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How to Become a Paid Search Analyst: Skills, Requirements, and Career Guide

Reviewed by Marketing Expert and Coach
Juan Alberto Reyes
on
February 25, 2024

If you are passionate about digital marketing and want to explore a career in search advertising, becoming a Paid Search Analyst might be the perfect fit for you.

Paid Search Analysts play a vital role in managing and optimizing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns across various digital platforms, such as Google Ads and Bing Ads, to drive traffic and generate leads for businesses.

In this comprehensive career guide, we will take a closer look at the essential skills and requirements for becoming a successful Paid Search Analyst, including data analysis, budget management, and keyword research. We'll also provide expert tips on how to excel in this dynamic and exciting field, along with an overview of the career prospects in paid search marketing. Let's get started!

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What is a Paid Search Analyst?

Paid search analysts actively manage the advertising strategy of a brand through paid techniques. These analysts are entry-level marketing roles that help companies improve their online presence by developing creative strategies to improve website performance in search engines like Google and Bing.

Paid search analysts are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to manage search engine marketing, otherwise known as SEM. At a high level, Paid Search primarily involves creating a paid search media strategy. The strategy must take into account company goals, and how to achieve them by bidding on certain keywords at certain times. The ultimate goal of a paid search analyst is to get as many "success" metrics as possible (clicks, conversions, or impressions) on search results pages with as little budget as possible, which is accomplished through keyword research, bidding, campaign structures and budget optimization.

Google Search Console and SEM Rush are the most popular tools for paid search analysts to identify and bid on keywords. To bid on a keyword, a paid search analyst must do research to see how much it would cost to put the ad somewhere in front of a user on a Google (or bing, or where ever) search results page. Using those numbers, they can create a budget that optimizes for their success metric. This budget and plan often fluctuates, as competitors change and alter their strategies too. It's somewhat like playing chess!

The two main success metrics for search ads are engagement/performance or awareness. Engagement success is measured by the number of clicks or conversions from the ads, while sometimes brand awareness is simply measured by how many "impressions" their ad has on users. Impressions are a measurement tool to see how many times your ad has loaded for users. This is somewhat technical, but a "viewable impression" is how many impressions were seen by users. This metric can vary depending on the type of ad (search, display, and video), here is the official definition for each type from Google.

This role requires keeping up to date with keyword research and cost, tracking website traffic and page speed performance, and keeping tabs on advertising trends for your industry.

Sometimes this role can also be named SEM Analyst.

Responsibilities of a Paid Search Analyst

Your responsibilities can range from implementing pay per click (PPC) strategies to making bids for targeted keywords. You are then responsible for reporting on the performance of a PPC strategy to clients and making suggestions for improvements.

This is different from an SEO analyst in that paid search analysts are only responsible for attracting more paid traffic (the websites at the top of your screen, with “ad” next to them).

We'll say this several times, but keyword research skills are absolutely essential in this position.

Paid Search Analyst Team Members

If you're unsure that product analytics is right for you because of the math, or whatever issue, check out the roles of a UX Designer, UX Researcher, Project Manager, or even a Product Manager, and maybe even get a little freaky and look at a frontend engineer.

Education Requirements

Do I need a degree to be a Paid Search Analyst?

None required for an associate/entry level position. While this role seems more technical, paid search analysts can come from all backgrounds and degree-types.

Job descriptions will often mention a requirement of something STEM related, but often psychology majors do well here because they’re able to understand the “why” behind user interactions and enjoy the keyword research.

  • Data entry and receptionist professionals
  • Accounting and budgeting roles
  • Ex-advertising folks
  • Liberal arts degrees with a writing twist (for reporting and data storytelling)

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. While this job works great with degrees, you have other options.

Our Favorite Paid Search Analyst Certifications


Grow with Google Logo

Google Analytics

Google Sponsors a data analytics certificate program through Coursera. This is one of the more coveted certificates in the industry for Google Analytics, and as a paid search analyst we highly recommend getting familiar.

