Dominic Tortorice

What makes an expert PPC specialist? In addition to a strong grasp of keyword research and landing page design, leadership capacity and certifications can help differentiate ideal candidates.

“You down with PPC? Yeah you know me!”

As the search marketing landscape continues to evolve and thrive, companies are diversifying their digital strategies. From content marketing to social influencer campaigns, there is no shortage of marketing tactics to take.

One popular strategy for any type of brand is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. And as companies increasingly demand in-house PPC talent or the services of a PPC consultant, many are wondering just exactly what does a PPC specialist do? That group includes both business owners and would-be PPC specialists who are wondering whether it is a good career for them.

A PPC specialist works with keyword research, ad creative, metrics tracking, optimizing conversions and cross-team collaboration.

In short, these search engine marketing professionals are in charge of diverse digital responsibilities from keywords to landing pages, audience targeting and beyond.

Let’s take a peak into a day in the life of a PPC specialist, and what skills are needed in the job.

What is PPC?

But first, a PPC definition to clear up any confusion. Pay-per-click advertising is a search product in which brands pay to have their ads displayed in focal areas of a search engine result page (SERP): like the top or in a sidebar. The catch is that businesses only pay when a user clicks on their ad.

It’s a cost-effective way of increasing reach and catching the eyes of web and mobile users. The upside is that with a click, businesses have a chance to convert the lead and drive user acquisition.

What does a PPC specialist do?

A PPC specialist is a marketing professional who manages PPC ad campaigns. Their core job responsibilities include functions like keyword research, ad creative, metrics tracking, optimizing conversions and cross-team collaboration.

There are different ways to work as a PPC expert. Brands of all sizes and industries are hiring pay per click talent and may want to bring someone on in the role of a PPC manager. Depending on the business, there may be a PPC organizational hierarchy, which opens the door for career advancement onto titles like senior PPC analyst or PPC director. These roles are still involved in the day-to-day mechanics of PPC advertising, but also take on leadership and strategic decision-making duties.

Many others choose to freelance or start their own PPC agency. This creates a slight distinction between PPC specialists and PPC consultants: The former is a more general term and the latter is often used to refer to paid search specialists who consult for clients and other projects. The autonomy in offering your own PPC services can be highly attractive for self-starters. However, independence comes with some complexities, such as navigating 1099 taxes, an essential skill for freelancers.

A day in the life of a PPC specialist

The internet never stops! Similarly, the job of a PPC specialist is fluid and constant: There is always some task to complete, client to communicate with or search engine update to learn about that necessitates retooling campaigns.

Knowing all of that, let’s imagine what a normal day for a PPC specialist might look like.

9 a.m. Check email and start doing some keyword research, like which long-tail keywords are performing best with a target market. Or which terms signal the most intent?

11 a.m. Jump on the phone to discuss campaigns. This may happen with a small business client or with a cross-functional team of marketers, including brand and social marketers. Results of active campaign monitoring are discussed, as well as conceptualizing new campaigns based on channel research.

1 p.m. A caffeine boost might be in order, because the post-lunch docket is packed: bidding on keywords for PPC ads, A/B testing, content writing, optimizing landing page design, looking at traffic metrics and tailoring funnel messaging.

3 p.m. Read up on the latest in search engine marketing, like trends related to user experience or search algorithms. Maybe do a bit of light competitive analysis with an afternoon snack.

5 p.m. Close up the work day with some communications to stakeholders on various PPC accounts. That might entail sharing KPI reporting or ideas on how to improve content quality and click-throughs.

What skills do PPC specialists need?

If that sounds like an exciting day, you might want to consider the career option of PPC specialist. In that case — or if you’re in the hiring market for PPC talent — it’s important to know what skills are needed to become a PPC specialist. GIven there are tiers to PPC careers, there are different classes of skills to consider


  • Analytical tendencies: PPC management is all about the numbers, from the bid to the click-throughs. Even those who are just starting out in a PPC career need to be data-driven professionals who rely on the stone-cold numbers for campaign decision-making, keyword selection and the like.
  • Time management: The example above demonstrates just how busy the day to day can get. New PPC hires need to prove they can manage their time, keep organized and be efficient.


  • Design expertise: Landing page experience is crucial for PPC success. Being knowledgeable and up to date on user experience best practices ensures you can create optimized content that drives engagement and performance.
  • Credentials: Once you get comfortable with PPC basics, it’s time to get certified. Different search engine optimization qualifications, like for Google Analytics and Bing Ads, can be career differentiators.


  • Organizational leadership: Beyond the hard skills of PPC management, high-level professionals must have a strong grasp of the soft skills needed to lead organizations. They should be proficient in interpersonal communication and relationship-building.
  • Strategic capacity: The more senior the title, the more sizable the say in strategy and decision-making. When you have influence in PPC affairs, you need to be prepared to think critically, align PPC strategy toward long-term goals and consider all factors.

PPC advertising is so widely used that is has become a mainstay in the marketing mix for all types of brands. As you look to mature or grow PPC operations, take some time to consider what SEM specialists do and the skills they need to drive paid search marketing excellence.