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Josh Peacock's Unfiltered Take on SEO Recruitment - You Won't Believe It!

Josh Peacock
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Josh Peacock is the CEO & Co-Founder of SEO For Hire, a recruitment agency dedicated to just the SEO industry.

Josh didn't want to go to university and went to live in Sydney, Australia for a year where he learned to be independent.

Josh then experienced some of the worst jobs imaginable, knocking on doors, selling stuff, guide dogs, everything.

This negative experience is what led Josh into the world of recruitment as he wanted people to really enjoy what they do as a job and career.

In 2022, Josh met his now SEO For Hire Co-Founder, Craig Dewart (who is an experienced SEO himself) in Barcelona. They got chatting about all the recruitment issues within the SEO industry and decided that a specialist SEO recruitment agency was very much needed to solve all those issues.

One year on and SEO For Hire is going from strength to strength.

The Unscripted SEO Interview Podcast with Josh Peacock

Watch the interview

(click the 'cc' icon to view subtitles)

Listen to the podcast

(54 minutes long)

The unscripted questions Mark A Preston asked Josh Peacock

  • Where are you located as your view looks amazing?

  • Is SEO For Hire a fully remote recruitment agency?

  • What is your background, Josh?

  • What led you into the recruitment side of SEO?

  • Why does the SEO industry need a specialist SEO recruiter?

  • Why is it so hard for companies and agencies to find good SEOs?

  • What are your thoughts on job boards when it comes to SEO recruitment?

  • How do you approach SEOs if they are actively looking for an SEO job, than reaching out to someone who may not be looking?

  • What level of SEOs do you tend to recruit?

  • What is your vetting process to make sure an SEO is a good fit for a specific role?

  • How important is it for a recruiter to have SEO knowledge if they are recruiting for a specific SEO role?

  • Is it your mission to bring six-figure salary SEO jobs to the UK?

  • Why are US based companies open to the idea of recruiting a UK based SEO?

  • How do the employment and taxation laws work if a UK based SEO is working for a US based employer?

  • What sort of specific challenges are you facing when it comes to SEO recruitment within the UK?

  • Why do you think that some of the SEO salaries offered in the UK are really low?

  • Do agency-side BDMs (Business Development Manager) need SEO training in order to bring new SEO related clients into the agency?

  • What do you say if an agency owner says there is just not enough profit within the agency to increase the offered salary rate?

  • What needs to change within the SEO industry for salaries to increase?

  • Have you noticed a trend of agencies recruiting SEOs based on their ability to bring new clients in through their existing contacts and network?

  • If an SEO employee brings a new client into the agency, who owns that new client if the SEO then leaves that agency?

  • How will the future of AI impact high-end SEOs?

  • How does the interview process work within SEO For Hire?

  • What is the average time length to recruit an SEO from start to finish?

  • If an SEO Manager is thinking about applying for a new SEO role, what can they do to give themselves the best chance of securing that role?

  • How do you and the employer approach things if a Senior SEO Exec applies for an SEO Manager position but they do not have any people management experience?

  • What is your criteria if a company or agency asks you to help them fill an SEO position?

  • Do you ever turn companies and agencies away due to them not being the right fit?

  • Do you help companies and agencies build a profile (job description) for open positions based on reality?

  • Do you think one of the main reasons many SEOs look for a new job is down to climbing the career progression ladder?

  • What can employers do to keep an SEO who wants to move up the ladder but there is already someone in the position they want to move up in to?

  • Why isn't it standard for companies and agencies to have an open career progression map so SEOs know exactly what they need to do in order to get a promotion?

  • In your personal experience, who are stronger SEOs, agency-side SEOs or in-house SEOs?

  • Does an SEO Manager need to have a very different skillset between working agency or in-house?

  • Do in-house SEOs get paid more than agency-side SEOs, if so, why?

  • From a recruitment perspective, what things need to change within the SEO industry for positive impact?

  • What are your thoughts on employed SEOs doing freelance work on the side?

  • What can SEOs do who need to earn more money due to the increase cost of living crisis, but freelancing on the side is frowned upon within their workplace?

  • As a specialist SEO recruiter, do you also recruit for Digital PR roles as it is sort of part of SEO?

  • What is the biggest challenge facing an SEO who wants to get hired?

  • What should all those SEOs do who have applied for a specific job position but was unfortunately unsuccessful?

  • What should an SEO Manager within the UK expect to get paid in the current market?

  • What does the supply and demand landscape look like now within the SEO industry?

  • What new things are you and SEO For Hire working on to benefit SEOs?

  • Why are US based companies coming to SEO For Hire rather than a US based recruitment agency?

  • Is there anything 'The Unscripted SEO Interview' audience can do to help you, Josh?

  • What type of conversations do you want to have and where can people find you?

The unscripted conversation between Mark A Preston and Josh Peacock

Mark A Preston: Welcome to the unscripted SEO interview. I'm your host, Mark A. Preston. And today we have Josh Peacock with us. He's the CEO and cofounder at SEO For Hire, a specialist recruitment agency, or company, as you want to call it, that specializes in just SEO. Hi, Josh.

Josh Peacock: Hey, Mark. Thanks for having me on.

Mark A Preston: Yeah, it's brilliant for you to join us. I was going to say, "Is that a fake background or are you really somewhere nice?"

Josh Peacock: I'm dining in Aruba in the Caribbean at the minute. So yeah.

Mark A Preston: Is your company remote, I take it?

