Search engine optimization is mostly self-taught, unlike other jobs people consider. The student will visit SEO forums, attend SEO conferences, read articles and books and then apply what was learned on the sites that they optimize. They will look at the results, make changes and simply keep doing this. While this is definitely the most common approach that is taken, there are other things that could be considered.
SEO is a young industry. We can say that it is around 10 years old (this is debatable). With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to see that only some certification programs exist and their acceptance is always questionable.
Search Engine Acceptance
There is a clear paradox that appears when looking at SEO education. The truth is that certifications and courses need to be recognized by the main search engines in order to truly say that they are similar to what you would find in other professions. This is not likely to happen since most of the practices used these days are aimed at ranking a site higher, sometimes over one that has a higher quality than the one that is optimized. Google would have huge problems in recognizing a certification program that teaches how to influence rankings. It already dismisses SEO tools that analyze sites like it does.
Factors To Consider About SEO Education
As with any other industry, when thinking about the education options that exist in SEM and SEO, you have to think about some facts. For starters, you need to assess how much you know at the moment. In the event that you did experiment with your site and you did so in order to rank higher in SERPs, there is a pretty good possibility that you already know a lot, have used SEO tools to analyze sites and have an overall good understanding of the industry. This is always the case when you read articles, bought books and visited SEO forums. In this case, beginner courses would not help you much. You would need a course that is more advanced or you may want to attend an SEO conference.
Individual learning style also counts a lot. In the past, did you learn a lot while on the computer? Did you learn better in a face-to-face environment? There are many that learn better while in a small classroom due to the interaction that is created. Your very own learning style will have an impact on the type of SEO education that you should choose.
The last thing you will want to consider is your budget. You will not be able to afford the courses that are around $2,000 or more. If your budget is low, you will want to consider ebooks that are available for free or resources that you simply can afford.
SEO Education Is An Ongoing Process
The SEO strategies that used to work in the past do not work anymore because the ranking algorithm changes every few months. With this in mind, we can say that education in this field is definitely ongoing. You cannot learn everything about search engine optimization simply because the online world is constantly evolving. Search engines are not perfect and will never be.
The SEO specialist has a career that is basically focused on constant learning. If you do not enjoy learning, you will not be successful. You need to see the new case studies, read about the technical part of things and always stay up-to-date with everything in this industry.
The College Option
Although we are still at an early phase of acceptance, there are around 20 colleges in the USA that offer SEM and SEO courses. Some are introductory, like the one offered by Indiana University while others are more advanced and praised as being really good by specialists, like the one from Rutgers University.
The problem with the college opportunity is the same one that was already mentioned above: the SEO algorithms constantly change. Universities have to also stay up-to-date with all modifications. Because of this, you need to always check and see if the college/university takes this into account or not. Also, after the course is over, you most likely need to already learn new things.
If You Do Not Want To Go To College
It does not matter why. Some people just do not want to do this – or cannot. For such individuals, other options are available. There are professionals that offer SEM and SEO courses. In most situations you first receive a free e-book that you would go through and then subscribe to a membership or pay for a full course if you want to continue your education.
The courses that you would use come from either institutions or from individuals. Obviously, those that come from an institution are more expensive. In such cases you rarely have access to a real instructor that you would talk to so you need to have an affinity for being self-taught. Motivation is important in such a situation.
The word “proper” in the title is definitely subjective due to the ever changing nature of the industry. However, the options that were mentioned above are those that are normally considered by those that want to learn SEO. You have to consider what is best for you and get ready for a lot of information that you need to memorize.
How did you learn SEO and how would you encourage someone new to the industry if they wanted more education in digital marketing? Let us know in the comments!