If you looked over the agenda at SMX Advanced, held June 13-14, you probably spotted this trend:
“AI” appears in the titles of 11 sessions, including “How generative AI will change SEO as a profession.”
And this doesn’t include the titles of four other sessions on related topics like “Revolutionize your PPC game with GPT.”
Hey, I get it. Marketers and executives attended their industry’s most important events to:
- Keep up to date with industry trends.
- See new products and services.
- Maintain and build relationships.
In short, attending leading conferences and trade shows keeps you informed and competitive.
And there’s no question that generative AI will change SEO as a profession and revolutionize your PPC game.
But whether you attended SMX Advanced or not, it is time to ask yourself a different question: “Do your SEO and PPC teams need upskilling or reskilling?”
Upskilling and reskilling, defined
According to LinkedIn Learning:
“When an employee undertakes learning to expand their existing skill set, that learning is known as upskilling. These additional skills enhance the worker’s performance in their current role, potentially advancing them along their career path.”
“Employee reskilling involves learning new skills outside of the worker’s existing skillset. These skills are often closely adjacent to their current function, but may sometimes be geared toward a different path entirely.”
Why do 80% of PPC specialists need upskilling?
Based on my experience, about 80% of the PPC specialists at brands or agencies will probably need upskilling this summer and around 20% will need reskilling.
When Google announced it was “Supercharging Search with generative AI,” Elizabeth Reid, the Vice President and GM of Search, said, “In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.”
And Google’s primary source of revenue is advertising, which makes up around 80% of the company’s total revenue.
So, approximately 80% of PPC specialists will need some upskilling to take advantage of the advent of Google’s search generative experience (SGE).
Suppose brands and agencies want to stay two steps ahead of competitors.
In that case, they should also provide their PPC specialists with some upskilling workshops or courses to seize the opportunities offered by the migration to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
For example, if you link your GA4 property to Google Ads, Display & Video 360, or Search Ads 360, then you can re-engage GA4’s predictive audiences – like “Likely 7-day purchasers” and “Predicted 28-day top spenders” – with a remarketing campaign.
These additional skills enhance a worker’s performance in their current role.
So, why will roughly 20% of your PPC team need reskilling?
Well, you already know that AI can scale asset production to serve the most relevant version of an ad across channels via Performance Max, App, and Video action campaigns.
But AI-powered solutions will soon play a pivotal role in creative development – from campaign planning to creative testing to media planning.
And that will involve learning new skills outside of a PPC manager’s existing skillset.
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Why do 80% of SEO specialists need reskilling?
Based on my experience, about 20% of the SEO specialists at brands or agencies will probably need upskilling this summer, but around 80% will need reskilling. And it’s probably time for a reorg, too.
Yes, I realize Reid said, “As we bring generative AI into Search, we’re committed to continue sending valuable traffic to sites across the web.”
So, SEO is still alive. And it has survived several major Google algorithm updates since the Panda update back in 2011. So, it should survive the advent of SGE in 2023.
But SEO should become part of a Venn diagram that includes the closely adjacent disciplines of content marketing and social media marketing to maintain or improve search rankings, drive website traffic, and generate conversions.
Because Google’s continued existence in this new era of Search doesn’t depend on the success or even the survival of SEO. So, many SEOs will need to learn new skills outside of their existing skillset.
In a post entitled, “Learn from others’ experiences with more perspectives on Search,” Lauren Clark, the Product Manager at Google Search, said:
“In the coming weeks, when you search for something that might benefit from the experiences of others, you may see a Perspectives filter appear at the top of search results. Tap the filter, and you’ll exclusively see long- and short-form videos, images, and written posts that people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites, and social media platforms.”
Fortunately, GA4 has some new default channels that enable SEOs to monitor the performance of organic social, organic video, and organic shopping as well as organic search. And the referral channel still lets you see which users arrive at your site via non-ad links on other sites/apps (e.g., blogs, news sites).
Plus, new research by Rand Fishkin of SparkToro found, “A substantial portion of social referral traffic comes without proper, accurate referral data, and is misclassified as ‘direct.’” Fishkin adds, “For those investing in pro-active social media marketing, we recommend using unique URLs to track activity to social promotions.”
And many brands and agencies should consider adopting new organizational structures.
For example, the SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing teams need to be integrated to survive or even thrive when long- and short-form videos, images, and written posts start to appear in the Perspectives filter.
Plus, creating at least a dotted line reporting structure with the digital PR team makes sense.
In June 2023, Think with Google published “Does your marketing have the essentials to succeed with AI?” which included this line:
- “Silos can be kryptonite for AI, limiting its ability to optimize and maximize performance.”
It also quotes Alex Clemente, managing director of Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, who explained:
- “Cross-functional teams will need to nurture a test-and-learn culture where leaders can quickly adjust the plan when results don’t come in as expected, or double down on what works.”
Hey, this reorg is long overdue. Google has blended video, news, images, maps and webpages since they announced universal search in 2007.
Brands and agencies have had 16 years to get around to putting everyone involved in creating content on the same team.
So, if it takes the advent of generative AI to finally get marketers and executives to restructure their teams, then it’s about time.
As Benjamin Franklin said at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”.
What should marketers and executives do next?
So, what should you do next?
Well, after you learn as much as you can about generative AI and other related topics, you should also set aside some time to think about the difference between upskilling and reskilling your employees.
Figure out if most of your PPC specialists need the former while many of your SEO specialists need the latter.
Now, brands and agencies may want to encourage their existing employees to check out the free online courses that are available in the Google Digital Garage. Some courses are provided by Google, and others from their partner universities or institutions.
Marketers and executives may also want to reimburse their employees for getting certification from a reputable institution.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.