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Corporate SEO salaries?
I think I'm getting screwed...
SEOMike




msg:339351
 2:31 pm on May 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Grettings all-

Seems to me that most SEO is done by private contractors / speciality firms. I work for one such speciality firm. I have gotten fed up recently with my boss giving just barely enough money to survive, so I started looking around. I saw that salaries for SEOs at companies was $65,000 - $80,000 (adjusted for Cost of Living in my area). I think I'm getting screwed.

The company makes enough money to pay me fairly. (Our boss makes more than all 5 of his employees combined, if that tells you anything about him) Oh, did I mention I'm the manager of all SEO accounts and an employee?

Anyone care to give income ranges that work for corporations? It's hard to establish an industry standard salary (like the designers and programmers here do for their pay) when you are in such a specialized niche.

[edited by: SEOMike at 2:35 pm (utc) on May 17, 2004]

 

KS_Katz




msg:339441
 8:21 pm on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Story: When I got my first SEO job, I knew I was getting underpaid and accepted it because I wanted the experience. I gave myself a 1-3 year window to stick with the job because I wanted to make sure that I understood my position fully before moving on. Turns out that 1.5 years was enough to get me a better job and over time I've moved up in quality of job and quality of pay.

Moral: Don't focus on how useless your employer is (if you hate the job/pay). Use it for all it's worth and move on when you're ready. (SEOMike - It sounds like that's what you're doing.)

Note: My original employer lost 3 out of his 4 core people because of low pay/bad moral, which seriously hurt his business. Karma can be a wonderful thing.

HughMungus




msg:339442
 9:12 pm on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Then how do you ever get ahead, get promoted, get a RAISE?! If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got....

You do what you do get paid for better than others. Unpaid work (including illegally unpaid overtime) is one of the biggest scams in the business world today.

Visi




msg:339443
 10:11 pm on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Salary and compensation are different things in my business world. Pay me the 10% salary cap, just feather that with stocks, bonus payments and percentages. Average salaries are a small portion of the return. Love this utopia discussion, but really anyone really believe it works, or is real?

digitalv




msg:339444
 3:23 am on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Leave it to ergophobe to give me a tough one :P

Digitalv, what would you think if that same excellent employee came in and said: "I have an offer that pays 50% more than you do. I'm on the fence about it. If I go, I'll try to make sure the transition is as seemless as possible, but in fact I really like it here and I'd rather stay. Do you think we might find a way to bump up my salary over the next year or so without me leaving this company?" Would you
- tell him he had 24 hours to get out OR
- tell him, you'll be sorry to lose him, but you just can't match that offer. If he wants to stay at his current salary he can.

I spent all day thinking about how I was going to answer this one because this situation hasn't come up before and it's a damn good question. Honestly I'm kinda on the fence about it, but my skeptical side could win. I mentioned earlier that I've done a pretty good job of separating I.T. tasks among multiple employees, and that's something a lot of other companies aren't doing. If someone else is offering a higher salary, especially 50% more, my first thought would be that there is more WORK involved with the other job.

If I'm paying two people $50,000 a year and another company has those two positions combined into one that pays $75,000 or $100,000 I would probably encourage him to take the other job. That may sound bad, but I'm not going to change my model and assign twice as many responsibilities to one person, nor am I going to pay him an amount that I would normally split between two people. Don't take that as being "cheap" though - the truth is that it's quite the opposite. Anyone who has ever run a business knows it's a lot more expensive on the back-end with benefits, federal matching, etc. to hire two employees at $50k than one at $100k. I simply choose to do it this way because in the long run it benefits the company more not to have too much riding on one person's shoulders. I would of course explain my position to the employee and why that's the way it is ... it definitely wouldn't be a "get out in 24 hours" situation.

On the other hand, if I were able to verify that this other employer was a STABLE one (in other words it wasn't a start-up or a nearly bankrupt company trying to hire Superman to come save them), that the salary was for real, and that the job description and required experience were about the same as mine then I would definitely look into whether I'm under-paying my employee.

