The Career Paths section regularly highlights linguists’ career journies and job details. If you would like to recommend someone (including yourself) for a future profile, please contact Career Linguist.
Below is Part I of the interview with Serena Pasqualetto.
Parts II and II will be posted the next couple Fridays
From playing with words to playing with keywords: this is how I would describe my career transition from copywriter to Search Engine Marketing. As part of my work, I help brands sell more online through their e-commerce channel by making them be easily found by users searching for specific things on Google and other major search engines. I am basically a search marketer. And it all starts with keywords! In a nutshell, what I do is select the keywords that best represent users’ queries on search engines for specific products or brands. I then craft specific messages (search ads) that I want to appear whenever those specific queries are typed by users in a specific country on a specific search engine. Whenever a user clicks on one of those ads, the search engine gets paid for that click. And the price is determined by a system that is very similar to an auction. In short, my job consists of investing money to bring the right users to the right place (e.g. an e-commerce website) in order to make them perform an action there (e.g. a purchase). I do all of this in multiple languages, and linguistics certainly helped in this.
Having studied Russian, English, French and being Italian my native language, I can draw on my past studies to research keywords, write ads, and optimize my advertising efforts thanks to my knowledge of these languages. In addition to that, whenever I work with other Slavic languages such as Polish and Czech, I often find there to be many similarities with Russian words, which helps me quickly figure out the meaning of a query without having to constantly having to look it up. Having said that, working with localization experts is in most cases essential at all stages of this process.
In addition to this, I would say that my academic studies helped me develop a research methodology that I can apply to my everyday work: the ability to identify a phenomenon worth researching (for instance, low response to an ad), set out the conditions to effectively analyze it (e.g. launching an a/b test, that is to say, writing two different versions of an ad), measure the results after a predefined amount of time (e.g. Ad A gets more clicks than ad B) and draw conclusions (e.g. Ad A performs better probably because it contains a price indicator in it).
I am particularly interested in carrying out research across different markets, in order to understand what is more effective in a particular country. To sum up: linguistic awareness and an attitude to research are among the most important elements that I acquired by studying Linguistics and which helped me in this career.
What does a typical day look like?
Obviously it’s more than playing with keywords. Every day is different and includes analyzing the quality of website traffic to one or more online stores, optimizing search marketing campaigns on Google AdWords, writing reports, talking to clients or attending internal meetings. Attending regular training sessions is another activity. It is never boring.
Can you give an example of a recent project?
We recently worked on setting up a search campaign in Russia for a luxury men’s clothing brand. The activity involved researching the best queries for this specific product in Russian, working with our Account Manager for Yandex – which is the most popular Russian search engine – and writing the related ads for these queries. Obviously, selecting the right keywords means being in your future clients’ shoes and think like them. The question you need to ask yourself is “What would my prospective clients type on search engines in order for them to find my ad relevant?”. So in this case we came up with a list of keywords like, for instance, “luxury Italian men’s shoes” in Russian. Of course, you can never know how your keywords will perform until you launch your campaigns, but there’s plenty of analytics tools you can use to measure your performance and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Working in the digital world is exciting, you always get to learn new things every day. And things change so fast. I also enjoy working with my team as we really help each other. I would say though that it can be stressful, the level of attention required is always high, and you need to work on several projects at the same time. But the efforts eventually pay off.
Tune in next week for post II for more from Serena Pasquellato.
Sectors profiled in the “Profiles in Linguistics” series: Corporate Social Responsibility, Healthcare Communications, Library Science, Knowledge Management, Naming, Non-Profit Communications, Program Evaluation, Publishing, Social Media Marketing,Tech, User Experience Research, Training and Facilitation and many more!
If you would like to recommend someone (including yourself) for a future profile, please contact Career Linguist.