Guide To A Successful Career In Search Engine Marketing

Guide To A Successful Career In Search Engine Marketing



Introduction to​ SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Search engines have become an​ integrated part of​ our lives. in​ today’s world,​ 'being online’ is​ not an​ option. in​ US alone,​ around 7 billion searches are being made every month. Travel,​ finance,​ entertainment,​ education,​ health or​ ecommerce,​ search engines are being used to​ find information,​ products and services.

Search Engine Marketing or​ SEM is​ the​ process of​ marketing a​ website via search engines. SEM strategies primarily consist of​ Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

SEO is​ the​ process of​ improving natural or​ organic rankings on​ search engines. Search engines rank websites based on​ variety of​ parameters and each search engine has its own algorithm to​ rank different swebites. However,​ one common and most important ranking parameter is​ a​ site’s credibility which is​ determined by the​ quality and quantity of​ other sites which link to​ it. PPC is​ a​ type of​ internet advertising in​ which the​ advertiser pays an​ agreed amount to​ a​ search engine for every click a​ visitor makes on​ the​ advertisement. it​ is​ also referred to​ as​ Cost Per Click (CPC),​ Paid Placement and Search Engine Advertising.

SEM Industry

According to​ a​ research by SEMPO,​ Search Engine Marketing industry was at​ $9.45 billion in​ North America in​ 2018. it​ is​ expected to​ be over $18 billion industry by the​ year 2011. the​ SEM industry grew significantly in​ 2018 as​ compared to​ 2018 when it​ was less than $6 billion in​ size. According to​ the​ same research,​ while SEO is​ the​ most popular form of​ SEM,​ it​ accounted for around 10% of​ the​ total spending. However,​ Paid Advertising accounted for over 85% of​ the​ total SEM spending in​ 2018.

Over the​ last few years,​ the​ importance and the​ acceptance of​ SEM has grown significantly. According to​ a​ survey by SEMPO,​ of​ all the​ respondents,​ more than 50% said that Senior Management at​ their companies are ‘very involved’ in​ their SEM program. Sales and Brand awareness were the​ two major objectives behind all SEM programs.

SEM Job Profiles

Growth in​ the​ SEM industry has created a​ strong demand for experienced and talented Search Engine Marketing professionals. This demand is​ expected to​ grow even faster in​ the​ coming years with lots of​ new opportunities for existing and budding Search Engine Marketers.

The SEM industry offers various kinds of​ job roles for its professionals. Given that the​ industry is​ still evolving,​ these job roles are also changing and new roles are being created with new initiatives. For instance,​ online PR (Public Relations) has gained significant growth over the​ last year and so is​ the​ need for PR writers and marketers.

An SEM professional may be employed for an​ in-house work or​ by an​ agency. For instance,​ ecommerce companies like eBay,​ Google,​ Yahoo hire SEM professionals for their own products and services promotion. However,​ agencies like iProspect hire people to​ serve their clients for various SEM assignments. One may also work as​ a​ freelancer. Since every activity of​ an​ SEM job can be done online,​ lots of​ freelancing opportunities exist for independent SEM professionals. Find below the​ list of​ some of​ the​ key job roles in​ the​ SEM industry. Please note that depending upon the​ size of​ the​ organization,​ some of​ the​ mentioned roles may be combined into a​ single role.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

• VP/Director,​ SEO
• SEO Manager
• SEO Team Lead
• SEO Executive (Link Building,​ Keyword Research etc)
• Content Writer and Editor
• Account Manager (for organizations who serve multiple clients)

PPC (Pay Per Click)

• Campaign Executive
• Campaign Manager
• Ad Writer or​ Copywriter
• Account Manager (as above)

Besides the​ above mentioned roles,​ organizations also hire technical professionals and graphic designers for building tools and technologies for effective SEM implementation and service.

SEM Salaries

Although there is​ no official data available on​ the​ salaries earned by SEM professionals,​ the​ annual salary for an​ SEM professional in​ US typically range between $30,​000 for an​ SEM exeuctive to​ $250,​000 for a​ VP level position depending upon the​ years of​ experience and the​ location. the​ salary offered for similar roles in​ India range between Rs 120,​000 (approx $2500) to​ Rs 30,​00,​000 (approx $65000) per annum.

In-house professionals demand higher salaries than professions working in​ an​ SEM agency. the​ key reason behind this salary difference is​ that in-house professionals possess stronger domain knowledge compared to​ an​ agency professional and thus the​ role performed by an​ in-house professional is​ more critical.

Required Skill Sets

To be a​ successful SEM professional,​ one needs a​ variety of​ skill sets. Moreover,​ the​ skill sets requirement changes with time as​ per the​ changing needs of​ the​ dynamic SEM industry. Find below the​ details about the​ key skills required by an​ SEM professional.

General Skills

• Strong quantitative and analytical ability
• Excellent communication skills (particularly writing skills)
• Constant urge for learning (industry is​ dynamic and one needs to​ stay abreast of​ the​ best practices)

Technical Skills

• Sound understanding of​ Computers,​ Internet,​ Email and HTML skills

• SEO techniques - both “do’s and don’ts”

• PPC techniques including specific knowledge about programs such as​ Google Adwords,​ Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN Advertising

• Sound understanding of​ tools such as​ Word Tracker,​ Google Keyword Suggestion & Traffic Estimator,​ Google Toolbar,​ Google Analytics,​ HTML Editors and FTP Softwares

• Sound understanding of​ relevant programming and scripting languages such as​ PHP,​ ASP,​ XML and CSS (for technical positions)

Sales & Marketing Skills

• Ability to​ understand the​ customer and the​ market
• Customer Relationship Management
• Ability to​ think creatively & bring innovation to​ the​ marketing approach