Again, none of this has any basis on how much revenue their particular duties bring in to the company, it's based soley on the type and amount of work they do. The SQL DBA is going to have a higher salary than the webmaster and that's just the way the industry is - but if I happen to be under-paying on one of those positions then I would certainly want to change that and get up to speed :)

danieljean




msg:339445
 4:14 am on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

And a lot of us would rather work 40 hours for $50k than 80 hours for $100k.

Seems to me that for raising a family, after $50k you want more time than money, though maybe that's just me. Overworking people to save on contributions (am in complete agreement with you there, digitalv!) seems less than ethical to me. Also, any employer that thinks I'm productive after 40 hours is a moron. Depends on the work of course, but as a programmer I find I only have 2-4 hours of good programming time per day, which is more than enough if you work well.

ergophobe




msg:339446
 4:12 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

digitalv

I would probably encourage him to take the other job. That may sound bad,... I would definitely look into whether I'm under-paying my employee.

That doesn't sound bad at all. That's basically my current boss's position and, as I say, I think he's a wonderful man. It sounded from your first post that you would tell that person he had 24 hours to clean out his desk, which sounded awfully harsh to me.

DanielJean

Perhaps one of the reasons those companies that cap their ceo salaries at a given multiple of their lowest-paid employee do so well is that a lot of people would rather support companies that are fair.

It all sounds good and I used to think it was good. The more I think about it, though, the less I like it.

Is it fair in a small business where the CEO may well not have a salary, but takes what's left? I don't want to work for a company where I'm an employee with limited input into the overall direction of the company, but my salary is tied to the, perhaps incompetent, guy at the top. When he makes a bad decision and only makes $50K some year and then tells me "Guess what, I'm giving you 20% of my salary" I have to say THAT'S NOT FAIR because I can't live on that. Honestly, I don't want a percentage unless I'm a partner, owner or have significant strategic input.

Also, I don't think these companies do well because customers perceive them to be fair. I think Ben and Jerry's is the only company that ever benefitted substantially from that sort of effect and, as I say, they don't cap salaries and haven't for many years. Do you seriously think that the average Costco customer goes there because of their wage scale?

I would see the causality running the other way. Unsuccessful companies are often the ones that screw their employees and, therefore, suffer from high rates of employee disaffection, employee theft, bad customer service and so on. A company that caps salaries at a percentage of the lowest-paid employee is likely to be doing a lot of other things to make employees happy and that cascades into other areas like excellent customer service and, as I mentioned, Costco has the lowest emplyee theft rates in the industry.

There are, however, many ways to make employees happy.

My other problem with the % thing is that it is ultimately the same as the following. Researchers have done a variety of studies along these lines:

Assume that you make $100K and your co-worker makes $50K. Would you prefer:

1. You get a raise to $200K, but your colleague will be raised to $250K?

2. You get a raise to $150K, but your colleague gets only $125K.

Overwhelmingly people choose option 2. Why, because "I've been here longer and it's not fair that he earn more than me." Frankly, I'd rather be in an "unfair" system that pays me well, than a "fair" system that doesn't. I don't care about how I'm doing relative to my neighbor (and if you knew me you would see how true that is!), but how well I'm doing relative to how well I want to be doing.

There is one broader consideration, and that is within a society rather than within a country. I used to believe that great inequity in the distribution of wealth made a society unstable. After living in Switzerland (where there is a huge range from modest to incredibly wealthy), I now believe that great inequity in the distribution of opportunity makes a society unstable. The poor are a lot less resentful when they have smaller houses and cars, but similar health care and schools. I don't think that comes down to a percentage of wealth, per se, but where one sets the minimum and that's a way different issue.

I think the same is likely true within companies, though I've spent a lot less time thinking about that (I'm a historian, after all, not a businessman).

