11 Reasons Why You Should Consider A Job In Search Engine Marketing

Are you currently seeking employment? Looking for a new profession? Considering a career change? Then a job in the field of Search Engine Marketing should be at the top of your list. Here are 10 reasons why:

1) The Search Industry is HOT

The first dot-com bubble may have burst 6 years ago, but the current bubble is getting bigger and stronger every day. One of the main reasons for the current dot-com boom is the skyrocketing growth of the search engine industry. No longer the territory of geekdom, search has exploded into the mainstream over the past few years and businesses are falling over themselves to get seen by online searchers. And they’ll pay big bucks to search engines for the privilege.
Have you noticed that Google shares recently hit USD 500 EACH? It’s not a coincidence. Search giants like Google, Yahoo and AOL can’t fail to make money because everybody wants a bit of the search action. There’s no denying, search is HOT, HOT, HOT.

2) It’s Considered one of Four Jobs on the Cutting Edge

According to a recent article on MSN Careers, the position of Search Engine Optimizer is considered one of four jobs on the cutting edge right now. Who gave it this title? A representative from the world’s largest specialized recruitment firm – Robert Half International Inc.

Search Engine Optimization is considered a sub-set of Search Engine Marketing. If you’re unsure what a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) does, below is a definition provided by MSN Careers:

“Search engine optimizers (SEOs) increase a firm’s Web site traffic by improving its search-engine page rankings. This is an especially important task in today’s Internet-driven world, where many customers first learn of an organization and its products or services through the Web. Because of a shortage of experts in this relatively new area, many top SEOs receive multiple job offers. SEOs typically supplement their knowledge of how various search engines operate and determine page rankings with strong marketing skills, as well as the ability to communicate effectively and program using HTML.”

Wikipedia also defines Search Engine Optimizers

3) The Pay is Fantastic

A job in the search industry can be unbelievably lucrative. As noted recently  by Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide, “There are quite literally more jobs than there are skilled marketers and salaries can skyrocket to almost embarrassing levels.”

Have you seen the type of salaries that search engine marketing and search engine optimization consultants are currently commanding in the US? Clearly, the search industry is making some people rich. Here are some typical salaries in USD:

Entry level SEO/SEM position = $30-45K

Three to five years experience / online account managers = $50-75K

Five + years / organic SEO specialists = $75-90K

Senior management level = $70-120K

SEM Director = $95-150K

VP Level = $100-315K

Additional Salary

4) You Don’t Need a College Degree

Because the search industry is relatively young, there are only a handful of online courses and certifications offered in the field of Search Engine Marketing (Search Engine College – being one training provider).

Most search engine marketing practitioners are self-taught, learning the trade by experimenting with their own sites, researching trends, attending conferences and participating in discussion forums and so employers don’t generally require SEO / SEM certification or a tertiary qualification as a pre-requisite for a position in the industry.

However, candidates who hold a marketing degree or specific industry certification in Search Engine Marketing may well have an edge over their fellow applicants when it comes to interview selection.

5) You Can Learn it all Online

Everything you need to know to become a Search Engine Marketer, you can learn online. All the information is out there, you just have to find it. To become an expert in SEO / SEM, you need to do research, research and more research. Read everything you can get your hands on relating to search on a daily basis, including articles, forums, ebooks, blogs and newsfeeds. Then you need to put this knowledge into practice by experimenting with your own sites, or finding guinea pig sites to practice on such as those of friends, family or charity sites until you find the methods that give you the best results. Programming knowledge is not a pre-requisite for SEO / SEM jobs, but it does help to learn basic HTML. There are plenty of free HTML tutorials online.

If you don’t fancy years of research or are in a hurry to jump-start your career in search, consider taking an online Certification course in one of the many Search Engine Marketing disciplines such as the Certification Pathways  – provided by Search Engine College. These type of courses are usually tutor-led and designed to fast-track your training and ensure you gain the right type of skills to make you immediately employable within the search industry.

6) You Can Be Your Own Boss

Because most of the work you’ll be doing is online, Search Engine Optimizers and Search Engine Marketers often have the freedom of choice to work for an employer, work from home and/or freelance. Many SEO / SEM freelancers end up hiring workers and starting their own company due to the massive demand. This gives search engine marketing experts the work from home lifestyle that others can only dream of.

