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 2006. It is expected to be over $18 billion industry by the year 2011. The SEM industry grew significantly in 2006 as compared to 2005 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 2006. 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.