Tom

ergophobe




msg:339447
 4:13 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

ps funny how this has become more about CEO salaries than SEO salaries.

digitalv




msg:339448
 5:10 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I now believe that great inequity in the distribution of opportunity makes a society unstable. The poor are a lot less resentful when they have smaller houses and cars, but similar health care and schools.

Too bad it doesn't work that way in America anymore ... government programs like Medicaid and public schools do exactly what you're saying: provide free medical care and free education. Everyone in this country has access to the same health care and schools regardless of income, but the majority of the poor in this country still resent those who took the initiative and made something of themselves. I can't even recall how many times I've seen people out in front of government buildings passing around petitions to get minimum wage increased - and get angry and call you names when you refuse to sign. Heh, I actually took one gal aside one time and explained the negative impact of raising minimum wage. Using a grocery store as an example, I explained how much extra money the store would have to come up with per day to cover the wage increase. That they would have to raise their prices to compensate for the loss because if they took it off the top the share holders could/would sell their stock and that could hurt the company financially and lead to lay-offs and other generally bad crap. I also went on to tell her (heh yeah I was on a roll that day) about how when minimum wage goes up the general cost of living goes up and how that hurts everyone, etc. I ended with telling her that instead of being out here asking people to sign petition so she can get more money for doing the same amount of work, she should take advantage of the free education available to her and improve her OWN ability to generate a higher income instead of waiting for someone else to just give it to her.

She didn't get it at all. She couldn't see anything other than how it "wasn't fair" that she was doing hard labor making minimum wage while other people can sit around doing virtually nothing all day and take home six or seven figures.

I wish I could say that there are only a small number of people who think that way.

ergophobe




msg:339449
 5:30 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)


Medicaid and public schools do exactly what you're saying

You obviously don't work in education or health care. This is true in Switzerland, perhaps Canada (at least health care), but not in the USA.

digitalv




msg:339450
 5:37 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

ergophobe,

You don't have to work in medicine or education to know how the system works and what's available. I know that in my state (Florida) anyone who makes less than $32,000 a year qualifies for medicaid which gets you into doctors offices, hospitals, whatever you need free of charge. No co-pay, no monthly fees, no nothing. You even get to pick your own doctor.

As for education, how is that different? Everyone has the same opportunity and right to an education. Sure, there are private schools and "higher learning" beyond what the public school system provides but the point of the comparison was that everyone still has medical coverage and education available at no cost to them.

isitreal




msg:339451
 5:43 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Everyone in this country has access to the same health care and schools regardless of income,

This statement is absolutely 100% false if you're referring to the USA. In fact, one of the primary problems in this country currently is that a very large percent of the working population does not in fact have this equal access. They did to some extent in the 70's (re public eduction, never health care), but that relatively equal access has largely been wiped out. Public university tuitions have skyrocketed, in some areas I have lived in the public school system has gotten so bad that everyone who can afford to do so is pulling their kids out of the public school system. You obviously haven't been paying much attention to what's happening in the last 10-20 years in this country, no offense. The USA's failure to implement anything even remotely resembling universal health care is... well, I'm not going to go there, it's enough to say that almost all industrialized modern countries in the world have some basic form of this, except the USA.

<added>missed the florida reference, you're mistaking state level benefits for national level benefits, I guarantee you that there is no worse place to be in most states than just above the line where absolute poverty benefits stop kicking in, no medical care, no free education, nothing. Until you get up to the point where you can again afford these things, that's almost a $20,000 per year gap that is currently uncovered.

Timotheos




msg:339452
 5:53 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

We interrupt this serious thread with a funny...

An engineering department manager decided to go out to lunch with two of his techs. It was a nice day out so they decided to walk to the local watering hole. As they were strolling along they found a brass lamp so in jest they picked it up and gave it a rub. To their supprise a genie poped out and told them he only granted three wishes so each one of them would get only one wish each.