7) Search Marketing Has the WOW Factor

Once they know what they’re doing, it’s very easy for a Search Engine Marketer to wow their clients. The difference that a successful SEO or PPC campaign can make to a client’s bottom line is substantial. I’ve seen online conversion rates for a client zoom from 1% to a massive 5% after just two small tweaks to their web site. And although rankings are not as important as actual conversions, clients still get very excited to see their site listed in the top 10 search results for certain keywords. It’s the WOW factor in action.

8) The Demand is Strong and Growing

As mentioned in relation to search engine salaries, there are literally many more jobs than there are skilled marketers to fill them. This extreme demand means Search Engine Marketers can pick and choose their jobs and/or clients. The more skilled marketers are head-hunted regularly. For Search Engine Optimization firms, there are more than enough clients to go around and rarely a need to advertise for new business. That’s why you often find SEOs turning away clients or recommending their competitors during extremely busy periods.

Experts in select specialties such as Pay Per Click Advertising (a sub-set of Search Engine Marketing) are currently enjoying even higher demand than usual, as advertisers out-bid each other to have their site shown for popular keyword searches on Google, Yahoo! and MSN. Another indicator of high demand is the sheer number of search-related job postings seen on employment sites such as those listed here: [http://www.searchenginecollege.com/hub/weblinks.php?cat_id=45].

9) The Industry is Hip and Groovy

There’s something very trendy about people in search that I can’t quite put my finger on. There’s a constant buzz around them. If you’ve ever been to a search engine conference or to Google’s headquarters you’ll know what I mean. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve come from so many different professions. Or that the age range of search marketers varies from teens to Baby Boomers. Or their whacky dress sense. Maybe it’s the smell of money and happiness that they give off. Maybe it’s the fact that they are constantly in the media. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s no longer uncool to be a geek. In fact it’s downright hip to be square.

10) The Skills Are Portable and Global

Skills in search engine marketing are portable and global. You don’t need to be at a desk, in an office or on the phone all day. You don’t even need to meet your clients. Of all my clients, I’ve probably only met 20 percent of them and spoken to half of them on the phone or via chat. You can be on vacation for six months out of the year in various locations and still conduct business. You literally only need a computer and an Internet connection. The Internet is the universal equalizer. You can service clients in any country in the world, in many different languages. You can compete with one man operations and Fortune 500 companies on the same level playing field. The flexibility of the search industry is a huge advantage over other career options. Have laptop, will travel!

11) Job Satisfaction is High

Search is a fascinating industry. With all the hype, daily gossip, corporate take-overs, start-ups and geek toys, I can guarantee that you won’t get bored. This combined with the flexible work hours, low start-up costs, ability to be your own boss and the excellent income keeps job satisfaction high for Search Engine Marketers. So what are you waiting for? Go get a job in search!

Search Engine Marketing Made Easy

Search engine marketing isn’t rocket science, although many seem
to think that getting adequate ranking in the search engines is a
complex and impossible task. Without a doubt, search engine
marketing is one of the most complex types of marketing because
the search engines’ rules and preferences evolve constantly. But,
considering that the majority of website visitors find the
websites they visit through the search engines, search engine
marketing is absolutely the best medium for internet marketing.

Search engine marketing and search engine optimization experts
may talk to you about complex things like algorithms, which are
really nothing more than mathematical formulas that reflect the
website ranking rules of particular search engines. Unless you
are a mathematician and you can get your hands on a search
engine’s current formula, you will never in a million years
understand algorithms, so don’t waste your time trying to. You
can be successful in your search engine marketing efforts without
knowing a thing about mathematical formulas.

Sometimes, the best way to get good ranking in the search engines
is through trial and error. You try different things, see what
works, and run with it. Sometimes, it may be best to hire a
search engine optimization specialist or consultant. Generally,
search engine optimization services are pricey, and because
search engine marketing requires ongoing efforts, they can get
really expensive. However, if you can afford it, hiring a search
engine consultant to get you on the right track is a great idea.

From my interviews with women who own their own internet
businesses, a comment made by one lady stands out in my mind. She
said, “I knew that getting listed in the search engines was
critical to the success of my business. I tried to achieve
ranking on my own, but I got so confused by all the information
about search engine optimization that all I really knew was that
I definitely did not know what I was doing. I couldn’t really
afford to hire a consultant, but I had to redefine some
priorities to get it done. Without the search engine marketing
consultant showing me the way, my business would have never
gotten off the ground.”

