Needed: 10 years experience & Bachelor Degree for Top Corporate SEO Jobs

Do you want to jump start your SEO career? Maybe you should consider taking an in-house job with a large internet retailer and grow your skill set in non-SEO related experiences. Right now is the moment if you consider the strategy of turning a large corporate website around in the SEO rankings, as the market for data driven SEO's in-house teams is booming.

Growth in In-House SEO Top Jobs

It’s an undeniable fact there is growth in in-house SEO jobs in the marketplace. Based on the number of hands going up in the Brand session at SMX West, where Aaron Wall asked who’s working for a large brand, the market for in-house SEO is booming.

As more brick-and-mortar companies starting to move marketing budgets online, becoming a brick-and-click company, all the advantages of great SEO are becoming a topic in the boardroom. Why spend millions of dollars on PPC which will get you traffic today, but not necessarily tomorrow? The advantages of great SEO; free traffic acquisition, reputation management and brand building is worth the effort, especially for big brands as the focus shifts on more online business to grow.

The pure players on the Interwebs become the hunting grounds for the recruiters trying to get buts in seats at the interactive departments for the brick-and-mortar large brands. The experience working with large data sets, making data driven decisions and being creative to solve complex problems using technology is a hard to find skill set in the traditional marketing departments focused on brand building through traditional marketing.

A top position with a pure online player in the SEO field can be a great jump start for a career with a large brick-and-click brand. However, do you have what it takes to take up the responsibility of a multi million dollar SEO channel, manage sites across the globe, managing and developing a team, while securing resources for the companies SEO strategy through a complex political process full with corporate sharks fighting for the same resources? Maybe you do, and would like to apply for the following two:

Global Head of SEO eBay vs Amazon

Dennis Goedegebuure Director SEO eBay Yesterday one open SEO job was being shared widely on Twitter. It was called a dream job, and there were SEO’s you said things like: “Want”. It was the job for Head of Global Search Engine optimization for Amazon. At the same time, eBay still has an open position for a Director Global SEO Marketing, my old job (my post about leaving eBay here)! WOW, two of the largest ecommerce players are both looking for a Global Head for their SEO channel.

Both of these jobs are huge opportunities for SEO’s who would like to work in-house, in large organizations, working with big datasets and have a big impact. At the flip side, being responsible for the traffic acquisition for large ecommerce companies like eBay or Amazon, comes with a very large responsibility, lots of internal politics, and you will get paid lower on base salary than market level for your skill set!

Which of the two Super SEO jobs would you pick…?

eBay vs Amazon Job Responsibilities

Both of these jobs are not for the faint hearted! If you apply for one of these jobs, you should expect to no longer have time to do any side projects, daily/weekly blog post, or work from 9-5, 40 hrs workweek.

What to expect is that you will be in a lot of meetings during the day, while you try to catch up on email, strategy formulation, networking outside of the company and all the Google & Bing changes after hours in the night, or over the weekends.

Once a Quarter you will have an Ops review, which will take a large chunk of your time to prepare the week prior, and maybe even more time the week after for the follow ups.

The job description for the Director of SEO from eBay is actually really well written, and much more complete than the Amazon job description for Head of Global Search Engine Optimization. As the Amazon job was just posted last week 5/3/12, the hiring manager should have done better research in the market what the competition for his position is. Writing a good job description is key to get high quality candidates.

Both of these jobs require at least 10 years experience, with Amazon even asking 7+ years in SEO, search marketing or related field experience. You will need to bring at least a Bachelor degree, and a Master is a big plus.

