July 23, 2009

New Chart: Hiring Skilled Search Marketers Is Becoming Easier

SUMMARY: It continues to get easier to find and retain skilled SEM staff. As the industry matures, more people have more experience. While this is good for the health of the industry, it may mean smaller salaries for SEM specialists.

Level of Difficulty Hiring SEM Staff, 2007 through 2009

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Good help will always be hard to find, but locating someone with knowledge of SEM is getting easier as the industry matures. With nearly two-thirds of all respondents in 2009 reporting that it is "not difficult" to hire good help, it’s a blessing and a curse for search marketers, depending on which side of the equation they fall.

Having a working knowledge of SEO and PPC search engine marketing is becoming more common. More junior-level search marketers are moving up the food chain in marketing departments while college students are entering the job market with some understanding upon arrival. Smart search marketers are bringing the tool kit of the bid-based marketplace to other marketing functions and, in the process, simply becoming smarter marketers.

As the economy affects us all in 2009, most marketers who still have jobs are staying put. The digital sector has been less affected than their offline counterparts, but times are still tight as overall budgets contract. As a result, retaining smart people who might otherwise be lured to new opportunities has become a bit easier for employers.

Search marketing managers generally work in the marketing departments of companies or agencies that are large enough to be able to support a multi-person search staff. The role is relatively well defined, and, depending on the market and level of responsibility, they should be making between $50,000 and $80,000 a year.

SEO specialist is a job title that somewhat defies definition. This could mean anything from an entry-level press release writer at a big PR firm, to a highly technical coding consultant. As a result, there’s a huge amount of variance in reported income for this job title.

Marketers who transitioned their search function from outsourced vendors to an in-house staff found it took an average of nearly 4 1/2 months to get their search program running smoothly. For companies that are heavily reliant on search, this can be a very long time indeed.

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