Whether you choose to pursue search engine marketing on your own,
or with a consultant by your side, there are a few things you
need to know about search engine marketing:

There is no magic search engine marketing formula for
achieving top ranking in the search engines.

There are a number of different search engines. The most popular
ones are Google, Yahoo and MSN. Each of the search engines has
their own rules for indexing sites, set their own algorithms, and
change them frequently. Be wary of search engine marketing
information that claims to be “the secret” or “the magic formula”
for achieving top ranking in the search engines.

Relatively, also be wary of search engine optimization companies
that guaranty top ranking. If you are offered such a guaranty,
get it in writing and check the company’s references and do some
independent research in regard to their reputation. Doing an
internet search for the company name will likely give you some
good information about their reputation because whether they are
good or bad, they are likely to be the topic of discussion in
internet marketing forums.

You have to submit your website to the search engines.

Search engine marketing requires that you submit your website to
the search engines. The search engines use something called
spiders to index websites and the spiders may incidentally pick
up your website at some point, but to ensure your site is
considered for indexing, you need to submit it to the search
engines. To do that, you need to find and read the guidelines for
submission for each search engine.

Using an automated search engine submission tool isn’t a very
good search engine marketing tactic because they generally submit
the exact same information to every search engine without
considering the individual search engines’ requirements. When you
submit your website to the search engines, you cannot expect
immediate indexing. Sometimes it takes up to six weeks to get
listed.

There are three search engine marketing factors that are
consistently important to achieving desirable search engine
rankings.

Though the search engine marketing rules and relative strategies
tend to change frequently, three factors remain important to
achieving a good rank. They are content, keywords, and links.
Content is important because the search engines cater to those
searching for information, not those providing it. When the
content of your website is relative to the terms a browser is
searching for, your website will be more desirable for indexing.

Keywords and keyword phrases are the terms that people use when
searching for something in the search engines and they are
central to your search engine marketing efforts. For your search
engine marketing efforts to be fruitful and to generate targeted
traffic, you need to do keyword research and find out what terms
your target audience is using. Rather than using the most
popular, competitive keywords, it is best if you can choose niche
phrases that provide targeted traffic but aren’t highly
competitive.

Link popularity, based on the number of links connecting to your
website, and link relevancy, the relevance of those links to your
website, usually tend to play a role in search engine rankings.
Thus, part of your search engine marketing campaign should be to
establish relevant links to your website.

To build your link popularity, find relevant websites and request
that they link to your website, or offer to trade links with
them. Getting your website listed in online directories that are
relevant to your industry as part of your search engine marketing
efforts can also enhance your link popularity.

If You Decide Upon Search Engine Marketing Based Solely on Price, You Are Likely a Victim

Everyone loves a bargain. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with saving money or finding a great deal by shopping around. As a consumer, it almost feels like you have “won” something when you can compare notes with others and have the bragging rights to say, “You paid how much? Wow, you got ripped off! I got it for 30% less.” From a business perspective, it’s just good decision making to minimize expenses as much as possible by finding the lowest price on whatever product or service you need- most of the time, that is. There are exceptions.

If your purchase is shrink wrapped in plastic and branded by a manufacturer, you can be somewhat assured that finding it somewhere else at a lower price is a “safe” bonus. In most product and service industries, when comparing generic product labels to brand names the old expression, “You get what you pay for” applies as a universal caution that quality comes with a price tag. The moral of the story with such expressions including, “Pay me now or pay me later” illustrate that you really don’t get much of a bargain by buying offshoot products and services. In most cases, the knockoff product breaks prematurely or the discount service needs to be redone (in part or in whole) to make it right. At the end of the day, cutting corners usually results in spending more time and money later to get what you thought you were getting in the first place, and any savings that you initially realized is negated.

The same is true for your business’ marketing efforts on the Web. Unfortunately, many website developers avoid discussing what it actually takes to get a positive return on investment from your website. Whether it’s because they don’t really know what’s involved or because they want to get whatever money they can from you before asking for more, the topic of marketing and promotion is rarely covered during the design process. For the website developer, it’s safer that way. Once your website is built (and you have paid them), the afterthought question, if it gets asked at all, is typically, “What are you going to do to promote your website?” The question comes as casually as, “Do you want fries with that?” The topic of marketing is almost treated as though it were optional.

