Almost unequivocally, when I speak with someone about the search industry this question arises: “How did you get into search marketing in the first place?”
Normally this question isn’t asked of teachers or engineers or even traditional marketers. Why? Because all of those professions have recognized college and university degree programs to help people get into those lines of work. It’s pretty obvious how they got into it — they went to school!
But SEM (define)? Not a chance. I was lucky enough to find a mentor way back in my university days who showed me the ropes and helped me get started in this space. If it weren’t for Darlene Moore of DriveTraffic, who incidentally provides excellent training in search marketing, I’m not sure if I would have ever gotten into this industry. I might not even be in the online space.
Why is it so difficult to find solid SEM programs? This industry has been around long enough for some sort of training to surface, and there is definitely enough of a demand for skilled search marketers that training is desired.
Perhaps it’s due to the ever-changing nature of this environment. Imagine trying to write a text book on search. Next month, no wait, next week, half the information could be totally obsolete. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for a career in SEM, it can be very difficult to get the education you need to secure the knowledge and credibility to get clients to work with you.
Although there are no post-secondary studies to be had in this sector, there are some industry-recognized programs that seem to hold some clout. Because I’ve been asked more than once about how to get into search marketing, I’m offering a short list of programs to look into if you’re considering a career in this field. I scoured the Internet for more to suggest — and there are many out there — but these will lend a bit more clout to your résumé.
Here they are:
- Google Advertising Professionals: paid search certification for Google’s AdWords program. If you’re already familiar with the interface, it’s not difficult to pass. Newbies should study and make use of the tutorials on the site. With exam being cheap to take, the key benefit is a neat logo you can put on your site that says you know your stuff. Note that Yahoo closed a similar program, called the Yahoo Search Marketing Ambassador, in May of this year … interesting.
- SEMPO Institute: online training in all aspects of search marketing for all levels, including paid and organic search. As the official SEM professionals organization, SEMPO has some definite credibility in the industry, so courses completed from there would probably be looked upon more kindly than Joe Schmo’s SEM training course.
- Search Engine Strategies: the industry event in search marketing takes place in major cities around the world. A nice alternative to online courses, SES covers a wide range of topics, with a different theme each year. Very seasoned experts may not find it revolutionary, but those on the newer end will definitely benefit.
- The Direct Marketing Association’s SEM certification program: online courses for both beginner and advanced levels, covering both paid and organic search, as well as integrating social media, PR, usability, and analytics elements. I like that you actually get a certification out of these course, and the DMA also has some good credibility.
I hope this list provides search marketing hopefuls a good starting point for getting the knowledge base needed to move into this field.
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