Defining the Role: The SEM Specialist – What Kind Do You Need? (Part 2 of 2)

So, you need to hire a SEM Specialist and you’re wondering what you should be looking for in their work history. So, you start searching through resumes and realize that some SEM Specialists have niches in SEO, PPC, analytics, social media, and more. How do you know what type of SEM Specialist to hire?

In Part 1, we discussed some basic SEM concepts, defined the purpose of search engine marketing and its process. Plus, we shared a few commonly used terms and tools. In this article, we’ll further define the role of the SEM Specialist by discussing important differences in search engine marketing backgrounds.

SEM Generalist vs a Specialist

How a search engine marketer will work for your company will depend on the background and skills they possess. It is important to note that there are SEM Specialists who work specifically in pay-per-click while others work in organic search engine optimization. There are also marketers who work in both of these areas and have skills and knowledge in some of the additional skills you see below. Knowing whether you need a specialist or a generalist will have a huge impact on the goals and successes of your organization.

Additional Skills (outside of SEO and PPC) You May Find within SEM

Analytics: Most search marketers will have some basic knowledge of analytics and be able to pull reports in order to optimize performance. However, there is a big difference in skill levels in the area of analytics.

Social Media: Some SEM specialists have specific experience in working with social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. These other paid forms of advertising have their own platforms so if your business needs require boosted posts and ads on social channels, you may want to consider hiring someone with proficiency in this area.

Display Advertising: There is an important difference between search and display: “display ads are shown when your target audience is simply surfing online but not searching for your product or service.” So if you’re looking to integrate display ads as a major part of the SEM Specialists job, you will need to clearly specify and ask for this knowledge.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Search Engine Marketing Specialist?

Before you set out to hire a SEM Specialist, you should have a good understanding of your business needs and the type of Search Engine Marketer you’ll be looking for to fulfill those needs. You can start the process by answering these five questions:

  1. Will your SEM Specialist work on content or is this role strictly technical?
  2. Is there a strategy element included in the position? If so, will they also implement the strategy?
  3. Will your Search Engine Marketing Specialist be working on display campaigns, social media, and/or local search?
  4. Will this marketer be client-facing?
  5. Is it essential that the candidate has certifications? If so, which ones?

Top 3 Qualities to Look for in Any SEM Candidate

Once you’ve found the right type of Search Engine Marketer to help you attain your goals, there are 3 additional things you should look for in your SEM candidate:

  1. Curiosity and willingness to ask questions
  2. Knowledgeable about trends happening in the space and best practices
  3. Passion for the search engine marketing field

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