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Find a Career in Search Engine Optimization

Looking to buy an MP3 player? Need to do research for your term paper on Egyptian pyramids? Hunting for a summer job? Whatever the case, the first thing you do is search the web.

People use search engines (like Google) to look for all sorts of information and products. That's because it's easy to type in what you're looking for and get thousands of results in the blink of an eye.

But scrolling through endless pages of hits isn't practical. Most of us go through the top 10 listings, maybe the top 20. Companies compete to show up at the top of search engine results to get your attention and your business.

That's where search engine marketing and search engine optimization come in.

"The whole name of the game is to show up in those top 10 results -- trying to find ways and means to ensure that in the most widely used search engines for your particular product and your particular industry, you are there at the top," explains Ramdas Chandra, a marketing professor.

Companies hire people to tweak their sites to ensure top rankings. There are also search engine optimization and marketing firms made up solely of these professionals. Some companies contract these firms to manipulate their sites instead of hiring internally.

"If you have the best website in the world and no one ever finds it, it's useless!" says Internet marketing strategist Sally Falkow.

Search engine optimizers deal with the technical side of things. They study how search engines work and try to crack the ranking algorithms so they can program their websites to get placed first on a search page.

Search engine marketers deal with the marketing side. For instance, they optimize the website's content creation and writing to ensure better listings. Some even pay search engines to place their sites higher up in the rankings.

"Optimizers are more concerned with coding and engineering of websites," says Williams. "Marketers are really concerned with advertising and branding and stuff. They need to understand how people search for things on the Internet and identify keywords they use."

The bad news is that it is hard to find college programs dedicated to this, whether you are interested in the techie or marketing side.

Get a broad education, rather than one that is too specialized in this field. Chances are that people hired to do search engine optimization and marketing will be responsible for other related tasks as well, says Chandra. Learn marketing and Internet skills that are transferable.

Another smart idea is to get hands-on experience, according to Falkow. "Students need to get basic training. So they're going to have to find some cutting-edge school that teaches search engine optimization. Or they're going to have to find a place where they can do an internship in Internet and search marketing and search optimization."

She also recommends attending search engine optimization forums and conferences, where experts in the field gather to discuss all the latest trends and industry news.

"All the top people are there. They could learn a lot and could find somebody to mentor them," she says.


Search Engine Watch
Everything you wanted to know about the search engine industry

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Search Engine Guide
Find news, newsletters and resources related to search engine marketing

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