Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Hiring a PPC Manager vs. SEO Manager

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Question: What skills are required of a PPC consultant/manager that are not required of an organic SEO consultant/manager?

This was perhaps one of the most intriguing questions I got when asking my favorite people on twitter what they wanted to know about PPC. More than anything it is tough because I consider myself both, I am an Internet marketer before anything else, a mutt of the industry. Because I think there are more like me than not, I have a feeling that there aren’t going to be large differences. There are so many things that each side does that are the same, just in different mediums.

Let’s start with an example job description for each, they are listed at the bottom, sorry, but they are long :). These are real but I’ll take out identifying marks. Remember these are just examples, we are a young industry and therefore the job descriptions can be extremely variant. There are probably more requirements than I list here, so if you have more differences that you know of, please list them in the comments.


There are more similarities than differences in these two areas of Internet marketing, which does not surprise me. They are both mid level positions and therefore require 2 years of experience and a Bachelor’s Degree. Please note that one requires it and one it is optional. From what I can tell in experience, a degree is not required because no one teaches this subject yet. But I think it helps when going for either position.

Personal skills required in both are attention to detail, organizational skills, and relationship management. I think attention to detail is listed in almost any job description, but Internet marketing it is a major requirement. In paid search, if you mess up one destination URL, you could spend thousands of dollars on exactly nothing. And in SEO … well just look at code, enough said. The same can be said for organizational skills, try building a campaign or css stylesheet without it.

The relationship management area covers a lot of things, verbal and written communication with the company is the main area. Being in a new industry means that we all must be able to work with every department to build the best campaigns possible.

More specific skills include keyword research, copywriting, competitive research, and reporting. Everyone has to love Excel and we know that. Name one internet marketer that doesn’t know Excel or a similar program and I’ll show you someone not doing their job right.

The final similarity is in industry knowledge; we all have to know the new industry trends. Reading everyday is always and will remain part of our job duties. Otherwise our skills become archaic and the methods we use become stale.


First off, lets begin with SEOs. The one major difference is that SEOs have to be self-starters. I think this is actually true of SEO versus PPC. Yes, there is some of that to PPC, but it’s more of a requirement for an SEO. PPC has the metrics and goals that are set in stone and tied to the company finances (which I am about to go over). SEOs have the task of navigating something that fewer people understand (or pretend to understand). SEOs have to work with IT people, web designers and executives that do not get anything, so they almost have to make their own to do list.

Now for the answer to the question: I know that was a long lead in …

The things that a PPC manager needs that an SEO manager doesn’t necessarily have to have are all focused around money and testing. A PPC Manager has to have their main focus on ROI. There are numbers tied directly to what they manage and reporting those numbers and keeping to goals is more prevalent in PPC than in SEO. Each has goals, but in the eyes of a CPA, PPC is more focused on the bottom line.

In that same respect, a PPC manager is also very focused on budgets and spending. Again, there is a taste of this in SEO, but a PPC manager needs to have full understanding of the budgeting process and be able to comprehend the process over time. It’s not about “set it and forget it.” If you are doing that, you are doing it wrong.

The final area that a PPC manager has to focus on that isn’t required of an SEO manager is the testing of campaigns. Testing landing pages, keyword match types, and ads are a daily occurrence for a PPC manager. There is not an end to the cycle of testing; things can always be tweaked to be better. Keeping up with those tests, analyzing results, and making the necessary changes is not usually something SEOs do on a regular basis.


My final findings … the differences are minor. If an SEO wanted to get into PPC, there is little they’d have to change. Focus and goals are the major differences, but as for traits in the person, those are the same. Take your drive for code and make it into a drive for ROI. It might take some time getting used to testing what seems like the same thing over and over, but understanding the small differences and exact science of the relationship of landing page, keyword and ad is what makes this fun.

Looking for a job as an SEO or PPC manager? Check out our favorite job search site: The Online Beat

Example Job Descriptions

SEO Manager


  • SEO strategy and implementation tactics
  • Identifying and building relationships with key industry contacts
  • Research keywords, clients and competitors
  • Keeping on top of industry trends/innovations with regards to search engines
  • Manage all aspects of SEO campaigns from generating reports to conducting site audits to client contact
  • Generating all keyword/link/rank/index related deliverables
  • Maintain brand identity while pushing creative boundaries and exceeding client expectations
  • Own your project and follow it through to launch
  • Form close and productive working relationships with staff from all departments
  • Recommend/implement optimization tactics from data intensive reporting

Qualifications/Skills Required

  • Bachelors Degree
  • 2-4 years of hands-on SEO experience (preferably in an agency setting); SEM knowledge
  • Proven track record of successful SE0 strategy and implementation
  • Strong knowledge of search properties, search engine algorithms and ranking strategies
  • Proficiency with SEO reporting, analytics tools, Word, Excel, HTML and JavaScript
  • Excellent written skills: experience writing professional/technical documentation skills
  • Excellent verbal skills: ability to communicate complex SEO issues in an articulate manner to all audiences
  • Solid understanding of interactive marketing/online media space
  • Strong organizational skills, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail
  • Self-motivator always looking to improve upon OGM’s projects and processes

PPC Manager:


  • Manage PPC campaigns across three major PPC platforms (Google, Yahoo!, MSN).
  • Achieve a targeted ROI for all ad spends.
  • Ensure optimal campaign performance.
  • Manage keywords and messaging based on performances of campaigns.
  • Perpetual testing and optimizing of new keywords, ad text, position and landing pages.
  • Reconciliation of budget spend for PPC clients.
  • Monitoring and comparison of competitor’s campaigns.
  • Work with Account Reps to manage relationships with our clients.
  • Utilization of proprietary and third party reports and analytics tools.
  • Analyze click and conversion data, ad expenses, ROI, etc.
  • Research other PPC related online marketing opportunities that could be viable to our clients.
  • Must have excellent attention to detail and the ability to effectively multi-task in a deadline driven environment.

Qualifications/Skills Required

  • 2-4 years experience in managing PPC campaigns.
  • In-depth knowledge and experience with Google, Yahoo!, MSN PPC platforms.
  • Proficiency in working with Excel spreadsheets and analysis.
  • Experience with keyword research, keyword research tools and keyword selection.
  • Knowledge of web analytics applications.
  • SEM copywriting skills.
  • Detail-oriented organizational skills and above average written and communication skills.

Additional Qualifications/Skills Preferred – Not Required

  • Experience using third-party PPC bid-management applications.
  • Bachelor’s degree with interest or emphasis in communications, marketing, advertising, computer science, or related field.
  • Industry experience.
  • Google Ad Words Certified.

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