Guide To A Successful Career In Search Engine
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.
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
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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
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:
Google Advertising Professional Certification
Yahoo Certified Ambassador
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.
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
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.
Adwords Learning Center
Yahoo Search Marketing (click on 'Find out How Sponsored Search
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.
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
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.
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
Search Engine Strategies
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
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
GetAFreelancer (freelancing SEO jobs)
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/internet-articles/
About the Author
Pradeep Chopra is one of the co-founders of OMLogic Consulting, an online marketing consulting
and outsourcing company. Prior to OMLogic, Pradeep was one of the
founders of Whizlabs Software, where he developed the online business
model for which Whizlabs won the 'Most Innovative Indian IT Company'
award from NASSCOM. Online Marketing is his passion and he is among the
pioneers in India who started using Online Marketing as early as 2000.
He is an international speaker and author on Online Marketing. He is
also the founder of OM Careers, an online marketing careers
community.. Pradeep is a graduate of Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT), Delhi and is a member of the SEMPO's
Global Committee, which facilitates the growth of Search
Engine Marketing, globally. Pradeep can be reached through email at
pradeep @ omcareers.org.