Josh Peacock: Yeah. So we're actually thinking of setting up an office in Manchester soon, but that wouldn't be just for everybody to come in as a normal office with more users, like a podcast studio, and for content, because myself and Craig, my other co-founder, will be with us in Manchester. But yeah, our team is completely remote. I'm extremely passionate about remote working, so I don't think it's fair to force my team to come into an office.

Mark A Preston: Okay. For those people listening and watching this who don't know who you are, could you just give a bit of an overview of your background and what led you into the recruitment side of SEO?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, of course. So I didn't want to go to university, so I had no idea what I wanted to do. I came out of school, went to live in Sydney for a year in Australia, went to the other side of the world, learned all about independence, that kind of thing. Went through the worst jobs imaginable, knocking on doors, selling "Hello Fresh" for dogs. Everything. Came back and got into recruitment from a family friend. Vouched for me. I think I was 19 and I think the second youngest was like 30 years old. So it didn't last well there. Did a few sales jobs, but I kind of fell in love with the fact that in recruitment, that the work that you put in kind of you can get on cap commission. It's kind of like running your own desk. And I like the entrepreneurial kind of effect too.


So, yeah, fast forward now I'm 24 myself and Craig. Craig has an SEO background, so he's been an SEO for about 10 years. He's got two other agencies. I wanted to jump into recruitment again. We met in Barcelona last year and just started talking, and thought the idea was good. Came up with the idea, went and chatted to a lot of his clients, did a lot of research and everybody said it was needed. So that's how we kind of got started.

Mark A Preston: Right, so what is it about the SEO industry that needs a specialist SEO recruiter?

Josh Peacock: So it's kind of changed since we've started. But initially, what we found was that there were a lot of SEOs that were able to fluff a CV, answer a few questions, and kind of get in. But the retention, they were leaving within the two months, because once they actually had the actual work, they weren't qualified for it, and they had to move on or they were fired. So that was at the start, but now what we're finding is that all our clients' pain points are that they genuinely cannot find them. That's it. We just signed a US client yesterday who has been trying to search for an SEO strategist. They've been in the US for four months and haven't been able to find a good fit, and he was close to giving up on it.

Mark A Preston: So why is it so hard for these companies to find an SEO?

Josh Peacock: I think what it comes down to is, okay, so if you take SEO for hire, we brand ourselves, as we are the only recruitment company that specialize in just SEO in the world, at least very few of them. We put so much into branding, omnipresence, and marketing. We're constantly reaching out. We've got an inbound marketing strategy. We invest a lot into our systems so that we're always candidate, nurturing and so forth. Whereas first of all, job boards are dead. Nobody really goes on job boards anymore, so a company will think that they can, okay, get the job, put it on a job board, and they think that they'll get the best talent. But as I mentioned, job boards are dead. The A players are normally the ones that are already in companies.


We don't go out and purposely poach candidates. That's not what we do. I don't think it's more or less ethical, but there's a lot of SEOs out there who, let's say they're not thinking of moving right now, but in six months time, if they thought, okay, I've hit this place in my career, I think I deserve this amount of salary increase, or I want to work for a better company. They're the people that, through our LinkedIn, through our twitter, they're the people that come to us, and they're the A players. So I just think that when a company tries to post a job for themselves, they go to a job board. Nobody's looking at job boards unless me, like, desperately looking for a job. So I think that's where the problem is.

Mark A Preston: Right. So you touched upon job boards there a couple of times. Why is it that you said, job boards are dead now for SEO recruitment?

Josh Peacock: I just think, look, we tested it at the start. We were posting on, indeed, LinkedIn. We had premium accounts, and the quality of candidates that were coming through them just weren't up to par. The difference is so we took that approach and we were like, okay, that's not working. So we invested a lot into our marketing and things like that. So I'll post up a job on Twitter or LinkedIn, and I'll get 50 qualified candidates message me about it, depending on the role. But, like, yesterday, I put up a tweet saying that we had a new US client. They're looking for a fully remote role SEO strategist 70k salary. Must have had 20. Really, really talented SEOs. Pop up to me about that.


Mark A Preston: Yes. Do you think a lot of it is because they need to do this sort of job hunt in silence so the current employer doesn't find out?

Josh Peacock: I don't know, because if they applied on a job board, it wouldn't really there's no way of their employer to find out. But, yeah, I guess it could be a thing. I genuinely think it's that the A players aren't actively always looking for a role, so they're not on the job boards, whereas they might be on LinkedIn scrolling through, looking for industry data or things like that.

Mark A Preston: So, honestly, I see this as having two sections. The people who are actively looking for a role and there's people who are not thinking about looking for a role, but are open minded. Is it a different approach for both sides?

Josh Peacock: Not really. So the way we work, we've got a few different systems. So, first of all, we'll obviously post on our socials. We get quite a lot of bites from just that. It depends on what way the call went with the client. So we've got a CRM system with thousands of talented SEOs in there that we've already had contact with. So it depends on what the clients after that client call I was on yesterday, they wanted somebody who has experience in the travel industry and SEO. And I already had a few people in my head that I knew would have been perfect for it, and reached out to them. They're actually currently looking for a role, so things like that.


And then in terms of sourcing, if we really can't find anyone, we've got a team of VAs that do the sourcing. So we kind of give them like a boolean search on LinkedIn or kind of like the criteria we're looking for. We then go to our marketing specialists to connect with them, send out a personalized loom, tell them about the job, tell them about the offer, kind of tell them more about the actual company. And then we get them on a call with myself or one of our delivery consultants like Darrus, where we do the vetting process and make sure that they're the right fit. But another thing that we do is we call it the golden recruitment formula for each client created like a mini website where it has a video of me talking about how the call went, or a video of the client talking about what the perfect candidate would look like. We ask them questions like what their company culture is, like, how they celebrate employee success, what the team structures are like, we have whole LinkedIn URLs of the whole team so that you can go on and look who's on the team and just kind of like benefits and stuff like that.


