Marketers: Are you up for the SEM Challenge?

Lots of charities and non-profit organizations have been doing it tough since the global economic slowdown. One of those is FORGE, an organization that works with displaced communities in Africa.

A few people in the search community put their heads together and decided to help FORGE meet their budget gap of $100,000 through a pro-bono SEM campaign designed to increase awareness and donations.

You can read about their efforts on the SEM Challenge web site. Congratulations and hats off to the following marketers that have generously volunteered their time and expertise to help FORGE: Greg Laptevsky of, as the Pay-Per-Click expert; Todd Mintz of S.R. Clarke Inc. handling Search Engine Optimization; John Robbins of Anvil Media as the Social Media Marketing expert; and Derek Edmond of KoMarketing Associates providing Website Usability recommendations. The organizer of SEMChallenge is Boris Mordkovich of MordComm.

Care to lend a hand? You can help in two ways:

1) Visit and consider sponsoring one of their pending projects. Even a $25 donation can go a long way into helping others live better, more rewarding lives. Best of all, you’ll be able to monitor and view the progress and impact of your sponsored project as it develops.

2) Spread the word about SEM Challenge and FORGE on your blog, website, or professional and personal networks.

Thanks in advance!

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Q and A: What is the estimated hourly rate for SEO/SEM services?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I’m a student of yours. What would be an estimated hourly rate for SEO/SEM services?

I have read an article that reckons anything from $50 – $800 (American) per hour. According to your knowledge, what would you recommend the lowest to the highest rate is currently?


Dear Armand

Thanks for your question and I hope you’re enjoying your course at Search Engine College.

The hourly rates of Search Engine Optimizers and Search Engine Marketers range considerably, depending on whether they are self-employed, freelance or work for an agency, what city/country they are located in, what client they are billing and what type of project they are working on.

My own rates range between USD 150 and 350 per hour, depending on the complexity of the project and whether my client has purchased a block of hours from me, whether they are on monthly retainer or are paying on an ad-hoc basis.

There really is no set hourly rate and the range from highest to lowest seems to change as often as Jeremy Schoemaker changes his t-shirt.

In terms of SEO/SEM salaries, the following posts should give you an idea of range:

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Q and A: What Search Engine Marketing Techniques Will Increase My Traffic?


Dear Kalena (and Jacqueline in this case),

What are the Search Engine Marketing techniques that i can use to increase the number of visitors on my website?

Shailendra Sial

Dear Shailendra,

There are any number of SEM techniques that can help to increase the number of visitors to your website, ranging from blogging, participating in social media, and both paid and organic link building.  Without knowing your website’s topic or purpose, it is difficult to gauge what techniques would be the best options for you.  However, starting a blog (if you don’t have one already) and updating it regularly, guest posting on popular blogs, submitting articles that mention your site to directories, and participating on social media websites (especially niche-specific ones, like Sphinn for the search marketing industry or Kirtsy for fashion and beauty) are all good ways to grow your traffic.  If you have an ecommerce site, make sure your products appear in all the relevant product search engine listings.

Running a pay-per-click campaign could also result in an increase in traffic, but I typically recommend organic search engine marketing methods as a way to boost your traffic long term since it tends to result in more repeat visitors and a lower bounce rate.

Best of luck!

-Jacqueline and

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Q and A: What salary should I be earning as a search engine marketing specialist?

QuestionDear Kalena

I work for an ad adgency that provides both traditional and interactive marketing. However, I was hired as an SEM and Online Media Specialist within the Media Planning dept. The problem is I’m managing everything and anything that has to do with SEM.

Currently, I’m fully managing SEM campaigns for 12 clients each within 2-3 different search engines. Within a 200+ person ad agency, I’m the only person who knows SEM and SEO. My current salary is $43,000 with 3 years of experience. Can you tell me a salary range that I sould be paid at?


Dear Brittany

It’s difficult to speculate about SEM and SEO salaries because they vary widely. However, judging by your experience and current portfolio of clients, your salary does seem quite low.

In my opinion, SEM specialists are experts in a niche industry and should be paid for this expert knowledge. Put it this way, in 2001, I was in a very similar position to yours, in a similar sized agency and I was receiving a salary of USD 80K. Granted, the industry was even more niche then, but according to, the average salary for SEM staff currently ranges from $68-85K.

If I was you, I’d be asking for a payrise! Have a read of this post about SEM/SEO salaries and some of the salaries quoted in these SEO/SEM job postings before you knock on the bosses door so you come prepared with ammunition.

Good luck!

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The ultimate collection of SEO tools

Ann Smarty over at Search Engine Journal has been a busy girl.

She’s put together her ultimate collection of SEO tools and guess what? They’re all free.  And if those aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you might want to check out the 20 Must Have SEM Tools and the 20 MORE Must Have SEM Tools that I reviewed for SiteProNews last year.

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