Unlike the​ software industry where lots of​ options such as​ certification exams exist for one to​ assess his skills,​ the​ SEM industry offers limited avenues for skills assessment. Given the​ newness of​ the​ industry,​ it​ is​ justified. However,​ few options still exist for SEM skills assessment. Find below few such options:

SEM Certifications

• Google Advertising Professional Certification
• Yahoo Certified Ambassador

SEM Quizzes

• OM Careers SEM Quiz
• W3schools HTML Quiz

SEM Learning Resources

Success in​ Search Engine Marketing requires both learning and practice. the​ key element of​ learning in​ the​ SEM industry is​ to​ be abreast of​ latest best practices. Therefore,​ one needs to​ have a​ constant urge to​ learn in​ order to​ be a​ successful Search Engine Marketer. an​ SEM professional has numerous options to​ learn SEM concepts and best practices. However,​ it​ is​ critical that one chooses appropriate options for continuous learning. Find below a​ list of​ selected learning options.

Discussion Forums - Given the​ dynamic nature of​ the​ SEM industry,​ participation in​ discussion forums is​ considered the​ best approach to​ be abreast of​ latest happenings. Below is​ a​ list of​ some of​ the​ popular SEM discussion forums.

• SEO Chat
• Search Engine Watch
• Web Master World

Blogs - Blogs are another powerful source of​ continuous learning. Find below some of​ the​ blogs which publish valuable information about SEM concepts including latest revisions and trends.

• Google Adwords Blog
• Yahoo Search Marketing Blog
• Matt Cutts Blog
• SearchEngineLand

Articles and Tutorials - Some people do not want to​ go through a​ complete training or​ a​ course. However,​ they are interested in​ a​ crash course or​ a​ quick revision. Find below some of​ the​ popular SEM articles and tutorials written by SEM experts.

• SEMPO Learning Center
• Beginners Guide to​ SEO by SEOmoz
• Google Webmaster Guidelines

Online Trainings - a​ training or​ a​ course in​ SEM offers a​ structured way to​ learn SEM skills and provides a​ good start,​ especially for the​ beginners. However,​ one needs to​ be responsible for continual learning to​ be updated about latest trends. a​ self study based online training offers the​ convenience of​ learning from anywhere and the​ flexibility of​ learning anytime,​ compared to​ a​ classroom based training. Find below a​ list of​ some of​ the​ valuable online training programs in​ SEM.

• SEMPO Institute
• Adwords Learning Center
• Yahoo Search Marketing (click on​ ‘Find out How Sponsored Search Works.’)
• OM Careers SEM Game
• DMA Training Program

Classroom Trainings - Although classroom based training has some disadvantages over an​ online training program,​ the​ fixed schedule of​ the​ classroom training offers a​ more powerful structure (one’s learning does not depend on​ one’s mood) to​ ensure the​ learning it​ promises. Find below a​ list of​ some of​ the​ recognized classroom based trainings.

• SEOToolSet
• High Rankings Seminars
• Search Engine Workshops

Newsletters - Newsletters are a​ great way to​ keep oneself informed about the​ latest happenings in​ the​ SEM world. Find below some of​ the​ popular and valuable SEM newsletters.

• Search Engine Guide
• SearchDay
• ClickZ News

Professional Organizations - By being part of​ reputed SEM organizations like SEMPO ,​ one can stay up to​ date about latest happenings in​ the​ SEM industry. Moreoever,​ such memberships offer exceptional opportunity to​ network with industry experts. Find below some of​ the​ reputed Search Engine Marketing professional organizations.

• SEMPO
• SEOPros

Conferences - Participation in​ SEM conferences is​ another great opportunity for training & development,​ directly from the​ industry experts. Find below some of​ the​ prestigious Search Engine Marketing conferences.

• Search Engine Strategies
• WebmasterWorld Pubcon
• ad:tech

SEM Interviews

Search Engine Marketing is​ both a​ Science and an​ Art. the​ selection process for SEM professionals may involve a​ single interview,​ multiple rounds of​ interviews or​ a​ combination of​ written test and an​ interview. a​ candidate is​ most likely to​ be tested on​ both general and technical skills,​ as​ mentioned above. Many organizations first conduct an​ aptitude test and then follow it​ up with a​ technical interview.

Please understand that it​ is​ possible that the​ person interviewing you​ may not know more than just few SEM buzzwords. the​ reason they are considering you​ for a​ position is​ that they need your expertise and that you​ may be the​ first one to​ bring that experitse. the​ company may not be fully convinced about the​ potential of​ SEM for them and you​ may be able to​ convince them through the​ interview process. it​ is​ critical that before you​ go for the​ interview,​ you​ study the​ website of​ your potential employer and the​ products/services offered by them.

Some of​ the​ questions commonly asked in​ an​ SEM interview are:

1. What are the​ advantages of​ SEO over PPC?
2. What is​ Web Analytics?
3. How do you​ optimize a​ dynamic web page?
4. What is​ black hat SEO?
5. List 5 important website elements for SEO.
6. Mention 3 popular PR,​ Directory and Article submission sites.
7. List 5 most common SEO incompatible issues found on​ most websites.
8. What are the​ most common ROI metrics in​ Search Engine Marketing?
9. What is​ a​ landing page?
10. How do you​ perform keyword research?

Visit OM Careers SEM Interview section for a​ comprehensive list of​ SEM interview questions.

SEM Jobs Resources

The growing SEM industry has created lots of​ new jobs and the​ demand for SEM professionals is​ going to​ increase continuously at​ least for next couple of​ years. Find below a​ list of​ some of​ the​ popular job sites for SEM.

• SEM Jobs at​ SEMPO
• SEO Jobs in​ USA
• SEO Consultants
• GetAFreelancer (freelancing SEO jobs)




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