Because, as I mentioned, I think job boards are dead. I think job descriptions are boring. So in my head, Mark, the talented SEOs are sitting down at the dinner table with ten different job descriptions on the dinner table. One of them is an actual website where you can genuinely go in and see as much as you can about that company. We put in core values of the company in there, their vision statement, all of this just to make it as attractive as possible.

Mark A Preston: Right? So these SEOs, do you recruit junior’s right up to senior level directors? Is it a full range?

Josh Peacock: Yeah. So our main point of focus are SEO execs, which would be anywhere from 30 grand at the minute, which is kind of what we're seeing. We got SEO managers, SEO strategists, content strategists. We used link building specialists. We've kind of stayed away from that because it's an extremely hard thing to vet, I'm sure you already know. And then we go the whole way up to director level to SEO growth consultants. So, yeah, kind of full scale.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. So when you get an SEO, you think it's a good fit for this role. What's the vetting process for that individual?

Josh Peacock: So, again, it depends on the role. So we have a different vetting process for a technical specialist versus an SEO manager versus an SEO exec. And the way we do that is obviously Craig's got the SEO background, so that's where we kind of got the fundamentals for that. But what we've done is we've built on that. We've got a very good network of SEOs, of very talented SEOs in the industry through our podcast, through going to events. What we get them to do is sit down and let them go through our venue process. Any scenario questions they think they should add, any little things that they should add and strengthen, as well as that, they kind of give us an insight into their boarding process, which is obviously very valuable. But, yeah, it depends, Mark. If it was a technical role, we've got technical audits. If it was more managerial, we'd have more scenario based questions, just to find out a bit more about their actual experience before we put them forward.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. So it's like a specialist SEO recruitment agent that's been built by the SEO industry and their knowledge and help. [Josh Peacock: Exactly, exactly]. Brilliant. Now, notice a few of the jobs you've been sharing, basically the six figure salary jobs. And in the UK, it's not often a six figure salary job comes up. Are you on a mission to bring in more high profile jobs into the industry?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, it's not as if that was our mission, to go and do that. We kind of because of our network, we kind of got one. I think it was 100,000 to 150,000? And we ended up placing it on 136 grand. But we got one of them, and I think it was then you asked me to do the article on the SEO salaries, and then it got loads of bites. There were SEOs in the UK that were messaging me, saying, I've been in the industry 20 years, never seen a six figure salary. So I was like, okay, maybe we're onto something there. And then it kind of started coming in more and more the more we entered into the US. And yeah, Mark, you'd be so surprised. We had a big insurance company in the US come to us, and they wanted an SEO manager, four years experience, right. Nothing special, I didn't have to manage people they already had. I think it was an SEO director that was managing people there. So it was just a kind of SEO manager, your typical 50 grand salary in the UK. And it was 100 grand starting salary in the US. And there was nothing really special about it. Like, that was kind of it.

Mark A Preston: Right, then. Are these US companies open to recruiting someone in the UK on that sort of salary?

Josh Peacock: Absolutely. But the way we've been pitching it recently is so because the US salaries are so high. So, for instance, we took on a US client two weeks ago and it was an SEO analyst role and their salary, it was a junior level role, and I think their salary was 60,000 to 74,000 USD. And they wanted to find somebody, ideally in the US. Because they got a remote team in the US. But I kind of just pitched them as like, you would get a really, really talented SEO in the UK for that. They wouldn't be junior, they'd be very good at their roles. That's more like, what, 55 to 65,000 endpoints. And we've got, I think it was within four days that we signed everything with them. We had five really good candidates that have gone through that.


They're all on second stage interviews right now. So the way we're kind of pitching it is that you get more bang for your buck. And the other thing is as well, is when we're dealing with the UK candidates. For some reason, I think everybody's kind of got this instead of them. But when you talk about a US company, everybody gets excited. Everybody's like, oh, I'd love to work for a US company. And then you get the added benefit of working fully remote and obviously the bigger salary. The other thing is as well, is with the US clients, if they're hiring within the US, they normally have benefits of like a kind of the list of benefits that they have. They scrap them because obviously they're not US citizens, so they can actually add an extra 5,10K on top of their salary that they wouldn't have done initially.

Mark A Preston: So are these people that they're recruiting employees or are they sort of freelance basis? I'm just wondering, because of the taxation laws between a UK resident working for a US employee, I'm just wondering how it all works.

Josh Peacock: Technically, we only recruit full time roles, but obviously, because of what you just mentioned, US versus UK, we've got a client in the Netherlands that recruits in the UK as well, same as Australia. What we do is they just kind of go down as a contract basis. So they either say they're self-employed or they go through a company called Deal. I don't know if you've heard of them, companies like that where they just do all the work for you and it's basically like an independent contract.

Mark A Preston: Right, so let's move away from the US market for a moment and concentrate on the UK market. What sort of challenges are you facing on both sides of fencing the UK when it comes to SEO recruitment?

Josh Peacock: Overall, I think it's going in a positive direction. At the start, it was kind of getting a lot of backlash, especially when we were bringing in those big figures from the US. There were a lot of UK agency owners that when we got on a phone call, they were like, Josh, you bring in too much in, you're bringing too much heat in. Can you kind of slow down a bit? But no, I think everybody's moving in a positive direction. There are a lot of SEO agencies in the UK that we have had calls with and their salary is just way too low. Like, we just won't take them on. It's like we try and advise them to maybe look more at a more junior role or bring on somebody that you maybe need to do a bit more training. But there's a lot I don't know. I don't want to say anything negative, but let's just say there's a lot of people that just don't want to budge.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. Why do you think that is?

