Although the title of this article is ‘Considering A Career In Search Engine Marketing’ it is important to stress that there are in fact two different areas within ‘search’, namely: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising.
Industry experts have mixed views as to how ‘search’ should be defined but for the purposes of this article Search Engine Marketing covers both Search Engine Optimization (also known as natural search) and Search Engine Advertising (also known as pay per click, sponsored or paid search).
Background To Search Engine Growth
It seems that the Internet has been around forever and that using a search engine to look for information is now a normal day to day activity. However, it is easy to forget that Yahoo! only celebrated its 12th birthday in March 2007 and that Google celebrated its 10th birthday in September 2007. You only need to look at the number of additional products and services that they both offer today to see how fast the industry has grown!
When the search engines first launched, their results pages were based on their own proprietary algorithms. As the importance of the search engines to web site owners increased so did the desire to be highly ranked in the search engine results. This lead to the growth of SEO companies who would offer a service to optimize a web site to maximise its rankings in the search engine results.
As a result of the launch of the first Pay Per Click Search Engine by Goto.com in 1998 (renamed Overture and now owned by Yahoo Search Marketing) this lead to an opportunity for SEO companies to add another service by managing the Pay Per Click campaigns for their clients. In addition, it also led to new Search Engine Marketing (SEM) companies starting up who only specialised in managing Pay Per Click campaigns.
Of course, wherever there is growth in an industry there is also opportunity and none more so than the job opportunities that are now being created as a result of the phenomenal growth of the Internet and search engines.
Where Are The Job Opportunities?
As well as job opportunities within the Search Engine Marketing companies it is becoming more common to see some traditional marketing and advertising agencies offer search engine related jobs. In addition, there are now specialist digital media companies providing search engine marketing services. Corporate employers are also beginning to recruit their own Search Engine Marketing specialists to work in-house and this trend is expected to keep on growing.
What Type Of Skills And Attributes Will You Need?
The type of skills and attributes required will very much depend on how specialist the job role is and also the level of the job. Although many companies will want experience in the job discipline, others will be looking for well-motivated, flexible individuals with both the ability and desire to learn fast.
For the more technical roles (for example a Search Engine Optimisation Specialist) a technical background in HTML, programming or IT maybe required although the level of background required will vary from company to company
For the more marketing related roles (for example managing a large Pay Per Click campaign for a client) good business skills, an analytical and enquiring mind, creativity, lateral thinking and solid product and project management skills are always good attributes to have. These transferable skills may have been gained from a wide range of experiences across different industries.
However, one overriding attribute to have is the ability to deal with change. Things change so quickly within the search engine industry, with new products and services launched on a regular basis as well as updates to the search engines algorithms, that you have to be able to respond quickly and analyse what the various changes will mean to your clients.
Do I Have Enough Experience?
Bear in mind that there are not many people within the industry with more than five years experience of paid search or ten years experience of search engine optimisation because the industry is very much still in its infancy! Therefore, if you have limited search engine industry experience many companies (big and small) may be willing to provide their own training programmes for you if you show the desired aptitudes and attitudes.
In addition, companies may also look favourably at applicants with experience of working in a specific business sector or client group as they already have an appreciation, knowledge and understanding of their market sector.
In Summary –
If you are looking for a change of industry in your existing role within Sales, Project Planning, Account Management, Business Development etc., or you are looking to learn some new skills in a fast moving industry, there are some exciting career opportunities available within Search Engine Marketing.