It’s not- if you want your website to pay for itself and bring you new business.

For your website to perform, you must ensure that its pages are constructed with certain features and characteristics that are important to the search engines so that search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) can properly and effectively consider listing the site when someone searches for what you sell. The process of adjusting the site is called search engine optimization, and it involves more than just pasting a few keywords on the pages of your site. Text, links, font, typesetting, image labeling, and other characteristics are all adjusted as part of the optimization process. Or at least, they should be.

After your website is optimized (prepared for the search engines), it then must be marketed (promoted to the search engines). Yes, that means more money. By now, you’re probably thinking, “When will it end? How do I stop the bleeding? Won’t people just find me because I have an optimized site?”

Unfortunately, your website is not like the ball field in the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams“. In other words, it’s not a case of the coined expression, “If you build it, they’ll come“. For your website to develop a findable presence on the Internet amidst all of the competition, some kind of action is necessary to get the search engines to take notice of it. Search engine marketing is performed by many methods, including article publication, blog posting, social media, link building campaigns, pay-per-click, subscribed directory listings, and much more. Just as traditional marketing can be done by many methods (television, radio, newspaper, phone book listings, magazine ads, billboards, etc), marketing your website on the Internet is an expansive (and often expensive) process.

Aside from the methods, other significant differences between search engine marketing and traditional marketing are your audience and your competition. In traditional marketing, your audience is people and your competition is anyone who sells what you sell in your marketplace. It’s different on the Web. On the Internet, your target audience for marketing efforts is not just people, it is the search engines as well. And your competition is not just other service providers in your area, it is any document, video, article, blog post, or other company that is taking up space where you want your business to appear.

Similar to traditional marketing efforts, your dollars are 100% at risk with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). There are no guarantees that people who find you will pull out their wallets and buy what you are selling. Inexperienced and unethical people who tout themselves as search engine “experts” count on that little detail. There are numerous deceptive ways that unscrupulous fraudsters can artificially inflate the amount of traffic that your website receives without bringing any real, qualified customers to you. Often times, such fraudsters lure you in with lofty promises and seemingly bargain basement prices. Even some of the legitimate companies in the SEM arena can be misleading. The term “Buyer Beware” applies in full force, and the only defense you have is to get a basic education on SEO/SEM topics.

Therefore, read on.

As we’ve discussed above, Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are not black-and-white, cut-and-dried, plain-and-simple processes. You can receive two price quotes from completely different companies claiming to optimize your site, one for $200 and one for $2000, and they are both “telling the truth.” Assuming that both companies are honest and ethical, the price difference does not necessarily reflect that one is a bargain while the other is overpriced. To explain the difference, you must look at the extent to which your site will be optimized. For example:

  • Will each page on your site be optimized with the same set of keywords throughout the site, or will each page be individually optimized with a unique set of keywords relevant to the content on the page?
  • Will images on the page be adjusted and “labeled” with keywords in the programming on the page, or will they be left as generic?
  • Will text characteristics like font size, font style, use of headings, etc. be adjusted along with the text content, or will the words simply be changed to reflect keywords on the site?
  • Will the keywords be selected, analyzed, and verified based on market research data to determine demand, relevance, and applicability, or will the words be selected by intuitive guessing?
  • How will such characteristics of keyword density, keyword dilution, placement “above the fold”, and geo-targeting be addressed, or will these strategic elements of SEO be omitted from your project’s scope of work?
  • Will the physical characteristics of the site (use of frames, tables, site maps, page names, navigation structure, etc.) be addressed, adjusted, and corrected as appropriate, or will the scope of work involve just quick tweaks, working with what’s already there?
  • The list goes on…

The $200 deal may take eight to ten months to achieve mediocre results, if any results at all. The $2000 dollar deal may result in top rankings within a couple of weeks, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars each month in sales. Maybe-but not guaranteed.

You see, there are varying levels of detail to the extent that your website can be optimized. It’s not a matter of “is it optimized, or isn’t it?” Knowing that, it becomes easy for one company to undercut another in price, sometimes substantially, using the same language that “We will optimize your website.”