Josh Peacock: I think it's a general thing. I don't think it's just an SEO. I think, first of all, if you've been owning an agency for 20 years, and salaries, especially recently, have been jumping up quite a lot, like, nobody wants to pay more unless they genuinely understand the ROI that a great SEO can bring in. So it's more about trying to influence them on that. But I get it to a certain extent, if a junior is coming in and asking for an SEO manager salary that used to be the same salary, like, five years ago, I get it.

Mark A Preston: Do you think part and parcel of this is that the BDMs in house agencies need to sort of retrain on how we approach bringing new clients on?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, you could say that. I haven't really thought about that, but yeah, I'm sure you could say that.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. I just think because a lot of agency owners I've spoken to say, well, it's all about the profit margin. And there just isn't the profit margin to warrant doubling someone's salary, even if they're worth it or not. It's just not sustainable. So in order for that to change, I'm just thinking about what actually needs to happen.

Josh Peacock: Yeah, well, look, on that point, and I know a lot of SEOs are more introverted, and it's not like there's a lot of SEOs that we deal with that don't want to do the whole client facing, bringing in clients and stuff. I personally think that's like another whole job. But I'm kind of seeing the industry move in a direction where we'll deal with a few clients that will be happy because obviously a lot of it you know what the SEO community is like they can bring in a lot of SEOs, they can bring in clients. But a lot of clients that we're dealing with, we kind of tell them, like, wouldn't it be cool if you could have a commission structure on if they went out and brought in their own clients? But they do it that way. And I guess that's a BD kind of in that role as well. But there's a lot of people that are really into that.

Mark A Preston: Yeah, I've actually heard a lot about that. A few SEOs, they're recruiting me because of my network. They don't really care if I'm actually good at SEO or not, but because I've got a good network and I can bring in the ability to bring in new clients. That's why they want me to come in.

Josh Peacock: I wouldn't say I agree with that. We haven't hired anybody that's not good at SEO, but just as good as,


Mark A Preston: I know this is the primary reason. The main factor was they were looking at the potential of new business that person can bring in with them. But if, say, for instance, that SEO person is bringing their own clients into the agency, then that SEO person leaves, then I think there's a bit of tension on whose client it is and if they jump ship and that whole scenario.

Josh Peacock: Yeah, most of the time when we're dealing with clients and we recommend this, what we tell them to do is like a running commission. So if they bring in somebody, they get a percentage of that each month. So it's not just like a one off fee. If they come in, they get a one off fee. It's like a monthly rolling thing. So I guess you could say that would help with them keeping them on as well. But on that note, I think a lot of clients need to really invest into their onboarding process. And this is something that we've been talking about a lot recently, especially over the last month with the team and our current clients, is like, we do the recruitment work. We're happy to do that. We're really good at finding really good SEOs. We can do all of that. But we can go out and find them, but you need to do the onboarding process. We're happy to help with it.


We're happy to give you any tips and tricks, but the way I say it to clients it's like the honeymoon phase or it's like your first day of school, you remember who was nice to you. You remember those little things, like even just little gifts, just small things. It's so important for the onboarding process to be as enjoyable as possible for the candidates. And I learned it from a book called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. And there's a section in there all about how important the onboarding process is, all about how when you bring in somebody, you need to set the standard from there. Because it's the honeymoon phase, for the first 30 days, everybody's kind of just trying to figure out what the way the processes work, what way the team works and all of that. So it's a really important thing to invest in.

Mark A Preston: Now, I was speaking with a guy that's looking for a senior position, maybe a senior SEO Director level, and he said he's been to one or two interviews at well known brands, and the only thing they seem to be interested in is, how are you going to tackle AI? I mean, because everyone's talking about it, but it's, you know, and that's what he said was the focus in the interview. They wanted to understand from him, well, what are you going to do about this AI?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, I don't know, is the honest answer. I think there will always be a place for strategy. Always. I hope so, anyway. So I think it might get rid of I mean, you're seeing it with content, you're seeing the chat GBT like it's crazy. So I think it will push a lot more people to hone down on their skills in terms of actual strategy rather than output. So if you look at it from a positive direction, if you use it as a tool to help you do more work, I think you could use it as a benefit. I don't think it's all this. Yeah, I don't know. It's a touchy subject, but I hope everybody starts to we can all use actually incorporate into our work to actually be better at it. That's what I hope.

Mark A Preston: So when you've got a candidate and the interview process, is it you interviewing them or is it the company who interviewed them? Or is it mixed? Or how does the interview process work?

Josh Peacock: So what way it normally works is we do all the interviews with them, so they go through our vetting process. We fill them in about the role. Sometimes we do disk assessments to find out their personality. We have a discount that we signed yesterday. He invests in a thing called Culture Index. He invests like twelve grand a year, I think it is. And it's like a whole personality disk assessment type of thing. He wants us to start using that for the candidates to be put forward for this. So it really depends, Mark, so there's clients out there that completely trust us, right? And they're just like, okay. Instead of having a three stage interview, once you give them to us, we'll just do one kind of chemistry call, talk a bit about SEO, and that's them. That's them in. Others like to go through a three to four stage interview process where they get them to do technical audits. Three are practicals and that which we kind of try and steer away from, but it really depends on the client.

