Top Skills You Need For Paid Search Marketing

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What is Paid Search Marketing/Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also called Paid Search Marketing, is the practice of businesses using paid advertisements to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). In today's "Google it" world, SEM has become an absolute essential marketing channel for a company's visibility. Whether it be for a diet fad, school resources, or online shopping, people are searching all the time for information, and if you’re doing your job right, they’ll come to your website for the answers.

example of a paid search ad on Google

Work Responsibilities for Paid Search Marketing

If you work in Paid Search Marketing, one of the biggest things you’ll do is execute tests. With these tests, you’ll be collecting and analyzing data to identify trends and insights. The reason you’ll be doing this is to achieve maximum ROI (or, return on interest) in paid search campaigns. What this means in laymen’s terms is that you’ll be making sure that the advertisements you’re paying for are actually bringing customers to your door! 

You’ll be in charge of tracking, reporting, and dissecting website analytics and PPC (Pay-per-click) initiatives and campaigns. This can sometimes be as easy as just making some charts to show what’s working or what isn’t, or it can be as nuanced as sending out specialized advertisements to try to hit different demographics with different draws. Depending on how big your company is, you may do this as part of a team, or you may be planning and executing your own campaigns and then managing the data from it. 

Having advertisements for your company doesn’t come free, though. You’ll need some basic math skills to be able to manage campaign expenses. You’ll need to assure that you stay on budget and be able to estimate your monthly costs and projections. 

You’ll also want to make sure that once people are driven to your website, they stay there. This means optimizing the copy and the landing pages of your website, meaning that when they arrive on the specific webpages you want, they perform the action (ie. the conversion) you want them to do. This can include submitting their email, downloading a PDF, or signing up for a call with one of your company’s sales reps. 

Part of this job is always staying on trend to figure out which keywords will net you the best results. This is a job that will always have new data and new users that will change your tactics, so this job is best for those that enjoy a continual exploration of data. From there, you’ll also want to be experimenting to try to see what expands people’s searches and how you can most effectively optimize what you’re paying for. 

Lastly, an effective Paid Search Marketer knows their competition. You’ll, every once in a while, be doing some reconnaissance on how other companies in the same area as yours are doing; what their campaigns are, how their PPCs are doing, and how their marketing team is drawing customers away from yours. From there, you might be asked to analyze these data and change your own paid search parameters to be even more successful. 

Hard Skills 

When it comes to Paid Search Marketing, there are many hard skills you need to have under your belt. Hard skills are the sort of things you’d learn in a class on how to be a Paid Search Marketer. This means that even if you didn’t go to school for advertising, it’s still very possible for you to learn these sorts of necessary skills. Below is a list of hard skills that you should make sure you’re familiar with for this sort of role, along with links to online courses to sign up for. If applicable, the prices of these courses have also been listed. 

Hard Skills

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Budget Allocating 
  • Tracking Codes, Retargeting Codes, Tag Manager
  • Market Competitive Analysis
  • Data and Trend Analysis
  • Google Analytics/AdWords/SEMRush

How to Get These Hard Skills: 

Soft Skills

Once you’ve gotten a handle on those hard skills, don’t forget about the soft skills you’ll need for this job!

Soft skills are things that aren’t traditionally taught in educational settings. It doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to be effective with certain soft skills, but usually it’s more of an innate ability. 

However, even if you’re not perfect at soft skills, you should at least know what sorts of soft skills will be expected of you in a role like this. 

One of the most important soft skills for paid search marketing is writing. You’ll need to do a lot of it, so if writing has always been a hassle for you, this might not be the best career. From writing copy on all your advertisements and landing pages, to analyzing and explaining trends and forecasting, to communicating with other marketing team members…most of your time will be spent with this soft skill. 

On that last point, communication is something you’ll need to be fairly good at too. This isn’t just to be able to discuss strategy with your team, but you’ll need to know how to communicate to hundreds of thousands of people that are clicking through search engines. You’ll need to have a good idea of how to reel in all different types of a person and how to ‘speak’ to each person so that your message gets across and gets them to buy whatever product or service you’re representing. 

Of course, you’ll also need to work well with others and be ready to collaborate. You might be the only one running this ship, and making a lot of choices by yourself, or you may be part of a bigger team. Even if you are the sole marketer in your company, you still need to be ready for inter-disciplinary meetings and ready to work as a part of a whole to get sales up for your company. 

If you’re a Paid Search Marketer, expect some form of adaptability and throw away rigidness. Sometimes, your campaigns might not work. You’ll be expected to analyze why they didn’t and make changes so that your advertising money doesn’t go to waste. This career is a lot of trial and error and you’ll need to be more than ready to throw away your entire idea in favor of something new if your company isn’t getting the ROI that it expects. 

This is the sort of job that also comes with a lot of feedback or a necessity to be receptive to results. If you tend to get really attached to your work or are not good at hearing judgements about your progress, this job might not be the career for you. You’ll also need to be ready to hear the feedback of the average person; you may have a fantastic idea, but if no one else gets it, is it really all that great? 

This job will also be a good fit if you have a sense of curiosity. As stated previously, the knowledge of this job is always changing. There will always be new trends, new buyers, and new data to seek out, so if you’re the type of person that loves gathering knowledge and wants to know what makes someone click one link compared to another, you’ll do well at this job! 

There is also a general sense of intuition that comes with this job. This may be one that you foster over time, so don’t expect that you need to be great at this right off the bat. However, if you tend to be a person that has a natural ability to sell or convince people of something, you might be well suited for this. Over time, you’ll hone your abilities to have a fairly good idea of how a campaign will fair. 

Lastly, you should have some basic math skills. No one is asking you to go out and get a doctorate in applied mathematics, but you’ll need to handle the budgeting and bills for the costs of running your advertisements. You’ll need to make sure you stay within your budget and that there’s a good return on the content that you produce. Knowing how to keep an account balanced and how to do some easy multiplication, addition, and subtraction will come in handy. 


Does a paid search marketer sound like the job for you? Learn more about this job, along with other jobs like it, by downloading the PathMatch app to discover companies that match your interests, strengths, and goals! PathMatch can help find the perfect career fit for you! 

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