The first tech was dying to go first so the others let him, and he wished to be on a Hawaiian beach with a tan blonde. Poof! he was gone.

The second tech went next and he wished to be on the French Rivera with a doll of a red-head. Poof he was gone.

Finally the genie asked the manager for his wish. The manager replied: "I want those two idiots to be back in the office before lunch is over".

Ok, as you were.

willybfriendly




msg:339453
 5:53 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

>everyone still has medical coverage and education available at no cost to them.<

Way off topic, but this statement is patently false in the United States.

"Free" education stops with High School, and even in public schools the term "free" is relative. More and more cost, especially for "extracurricular activities" (music, sports, etc.) are being shifted to the families.

The US medical system, or lack thereof, is literally killng people by its abscence. I know, having recently lost an uninsured relative to what began as a minor illness.

The opportunity to which you allude is not as accessible as it once was, nor are the skills and attitudes necessary to take advantage of that opportunity as widely taught and supported within US society.

Sure, there is an attitude of entitlement among many in the US. But that attitude cuts both ways across all class lines. "I'm entitled to my wealth, I earned it.." (which comes from the same mindset as "Taxes are a burden, not my 'dues' for supporting my country") is not all that different from "I am entitled to your wealth since we live in an inequitable system."

Both are based in an overly self-centered frame of reference.

WBF

Robino




msg:339454
 6:03 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

ps funny how this has become more about CEO salaries than SEO salaries.

And now social services!

stevenmusumeche




msg:339455
 6:25 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

To bring this thread back on topic...

I used to work for an online retailer who brought in approximately 9 million in annual revenue. As the IT Manager, I had lots of responsibilities, including programming, marketing, SEO, etc. The owner was ruthless, didn't care about his employees, and was a general a-hole. But the pay was GREAT!

I quit that job after a year and a half to accept another job that pays half as much. You couldn't pay me to go back. My new boss is great, the working atmosphere is great, and there is a mutual respect among workers/owners.

Money is important, but it's not everything. So, my advice to all of you "manager types" out there - if you can't afford to pay well, at least treat your employees well. It will go a LONG way.

isitreal




msg:339456
 6:32 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

ps funny how this has become more about CEO salaries than SEO salaries.

And now social services!

Yes, it's funny, but actually sort of ontopic if we don't pretend we live in a vacuum. SEOmike's boss feels entitled to his large share, he does not feel the need to intelligently structure his company like digigalv does, thus creating more jobs, less stress, because he can make more money off of seomike's work that way, short term thinking of course, since seomike will probably be gone soon, and the company will be in trouble.

This sense of entitlement among the elite is very common in the USA, much less so in Europe, where it is understood that you do in fact benefit directly from the society around you, and you do in fact owe it more the more you have, since you would have nothing were it not for that society. Sort of the noblesse oblige thing.

SEOMike




msg:339457
 7:14 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

This sense of entitlement among the elite is very common in the USA, much less so in Europe

That's enough. I don't want a political debate from my question. Please look elsewhere if you want to spout opinions like that. I don't want this to be a Euro v. US thred.

Back on the topic...
the working atmosphere is great, and there is a mutual respect among workers/owners.

Well stevenmusumeche, that's part of the problem... our work environment isn't that great. We have small cubes, in a very quiet office, with very little opportunities to walk away from our computers. Our lead designer says that this atmosphere is stifling , and I agree.

The more I think about it, the more I'm sure I want out of here.

isitreal




msg:339458
 7:26 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't want this to be a Euro v. US thred

yeah, sorry about that, couldn't resist though, there were a lot of comments made earlier on in this thread that involve certain implicit 'political' assumptions that should have been called for what they were too, but weren't, good luck on your job search.

SEOMike




msg:339459
 7:37 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

certain 'political' assumptions that should have been called

Yeah, I figured that if ignored they'd go away, and if not, someone would have to step up to curb it before it got out of hand.