Mark A Preston: So what's the sorted timeline between somebody, the first contact with an SEO and actually standing on the dock, walking through the door type of thing?

Josh Peacock: Again, it completely depends. So you've got those clients that are really, really responsive, lovely to work with. So, at the start of February, we brought on a client, and in 13 days from the first call with the client, we faced a pretty senior SEO manager within 13 days. And he started last week. And it was just a great fit. It was just fantastic. But it was literally the way we were able to do that because of how responsive and easy the client was to work with as well as the candidate. Whereas sometimes I won't mention any names, but like, we've got an open SEO manager role that 's probably been going on for about two and a half months, like the perfect candidates right there. They're just like, there's three different time zones that they're trying to figure out within their internal team to get on to interviews, and then they get through to the next stage and the next stage, and it's like, yeah, it's there. Nothing bad to say about it, but it just depends on how responsive the client is.

Mark A Preston: Okay, now what should an SEO be thinking about? If they want to apply for a role they think they can do?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, well, they should come to us and we'll get sorted. No, it depends. What kind of role are we talking about? Give me an example of a role.

Mark A Preston: Let's say SEO manager.

Josh Peacock: Okay, so if it was an SEO manager. I honestly just think CVs again, I've said job boards are dead. I think CVs are dead as well. I think it's just kind of like a few tech boxes for somebody just to quickly glance. I think the most important thing to do is show actual projects that you've been working on, especially if it was an SEO manager. If the role you were applying for was that you managed people, I would just put in a small document, this is who I managed, this was the role that they managed. And I would just say your biggest kind of wins, and I would construct it more as a cover letter rather than a CV. Of course the CV is important and everybody wants the CV, but yeah, I would construct it more as a cover letter. I would add in your LinkedIn profile. I would try and get active on LinkedIn. And that's what all of our clients want to say, is the first thing they ask is for a LinkedIn profile.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Now, sticking with the SEO manager side, again, for me, there's two types of people who are already in the SEO manager role who are used to managing people, then there's them, like, maybe senior execs. They have the skill set, but they've never been used to managing anybody. So is it a totally different approach for both sides?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, absolutely. So we actually dealt with one of these at the start of February, I think it was. We had a really talented SEO executive that went through our SEO manager vetting process, and we were really impressed with her. So we put her forward. She got to, I think it was final stage interviews, and it was just that there was a better candidate for it that had the experience for it. But again, Mark, it depends on the client and the company that you go for. So you could go as a senior exec to an SEO manager role, you could kind of just paint the image of how much you want to learn, how much you want to kind of grow within the role. And as long as they've kind of got a strong team that they can have the resources to bring you on for training, they have somebody to kind of shadow you, that kind of thing, then 100% go for it.

Mark A Preston: When you are bringing on a new client, a company who's looking for somebody, do you have your own vetting process for the actual companies and to say, well, unless you agree to XYZ, we can't work with you?

Josh Peacock: I wouldn't say it's like that. We don't go through a vetting process with them. We go through kind of like a discovery call to find out more about the company, more about the role, more about their team, what's worked in the past, what hasn't worked, what kind of personality treats don't work. We've got a whole kind of list of questions I guess you could call a vetting process, but we've had to turn down clients. If you told me a year ago we were turning down clients, I would have laughed. But we've turned on a few clients recently because either they're asking way too much and not happy to budge on in terms of salaries or in terms of the actual role itself. And we've just had it. Obviously, there's a lot of bad kind of stigma towards recruitment companies, and there's a lot of people that will come on, and they'll just be like, this is what I want. Go get it.


And we're like, well, hold on. I said, it's a lot more important than just getting a few ticks on the job description and finding you somebody for that. That's not what we do. Our whole ethos is quality over quantity. So there's a few clients that we'll have where….Because they used to use other recruitment companies that go out and get ten people and hope one sticks them all at the wall and hope one sticks. Whereas we could literally find one person, be like, okay, this is the perfect person. We don't need to find anybody else. This is it. They go through interviews, everything's good, but they're still like, okay, but I want another ten. But like, well, that's not kind of the way we operate and it's not in terms of we don't want to go out and waste more resources finding people. That's not what it is. It's literally we know that this person is exactly what you're looking for. We've been doing this, we're experts at it. Just trust us on this one. And it normally works out well, but there's obviously a few clients that are like, this isn't on.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. So do you have to sort of let's explain this, but be realistic when you're talking to the clients, say, look, you can't get all this in one person. That salary is some of them conversations where you sort of help them to basically build a profile of who they need.

Josh Peacock: Yeah, 100%. So at the very start, that's why we used to get Craig on all the calls as well, because he's hired hundreds of SEOs before, so he knows exactly what he's kind of looking at. Now we've got an actual process to kind of help us build a profile for them. But yeah, that was one thing that we were kind of finding in the UK was in the UK, I'm sure you've seen the LinkedIn post and the tweets of like, it's like an SEO manager role, but you need to be PPC, you need to do business development, you need to do this and that. The salary is 30 grand. It's crazy. Whereas recently and this is involved in the UK as well, recently a lot of clients have been coming to us. And I don't know if it's because we've been building the strong brand that we have now or what it is, but they kind of come to us being like, look, you guys are the experts in the field, what kind of salary should we be working with? What kind of profiles should we be looking for?


This is what we need done. This is kind of like the team we have at the minute. Like, me and Greg have a call this afternoon with the angel investor from LA who has got a few different companies, but he's got a content publishing company. He told us about the structure. He was like I literally said, we can jump on a call and help you with the team structure, help you with what kind of content you need, publish, that kind of thing. But it's not like a hard sell on this is what you need. It's more advice and hopefully turns them into a client, so yeah, so I think I find it more fun as well when you go in and try and build up, this is actually what you need. But again, some clients have a tunnel focus on what they think they need and they're not happy to move over.

