What’s Going on Behind That Google Search? The Mysterious World of SEO


Looking for a job that’ll constantly keep you on your toes? Online marketing is a field that is always evolving and requires the ability to learn and apply your newfound knowledge on a daily basis. Plus, you get to learn a bunch of really fun acronyms.

We catch up with online marketing specialist Ashley Dunlap to learn more about what it takes to build a career in online marketing—and how she keeps all those acronyms straight.

Ever heard of PPC and SEO? How about CMS? I use these terms on a daily basis at my job and describe what I do as working in an acronym world. My name is Ashley Dunlap and I’m an Online Marketing Specialist with The Learning House. I’ve used my marketing degree to focus on consumers and their needs in addition to understanding the massive amount of data that is available to me in my daily job tasks.

What is a typical day on the job like for you?

 To really understand how I spend my day, you need to understand the different roles I play. I work on both paid search, also dubbed pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO).

To describe paid search simply, the name really describes itself: paid placement on search engines. Obviously this is a very simple definition. There is a lot to paid search and how it works, which is why a large part of my day is dedicated to it.

SEO, on the other hand, is focused on organic efforts, meaning non-paid search traffic. I work on improving websites in multiple ways from improving ranking in search results to improving the quality of visitors to a site. The nice part is the efforts I put into SEO help improve the results in PPC and vice versa. PPC takes more into account when deciding where your ad is placed than just how much you’re willing to pay, so SEO efforts factor into this. Have I gotten techy enough for you yet? I digress.

All this being said, my day is broken up into these two parts: PPC and SEO. I don’t have a set schedule since there are different ways to improve both. I focus my attention day to day where I see a bigger need for improvement and the most opportunity for success.

What are your favorite aspects of your job? What are the things you would change if you could?

My favorite part of my job is the fact that I’m constantly learning. The way people search for what they want is constantly changing and the way that search engines present results follows suit. I am forced to react to this and there is rarely a dull moment.

Although this is an exciting part of my job it can be stressful and it requires flexibility. I have no problem going with the flow but it can be difficult to keep up with ALL the changes that happen across ALL the major search engines. I’m definitely thankful I’m part of a well-informed team that keeps up with these changes too. It’s a job that would be difficult to do alone.

What did you study in college? How does your major relate to your current position?

I studied Marketing at the University of Louisville and it is used in what I do every day. I’m always keeping the audience in mind and trying to understand their buying funnel. I also minored in Communications which has been of great benefit to me since I took advertising classes to fulfill my minor. Advertising is a big part of what I do because of PPC.

What have you done outside of your degree to grow your skills?

Since the world of online marketing is constantly changing, I have to keep growing my skills and knowledge. I’m not exaggerating (too much at least) when I say that what you know today can be irrelevant tomorrow in the online world. To keep growing my skills and keep up with these changes, I follow well-known blogs on PPC and SEO topics in particular and study for online certifications that major search engines like Google update regularly.

What advice would you give to college students who are interested in working in your field?

Definitely take advantage of the resources your university has to offer. I did two internships in college that landed me my first job out of school. I built connections and learned skills that my classes didn’t teach me. These days, a degree is crucial for many careers but experience is just as important. Internships give you this opportunity and made all the difference for me.

Homework time! Ashley talks about the importance of internships. It may be December, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what you’ll be doing this summer. Think about which types of companies you might want to intern at and check out what their application process is like.

Ashley Dunlap is an Online Marketing Specialist for The Learning House and works with several universities including King University Online.


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