Search engine optimization is a complex topic. Not only are the basics of SEO complicated, but we live in a world where search engines are constantly evolving. That’s why in order to get a proper SEO education, you need layers of training throughout the year.
Some educational theories say that everyone has a preferred learning style. For example, the VARK model highlights four common types of learning styles:
Visible: Prefer graphic elements over words.
audio: Prefer lectures and discussions.
reading and writing: Prefer written information.
kinetic: You learn by doing.
However, people are not limited to just one learning style. Other factors can affect the way you want to consume content. One of them is your current circumstances, as this article points out:
You’re a salesperson and you’re driving into a meeting with a customer. This morning, you saw that some of the features of the best-selling product had just been updated. Would you rather listen to a brief podcast reviewing the changes; read the sales brochure. Or watch an animated video that lets you answer questions and match features With products? If you’re in your car and just need a quick update, a podcast is the right choice. Does that make you an auditory learner?”
Given the massive amounts of content being created and consumed every minute, what is the best way to get and retain an SEO education?
There is no chance of information becoming knowledge unless it is adhered to.
If you are looking to develop your own SEO game, you need to have access to learning tools that fit your style and preferred learning conditions. Here are five SEO learning formats, their pros, cons, and recommendations:
- Online training
- classroom training
- complementary learning
- Membership Sites
There are a variety of forms of online training. E-learning options for SEO work on a wide range from videos and webinars to full online courses with supplementary materials.
Positives: Most legitimate online courses are self-paced, so you can learn on your own time. Online courses usually cost less than in-person training or consulting, and many offer payment options.
Negatives: Completion rates for online courses rarely go above 15 percent. Video training does not come with the same accountability or involvement as an in-person class. Also, video training can fail if you do not have access to experts to ask questions and clarify the material.
Recommendations: Sign up for year-round online courses that have an interactive component to get the best results (more on that later). Find courses that will help you solve the specific problems you face. Visual learners will enjoy this format the most, as will busy professionals.
Personal training for SEO is unlikely to happen since the pandemic. If and when it’s available, it usually simulates a classroom environment – lectures, discussions, and even hands-on training. This type of training takes place either on the trainer’s site, on site in the company, or in conference workshops.
Positives: Classroom SEO training can deliver university-level content in a setting that allows material to be clarified through live discussion. As a real-time format, the syllabus can be modified to discuss current trends in SEO. Oftentimes, you get personalized advice specific to your biggest SEO issues right away. Additionally, classroom training is the best way to synchronize SEO knowledge across teams if many members attend together.
Negatives: Research shows that passive listening to lectures is not a good way to learn. To succeed in face-to-face learning, you need to be an active listener, ask questions and participate in the work. The cost of travel and lost work is also a concern for some, but many find it worth the long-term investment.
Recommendations: Amuse classroom training for auditory and kinesthetic learners. But anyone can benefit greatly from personal SEO coaching to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic. I’ve taught SEO training classes personally for many years (pre-pandemic), and many attendees will return once a year for a basic update.
With the availability of digital content today, you might expect that print books are becoming less desirable. not like that. In fact, data from the Pew Research Center shows that print books still predominate over audiobooks and e-books.
Side note: That’s why I kept updating the All-in-One Search Engine Optimization for Dummies book with Wiley (now in its 4th edition). It’s a huge effort at about 800 pages, but well worth it for those who learn best on paper.
Positives: Books can provide comprehensive cover-to-cover insights on a topic such as SEO. Research also shows that people can better understand information in print versus on screen. A good book is something you can keep on your shelf and refer to over and over again.
Negatives: Some books (like mine) aren’t something you’re likely to take on a subway trip to read more casually. However, reading it at home or at work can also be a problem. The average American reads only 16 minutes a day. Also, buying books and not reading them is a real problem. Finally, print books are not as easily updated as digital content, so they can quickly become out of date.
Recommendations: Print books still appeal to people in the reading/writing learning category. If you are dedicated to reading, you can get a lot from a book on SEO.
Two popular forms of content marketing today can help improve your SEO learning: e-books and white papers.
The e-book I’m referring to here is the kind that brands use in their marketing funnels, not an e-book you buy on Amazon, for example. They are designed to give an overview of a topic in a short period of time. E-books are often lighter in text and heavier in visuals and white space.
Positives: E-books are good as an introduction to a topic. Its portable format allows learning on any device, on the go, without the bulk of a traditional book. Interactive elements, such as links to more resources such as articles and videos, allow you to explore more about the topic at your leisure.
Negatives: Just like print books, e-books fall prey to having them but never read them. Also keep in mind that most e-books are a marketing tool, so the information in them can be biased in some way.
Recommendations: E-books greatly appeal to the learning style of reading/writing or someone in their path. Read an SEO e-book to get a high-level overview of a topic, or use it as a light read when you’re standing in line.
White papers provide a well-researched, in-depth analysis of a topic delivered in a digital format. This type of content is often used to build a business case and can help the reader decide on a solution (whether it’s a service, product, or point of view).
Positives: The in-depth format of the white paper allows you to get a deeper understanding of the topic or problem you may be facing. Often times, these take a deep look into one aspect of SEO; For example, you might have a white paper about the schema only and its effect on search rankings.
Negatives: White papers are often used as a marketing tool, presenting information persuasively in a way that leads the reader to a publisher’s solution or point of view. This is not a scam unless the reader has not done their due diligence. And since white papers are documents full of text, they may not appeal to everyone.
Recommendations: White papers are most suitable for those in the reading/writing class to learn. Read a white paper on search engine optimization (SEO) to get an in-depth look at a specific issue – but take the time to do so.
A SEO training membership site can give you the best of both worlds: a virtual format with plenty of content types for all learning styles and interactive components that can simulate a live classroom experience.
As companies around the world adapt to a changing environment, virtual learning is also evolving. Just pressing play a video is no longer what people want.
People need up-to-date information and the ability to interact and collaborate with others, especially since many of them feel isolated while working and learning from home.
We’ve addressed this need with our new SEOtraining.com membership site. We’ve taken our world-renowned SEO classroom curriculum personally and reimagined it by default.
Our membership site offers something for every type of learner:
- Online SEO Training Course (15+ Hours of Updated Video Lessons)
- Live Q&A sessions
- Discussion and support forums
- Downloadable Presentations
- questions and answers
- Videos “Ask Us Anything”
- E-books and guides
- mini courses
- Search Engine Optimization Tools
You can learn more by reading It’s Time to Rethink SEO Training or visiting SEOtraining.com.
In an age of information overload with a heavy focus on digital content, it is important to think about how you would love to learn. For most people, a mix of interactive, educational, online and print materials fits best with their preferences, lifestyle, and SEO goals.