggests 64% of the UK’s workforce would like start up a business of their own, with a significant lure being that flexibility.

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We can, particularly in the SEO industry, build a layer of that into the work day of employees who wants it relatively easily. Working remotely or offering a degree of flex over working hours can be really appealing incentives for many.

It means people can work their most productive hours, can adapt their working day to make time for family and, as such, live more balanced lives.

Balanced employees are happier and typically more productive. That’s it.

The arrive-early-leave-late expectations in some organisations are toxic. And rarely have I found that someone sitting at a desk equates to maximum productivity. We have to find better ways to measure employee impact.

For me, leaving an agency and setting up has meant being financially better off. But the biggest thing I value is flexibility to work at my most productive hours around my children.

Make Career Progression Possible Outside of Management

One of the biggest appeals for me in going solo was that I could define my own progression. I’ve mentioned before how fortunate I was in my previous role at Tecmark. I was afforded plenty of opportunities to progress and took them.

But progression in most organisation means management. And management simply isn’t for everyone. I’m not a natural people manager. I didn’t enjoy those particular aspects of the job.

I’ve spoken to many senior specialists in digital marketing who’ve had similar experiences and who’ve gone solo to feel like they can progress without being a manager. Some agencies do indeed build these progression paths in, but the majority simply don’t have progression paths outside of management.

Not easy to build into a more traditional business structure, granted.

Offer Learning and Development

In a landscape where so many people feel the desire to set up their own businesses and we increasingly adopt remote working as the norm, there has to be more than just “security” to keep people employed. Training, both internal and external, skills development and even something as simple as a books budget for staff can be useful ways to keep people learning and developing.

And consider focussing on learning avenues that might not be directly related to the job but that could be useful for it – things like buying psychology are fascinating to me and I spend a lot of time reading and researching in that space. Training in that area, while not necessarily a part of my day to day SEO job, offers me insight that’s invaluable to understanding why someone might buy on a website. It’s relevant even if not something I have to do each day.

Find out what employees are interested in learning as well as just the boxes they need to tick to fulfil their role.

Other Perks

Survey your team. I’m fortunate that there’s only 5 of us. We chat about what keeps people happy in a job and we’ve adapted to flexible working based on the feedback. We offer regular external training on top of the internal training. And my team place real value on healthcare related perks. But you’ll need to speak to the team to find out what they’d find helpful or beneficial.

But don’t let good staff go cos you want bums on seats for 10 hours a day. Retaining staff who get the job done is, in my view, one of the most important challenges facing SEO agencies today.


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