I wish it were a simple equation that could be summed up by saying, “You pay less, you get less”, but that is not the case either.

To complicate the issue, we need to examine the ethics of the service provider involved. Here is where you really need to do your homework to protect yourself. You might be in safe haven if you initiated contact with the SEO/SEM provider based on a referral from another happy customer, but more times than not, you are the one receiving a call from a company that is soliciting. Buyer Beware.

Before you commit to doing business with anyone regarding the marketing “fate” of your company, check them out thoroughly.

  • What is their Better Business Bureau rating?
  • Do a search for the company on the Internet using the company’s (or freelancer’s) name to obtain any information about them. If the company is legitimate, you should see plenty of references to them. If they’re shady, you may see evidence of lawsuits, complaints or bad press associated with them. Be sure to explore what you find, and dig a little deeper.
  • Obtain references and examples of client success stories that you can verify yourself by doing keyword searches on the web. If an SEO/SEM company claims to have achieved great placement for their customers, your response should be, “Show me.” If they refuse or cannot produce examples, walk away.

In the SEO/SEM world, “You get what you pay for” is a best-case scenario. Since there are no guarantees on producing results, it is very easy for rogue fraudsters to overcharge for services, deliver nothing, and laugh all the way to the bank. Adding insult to injury, if you sign a year-long contract for ongoing marketing services, those same fraudsters can legally bind you into throwing good money after bad, month after month, and if you refuse to pay, they can sue you and collect even more. I’ll emphasize it again, you should absolutely look out for your best interests and perform some kind of background check on anyone who asks for your Internet marketing money.

Even some of the larger, popular phone book companies must be questioned. If you have been in business for any length of time, you will undoubtedly be solicited by a telemarketer from one or more online phone book directories. You are low-hanging fruit for them-after all, they own a database of phone numbers and business names and business-to-business calls are exempt from the Do-Not-Call registry, so why not exploit it?

When you are approached by such companies, the sales pitch is often geared towards getting your business (not necessarily your website) found at the “top of the listings, on page one”. In the same breath, the sales person may inter-mingle a comment about being partnered with a search engine company like Google, or some such statement. Although the sales person may not be intentionally trying to be deceptive, the resulting confusion is the same: In these conversations, the business owner usually ends up (mistakenly) thinking that his or her website will be guaranteed a top position in the organic search engine listings on page one of Google (or other search engines) for selected keywords.

What is really being promised, usually? For a fee, the business will receive a top placement listing within the online directory of the company that is soliciting the business owner. That listing will be for the selected keywords, but it will not be the business website at all. It may be for a profile page or for a template landing page, but it will not necessarily be found anywhere on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. in the organic listings. What of all the talk about being “partnered” with the search engine company? Whether stated for informational purposes, credibility, or as a “red herring” to distract and mislead, it’s pretty common for phone directory companies to do enough business with the search engines’ pay-per-click programs to achieve “partner” status… but that status guarantees you nothing. It just means that the phone directory company met the search engine company’s administrative and financial requirements to be dubbed a “partner”. If a directory listing company makes claims about top placements for your business, insist that they show you examples of other clients whose websites show up in the organic search engine listings under various keywords other than the business names. Don’t be surprised if they can’t, at which “no, thank you” is an appropriate close to the sales conversation.

Like SEO, SEM involves more than one method or process to be effective. The success of your SEM efforts relies on the extent of your promotion efforts and how well diversified they are. Another old expression, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” applies to the methods used in promoting your business. If you find yourself in the situation of doing only pay-per-click, your organic search engine positioning will suffer. If you find that you’re paying someone to do just blog posting for you, your organic marketing is imbalanced. The price tag may (and probably will) be much lower than if you used a competent broadened strategy focused on your local, regional, or national markets, but paying less to get nothing in return is just plain dumb.

It’s smart to compare SEO/SEM service providers and cost does need to be considered. But cost should not be the deciding factor. It should be a contributing factor. More importantly, credibility, experience, demonstrated results, level of detail, and diversification of methods need to weigh in on the decision, too. If you make your decision based solely on price, by the time you figure out that what you’re doing isn’t working, you are most likely out hundreds or thousands of dollars and bound under a contract to spend thousands more. How does that bargain feel now?