Why the search market wants to spread its seed

You don’t have to be a mathematician to work here (but it probably helps).

Anyone smart can become a good search marketer – some of the best ones I’ve met have come from such diverse academic backgrounds as English, Geography, Anthropology, Classics and even Medieval Languages. Over the years, technology advancements in search have removed some of the need for hardcore data analysis, so you don’t need a maths or analytical background to do well in the job.

When it comes to retaining your interest though, that might be a different story.

Broadening out

Most people fall into search. The market’s a bit of a vacuum – the demand for good people at agencies is so high that graduates are often recruited into search roles based on having a strong education and good front-of-house ability, rather than specific skills in data analysis.

Search is a pretty interesting area, and there’s a lot to learn. Most graduates really enjoy getting to grips with their first job in London, the thrill and buzz of agency life and learning lots about a marketing discipline they perhaps knew little of before.

We tend to find the people who have the longest careers in search as a specialist are the more analytically-driven ones. The people who love the detail and the tactics. With the possible exception of specialist agencies like Forward3D and Periscopix (who prioritise these skills at graduate level), there aren’t too many of these people out there.

For everyone else, it’s often a different story. After a few years some of that novelty wears off. I meet people every week who like their job, but have just got to a point where they feel a little limited and a little bored of working purely in search. Sooner or later there’s a demand to move away from focussing on a single discipline and to explore the wider market. Digital’s a broad spectrum after all.

Lots of people in the search market have simply got a bit bored of search. It’s not their fault – they were just mis-recruited as graduates.

The desire to broaden out isn’t just about moving away from the nitty gritty of running search campaigns. It’s about continuing to learn and develop, progress their skills and open up more options longer-term. Coupled with this is often the desire to influence more – to have control of a broader channel mix means being able to think and act more strategically.

Broadening your role isn’t always a straightforward thing to do though. Stay tuned next Friday when Dan will explore some of the challenges people face when looking to broaden their skill-set.