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Search Industry Shows Promise for Job Seekers, Recent College Grads

2011 SEMPO Salary Survey highlights supply-constrained market; offers rapid ladder of career growth;

Wakefield, Mass., June 28, 2011 – The 2011 SEMPO Salary Survey released today highlights a market full of opportunity for recent college grads and other job seekers, including a rapid ladder of career growth. The survey reveals that with three to five years of experience, search marketers are paid an excellent salary compared to some other professions-- in the vicinity of $70,000. According to the survey, the average search marketer salary is $75,542.
"The recession is long over in digital marketing,” said Chris Taylor, Director, Executive Search for Onward Search Internet Marketing Division. "We are in a supply-constrained market. Job postings for SEO and PPC managers and related roles are off the charts.”

Survey highlights:

  1. The majority of respondents with 0 – 3 years of experience in search marketing earn $30,001 to $60,000
  2. Approximately 20% of respondents with 0 – 3 years experience earn $60,000+
  3. Respondents making $60,000+ more than doubles to 50% for respondents with 3-5 years
  4. With 5–7 years experience, 78% of respondents make more than $60,000

The 2011 SEMPO Salary Survey indicates a maturation of the search market, according to SEMPO Research Committee co-chair A.J. Lawrence. "It’s no longer the Wild West of 2007 and earlier when companies didn’t understand the importance of SEO. Now there’s more definition around roles and relationships.” Further the survey highlights the importance of analytics in search. Two-thirds of respondents note that they are working with social and mining analytics, signaling that search has become a more strategic.  

"Search is a fast growing industry and it’s great to see that companies have realized the importance of implementing a strategic search plan as critical to their overall success,” said Chris Boggs, president of SEMPO. "Our organization is a valuable resource for both those entering the field and the skilled professionals leading the way.”

Although the industry is maturing, brands and agencies are hiring at a fast pace for both entry and experienced search professionals. For example, SEMPO member FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business with a Search team of 50, will add 10% to its headcount this summer with expectations to growing an additional 20% in the fall. Another SEMPO member company, Catalyst Online, a WPP Company, will add a minimum of 11 positions which include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media, strategy and analytics, account managers, and project managers. The company currently has 90 employees and expects an additional 10% growth over the summer in the Boston area.

The hottest spot in the market are mid-level roles. "Positions between $60,000 and $100,000 have fierce competition,” said Taylor. "Good candidates are getting both counteroffers and multiple job offers. Employers must be prepared to contend with these current job market conditions if they want to secure the best talent.”

The SEMPO 2011 Salary Survey was a 20-question survey compiled by SEMPO In-House Committee and analyzed by SEMPO Research Committee. The survey was distributed to all SEMPO members through email and promoted to non-members as well. A total of 1,050 responses were received.

In April, SEMPO released its 2011 State of Search Marketing report which estimated that the North American search marketing industry will grow by 16% in 2011 to a value of $19.3B, up from $16.6B in 2010.

SEMPO members may download the 2011 Salary Survey report here:

SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it. Its purpose is to provide a foundation for industry growth through building stronger relationships, fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research and creating a better understanding of search and its role in marketing. SEMPO includes thousands of professionals across 50 countries. The organization’s mission is to represent the common interests of companies and consultants worldwide and provide them with a voice in the marketplace. SEMPO's education and outreach initiatives are funded in part by Google, American Express Open SearchManager, and Baidu, and supported through partnerships with SMX, SES, OMS, MediaPost and GroupM Search. For more information or to join the organization, visit

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