Last year the industry of search engine marketing (SEM) was worth $65 billion. As technology continues to grow, and Google continues to be the norm, this phenomenon is unable to be ignored for brand awareness. Search is able to direct online traffic 300% more effectively then social media. Therefore, brands and content creation are focusing on more then just social media platforms. While knowledge of these space are important, media and communications students are required to engage with marketing tactics to ensure employers are effectively covering a digital space. This skill helps improve the employability of media and communications professionals and graduates.

A number of online tools are able to help develop this skill, utilising the cost-effective and efficient nature of the Internet.

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The Google Analytics Academy is an online learning centre that focuses on providing lessons on how to use Google Analytics. A number of courses are aimed at beginners or advanced users, ecommerce employees or managers. These units look at tracking digital campaigns, analysing data and utilising Google Adwords to benefit marketing strategies. A certificate is awarded at the completion of these units, identifying participants’ ability to utilise SEM, and create and analyse search engine strategies.

Another helpful website that provides online certification is Real Time Academy. This focuses on the interactive media ecosystem and the importance of data for digital media. These modules are presented through online learning with a number of in-person workshops also available for further learning.

Search strategy is an incredibly valuable and sought after skill. In 2009, Alec Brownstein decided he wanted a new job. He identified the 5 creative directors of the companies he wanted to work for, and using Google AdWords, bid on their names, with an average Cost Per Click of 13 cents. He worked with the assumption that these creative directors would Google their own names. This assumption was right. Alec received responses from 4 of the 5 creative directors that he created advertisements for, and two of these offered him a job. This campaign only cost him a total of $6.

SEM is no longer a choice for businesses and brands. Free online learning academies are providing individuals with the tools they need to keep their skillset relevant from the comfort of their homes. The certifications provided improve the employability of graduates in the eyes of the industry. The landscape of digital marketing and communications is continuing to evolve at a rapid rate. It is expected that graduates and professionals keep up or risk getting left behind.

by Georgina Fleming