Why do you need the 10 years experience and a Bachelor or Master degree to be able to do a job at one of these companies? Here are some of the responsibilities that come with the job:

From the eBay job description (emphasize mine):

  • Define the vision, annual plans, and quarterly plans for eBay SEO to optimize the channel’s strategic value to eBay
  • Oversee an SEO strategy team that own SEO competitive analyses, benchmarking, and performance management reporting for global eBay sites
  • Shape the global content strategy for eBay product listings, and drive the editorial strategy and standards for all SEO and catalog content creation
  • Manage SEO planning, development and execution of integrated marketing campaigns in partnership with other eBay marketing teams, internal business unit owners, and external agencies
  • Manage executive and team communication of SEO plans, milestones, and channel performance
  • Establish and develop an eBay Seller SEO Education program, supporting our global sellers with knowledge and tools to optimize their listings on eBay
  • Own all budget line items related to SEO globally, and own the accountability for delivering results; collaborate with eBay’s Finance organization to forecast and deliver against traffic and revenue targets for multiple global sites
  • Collaborate with other members of the Internet Marketing Leadership team for cross-channel knowledge sharing and efficiency gains
  • Serve as an external spokesperson for SEO at eBay, presenting at industry conferences and eBay events
  • Partner with eBay Product Management, Engineering and Analytics to align the product roadmap and performance management in line with the global SEO business strategy
  • Build and nurture a collaborative team culture across a core and distributed organization, focusing on high performance standards, trust, and shared success

From the Amazon job description:

  • End to end ownership of Amazon’s WW Search Engine Optimization program, including achievement of all global channel performance targets
  • Responsibility for development of channel strategy and vision
  • Management of the SEO product and technology roadmap
  • Delivery of high quality, scalable technology solutions aimed at continuously improving SEO results
  • Evangelizing SEO best practices within the company
  • Developing a world class team of SEO specialists, product managers, engineering managers, and software developers.
  • Analysis and presentation of weekly performance metrics to senior management

These are very senior positions with a lot of executive visibility. When I worked at eBay I have presented for some of it’s key executive leaders, including for Meg Whitman, former CEO and John Donahoe eBay’s current CEO. Always know your stuff. You should be prepared to answer difficult question with the political hierarchy in mind. You cannot simply say the engineering teams are doing a bad job in optimizing the site for SEO with the CTO in the room. If you do, you just have made an enemy for life, trust me, I’ve been there, done that!

Marshall Simmonds, Founder and CEO of Define Media Group just did an awesome Whiteboard Friday video on the topic.

eBay vs Amazon Salaries

Although I have intimate knowledge about the job eBay is offering, I won’t use this information to compare the two opportunities. As I have no knowledge on the Amazon opportunity I rather compare the two SEO jobs using Glassdoor information, which can be retrieved by anybody who sigs up for the service.

Directory eBay Salary from Glassdoor
According to the survey on Glassdoor, a Director role at eBay is paying better than a similar role at Amazon. According to the Glassdoor salaries posted, an eBay Director makes on average a total of ~$230K per year, which includes bonus and stock compensation.

Amazon Director of Marketing Salary GlassdoorA similar Director of Marketing at Amazon makes ~$153K per year, which includes bonus and stock compensation according to a similar survey at Glassdoor.

The stock of both companies have been doing rather well, with eBay sprinting ahead in the last couple of months due to better than expected performance. As stock compensation and employee stock purchasing programs can become a major part of the total compensation package, timing will be critical in taking the job or not!

eBay vs Amazon SEO opportunity

While I was working at eBay, I spent a lot of time researching Amazon’s SEO footprint. There were simply too many questions asked by the C-suite why Amazon always ranks on the top electronic products, how big the SEO channel would be if compared to Amazon best practices and what it would take to leapfrog Best in Class.

If you take the first paragraph from the eBay job description, as an SEO, you can immediately figure out what the real challenge is for being successful in SEO at eBay:

With nearly 100 million active users hundreds of millions of active product listings

Imagine you have to optimize a website with more than 100 million active product listings, which will expire after a couple of days! The product catalog at Amazon gives the SEO team an advantage over the eBay challenge. With an inventory which changes every week, you would need to become creative to get a similar SEO footprint as Amazon has.