Mark A Preston: Alright. I've mentored quite a lot of SEO on the ground level and a couple of weeks ago I was in a chat and an update with someone I was mentoring for about five years ago for a year or two. And then you were saying the only way he could climb the ladder was jumping companies each time, he says because of the opportunities within the company they're in, there are no growth opportunities because unless that person leaves, there's nowhere for me to grow into. So he said the only way is to keep jumping companies. Is that sort of tradition? If somebody wants to grow their career?

Josh Peacock: Yeah. So a lot of people come to us with that exact situation. And this is one thing that we have some amazing clients. So that golden recruitment formula job, the website that I told you that we have, the one we use to showcase to clients is a company called Studio Hawk, one of our best clients. They're absolutely fantastic, but they're based down in Australia, but they've got an office in London as well. We had to find SEOs who wanted to move down to Australia, which was really good fun. We found two, we placed two and it was great because both of them had gone to the age where they couldn't get a working holiday visa anymore, so they had to get sponsorship. So they had it in their head that the dream of Australia wasn't there anymore.


So it was really, really fun and fulfilling. But what they did for us is in that website that we built, they had a 20 page company culture handbook. They had a career roadmap. So they had if you come in as a junior, you have to hit them. This is the salary you'll be on. Then you go to mid-level, then you go to this, then it's like the end was like, the head of SEO role and the number of candidates we showed them that too, and they were like, I absolutely I've never seen a career roadmap. So every client we bring on, we just say, look, as I mentioned before, can you please spruce up your onboarding process? We're happy to help you with it, but that's a really important thing. The other thing is, it doesn't take a long amount of time to sit down, maybe one afternoon, and say, okay, especially if you're an established agency that's been about for ten years, you kind of know what way people get promoted. So just sit down and do a career roadmap.


And don't lie. Don't paint it as this, like, massive this is where you're going to be within two years. You're going to be the head of SEO running this. But yeah, I think it's human nature that you want to evolve, you want to get promoted, and when you hit the ceiling in a job, it's not fun. So 100%, I think a lot of our clients are kind of turning over to, here's the career road map, this is where you can be so people can actually be like, okay, and they can tell their families, look, okay, this new role, this is kind of what they're offering within five years, I could be here.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. In that SEO salary study I did, there was a section where apple like SEO exec manager head directed type of things and sort of outlined the sort of skill set you need for each section and the number of people who messaged me and said, "Oh, my God," I wish our company had something like that. Then at least I know myself what I need to do to progress. And it's amazing, just that it doesn't exist after something like that.


Josh Peacock: Exactly.


Mark A Preston: So four companies what, I mean, all these SEOs jump in shape because there's nowhere to go to. What's the answer for them? Because theoretically, if the person, if the people above them don't leave, then you know what needs to change or does it need to change?

Josh Peacock: No 100% needed to change. I actually know a lot of company owners won't agree with me, but I think that's completely fair enough. If people aren't getting rewarded or promoted due to the work that they're actually performing if it's somebody that's doing average work and is going in and saying, I want a promotion, I want to be here, but then you have the hard word of them being like, well, you're not worth that. So, fair enough. Jump company. But if you've got a really talented person, you need to build a team culture. You need to build away that career mode map I was telling you about. And I know it might sound a bit ridiculous, but honestly, I think that one monthly onboarding process is so important. Even if they're there for five years down the line, I genuinely believe that one month that they bring them on kind of shapes the way that they think about the company, about the way the team gets handled. So again, I would say those three things tick them off.


But I think it's so important to bring people to SEO events to actually have and I know it's kind of frowned upon in the industry to call your team family, but if you're dealing with people every single day and everybody's like friends, then you're going to keep them. And if you're paying them the right amount, they're being treated well. I don't think it's that hard. I know a lot of people that try to bring in HR managers and do all of this stuff. I genuinely think that everybody's human. Just treat people nicely. Treat people the way that they deserve to be treated. Reward them when they're rewarded. Don't be a business owner who's like everything's about profit. Do you know what I mean? It's the team that brings everything up. It's not just the company owner, and you can hold me to that. The team that we've built is just strong, Mark. So I think team culture is one of the most important things.

Mark A Preston: Okay, now you've got the agency side and in-house SEOs from your personal experience interviewing and talking to these people, what side of the fence would you say is probably stronger on the SEO front?

Josh Peacock: That's a great question. I don't think I have an answer for that. Do you know that I can't say that there's one that's been like, okay, they're a lot more talented? I would just say it's more agency is more, From my experience, nobody killed me on this. But the agency, it's more somebody that wants to learn a lot more, somebody that wants to kind of be tested a lot more. Whereas in-house and again, this is, in my experience, the people that want to go in the house or the people that have done agency for a few years or they've learned a lot and now they just want to be a bit more comfortable in a role and actually see their work consistently instead of obviously working on different clients every other day or every other week. But I can't say one side is more talented than the other. I think it all just depends.

Mark A Preston: Okay, then in that case, is it two totally different skill sets? Say you're recruiting for an SEO manager for an agency and an SEO manager for an in-house brand. Are you looking at two totally different skill sets?

Josh Peacock: Yeah. So to be honest, a lot of our clients that are in the house, they want people that have got in-house experience, because I think it just comes with a different stagnant, different level of experience. But in terms of what we're looking for, again, it kind of just goes down to the profile that we create with the client. Each one is unique. I can't say that it depends on agency versus in-house, but a lot of our clients will already be okay with whether we either want in-house or we want agency experience.

