Ninety-six percent of employers say continuing education improves job performance, according to a 2016 study by Evollution.
That’s what George Niver, CTO of Destination Commerce Corporation, believes, or came to find sometime between his first attendance at Bruce Clay SEO Training in 2005 and his eighth time taking the course in 2017.
How Annual SEO Training Helped George Niver Climb His Career Ladder
George Niver is an eight-time student of our SEO training course. So we interviewed him to hear more about why.
First, his story. In 2004, he was working in IT as website manager for a nonprofit. An SEO consultant agreed to give him the recommendations if he did the work.
He decided to enroll in some in-person SEO training himself, which led to doing more SEO for his company and eventually led to contract SEO work.
Businesses, as it turned out, were hungry for his ability to attract new customers through search engines. He was hired as an in-house developer at the Destination Commerce Corporation’s site for the Outer Banks, NC, region.
“My boss told people that because of SEO we ranked No. 1 for hundreds of keywords in the Outer Banks even though the competition is getting stronger,” Niver said in a recent interview.
Niver says that he attends our classroom training course every year because it allows him to keep “in constant touch with what’s happening with the search engine changes.”
It’s also because, sitting in a room face-to-face with a trainer, he gets to ask tough questions and get an expert reply.
In 2009, Destination Commerce Corporation promoted Niver to CTO. Today he manages the digital marketing of 50 websites, develops new markets, and still focuses half of his time on SEO.
He credits continuing education with greater perspective:
“[Annual attendance] has a spiraling effect of getting more grounded each time in certain things that I may not have been aware of. The breadth of what I do at work has expanded because of taking the course regularly. My knowledge increases, and my interest increases in different directions.”
Industry-Wide Trends toward Continual Training
Niver’s story is exceptional but it isn’t unique. We’ve also leveled-up whole marketing and IT departments with on-site group training.
Some companies build SEO training into their annual education. We’ve seen our fair share of students who come back every year for a technology update as part of their continuing education.
With hundreds of search engine rankings signals, changing algorithm updates and even a mobile-first index looming with Google’s search engine, can you say with confidence that you understand and know how to respond to these events?
Periodic search engine optimization training is a best practice for professionals in the digital marketing industry. It’s investing in yourself and your people.
It prepares you to think and respond strategically to anything the search engines like Google can throw your way, and helps keep your company up-to-date with the changes that we see each year in SEO.
If you do not understand SEO to the core, then your website, its rankings and visibility will suffer. Uninformed and careless decisions will be made with your website that can cause it to be impacted in the search results.
You Need SEO Training If …
SEO training is important for more reasons than you may think. You’ll get value from SEO education if:
- You want various stakeholders to have intelligent conversations about and make unified decisions regarding website changes and anything that will impact SEO.
- You are not satisfied plateauing at No. 5 in the search results – you want to know how to be a top-ranking source of information for your customers, and increase your visibility across the different elements on search results pages.
- You want to build SEO education into annual continuing education goals.
- You want people who are managing teams to deeply understand SEO. They can then use this important skillset to make strategic decisions and better work with their team members.
- You have new additions to your team or roles are changing hands, and the new people need to get up to speed about SEO best practices.
- You are working with an SEO vendor and want to know how to evaluate and intelligently implement their recommendations.
- You have a website that’s suffered a search engine penalty and you want to understand what it is and how to go about fixing it.
Who can benefit from SEO training?
- Marketing manager: Understand how SEO techniques fit into the broader digital marketing mix, and empower search wins from the top down.
- SEO professional: SEO best practices are constantly evolving; hear from SEO industry leaders what changes mean the most. An in-person classroom setup will best suit the SEO’s needs.
- IT professional: Support your organization’s search engine discovery, crawlability and accessibility.
- Web developer: Set yourself apart with SEO knowledge that can help improve the rank, reach and conversion of websites.
How to Choose SEO Training
When choosing training for yourself or your company, consider this:
Read the reviews. Students are likely to give the most unbiased feedback.
Research the trainers. Are they in demand in their space and/or did those with an extensive background in both theory and practice design the course?
SEO training comes in many different flavors. Each type is viable and the best fit depends on your resources, availability, budget and learning style.
- Conferences: Conferences are good for more general training. However, with conferences, it takes some background knowledge and intuition to read between the lines and pick up on the nuances of what is being taught. Conferences are great for learning what has changed within the search marketing industry, but generally do not teach you the fundamentals of the SEO practice. SMX conferences are a great place to start. (And you can often find a one-day training workshop there on various digital marketing disciplines).
- Online training: Video training classes like those offered by Market Motive are a good option for people who like to learn at their own pace without a high degree of interactivity. Online training is also good for groups of people and perhaps companies with limited budgets for continuing education. Typically, these classes are one-off trainings on specific topics, not a “soup to nuts” educational program. Be sure that you block interruptions like email so your focus is where it needs to be.
- In-person training: In-person training is typically highly interactive, and is designed with a classroom-type curriculum, often taking a deep dive into a discipline over the course of one or several days. In-person training can sometimes happen at your place of business, and in many cases, requires travel and time away from work. However, the scope of knowledge transfer is usually very high. I may be biased because we run in-person SEO training here at Bruce Clay, but I believe it to be the most effective.
I should mention that a portion of people get their SEO knowledge from the tools they subscribe to. But it isn’t enough to know how to run an SEO tool and cross off the list of tasks or recommendations it is giving.
The Canary Wharf Executive Development Centre gives the following tip to those sizing up training:
You need to ensure that it is producing knowledge & skills that your employees can use immediately to have a bottom line impact – and, therefore, create a tangible ROI as soon as the training ends.
It’s not enough to take a course or send folks to training. You have to ensure that you walk into the course ready to get the most from the experience:
- Come with real-life examples of problems you’re facing, and get feedback from the instructors on them.
- Establish a goal for yourself ahead of training, like learning more about a particular aspect of SEO or being able to teach your team when you get back.
- Look for a channel — a community or support structure — that allows you to continue your development after the course is done through questions and peer/instructor feedback.
At the end of the day, with SEO training in particular, you want to ensure it’s conducted by a reputable brand that believes in ethical SEO practices. At the end of the course, the goal is that you can go back to work and be better at SEO.
What Happens When You Invest In Yourself
There’s an old saying in business that the CFO says to the CEO: “What happens if we spend money training our people and then they leave?” The CEO’s response: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
SEO training is a competitive survival tactic, and if you are a marketer or manage an in-house team, training is mandatory. It’s an investment in the future of your career and business.
George Niver attends training each year to stay on the pulse of SEO and also to spark new opportunities:
“I have eight sets of manuals. It’s obvious as Bruce is going through the course, how many things have changed in the manual since the last year. When I’m sitting there listening to the class, I’m continually making notes or writing suggestions about which clients could use certain things that have changed in the last year. It’s inspiring to hear what’s changed in the last year. It’s important to what I do every day.”
Introducing the Early Bird Discount
Today, in our 18th year presenting in-person SEO training, we’re announcing a brand new discount among our special offers: the early bird.
Apply an early bird discount when you sign up for SEO training a month or more before the training date.
The early bird can be combined with other deals, like the returning student 25% discount or the multi-student discount where every student after the first is $300 off.
If you like this post or want to send this discount offer to a friend or colleague, please share.
About the Author
Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce’s author page.