The opportunity for eBay is actually larger than for Amazon, IMHO. Having an army of sellers all creating unique product descriptions on unique products is an extremely large advantage if you are able to make best use of it.

From what I heard, the fact that at Amazon SEO is a top priority for the company being dictated from the top down, is playing in the companies favor. With a founder/CEO calling the shots, there should be more long term objectives in how the company sets priorities.

At this time, I would call out Amazon as the winner in a SEO showdown between Amazon vs eBay!

San Jose vs Seattle

Apart from the job you will get, before you apply for any of these two Super SEO jobs, you would need to understand where you will live, and the implications for your life! As I have lived in San Jose for 2.5 years, worked for 5.5 years at the eBay office in San Jose, I have a pretty good understanding of the pro’s and cons of living and working in the third largest city in California.

One large advantage speaking for Seattle over San Jose, is the fact the state of Washington does not collect State Income Tax on employee salaries. This can be a huge equalizer as the California state tax for a job like Director SEO for eBay is around 9.5%. Not only the Income tax in California is higher, also the sales tax in California districts are a couple of basis points higher than the tax raised in the districts in the state of Washington.

So make sure you do your homework up front what the implication of state income tax, sales tax and property taxes are to take home pay for the work you are doing. A great comparison per state can be found here.

San Jose

Overall, if you like quiet living, San Jose is perfect for you. The city is set up with the car in mind, where you would need to drive everywhere you go. This makes all the streets quite from pedestrians and noise. With beautiful weather, a short rainy season, and summer temperatures in tropical regions, but without the humidity, it makes a pleasant working environment.

But honestly, San Jose is F*ck*ng boring! Yes, you can go for dinner and drinking at Santana Row, an artificial high-end shopping street, but after 4-5 weekends in a row, you have seen it all.

And although eBay has a shuttle from San Francisco to San Jose for their employees, it’s still 2.5 hours commute per day, if it’s not the rainy season. California drivers are the worse drivers, especially when it rains, which makes the daily commute even longer during the months of November to March!


As I have never lived in Seattle, I can only judge the living conditions from ‘hear say’. Two things that always pops-up are

  1. The many days in the year it rains in Seattle
  2. The traffic jams in, and around Seattle due to the Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing employees trying to get to work or home.

As I’ve only visited Seattle during the month of June, for SMX Advances, I cannot judge how it would be like to live in the city of the Grunge for the full year!

The Corporate In-House SEO Jobs market

As the in-house SEO job market is expanding, more interesting positions will become available for you to focus on to advance your career. Taking one of these jobs at eBay or Amazon, will set you up for some great career moves in the future. It’s a great Resume building strategy, while you will gain great valuable experiences in more than only SEO.

IF you would like to apply for one of these, you can contact me through my contact form if you have any questions. I’ve worked for 9.5 years at eBay, of which 6 in the San Jose office working at SEO.

However, be prepared to work your ass off, grow a thick skin and become better in internal politics than Julius Caesar was!


  1. williamalvarez says:

    Nice post and comparison. Amazon is also looking for a Global SEO Manager for the Audible business, they contacted this week, it would have been nice to add this one to this analysis as well. This one is based out of NYC:

    1.  @williamalvarez Thanks for the reply William,
      There are many more top jobs in SEO available right now. Like the head of SEO at Tripadvisor, which also wasn’t mentioned here. In-house SEO jobs will be in high demand moving forward.
      Reason I didn’t include is the jobs at Amazon and eBay are very similar, where the open position at Audible is somewhat different in nature.

  2. williamalvarez says:

    Thanks for clarifying Dennis. If I have to choose between hiring an agency or bringing an in-house, I would rather have my own team in-house too. I’ve spent many years on the agency side and can see all the roadblocks that can be addressed if I were on the client side. 

  3. TimVickery says:

    Fascinating – thank you for writing this. Any idea What a country head of seo at ebay might earn?