Learn More

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Google Ads Training (AdWords): Paid Search (PPC) Ads

This class teaches the difference between SEO and SEM, how to create a converting ad, and how to budget and bid for keywords. The class has 4.2 stars with more than 12k students, and only costs $20.

Learn more

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Learning PPC with Google Ads

LinkedIn Learning is free with a LinkedIn Premium subscription ($30/month). This course is great if you're new to marketing and interested in learning about more options than just paid search analytics.

Learn More

Salary and Career Potential

What is a Paid Search's Analyst's salary?

We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and paid search analysts can make anywhere between 51k - 75k, depending on their location and skillsets.

Career Path of a Paid Search Analyst

  • Paid Search Analyst, or Paid Specialist: Spend about 2-4 years at either level here.
  • Senior Digital Marketing Analyst: Spend about 3-5 years here. This is also a popular role to freelance.
  • Analytics Manager (or Marketing Manager): Spend about 5-10 years here.
  • Director of Marketing: This one is tricky, but most folks spend roughly 4-6 years here.

Job Requirements and Skills

Popular Job Description of a Paid Search Analyst

We've used AI to aggregate the top job descriptions used by hiring managers looking for paid search analysts. When putting your resume together, try to mimic these listings. To learn more about this process, check out our partner Jobscan for a comprehensive resume review.

  • Develop and execute effective paid search advertising strategies across various platforms, including Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Yahoo Gemini
  • Conduct keyword research, analyze user behavior, and identify trends to optimize campaign performance
  • Create and manage PPC campaigns, ad groups, and ads that align with business goals and target audience
  • Monitor and analyze campaign performance data using analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics
  • Use data-driven insights to make recommendations for campaign optimization, including bid adjustments, ad copy updates, and landing page improvements
  • Collaborate with marketing team members, including copywriters, designers, and developers, to ensure consistency and effectiveness of messaging across all channels
  • Stay up to date with industry trends, best practices, and new advertising technologies and platforms
  • Provide regular reports and updates on campaign performance to stakeholders and management

Top Technical Skills of a Paid Search Analyst

We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for paid search analysts to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.

  • Own execution and optimization of paid search campaigns across Google Ads & Microsoft Advertising platforms.
  • Report and analyze campaign performance data with a focus on performance KPIs and continuous optimization.
  • Handle day-to-day account management including campaign optimization, audience creation, budget management, and testing ideation and execution.
  • Report on campaign performance to stakeholders up and down the organization.
  • Communicate externally with vendor and client teams to plan, manage, and debrief on campaigns.
  • Analyze, report on, and give recommendations for driving account growth on both top and bottom line KPIs.
  • Collaborate on paid search strategy, including coordination with conversion rate optimization and retargeting teams, to build top-notch digital experiences.

Top Functional Skills of a Paid Search Analyst

We recommend getting familiar with different types of customer questions if you plan to pursue a career in marketing analytics. If finding these answers seems interesting to you, read on!

  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to collaborate with editorial teams and marketing managers 
  • Trend and promotion calendar familiarity to work strategically to develop an ad promotional calendar
  • Gathering and utilizing data to create strategic marketing and editorial decisions
  • Strong analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills

Top Tools of a Paid Search Analyst

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming a paid search analyst, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

