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Search Managers use their deeper understanding of search engines to drive results through advertisements, search engine optimization (SEO), and strategy. The Search Manager is usually in charge of pay per click (PPC) advertising, some organic digital marketing, and implementing SEO best practices for a client or business. They can work in-house, freelance or for an SEO agency. There are both remote and onsite opportunities available for this position.
The Search Engine Manager’s tasks usually include executing end-to-end set-up, optimizations, and maintenance of paid search campaigns; providing strategy recommendations; creating reports to show how their strategy is working; doing keyword research; improving ranking position for those keywords; managing paid campaigns; and testing their strategies to find ways they can improve.
At larger companies, the Search Engine Manager will probably work on a search team, with partners of the company, and with internal stakeholders. At the agency level, a Search Manager will work on a team with Digital Marketers and other Search Managers or Directors. As a freelancer, a Search Manager will primarily work alone with occasional client meetings to discuss the clients’ needs and strategies. They usually work a 40-hour week but may work overtime occasionally.
Search Managers must be masters of SEO and Search Advertising. High-level knowledge of digital marketing is also important. Tools like Google Analytics, Moz Pro, SEMrush, Majestic, Ahrefs, and DeepCrawl should be familiar to the Search Manager. They’ll also be working with Google Ads and other paid advertising platforms. Understanding of which paid advertising platforms are out there and how they work is important for any Search Manager.
Search Managers will likely find themselves doing search engine marketing (SEM), managing a budget for paid advertisements, and working on a digital marketing team. Some Search Managers might be expected to create copywriting or graphic design assets for their marketing efforts but most Search Managers work on a team with a graphic designer or digital marketer who will create those assets instead.
A Search Manager is expected to track their efforts, conduct A/B testing, and compile reports to show how effective their campaigns are. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing which means that all Search Managers must stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes. They should be proficient in the most popular web analytics dashboards and if they’re working freelance, should know which one they would recommend on the projects for which they’ll be proposing their services.
Typical office skills like proficiency in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word or the Google Drive Suite are a must for any Search Manager. Knowledge of industry jargon like Google’s most important algorithms, paid advertising abbreviations or acronyms, and SEO concepts will certainly come in handy. Soft skills like communication, presentation, and the ability to educate a client on these concepts is generally expected.
Some Search Managers choose to maintain a high-level knowledge and work in management only capacities while others worked their way up from specialties like Organic Back-Link Specialist, SEO Specialist, PPC Specialist, or Digital Marketer. Specializations can be somewhat useful but managerial positions typically pay more. Management positions require a “T-shaped” skill set, meaning the manager knows a lot on a high-level but only specific things on a deeper level. While specialist positions work the opposite way. A specialist knows a lot about specific tools and techniques and only some about adjacent specializations.
Digital marketing utilizes the internet and web based digital platforms to promote products or services. This includes the use of digital advertisements, social media, brand identities, and more.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic using tactics like keywords and backlinks to create organic, high-ranking search engine results.
Google Ads is the new name for Google AdWords. It is an online advertising service that allows advertisers to pay for the display of brief advertisements, video content, listings, and calls to action within the Google Display Network (GDN) to web users. You'll see Google ads on the GDN which includes Google Search, YouTube, and over 2 million other sites.
A Search Manager in the United States makes, on average, $74,830 annually, according to Indeed.com.
Salaries for Search Managers vary by region within the the United States. Listed below are some Search Manager salaries for specific areas with the United States compared with the average national salary:
About half of all Search Managers have a bachelor’s degree in communications, business administration, or marketing, but a degree is not required for this position. Obtaining a certification in Google Ads and having a data-driven portfolio can be enough to land a job as a Search Manager. Experience in another form of digital marketing is also a great substitute for a degree. Because SEO is ever-changing, years of experience can be weighted less than your unique ability to stay on top of trends and adapt to algorithm changes and updates.
Search Managers can find full-time, part-time, or freelance positions at companies both large and small. They can work onsite or remotely but usually onsite is preferred if they are not freelance. There aren’t any niche job boards that focus on SEO, but Search Manager positions can sometimes be found on digital marketing job boards. Most Search Manager jobs are simply posted on general job boards like the ones we’ve listed here.
