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