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SEO training- is it worthwhile?


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#1 seo-newbie

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 10:07 AM

Hey guys,
I'm new to this forum and to SEO in general. Before I kick off I just wanted to si hi to everyone and to thank Black_Knight for his most recent post "The Quick Kick-Start Guide to Search Engine Optimization"!

I'm new to SEO and trying to establish whether it is worth me going on a formal training course that is currenlty being offered by Bruce Clay? I'm not sure if the best way forward is to just teach myself from the get go, or do some training to get me up to speed first, then continue researching and reading on my own.

Does anyone have any suggestions or does anyone know of someone who has reviewed various SEO training courses or for that matter Bruce Clay's course? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much,

Seo- Newbie

#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 10:50 AM

A course is a great way to get up to basic speed and have the chance to quickly be as good as everyone else that takes the course.

However, it obviously can't make you better than the course, and doesn't provide that extra edge to be able to consistently beat all others who took the same course.

Self-tuition takes longer, there's no two ways about that. However, self-tuition is always individual (for good and ill) and is unlikely to make you the same as everyone else. You'll usually end up with more individual strengths and weaknesses to set you apart from thousands of others.

If the course is easily affordable to you then it would probably make an excellent starting point. It will give you a better foundation for further self-tuition and practice to get yourself to a more professional standard.

The one thing I would caution against is if anyone were considering a course being an investment to make them an instant SEO. It won't. The course is merely a fast way to get all the basic principles into your mind so that you can then set off to learn more advanced and specialized skills from there.

#3 A.N.Onym

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 04:37 PM

Indeed, self-education may be the best thing of all, as it gives you the freedom of choice of what to focus on.
You also know what you need to know or don't know (most likely) and you can learn that as soon as you can.

Essentially, self-learning gives you the ability to learn when you need to and adapt easily to the changing world (search engine algorithms, at least). Just taking a course and reading SEO books won't make you a star, you have to work hard to be that.

Another point to consider about training courses is that the author may have his/her own opinion on SEO. In this case, you'll only be able to analyze and consider the opinion long after you take the course, which may result in you following the school of the SEO that taught you, not your own direction.

For instance, there may be several directions in SEO:
- old school SEO (meta tags, keyword density, search engine submissions, etc.)
- textbook SEO (title tags, main content, directory submissions, etc)
- beyond SEO (compelling site copy, lots of unique, quality content, site usability, accessibility, etc)

Of course, a person can't belong to only one of these, but there may be different things one considers when doing his or her SEO stuff.

By studying everything yourself, you'll be able to choose what you want to, judging by what a lot of other people say, not just your SEO coach. Of course, if you study after you take the course, you'll be able to decide for yourself, sooner or later.

That being said. any solid SEO course should, indeed, give you basic grounds to start with.

#4 EGOL

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 05:02 PM

I would not use a high priced course to get started.

The best teachers make first exposure to content the responsibility of the student through reading assignments and other activities. Then your limited time with the teacher can be spent, answering questions, solving problems, and planning projects. This yields the highest level of pedagogial productivity.

#5 A.N.Onym

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 05:12 PM

Another point to consider is how many attendees will be on the course.
For a single teacher, a group of 5-8 is best. Less is better for the students, of course.
More than that will result in less attention to individual questions.

After all, really basic SEO stuff can be lectured, so this shouldn't raise many problems, though.

Also, just getting a certification won't make you a SEO. Getting positive results with your own hands will.

#6 FP_Guy

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:15 AM

I would agree that for anyone just starting out to learn seo should take a course, but it does not need to be expensive.

Dan Theis has a pretty good seo & ppc course offered through sitepoint, even with my doubts webceo had a pretty thorough sem course, and Jill Whalens offers some good stuff to get started with as well.

After that, the best way to learn and grow further is to read forums like this one. With the basic knowledge within you already, you can get an idea on who's postings you can trust and not trust.

Bruce Clay seems to be an authority on seo, but I really don't know anything about their course. Another option to consider is purchasing seobook. Although I have never done this yet I would love to know anyone else's opinion on this book.

#7 EGOL

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:25 AM

I leearned by self study, then posted vigorously in forums, then hired pros for specific assistance.... go back to number 1 and repeat.

