mind. I use specific tools to help me manage workloads in those areas, but I’d never put my trust
in software that claims to “optimize my site” for me — software like that is only as good as the
programmer who built it, and only as current as the last update. Miss an update and you may be
in dangerous territory.
The search marketing industry is still very young. There are not a lot of experienced SEMs with
seven-plus years of experience, and those who do have it are expensive to employ or contract
with — though their experience leads them to be able to perform, so many are easily worth it.
Those seeking to build in-house teams of SEMs in their own businesses tend to seek a lower
number of years of experience. Typically, in other industries, to reach the management level or
the director’s level and above, five to seven-plus years of experience are required. I see lots of
search marketing management jobs posted each week where management level positions are
seeking only two to three years of experience.
Most smaller companies cannot afford to hire a six-figure SEM to get the best. They need to strike
a balance, so less experience is often acceptable. This is not a reflection on a company’s level of
professionalism, but rather a statement of the relative youth of our industry. There just aren’t that
many deeply experienced SEMs floating around — and those there are command higher salaries.
The critical point for companies to remember is this — while learning the basics of search market-
ing can be compressed into a short period of time, and a person can be theoretically competent, it’s
often the better network that the more experienced person has that makes a difference.
Jerri: How are organizations budgeting for search marketing?
The budget for search marketing has continued to grow over the last two or three years,
but no additional funds have been added to cover that budget. Instead, companies take that budget
from other areas like e-mail marketing and pay-per-click advertising. Organizations are already wor-
ried about marketing strategies like PPC because of click fraud. That’s a serious concern, because it’s
very real and hard to control.
So what we see is organic SEM budgets that are growing at the expense of other areas of marketing.
Many companies feel organic search offers the best ROI — it’s a long term investment that can be
comparatively low-cost. Large PPC campaigns can easily run into the millions of dollars each year.
By comparison to a PPC campaign that requires a constant influx of money to perform, organic
search marketing needs are often met after a number of months of work, effectively moving a web
site to a new baseline level of inbound traffic. This type of effort will continue to perform long after
the last bill to an effective SEM consultant is paid.
Jerri: If organizations are taking away from their e-mail and PPC marketing budgets, then
what are they doing to ensure that potential customers are seeing them?
There are two models for the marketing that companies are doing: organic and paid.
In paid, money is being shuffled around so that organizations are bringing their search marketing
in-house or they are hiring third-party vendors to manage their search marketing efforts.
bapp02_6. 9:22 317