SEO Stands for “Always Keep Learning”

By Bryson Meunier, Natural Search Supervisor

Not literally, of course. Most everyone in marketing knows by now that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Yet, since best practices in SEO are constantly evolving, it’s difficult to be an SEO worth his/her salt if self-education isn’t practiced daily. Because few colleges and universities offer search education, and even the best training programs in SEO will eventually become outdated, it’s necessary to always keep learning the trade. Forums and conferences (like last week’s SES San Jose) are well-known ways of learning SEO. Here are five lesser known techniques for learning even more.

Join a Local Search Marketing Group

I’m the organizer of the Chicago SEO Meetup-- a group that meets once a month to discuss best practices in search engine optimization and provides search professionals in the area with a network of like-minded professionals with whom to interact and share stories/trade secrets. There are currently 484 SEO meetups in 8 countries and 67 cities where SEOs can do the same. If you’re looking for a more formal regional SEO group, many areas offer those as well. Lee Odden has a good list of them here. Regardless of your preference, local search marketing groups offer a way to experience conference-style networking and education on a more regular basis.

Read Webmaster Guidelines

When I started learning SEO back in 2000, it seemed as though you could be blacklisted if a search engine representative heard you speak of it. Now the search engines have detailed help sections in which they share sometimes more than SEO blogs did back then. If you’re interested in increasing your understanding of white hat SEO, take a Saturday afternoon to read the Google Webmaster Help section “cover-to-cover”. Undoubtedly, a lot of it will be review for all but the latest to the SEO party, but a thorough understanding of the basics provides a solid foundation for the best SEO education.

Learn at Work

Resolution Media has one of the best internal training programs that I’m aware of, so it may be easier for me and my colleagues to learn at work than it is for some. Nonetheless, if your workplace offers a training program of any kind, make sure you take advantage. This applies to courses that are offered internally, but also those that aren’t. If you have a special interest that’s not represented in the curriculum, it never hurts to express interest in it to one of the instructors. Chances are they’ll be happy to address it in an existing course, or create a new one if necessary.

Go Mobile

It’s important to understand that as long as you have a phone that can access the Internet there is no need to ever be bored, or to ever stop learning. I have a Google Reader icon on my Blackberry and iPod Touch that allows me to access search marketing blogs anywhere. Set it up yourself by accessing the mobile version of your favorite feed readers. Why stare at a wall in line when you could be educating yourself about search?

Know Yourself

This one is not mentioned much in discussions of search marketing education, which is strange since it may be the most important point. There’s a lot of information out there, and not all of it is true. The best SEOs have enough confidence in themselves and their abilities to understand when someone is pulling their leg. In an industry in which the rules are sometimes being made by the players of the game, this is critically important. It’s one thing to take in information, but quite another to educate yourself.

This last point takes years of learning, but if you practice the other four mentioned here, in addition to reading blogs and attending conferences, you should be well on your way to search marketing enlightenment.


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