How to Retain a Good In-House SEM Professional

The search industry is relatively nascent in its ability to produce top search engine marketers. Because search is a burgeoning industry, there’s a heightened merry-go-round effect at play. Top sales professionals, programmers, and marketers jump from employer to employer. One of the most frequent queries at the average industry gathering is “Where did you used to work?”

Few search engine marketing (SEM) professionals seem to be groomed or grown nowadays; many are simply recycled.

Able corporate leaders understand a flourishing organization is built on the quality of their people. Effective business executives know retaining key staff is a priority for their companies’ future. Small business owners recognize each individual is critical to the daily ebb and flow of commerce.

Although different businesses are susceptible in varying degrees to employee turnover, most recognize an in-house SEM professional isn’t an interchangeable component.

Voluntary ship-jumping is often the result of employee perception that their needs will be better met elsewhere. In-house SEM experts are particularly vulnerable. They can often feel under-rewarded, underappreciated, and overburdened by the constantly changing environment of researching, building, and implementing successful SEM strategies.

Nonetheless, there are several things business leaders can do to retain a top-performing in-house SEM professional.

It’s Not Always About Money

On a list of 10 things that are important to top performers, money consistently ranks third or fourth. Income and earnings simply aren’t everything to top performers in any profession, in-house SEM specialists included.

Top performers thrive in a challenging work environments. For many good search marketers, the thrill is in the hunt: keyword research; the ability to see trends before they fully materialize; and the ability to brag about their observations and leap on opportunities as they’re revealed.

Like other top-performing employees, in-house SEM professionals thrive in open, honest work environments. They appreciate opportunities for recognition in the form of time off, family days off, and flexible work schedules.

It’s critical for business leaders to understand what motivates key individuals. An ongoing communications plan, or just taking your in-house SEM expert to lunch once in a while, can go a long way toward increasing her loyalty to your business.

Valuable Personnel Mean Greater Profitability

If an organic SEO project increases search engine referrals to an e-commerce property and results in a measurable rise in sales, recognize and reward contributions the in-house SEM professional made to the bottom line. If a paid-performance campaign increases lead generation by 15 percent, know who played a role in making these new opportunities happen.

If management demonstrates an in-house SEM’s performance is vital for achieving organizational goals and expresses how these individual efforts fulfill long-term business goals, everyone in the organization will better understand the role. Recognizing specific contributions that affect the big picture motivates most top employees to continue to perform superior work.

Successful in-house SEM professionals are habitual drivers. They’re turned on by challenge, change, and results. Recognize their efforts, and these individuals will understand you don’t take them for granted.

Don’t Leave a Good Thing Alone

In-house SEM professionals typically constitute an army of one. Although they interact with nearly every department, they’re usually alone in their depth and understanding of how search engines work and how search affects business.

All too frequently, management tends to leave top performers alone. A “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mentality can run counter to retaining a top in-house SEM. People at the top of their game tend to be perpetual learners. They’re eager to gain as much knowledge as possible about the facets and functions of the search industry.

Don’t underestimate the value of providing ongoing learning opportunities, reimbursing continuing education, and allowing an in-house SEM pursue other opportunities, such as contract work with noncompetitors.

Your In-House SEM Specialist Is Being Recruited

Don’t be blindsided when your in-house SEM informs you she’s been offered another deal. It’s not just about money. If you have an environment where top performers can thrive, it will be difficult for competitors to lure your SEM expert away.

Summing Up

Retaining top personnel is and will be continue to be a great challenge for nearly any business. Retaining top-notch in-house SEM professionals is no different. But the competition for their skill set is a tad bit more ferocious.

Top SEM talent will thrive in a company dedicated to developing superior business practices. Top SEM professionals are loyal to positive business environments, particularly if the company is known for exemplary management practices. A top SEM professional is readily retained when your organization consistently strives toward being the best.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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