So You Want To Be A Search Marketer!
Speed talker Misty Locke is moderating this session with panelists Dan Perry (Cars.com), Pradeep Chopra (OMLogic), Jessica Bowman (Business.com), David Wallace (SearchRank) and Michael Gray (Atlas Web Service and giant troublemaker).
Up first is Pradeep Chopra.
The Internet has changed the way business is done today by creating a level playing field that is independent of time, distance and capital. The result is that being online is not a choice. You have to be there to survive. Search engine marketing is considered the best option and is growing at an incredible place. Today is the best time to be an SEM professional.
Why a career in SEM? Being online gives you flexibility. The skills you gain are portable and local. Search engine optimization is listed as one of the four cutting edge jobs. Innovation and adventure. You don’t need a professional degree and salaries are attractive (so are the bloggers!).
To be a search marketer you need to be really effective in your communication. You must be passionate about the Internet. You need to know how to network and you need to be a quick learner.
Some differentiators between search engine optimization and pay per click is that in optimization you need to be a lot more technical. For PPC you need to be more creative and analytical.
What lies in the future? Emerging areas include Web 2.0, rich media advertising, behavioral advertising, and conversions. The hot verticals are retail, travel, finance, education, social networking and search engine marketing.
To be successful in search marketing you must use it in everything you do, even finding a new job. Participate in continuous learning and take on a leadership role.
Dan Perry is next and he’s going to talk about interviews.
Preparation: "By failing to prepare you, you are preparing to fail" – Ben Franklin.
When you go in for an interview, expect to meet with at least three people. The first person you’ll meet is the HR person. They’re trying to find out one key thing – Did you lie on your resume. Heh. Your prospective boss wants to know if you can do the job. The boss’s boss wants to know if you’ll fit in. Basically, do you have the personality to not drive people crazy? Based on this, I don’t know how Susan was ever hired. [Same reason you were, I faked being pleasant for an hour. –Susan]
Expect to be asked the following questions:
- Where do you want to be in five years?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Biggest accomplishment/failure?
- What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
- How would a friend/coworker describe you?
Dan recommends going over these questions with a spouse or a boyfriend or girlfriend. I guess single people don’t deserve jobs.
Never bring up money, says Dan, because you don’t want people to think you’re only in it for the money and not for the experience/job/learning process. Don’t say you have offers elsewhere. Don’t ask for more vacation (drat). Know your number and stick to it. Consider the entire package (insurance options, relocation details, 401k match).
Interview process: Always have a question. Be specific. Ask your employer the one thing they do better than their competitor. Be prepared to compromise.
David Wallace is up next.
Today we have many ways to learn about search marketing. There are free resources (blogs, forums), eBooks, online courses, conferences and seminars. The best thing to do is take that knowledge and apply it to an actual site.
Establish a site to learn from. Choose your niche. Something that interests you but not highly competitive. Something that may help you establish your business. Secure a domain. Establish a Web site.
After all that, apply a search marketing strategy. Conduct keyword research, apply organic search techniques, set up paid search campaign, and track your progress.
Whether working for an agency or establishing your own SEM firm, it is important to network not only with partners but also with other search marketers.
- Develop business partnerships – traditional ad agencies, Web design firms, etc.
- Network online with search marketers – forums, blogs, social media, etc.
- Network in "real life" with everyone – This can include this conference for example but even things like local business organization or trade shows.
Brand yourself as an expert by writing information-rich articles, participate in forums, participate in social media, and start an informative blog.
Word of caution: In doing all these things, make sure you are being unique. Do not spam forums or blog comments, don’t steal other people’s content or sales copy, don’t come off as a know-it-all, and don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
The world of search engine marketing is fast paced and always changing. Keep on top of this exciting industry by staying active in forums, subscribing to quality blogs, never being afraid to experiment and buying savvy search marketers drinks at SES. Huzzah! Searchbash tonight!
Michael Gray is next at bat to talk about how to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.
Manage client expectations. Like David said earlier, only promise what you can deliver. Set reasonable time/date expectations. Under promise and over deliver.
Set Reasonable Limits. How much time will you be spending on the project? How much time will you be spending on phone calls, email, IM, etc? Avoid the temptation to become the equivalent of an in house SEO.
Avoid conflicts of interest. Disclose any conflicts before you close a deal. Decide if you are going to limit yourself to only one client for a particular area. Avoid competing with your client.
Manage your risks. Don’t let your business depend on one client or just one Web site. Don’t expose your client’s sites to unnecessary risks.
Keep learning and growing. Pick and follow some of your favorite blogs and limit yourself to a handful. Use recap or roundup bloggers. Experiment with your own sites and build your own test labs. If you don’t know where the line is you can’t prevent your clients from crossing it.
Use sub contractors to scale up/down quickly. Use them to compensate for areas aren’t your core. But be careful using sub-contractors for mission critical functions.
Contracts. Know when you need and don’t need a contract. Large companies especially Fortune 500 companies won’t work without a contract. Understand "word for hire" and copyright.
Accounting. Get a good accountant. Learn how to use accounting to your benefit. A good accountant will save you more money than you are paying them each year.
Jessica Bowman is up next. She spends the first few minutes taking a survey of who’s in the room.
Jessica says we’re now all students. Read everything you can to learn about search engine optimization. Read Google Hacks, Jennifer Laycock’s Small Business Guide to SEM, Shari Thurow’s new book, etc. Find the speakers you admire and read their blogs. Attend conferences. Consider training programs.
Most of your training is going to come from hands on experience. Get some side projects going. Find out where your weaknesses are and outsource portions of a project to more advanced search marketers.
Search marketing is constantly changing. You need to keep up with the marketplace, particularly if you are charging for this service. Jessica says Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable and Sphinn are all Must Reads.
Big changes in search marketing do occur. Cloaking was once accepted and now can get you banned. Link exchanges once worked very well and now they aren’t nearly as successful. Link buying was once accepted (Michael snickers) but now Google penalizes you if they know you’re buying. Expect to spend at least 2 hours a day reading and catching up with market.
As you work, systemize and document your process for consistency and productivity. Also, create clear documentation so that you can easily outsource the work to others – like your high school sister who doesn’t know search engine optimization but wants to make $6 an hour. Jessica has documented gathering rankings, keyword data gathering, directory submission, portions of a site audit, etc.
Build industry camaraderie. You need others to talk to about questions challenges and challenges in the SERPs.
Know what you don’t know. Remember the human side of search marketing.