Thanks for your well wishings! I'm sure glad I can count on WW to present EVERY angle of the issue for consideration.

isitreal




msg:339460
 7:42 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

SEOMike: still doesn't make it easy to decide to leave what you have, no matter how much it sucks, for the unknown, that's a very difficult choice, as is asking for a raise, since to my mind when you ask for a raise, if you are turned down you have to be willing to quit, so it takes some guts to go in and do that, plus digitalv gave some really good views on how asking for a raise can be perceived, I'd never thought of it that way.

HughMungus




msg:339461
 7:49 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Could we please not have this turn into a political discussion.

SEOMike




msg:339462
 7:51 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

as is asking for a raise, since to my mind when you ask for a raise, if you are turned down you have to be willing to quit

Well, when I asked for a raise he said that he'd see what he could do "within reason" to keep me happy. No matter what his reasoning, it probably won't suffice. SO, I am hoping my freelance thing can take off and I can build a good enough reputation so when the time presents itself, I'm out of here.

Ok, here's something else for all to ponder / discuss... someone mentioned "illegal overtime" if you are an "exempt" employee, there isn't such a thing... is there?

stevenmusumeche




msg:339463
 7:59 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

People in this profession are "excempt" from the overtime provisions. Been there, done that. It won't get you anywhere.

HughMungus




msg:339464
 7:59 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok, here's something else for all to ponder / discuss... someone mentioned "illegal overtime" if you are an "exempt" employee, there isn't such a thing... is there?

How do you know you're exempt?

stevenmusumeche




msg:339465
 8:07 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

People in technical fields such as SEO are not legally required to be paid for overtime work.

ideaguru




msg:339466
 8:08 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

i concur with that statement - most people who do not receive full-time benefits do not qualify for overtime.

I don't think anyone I know gets official overtiem payments...ususally, overtime is taken into account from the manager's perspective when Bonus time comes along.

bcolflesh




msg:339467
 8:09 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

[dol.gov...]

Basically, any programmer or computer worker in general is not required to be paid overtime - but each state can modify this as they see fit.

jaski




msg:339468
 8:26 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

SEOMike this has been a wonderful thread. The only piece of advice I can offer is to repeat the common sense that fortune favours the brave so take the plunge as soon as the time is opportune and try to ensure good personal relations with your employer even when you leave. I guess you would do that any way but I thought I would just say some thing to reinforce :)

Just been through the entire thread .. and some of the comments esp digitalv's, have been thoroughly entertaining. But hardly any one mentioned numbers as to what the going corporate SEO salaries are.

SEOMike




msg:339469
 8:28 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

any programmer or computer worker in general is not required to be paid overtime

Jeeze. What a crock. Haha, oh well. Guess there's no way of changing things unless we form a union to work for a standard.

I was a union construction worker on breaks from college. I'd pay dues to get the great benefits that we did. So, comeon, someone smarter than I, help us unite!

woop01




msg:339470
 8:39 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was a union construction worker on breaks from college. I'd pay dues to get the great benefits that we did. So, comeon, someone smarter than I, help us unite!

Oh man, for somebody who doesn't want to turn this into a political debate you are sure are cracking open a big barrel of worms. I think you're going to give me nightmares of a union web development shop...

"Sorry boss, I can't put an image on that page, go talk to the graphics union guys"

"Hey, we don't do links, we're the SEO union, go get your webmaster union guys to do that stuff"

"Yeah right. I know better than to calculate the keyword density of this page I just designed. The SEO union would have my @$$ if I did that."

[edited by: woop01 at 8:42 pm (utc) on May 27, 2004]

walkman




msg:339471
 8:40 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

"any programmer or computer worker in general is not required to be paid overtime "

is this because the "compassionate conservative" changed it, or was it like this before too? It sucks. Especially when refusing to work overtime might cost your job...

This 161 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 161 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 > >
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