Mark A Preston: Right. Are you finding that in-house pay more for SEO? [Josh Peacock: Yeah, definitely]. And why is that?

Josh Peacock: I don't know. Maybe a more established company normally got more funding but then said that there are a few agencies we work with in the US that are like crazy salaries.

Mark A Preston: Right. So, I mean, if you were to look at the industry overall from a recruitment perspective, from a job salary and all that rolled into one, what would you say? What things need to change?

Josh Peacock: What things need to change? I think as I mentioned before, a lot more roles are becoming a lot more client based. So, for example, I know it's not nice to force people if you're not a people person. That's kind of like an added role to the job description now. But we have a great technical SEO that we placed last year, and she was just made redundant recently, and she doesn't want to do client-facing, and she's absolutely really skilled at what she does. We pitched her to a few of our clients. Everybody's really impressed with her CV, but the fact that she doesn't want to kind of be client-facing is like a big no-no. But in terms of that, I think everybody should be working on their own projects. A lot of people come to us and they've just kind of got the CV. This is where I started. This is where I am now. To stand out in the industry, you kind of need to have your own projects. This is where I tested my own knowledge. So, yeah.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Now here's a sort of style question on whether you've recruited somebody into a role. Okay, it's working brilliantly, but then they want to also do some freelance work on the side. And maybe the company isn't too not happy, but, you know, it's sort of tolerated. Is there something that you think needs to be put in place for that? So there's a straight, this is yes, that's no. So the SEO and the company have clear guidelines?

Josh Peacock: Yeah. Well, I think it should be in a contract from the client to the candidate. I'm not a big fan of people doing freelance on the side. I just think that especially if you're in a big role, we have an SEO director that we placed last month on 115 grand salaries. I think it was in the US. And he's kind of opened up his own consultancy for, like, weekend work. And they're completely cool with it. They're like, look, if it doesn't interfere with work, then 100%. But I think you just need to chat with the client and make sure everything is okay. Do not do it behind anybody's back, and try to keep it a secret, because they're 100% going to find out. But if you think that it will complement your work, if you think that you're going to learn a lot more from it and you can bring a lot to it to the company, then I don't think there's any reason why not.

Mark A Preston: Okay. And what about maybe in the UK, these execs who, with the cost of living and everything, need to actually do the extra work? It's not something that they want to do, it's a necessity type of thing. But maybe the company they're working for or the agency, it's frowned upon in those circumstances. What's the answer?

Josh Peacock: Well, I guess I think that the obvious answer to that is to ask for a pay rise if you think you genuinely deserve it. If it's not, if you genuinely think you've deserved it, you can show proof of the work that you've put in and things like that. But as well as that, you could even ask your company, do you mind if I do extra work? And treat it as, like, a freelance kind of basis. Anything to up your salary. I know as a business owner if any of our team came to us and be, like, kind of strict on the cost of living crisis, all of that at the minute, is there anything extra I do, I can do? There's a heap of things, and in terms of if an SEO company is successful, which quite a lot of them are right now, they're bringing on a lot of work, then there's always extra work to do.

Mark A Preston: Okay. Do you recruit for the digital PR industry at all? [Josh Peacock: No]. What's the reason for that?

Josh Peacock: Not really a reason. We've just kind of stuck to the SEO manager. SEO execs on that side. We have a lot of digital PRS that come to us, and we've got a lot of connections in the industry where we just literally just linked them up. No vetting process, no nothing. Just, look, here's a good company, we're friends with them, go have a chat, and we'll just refer to them that way.

Mark A Preston: Okay. What would you say is the biggest challenge for an SEO to actually get a new job?

Josh Peacock: It's a hard question because, look, if somebody comes and they're a talented SEO, they've been in the industry X amount of years, they fit the job description perfectly. They come to us, we go through the whole vetting process, they're sweet, then there's a very high chance that they're going to get hired. So another thing is as well, a lot of SEOs come to us and they might have the actual SEO ability, but they're not fit in terms of culture. They don't want to work with a lot of people. I think that's one thing that we find since COVID is that everybody was locked in the rooms, the whole social kind of chatting to people and all of that. If you don't fit in culturally to a team, then I think it's completely fair enough that even if you are good at SEO, then it might not be for you. I know it sounds as simple as this, but literally, when you're getting on a call with the company, you've gone through the vetting process, they've obviously liked your skills from your CV, through your cover letter, through your LinkedIn profile for everything else. But come on and actually bring energy to the call. Don't come on the call and just say, oh, yeah, I think it could be good at this. I think it could be that, like, people hire. I know they hire on ability, but energy is really, really important.

Mark A Preston: Yeah. Now, obviously as a recruiter, you want to get the best possible person in that role. Now, what about all these other individuals? They might not be the best, but how do they get a chance to prove themselves if all these top people are bagging all the jobs? What can this group of people who just don't get a chance to prove themselves, what can they ever be doing?

Josh Peacock: We get quite a lot of roles in. So if a candidate doesn't fit, let's just say we put five candidates forward to one row, and four of them don't make it. As long as we get the thumbs up from them, they're happy to be put forward to the other roles that we have. Most of them get it even if it takes a month or two months. And as I mentioned, the candidates that chat with us get through our vetting process, that they're all talented, so they're all worthy of a role that we're putting forward to, and that's why our clients trust us. But if you're asking what the candidates that genuinely don't have the skills or don't have the talent, what we kind of do like, Craig has jumped on a lot of times. We've been on calls where we've brought somebody on, let's say, for an SEO manager role, and they're just not there yet. Craig jumped on a call and basically said, look, this is what you should build. You shouldn't maybe look at affiliates on this side or here are a few. Craig has, like, a whole load of courses that he has. He's got a whole list of kinds of just things where we actually help some of the candidates to try and become better.

