It’s a big scary World Wide Web out there; when you start off in your SEM career it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re up a creek without a paddle. I started at 3Q Digital about 2 months ago, and while I thought I had a solid understanding of SEM/PPC, it quickly became clear that I had barely scratched the surface of the details, nuances, and procedures that go into running a paid search campaign. The idea is simple enough: someone punches in a few series of words in a search bar and paid results populate your screen. Easy. So how is the backend of this so complicated? Furthermore, where are the resources I need to navigate this whole thing? If you find yourself asking these questions, here are a few websites I bookmarked (and religiously visited) when I first embarked up the SEM creek.

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AdWords (or My Client Center) 

Regardless of whether you work at an agency or in house, how big your account is, what kind of metrics you need to report on, inevitably you are going to be spending a LOT of time working in the Google UI (obviously the MCC if you’re at an agency or handling multiple clients). This is something you are going to want to bookmark right away.

AdWords Certification

If you are indeed new to SEM and planning on sticking around for a while, you’ll definitely want to familiarize yourself with The AdWords Certification Program and Learning Center.  Becoming AdWords Certified should be a priority on any SEM manager’s to-do list. Not only will this add to your credibility amongst peers and clients but also will provide a deeper understanding of the paid search landscape, specifically with AdWords.

PPC Blog: How Google Works

I chose this blog because a) it gives a high-level over view on how Google conducts its search process and b) I’m a sucker for info graphics. Regardless, when you’re just staring out, this a pretty darn good read that’ll give you some insight on the methods to Google’s madness.

PPC Hero

A great resource for starters (especially this post). There are fantastic “how-tos” and “beginners guides” for all sorts of paid search avenues.  PPC Hero is a well-known and oft visited knowledge base for many PPCers.


Another extremely well respected PPC online resource.  While PPC Hero simplifies a lot of the SEM process, Sempo advocates and promotes many practices that may be more difficult to understand, but often more useful in day-to-day management of PPC campaigns. This can be an extremely useful resource once you are fully in command of the basics. 

Moz (formerly SEOmoz)

Many of you are reading this and correctly asking yourselves “why is there an SEO site listed in a paid search blog?” There is an SEO site listed because has become the unofficial online beacon for the online marketing world. Vast amounts of knowledge on everything from paid search to display marketing to social media marketing can be uncovered through Moz (note the re-branding effort from SEOmoz to just Moz). Moz is just a fantastic site with very well written articles that break down online trends into an easily understandable script.

Search Engine Land

Another un-official ‘online beacon’ for Search Marketing, the difference between Search Engine Land and Moz is that Search Engine Land is more geared toward Paid Search as opposed to Organic Search.  Search Engine Land is a great resource for keeping up to date on all things Google, including: updates, rumors, betas, releases, and industry news. Most SEM professionals, regardless of experience, should have this bookmarked.


This is a bit of a stretch (not to mention free advertising) but I wanted to list this site because you can get a great high-level view of what your competitors are doing from a paid search stand point for free. Granted there is a limited amount of times you can use the service without subscribing, but this is still a powerful tool that will provide very useful insights.

Ad Words Blog

Google has its own blog for all matters that revolve around AdWords. This blog communicates updates, info, and trends straight from the horse’s mouth. Considering Google consistently makes multiple changes to its algorithm on a yearly basis (they’re pretty good at keeping us on our toes), this is one site you will really want to be cognizant of.

3Q Digital Blog

Am I shameless for listing my own company’s website? Maybe. Will this get me some kudos? Sure hope so. Is our Blog a phenomenal source of online marketing info? Definitely. We leverage some of the industry’s most well-respected authorities and our own amazingly talented team to produce some of the most insightful and thought provoking articles in PPC. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but this really is a hugely helpful resource.

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Ryan Larkin
joined 3Q Digital in June 2013. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 2010 with a degree in Sociology. Ryan was also a member of the men’s lacrosse team at SSU, captaining the team his senior year. Additionally, Ryan graduated from the Search Marketing Master’s Certification program at the University of San Francisco in March 2013. His interests include coaching lacrosse, surfing, and meeting new people.