Optimizing for positive and accurate professional branding and marketing are now essential when seeking new employment or consulting opportunities.  It all starts with some published content like your resume, a LinkedIn profile, a website about your services or a professional profile.  You start crafting this content thinking about how you would describe yourself in order to gain the most positive response from the reader.

When I describe myself I use words like marketing, product and strategy.  These are all quite accurate to both my experience, strengths and aspirations.  However, while I’ve worked in these areas across different industries and verticals, my experience has been focused online.  This blog post is going to focus on the word “Online” or “On-line”, whichever your preference.

I’ve been using the term Online to describe my marketing experience going back about 15 years now.  I used this term for two reasons.  Back in the mid-late 90’s, this term was used to describe work on the web.  It was actually an advanced term at the time and expressed your knowledge of the industry.  The second reason is that it is an accurate description and generally distinct from other phrases.  The term Online was a single term that referred to the numerous medium that were used to deliver messages or direct response promotions, like email, web, instant messaging, online services (AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc.).

However, at some point just before the bubble burst (or just after), this term generated a foul stigma.  It might have been the billboards that read “become an online marketer, no computer skills necessary”, or maybe the general opinion of those of us that were on the inside of the inflated valuations of the web.  Whatever the reason, the impactful importance of this term became diluted.  And then the everything crashed and we didn’t have to worry about what we called ourselves for a while.

Then a reemergence occurred in 2003 – 2004 and we’ve been back on track ever since (less that minor financial blip in 2008).  In my opinion, the online industry has not been stronger and valuations are generally staying in-line with reality.

However, describing marketing in this space has taken various fragmented paths.  Terms like Digital, Interactive, Internet, Mobile, Social and Web have all been used to describe what I, and many others do professionally.  Take a look at this Google trends chart that shows how these terms are ranking in the U.S. market:

Online Marketing trending

This chart represents the relative positioning and trends of these different search terms.  In addition, since I am looking for employment, I have been looking at a significant number of job descriptions.  Digital, Online, Internet, Web and Interactive are all used to describe very similar roles, particularly at the Director level and above.  I have noticed that Agencies like to use “Digital” and they sell it as a more authoritative term to their existing and prospective clients.

And, while Online Marketing is holding the best market share and least steep decline (aside from social), there is still fragmentation.  As a search marketer, this creates an interesting situation for natural optimization since optimizing for less terms is smarter than diluting with many others.  Also, with the emergence of LinkedIn as a sourcing and networking powerhouse, optimizing for their search is critical.  Aside from my name, the terms “Online Marketing” are the second most popular driving views on my profile.  Now I need LinkedIn to tell me which terms are converting into contacts or introductions…let’s close the loop!  I see similar search analysis results from my web-based resume.

Now this table from Indeed.com (below) shows a different picture.  This graph shows job postings that mention the terms being compared.  In this view, we see “web marketing” as having momentum coming into January of this year.  I’m very interested to see what has happened in the past 2 months.

I believe the term Online Marketing, Online Product and Online Strategy are the most correct and most used among my target groups.  They are also the most accurate in describing the different medium that are used to market:  Email, mobile, social, web, etc.  However, I will continue to analyze the data and make adjustments where necessary.  One of the most important aspects of search marketing is to use the same language as your customers/prospects/future employers.

Are you doing similar research on your own personal branding?