SALT LAKE CITY -- Internet marketing firms are seeing professionals leave their jobs to begin careers in search engine optimization. The search marketing industry has been growing steadily for years.
“I know several marketers who have moved across the country for opportunities in search marketing,” SEO.com President Ash Buckles said.
While those skilled in Web development are a hot commodity, officials said even someone with no marketing experience may find a satisfying career as a in professional SEO.
“It’s definitely something that we’re aware of,” said Ann Shannon, a spokeswoman for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization.
Starting salaries for search marketers might be a factor, she said.
A recent study by SEMPO showed the majority of search marketers surveyed, with fewer than three years of experience, earned between $30,001 and $60,000.
But more money was not the reason John Doherty left his job at a software company to join an Internet marketing firm. Today Doherty works as an SEO consultant at Distilled in New York City.
He said he was relieved to escape corporate America.
“[SEO] is a much more laid back, enjoy-who-you-are and enjoy-what-you-do sort of industry,” he explained. “It’s not for everybody. But if you love it, it can be a very good way to work and live.”
With a background in technical writing, Doherty said a career in search marketing was a perfect fit.
“I think it definitely helps to have a technical knowledge and knowledge about how the Internet works, but it is not required,” he said. “There are people I work with who didn’t have that technical knowledge, but they had the hustle, they had the creativity and they were really good at getting things done.”
David Zimmerman, an SEO manager at Ephricon Web Marketing, worked for a decade as a pastor before he was hired by the North Carolina-based Internet marketing firm.
“My job for my church was to go to new places and start new churches,” Zimmerman said in a telephone interview. “A lot of that was marketing and other communication skills.”
“SEO really became a best of all worlds. Now I can embrace my technical side and my communication side all in one career,” he said.
Using search engine optimization, Internet marketing firms help clients boost sales by making sure their websites appear prominently in Google, Yahoo and Bing. According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, search marketing will grow by about 16 percent this year to a nearly $20 billion industry.
Rich Harding was a police officer in Utah before he took a position in search marketing. Today he is an SEO manager at SEO.com.
“Business and online marketing have always intrigued me and I liked the idea of being able to reach millions of people through marketing. I was very fascinated with the idea of helping companies grow and increase their bottom line, and to be able to show six-figure [returns on investment] based on work I was doing,” Harding said. “I got to the point in law enforcement where I felt I was kind of bottlenecked in growth, and what I could do … I saw in online marketing that growth was limitless.”
Meanwhile, Buckles explained that several colleges even offer classes in search marketing.
"We're beginning to see the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University focusing on online marketing curriculum with their students,” he said. “Some assignments now mimic the needs of the market so students can enter into their careers with exposure to search engine optimization, search marketing and social media."