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How to land a search engine marketing (SEM) position

The search engine marketing (SEM) industry is hiring talented and intelligent tech-savvy individuals. Applicants have a higher chance of acquiring an SEM position when they can demonstrate basic yet integral understanding of the digital marketing landscape, possible through many extraordinary (and free) educational resources online.

SEM foundations: pay-per-click management, search engine marketing, social media optimization

SEM is the 800-pound gorilla of Internet marketing, and can be defined as an avenue for digital marketers to procure traffic from or strengthen visibility on the major search engines. Search engine marketers provide the following services: pay-per-click management (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO services), and social media optimization (SMO Services). Before you apply, though, there are some topics with which you should become familiar.

PPC advertising: resources and tools

When someone types a query in a search engine, natural listings appear on the left, and paid listings appear on the right, and, sometimes, at the top of the page. The manner in which paid listings are displayed and ranked is orchestrated by the real-time auction for ad space when a certain keyword appears in a search query. Search engine marketing is the process of utilizing both of these listing sets, as well as an active digital social presence, to generate site traffic.

PPC advertisers generate site traffic through paid text ads that accompany search engine listings that result from a specific search query, as well as paid text, display, banner or video advertisements placed throughout websites in a search engine's content network. PPC development is the process of creating paid search campaigns for publication through Google, Yahoo and Bing. PPC campaign management is the search marketer's way of delegating where, how and when search engines display their text ads.

Multilevel instructional articles and videos are available through Google's AdWords training website. SEM applicants would benefit from using this resource to become familiar with the everyday PPC terminology - including clicks, cost per click, impressions, CTR and conversions.

Applicants should also understand the difference between search networks and content networks, a/b creative testing, campaign and AdGroup negative keywords, keyword quality score, tracking pixels and URL tracking codes. Google also provides a number of free keyword expansion and keyword traffic tools with which every SEM applicant should be familiar.

SEO services that all SEM applicants should know

SEO specialists attempt to acquire traffic through a search engine's natural listings. By optimizing their company's or client's website around a number of keywords, themes or phrases, the site becomes a relevant source of information about those words.

SEO can get complicated, but applicants must be able show that they understand SEO in a big picture way. Such an understanding should leave the applicant comfortable enough to converse about the relationship between black and white hat search engine optimization and the constantly changing search engine landscape.

Meta optimization, content writing, link building, search frequency, 301 redirects, landing page optimization and rankings reports are SEO topics that will likely also come up during an interview.

Applicant resumes that stand out are those that show experience writing for a digital medium. If you have never published something online, reach out to your favorite business owner and ask them if they would be interested in increasing their search engine visibility by adding relevant content to their website or adding posts to their Facebook or Twitter pages.

Everyday SMO services

Companies often complain that their company Facebook page or Twitter profile does nothing to help their bottom line, and thus, they see no reason to be active in social media. However, when potential customers come across a stagnant Facebook page or Twitter feed, they tend to be dissuaded from pursuing a business relationship.

Before your interview, spend an hour learning about Google Analytics, and how some businesses might be able to calculate social media revenue with the assistance of its source and campaign tracking capabilities (complete with a URL builder).

Also, take time to research some of your favorite local businesses on Facebook and Twitter. See how they've chosen to define themselves in the social realm, and try to formulate some professional recommendations about what they could do differently to attract business.

Most Internet marketing managers are looking for one skill set in a new employee: experience researching or implementing commercial social media strategies.

SEM Positions: PPC management firms and SMO/SEO service companies vs. in-house Internet marketing departments

Companies must choose to do their Internet marketing in-house or to enlist a search engine marketing management firm. One looking to become involved in SEM has two options - find employment within a company's marketing department or with a PPC management firm, social media optimization company, or top search engine marketing company. To broaden one's options, those considering SEM employment should apply to PPC/SEO/SMO firms and in-house Internet marketing departments alike.

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