For Gathering Quantitative Data

  • SEM Rush
  • Google Analytics
  • Amplitude
  • Heap
  • Mixpanel

For Running Paid Search Ads

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Adwords
  • Kenshoo

Other Helpful Tools

  • Google Trends
  • Cision
  • Marin
  • Google Merchant Center

For Task Management

  • ASANA
  • Clickup
  • Notion

Key Traits of a Successful Paid Search Analyst

Trend Spotting - In addition to staying up to date on current advertising and social media trends, successful paid search analysts are skilled at predicting emerging trends and incorporating them into their marketing strategies. This requires a deep understanding of consumer behavior and an ability to analyze data to identify patterns and opportunities.
Organization - Effective paid search analysts are highly organized and can juggle multiple campaigns, strategies, keywords, and budgets simultaneously. They must be able to prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently to meet tight deadlines.
Basic Mathematics & Statistics - While a background in math and statistics is not mandatory, a basic understanding of these concepts is essential for paid search analysts. This knowledge helps them accurately report on key metrics such as click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates, and make data-driven decisions to optimize campaigns for better results.
Research - Successful paid search snalysts are constantly researching and staying up to date on new algorithm and search trends and emerging technologies. This helps them stay competitive and deliver cutting-edge marketing strategies to their companies and clients.
Advertising - Paid search analysts need to love, or at least like, the concept of advertisements since this is the primary function of their role. Paid search analysts must have a passion for advertising and marketing since this is the primary function of their role.
Budgeting Proficiency - Paid search analysts must be proficient in budgeting and be able to manage spend effectively. They must understand the math required to allocate resources and make data-driven decisions that maximize ROI within Google campaigns and beyond.

Get Paid Search Analytics Experience

Get Paid Search Analytics Experience

Learning on the job is one of the fastest ways to get familiar with new topics, and showing is much better than telling.

Use a website creator to write about something you're passionate about, and use Youtube to learn how to implement free Google Analytics. Then get a free Meta Ads account and try and set up an ad-- maybe put $5 a day for it for a few days. Play around with keywords and audiences. Try learning adjustments, making tweaks, and learning headlines to have a mini "portfolio" to talk about on interviews.

Some popular paid search thought-processes:

  • How do I create a keyword plan that reaches all my target audiences?
  • Are my keyword groups performing as expected?
  • How does the landing page of my site correlate to the sponsored adI've created?

Difference between Data Analyst, Marketing Analyst & Paid Search Analyst

"Data analyst" is a very broad category of jobs, which includes product, marketing, business and operations. Marketing is a specialization within data analytics. So while all marketing analysts are data analysts, NOT all data analysts are marketing analysts.

The same situation follows with paid media analysts. Paid search analysts are a specialization within marketing analytics. So while all paid search analysts are marketing analysts, NOT all marketing analysts are paid search analysts. And all paid search analysts are also data analysts!

To recap: paid search analyst is a specialization within marketing analytics, and marketing analytics is a specialization within data analytics.

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Review: Social Media Marketing Specialization by Northwestern

Northwestern hosts a brilliant program on marketing tactics, including things like content strategy, influencer relations, and budgeting design.
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Conclusion

In conclusion, paid search analytics is a specialized field that is crucial to the success of businesses looking to drive strong marketing performance and achieve their business goals. As a paid search analyst, you will be responsible for developing and implementing paid strategies on search engines, analyzing data, and making data-driven decisions to optimize campaigns. This is part of the overarching field of SEM or Search Engine Marketing.

One of the benefits of pursuing a career in paid search analytics is that it is a relatively niche role, with less competition than some of the more popular tech roles. This makes it an excellent opportunity for those looking to break into the field, especially as the demand for skilled analysts continues to grow. Once you establish yourself as a competent and knowledgeable paid search analyst, you will find that doors will open up for you, and the opportunities for career growth and advancement will be endless. So if you're interested in data analysis, marketing, and making an impact in the digital space, a career in paid search analytics might be the perfect fit for you.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a product analytics role?Let us know at hello@getbridged.co

Check out our sources!

Glassdoor Team. “Salary: Paid Search Analyst (February, 2023) | Glassdoor.” Glassdoor, Glassdoor, 1 Feb. 2023, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/product-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.html

WRITTEN BY
Juan Alberto Reyes
Bridged co-founder Juan Reyes is head of product at a popular wellness company and knows all things growth & marketing. He's probably working right now.

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Learn about affordable and reputable certifications that won't break your bank. No expensive bootcamps or schooling required.

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