Mark A Preston: Okay. And on the salary from in the UK, is the SEO market where it needs to be yet?


Josh Peacock: No.


Mark A Preston: Where does it need to be? Say, for instance, an SEO manager role.

Josh Peacock: Yeah, it's simple supply and demand. If the US wants to double the salary in the UK while sticking to very low salaries, then all those talented SEOs are going to come to us to get those jobs in the US. So you're going to have no SEOs to pick from or you're going to have the SEO, you're going to have to completely limit the number of expectations you have. So an SEO manager in the UK, starting 45, going the whole way up to honestly, 70k, I would say, that's what we've been recruiting for recently anyway.

Mark A Preston: Right, 70K. That's certainly a big difference from what I'm hearing managers are actually on in the UK.


Josh Peacock: Yeah.


Mark A Preston: And I suppose that, as you say, supply and demand are during COVID there was a big, massive spike in demand. Do you think demand has overtaken and the bubbles burst to a point?

Josh Peacock: To a certain extent, yes. So we definitely found that when we were just starting off and we were just in the UK, we had a lot of candidates come into us and we didn't have the roles and we didn't have the clients that we do now because we are kind of global. We've got loads of clients down in Australia, we've got clients all over Europe, we've got a client in Puerto Rico, all over the US, and now because we have so many different clients wanting different things, I think we're able to actually fit that demand.

Mark A Preston: Right. So is there anything we haven't already spoken about that you really want to express or that people watching this need to know?

Josh Peacock: Not particularly. I can say a few things that we're doing right now to try and help the industry. Maybe that would be beneficial. So on LinkedIn, we started a LinkedIn group literally just this week. It's called SEO career mastery. And what we're doing is every week we're going to bring in either an industry expert, one of our clients, high-salary SEO, or just our team to talk about salary insights and all of that. But the idea of it is to kind of teach people how to stand out in interviews, ask for pay rises and figure out if the team they're in is the right fit, what they should actually be paid, that kind of thing. So it's going to be all about the kind of questions you just asked me today. It's going to be a place where people can come in, they're going to have an industry expert every Friday whom they can ask questions. It's going to be like a live webinar. So that's what we're doing to try and help on the candidate base. In June, we're having our own event where we're bringing in, I think it's 100 agency owners. It's not in cement yet, but we're actually, I don't want to mention it yet, but we're flying in one of the biggest SEOs in the world from Miami.

Mark A Preston: I'm going to say I'm receiving invites. I don't even know.

Josh Peacock: Don't worry, Mark. I literally just booked the venue this morning. So it's a really cool venue and we're getting everything sorted for that. So, yeah, what we're going to do for that is we're going to have a few speakers at it, but as well as that, we're going to have like a 2023 hiring strategy where we're kind of just going to go over exactly what we talked about here, that this is where the industry is going. This is what we do on a daily basis. We're going to try and give as much value as we can to try and help those clients that not everybody wants to come to us. Fair enough. Completely respect that. So we'll teach you how to do it. You can go out and try and do it, but the whole idea is just to try and move all of this in a positive direction, so yeah. So maybe that's two things that hopefully will benefit the industry.

Mark A Preston: Okay. And something that's just popped into my head. Why are these companies coming to you instead of going to somebody in the US to do their recruitment?

Josh Peacock: It's so few answers. So I think we work a lot on our brand. We've got a lot of connections in the industry, so we've got a lot of connections in the US that we've been working hard on over the last year. They then go refer their friends and as you know, in the US. Feels like everybody's got money, so when they refer a friend, it's not just like a small agency, it's like they've just received 100 million worth of funding and stuff like that, as well as that. Like, we are very specialized, like, there's not a lot of in fact, I genuinely think we're one of the only recruitment companies that specialize just in SEO. There's ones that do SEO, PPC, social media, and the whole digital marketing front. But in terms of just SEO, we're the only kind of guys. And like, we had a big company that we're working with at the minute. We haven't signed them yet, but they're current recruiters that teach them what a link was. So there you go.

Mark A Preston: Wow. I'm not usually speechless, but what?

Josh Peacock: This company is big. If I mentioned them, you know exactly who they are.

Mark A Preston: Wow. Well, on that note, Josh, thank you so much for joining us. Now you give your time freely to be on this podcast and is there anything the listeners can do for you to help you look?

Josh Peacock: If you guys want a new SEO job, we’ve got loads of clients coming in, especially in the next month. We're building our team out quite a bit at the minute, so we're kind of trying to bring in as many clients as we can. So if you look for a new role, please get in touch with me, one of me, or the team. Other than that, not really. Everything is good.

Mark A Preston: And where can we find you to start a conversation with you?

Josh Peacock: Yeah, so I'm probably best on LinkedIn, so just Josh Peacock on LinkedIn or you can get in touch with one of the teams. So if you look up "SEO For Hire", on LinkedIn, we're normally posting on that every day. So get in touch with one of them and we'll be able to sort you.

Mark A Preston: Okay, well, Josh, many thanks for joining us. And I'm going to say maybe the weather is a little bit better there than it is in Lancashire, so I'll leave it there and many thanks.

Josh Peacock: Perfect. Thanks for having me on, Mark. It was great. Yeah.

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