#8 send2paul

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:27 AM

Seo-Newbie - hello and welcome to the Cre8asite forums and Community :D

From personal experience I can say that I've probably learnt a lot more over the last two years or so when I've been dabbling with SEO, than I probably would have got by splashing out on a course. (Incidentally, I would neither have had the time or money to do one either! :) ). As Ammon said -

Self-tuition takes longer, there's no two ways about that

- and that's true. If I'd been just doing 100% SEO right from the start of my internet years, and not got involved in blogging, websites, forums (!), etc, then I would be much more further advanced in my self-tuition then I am now.

As has been echoed above - a course will get you started, it will not be the El Dorado of SEO for you :)

Paul

p.s. if you want to, come and say a few words about yourself in the Introduce Yourself forum, and maybe have chat in After Hours ?

#9 weboptimist

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 12:21 PM

If you want to get the basics down quickly, I'd suggest the Search Engine Workshops online course - http://www.onlinewebtraining.com/. The self led course is not that expensive - $149. I opted for the instructor led course three years ago when I took it. I came up in the world as web designer and thought I knew quite a bit about SEO. I had several highly ranked sites in competitive markets and thought I was pretty good.

The course pointed out a LOT that I didn't know. It includes details that you might never pick up otherwise.

Since then I've pretty much kept up on my own through forums, newsletters, conferences, etc.

Anyway, the folks at Search Engine Workshops are pretty cool, especially Robin. They also do workshops around the country, but they're pretty pricey, so I haven't made one of those yet.

#10 kyleirwin

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 03:07 PM

FP_Guy, after picking up as many of the basics as I could on SEO forums, I purchased Aaron Wall's "SEO Book". I feel that it was a great investment, it reinforced a lot of useful techniques that I learned in the forums, as well as weeded out some of the not-so-great things I picked up in the forums.

Not only did SEO Book embrace the basics, but it also covered some more advanced topics and got me pointed in the right direction for further learning.

I can't compare it to a seminar or conference (never been), but as I beginner, I can say that it was a very worthwhile investment in my SEO/SEM learning.

#11 A.N.Onym

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 09:57 PM

I suppose Aaron would appreciate if you send this message to him to include it on his website :)

#12 BillSlawski

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 10:06 PM

I've read Aaron's book and Dan's book, and they are both fine.

Both provide a nice baseline on the kinds of things that you should know, but I think that it's a baseline and not a substitute for building some sites, and trying to have them attract some traffic and create some conversions.

I think that Ammon said it well above:

The one thing I would caution against is if anyone were considering a course being an investment to make them an instant SEO. It won't. The course is merely a fast way to get all the basic principles into your mind so that you can then set off to learn more advanced and specialized skills from there.


Learn from the books and the tutorials and the forums. But test, and try things out, and look in other areas like usability and accessibility and web metrics/analytics and web standards. Get a good sense of how html works, and what problems things like java script or flash might cause.

Learn about some of the basics of servers and redirects, content management systems. Try things out and experiment, and see if you can learn at least one good new thing a day, everyday. Create a blog or a notebook or a procedures manual or a wiki, and add to it everyday - put something new there that you didn't know before, or that you've never tied together all in one place.

Don't just know something - understand the why of it in addition to the how of it. Question the words of experts and gurus, and keep a rational skepticism with you. Set yourself some goals of things that you want to learn, and work towards learning them. Examples:

Why are most of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 goood for SEO, too?

How can a site use Flash, and still get good search engine rankings?

What do search engine spiders like and dislike when they are going through the pages of a site?

You'll see statements in the books from Aaron and Dan about how to go about performing SEO. Fact-check them (I'm not saying or implying that they say anything wrong) to see why they say what they say, and why they make the recommendations that they make. The ability to do research on SEO issues is an important skill that you won't learn by reading the books, but you can learn it as you read them by finding information that supports and possibly even refutes what they say.

In addition to the link to Ammon's article about SEO, check out the one that he put together on marketing at The Business and Marketing Forum Primer, and don't miss the first thread listed - Marketing 101: Introduction to the Essentials of Marketing

I'd also recommend reading through the guidelines from the search engines - but not as a list of though shalls and though shall nots - instead as a why? Why do they make the recommendations that they do? What are the problems that some of these things cause? What are the benefits to the search engines if webmasters follow those guidelines. What are the benefits to the webmasters? Why might some people not follow some of those guidelines?