You can find a Search Manager job on these sites:
Freelance Search Manager gigs are advertised on these sites:
Landing your first Search Manager job can be a difficult process. But once you’ve landed your first, getting the next one should be easier–as long as you’ve kept up with new best practices. A mock interview is a great way to start preparing for a Search Manager job search. Practice what you’ll say in an interview before the actual interview. Some interviewers might ask questions about how you’ll handle Google penalties, others might be more concerned with how you change your strategies when a search engine updates or they may want to know how you’ll stay up-to-date on search engine changes.
Most interviewers will want to know your long-term plan for maintaining relevance. Some interviewers might know that they need SEO help but have no idea what questions they need to ask you. Be prepared for both types of interviews. You may have to speak the lingo in some interviews while keeping the jargon out of it for others.
If you haven’t landed your first job yet and you need portfolio items, consider working for a friend or acquaintance for free on a limited campaign or working freelance to gain some experience. You will need to demonstrate any search management projects that you can. If you’ve worked in SEO, SEM, or digital marketing in the past, you likely have ample experience to showcase in your portfolio.
The key points employers will be looking for in your portfolio are the data-driven results from your work, the strategy behind it, and information both the audience and client. You might consider formatting your portfolio pieces as a case study so that you can incorporate your strategies, client information and feedback, as well as the results and the actual campaign itself.
Job titles and their responsibilities for the Search Marketer position will vary from employer to employer. Each company will have their own specific set of needs, team makeup, and budget so you’ll find variety even within the same job title. Adjacent specialist titles are also completely obtainable for a qualified Search Manager. In-house, freelance, and remote positions are all possible for the Search Manager position.
Search Managers can look for these job titles:
Search Managers have many options if they want to pivot their career. They can niche down and specialize as a Paid Search Manager who only works with PPC ads and not organic digital marketing techniques. They can take on a role as a Digital Marketer who works on a higher level to create campaigns and help companies strategize. Search Managers and Digital Marketers alike could choose to specialize further as a Digital Strategist or Digital Analyst and focus on the data and plans behind digital marketing campaigns.
They might like the technical side of things and become a Web Optimization Specialist. Search Managers might decide they love working within Social Media platforms and that they want to express more creativity. The perfect position to move into for more creativity would be Social Media Strategist. Most of these opportunities pay about the same or slightly more as a Search Manager and each can be done remotely, onsite, or freelance.
Digital marketers are responsible for designing, managing, and reviewing digital marketing campaigns. Using their expertise in search engine optimization (SEO), social media, backlinks, and digital ads, digital marketers provide data and demographic-driven marketing strategies. They may also help companies develop content marketing strategies through the use of blogs. Digital marketers also use data analytics to review digital marketing campaign results and provide guidance for future campaigns.Learn about becoming a Digital Marketer
A paid search manager is tasked with leading search marketing campaigns, generally on Google and Bing Ads. The manager leads the day-to-day strategy, reporting, analysis, and optimization of paid search campaigns. Day-to-day campaign management includes updating bids, adding/removing keywords, monitoring profitability, and more. Strategy and optimization include designing and adjusting paid search strategy to align with overall business goals, running tests to improve performance, and working with other digital partners to develop omnichannel marketing campaigns.Learn about becoming a Paid Search Manager
Digital Strategy is the work behind digitally rich projects like websites, social media, SEO content, digital marketing, and more. Digital Strategists identify opportunities for growth and make plans for new website releases, content for their client with a specific end goal in mind, or an advertising campaign.Learn about becoming a Digital Strategist
Digital analysts work with a marketing team to analyze the effectiveness and reach of digital marketing campaigns. They use Google analytics and site tagging tools to harvest user data. This data is analyzed and interpreted to provide insights into how to improve the user experience and the effectiveness of the digital marketing campaign.Learn about becoming a Digital Analyst
Marketing Managers oversee a team of marketing professionals who find ways to grow the business they're working for, execute those growth ideas through campaigns, and analyze and report on those campaigns.Learn about becoming a Marketing Manager
Web optimization specialists are experts at analyzing web traffic and making targeted recommendations to increase user engagement. Acting as user-surrogates, web optimization specialists analyze data on user behavior and advocate for new features or functionalities to improve the end-user experience. Web optimization specialists often work with web developers and designers to create funnels, web applications, and marketing campaigns. These professionals must have experience with data analysis, user-testing, prototyping and digital marketing development.Learn about becoming a Web Optimization Specialist
Social Media Strategists design social media blueprints to achieve a client's or company's marketing targets. They also create content and manage client or company accounts.Learn about becoming a Social Media Strategist