Commentary

Search Marketers Get The Big Bucks

SEMPO

The average search marketer salary is $75,542, according to the Salary Survey released Tuesday by the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO). The survey reveals that respondents with zero to three years experience in search marketing earn between $30,001 and $60,000 annually, and those with three to five years experience, about $70,000.

Approximately 20% of respondents with zero to three years of experience earn an annual salary of $60,000 or more. With five to seven years of experience, 78% of respondents make more than $60,000. Eighty-three percent have two or more weeks of vacation, fewer than half receive bonuses, and most respondents agree that increased vacation time or telecommuting are the desired perks to offset a salary gap. About 72% of survey participants have between three and 15 years experience in search marketing.

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While marketers still earn a respectable annual salary, rates have fallen in the past four to five years. The combination of the recession and a maturing industry with more competition put pressure on the average salary earned since 2007, when companies paid nearly $95,000 annually for specialists. That dropped to about $90,000 in 2009.

Aside from salaries, the survey highlights that search has become strategic. Two-thirds of respondents note that they work with social and mining analytics. When asked where they spend most of their time, 32% said organic and marketing; 19%, online marketing and search marketing combined: 18%, managing pay per click (PPC); 16%, organic and PPC; 12%, managing others who manage these efforts; and 3%, other.

Thinking about changing careers? Accountants or people with an analytical mind would fit nicely, because search marketing requires testing and measuring to continually improve performance, said Chris Boggs, SEMPO president.

Boggs believes that experts in financial services or retail with a marketing background could make a smooth transition if supporting that specific vertical. Accountants might also make a smooth transition as search marketing gets deeper into analyzing performance and creating recommendation based on high-performing campaigns.

Geography also appears to play a role. Seattle seems to have become a hotbed for search marketers who want to make a salary of more than $100 annually. Seattle had the highest percentage of survey respondents making more than $100,000, basically because the area has been incubating search marketers since 2000, Boggs said.

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