Formal training can be really helpful. But learning how to learn new stuff is essential, too. Because you'll run into times when the books don't have the answers, the guidelines don't cover your problem, the people you ask don't know, the coaches are off coaching someone else, and your searches in the search engines don't seem to be revealing what you need to do.

#13 cre8pc

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 08:39 AM

There is also the Search Engine College, for online study. Some courses are self-study and some are with a tutor. All are extremely affordable. There may be an opportunity to speak with graduates. There is also a certification offered by the school.

#14 next123

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 09:28 AM

Is it woth of doing SEO Certification from Search Engine College?

#15 Black_Knight

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 10:11 AM

Is it worth it?

That's something each person must decide from themselves, although we've addressed who it will suit best with all these previous posts above.

Is the certificate worth it? That depends on how much you value certificates. Is there some small blemish on your wall needs covering?

The one thing I would caution against is if anyone were considering a course being an investment to make them an instant SEO. It won't. The course is merely a fast way to get all the basic principles into your mind so that you can then set off to learn more advanced and specialized skills from there.

Formal training can be really helpful. But learning how to learn new stuff is essential, too. Because you'll run into times when the books don't have the answers, the guidelines don't cover your problem, the people you ask don't know, the coaches are off coaching someone else, and your searches in the search engines don't seem to be revealing what you need to do.

We're all saying that these courses are providing a solid groundwork which is a fast way to get the basic principles and techniques. We are also all cautioning that a course alone does not make you a professional SEO.

This means that the certificates have no value as a professional qualification. Yet a certificate does at least show that you've attended a course to learn the basics.

Just learning how to swim in a pool does not make you a lifeguard. It is simply that taking swimming lessons may be a safer and certainly faster way to learn all the strokes and techniques than by say jumping in to a pond.

#16 Kal

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 07:24 PM

We're all saying that these courses are providing a solid groundwork which is a fast way to get the basic principles and techniques. We are also all cautioning that a course alone does not make you a professional SEO.


I couldn't agree more. Provided the training follows the search engine's published webmaster guidelines, doing a course is a great way to start your SEO journey. It will also give you a jumping off point from which to increase your knowlege and experiment with your new-found skills. But it will not automatically entitle you to call yourself a professional. That takes years of experience, building trust and learning from your mistakes. All our courses emphasize this.

This means that the certificates have no value as a professional qualification. Yet a certificate does at least show that you've attended a course to learn the basics.


I agree to a point. A certificate will not establish you as a "professional". Here at SEC, ours simply state Certificate of Training to show that you have undertaken training in the subject/s provided. However, some of our students have mentioned that when they apply for a SEO role with some companies, having this training certificate has given them the edge over other applicants because it is a tangible representation of their knowledge. The other applicants may have the same knowledge, but because they don't have the "proof" of subjects studied, they are at a slight disadvantage. So having the hard-copy certification has value in this instance.

One student claimed that the SEO jobs she applied for actually required formal training and that was why she took our courses! Unusual, but I guess becoming less so.

#17 cre8pc

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 08:07 PM

Thank you Kalena!

For those who don't know, she is the founder of SEC. I invited her to respond to the question. Best to get the facts!

Her's is the only online educational facility that I'm aware of that offers a well rounded set of courses, including user centered design.

#18 Black_Knight

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 06:27 AM

However, some of our students have mentioned that when they apply for a SEO role with some companies, having this training certificate has given them the edge over other applicants because it is a tangible representation of their knowledge.

I'm very surprised. Of course, I don't know how the market is 'down under' but I have never heard of any UK company asking for or respecting any of the 'seo training' qualifications yet.

All the companies I have been involved with are generally looking for experience, especially in running 2 or more sites that rank well in competitive markets for over a year. Several look for degrees, but most would far rather go for experience.

It is interesting to hear this is different in other places.

What kind of companies are we talking about in this? I'd be fascinated to look for a 'demographic' make-up to such companies.

#19 seo-newbie

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 10:50 AM

To all of you guys,

I just want to say Thank You!! I really appreciated all the effort you went to try and give me guidance- it has all really helped me tremendously! This is a really great forum and all the advice has really been great- thanks :)

And I will be sure to take "Send2Paul" up on his offer and introduce myself in the Introduce Yourself forum- thanks!!
I will keep you posted as to how I get along.

Seo-Newbie

#20 jewelking

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 07:31 AM

I would start with a simple book like "search engine optimizations for dummies" I got my copy from the library. About from this I have taken the self help route and it's worked for the medium difficulty keywords I need, at least for google and MSN. Can't seem to crack Yahoo. Anyone got any suggestions.
My site is www.wjsutton.co.uk my typical keyword is jewellery wholesalers

Best regards ken

#21 Keywords

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 09:22 AM

Most of the training I do is intended for those who are moving beyond the basics. You can get the basics in a book, but where it seems to bog down for a lot of folks is the implementation. That's why we do lots of one-on-one time, small group meetings, etc. and move at a slower pace. I don't see how anyone expects to learn SEO by sitting through a 5-day Powerpoint whipping.

#22 yeseniagn

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 10:46 AM

Hi Seo-Newbie,

Did you make a decision about this? Are you going to take the Bruce Clay course? I have the same issue right now. I'm trying to get information from different trainings but I want to know if this training is worth it. I want to know if these training courses just focus on the use of their SEOToolSet, if we have to buy the tools too, and how much they cover on specific SEO issues and how much on your tools. If you have more information about them or other vendors please let me know. I just send them an email to get more details and also references.
Regards,
Yesenia

#23 cre8pc

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 07:15 PM

We have a review of another possible place for training, that both Bill and I have attended twice and heartily endorse. That would be Jill Whalen's High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminars. They feature 2 days of intensive workshops by well known and highly respected presenters. It's a relaxed atmosphere as well.

Their last one

What a High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar is Really Like is a review.

We announce them here at the forums as each new one is set up.

#24 BillSlawski

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 07:22 PM

One of the really nice things about the seminars that the High Rankings crew puts on is that they make themselves pretty accessible during the two days, and are willing to engage in conversations during that time.

And they encourage people to participate in the forums associated with High Rankings.

As an introduction to SEO and related topics, and as a chance to possibly spend some one-on-one time with some pretty knowledgeable people in the industry, I would recommend attending one of their seminars.

#25 SEOProfessional

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 07:47 AM

Hello everyone. SEO training is a subject near and dear to my heart because I feel that it is something most website designers and developers don't know enough about, it at all. I spend a lot of my time educating people on the basics, and even started an Internet talk show on Internet Marketing, eMarketingTalkShow, just to help people understand the importance, so I thought I might add my 2 cents here. The talk show is free to listen to by the way...

I started in SEO over 4 yrs. ago with Robin Nobles online course which was called The Academy of Web Specialists at the time. As mentioned above it is now called Online Web Training . At the time I was broke and going through a career change as well as a divorce and this online course saved my life. I have since attended the Search Engine Workshops and am looking forward to the Ultra Advanced Symposium coming up.

That said, I have also taken Bruce Clay's training, attended SES San Jose every year since I started in this crazy business and even attended some of Webmaster World's Pub Con's. I did this to futher educate myself and keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening in the industry since it changes rapidly. What I have found is that while most agree on 80%-90%, some SEO is subjective, i.e. to submit or not to submit. What I suggest is test the things you are not sure of yourself. Testing is the key to good SEO practice.

If you are just starting out in the industry, you can't go wrong with the [url=http://www.onlinewebtraining.com/]online course. It will give you the basics you need to get started and Robin keeps the curriculum updated regularly. If you have a couple of bucks in your pocket and want a jump start, go for the Search Engine Workshop course. You won't be sorry you did!

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me through the eMarketing Talk Show website. See you at the top!

#26 Kal

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 02:29 AM

I'm very surprised. Of course, I don't know how the market is 'down under' but I have never heard of any UK company asking for or respecting any of the 'seo training' qualifications yet.


Sorry I'm only answering this now, haven't been back in a while. The student in question was actually in India and I don't know the location of the job she was applying for that listed formal SEM training as part of the job description. But from memory, the students who claimed the SEC certification helped them in the culling process were in Australia and the US.

Still :lol: at Dan's powerpoint whipping comment. Don't worry, no Microsoft products were used (or harmed) in the delivery of our courses :rofl:



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