Dear SEOChat community in this thread I'll try an exercise I've never tried before. Taking a broad statement and trying to explain why It is true.
The statement of the day is : Don't go to conferences to learn SEO
I already know that people are going to answer me that a lot of big conferences like SMX are a real-round tables were you can meet highly demanded professionnals and hear some really interesting infos and updates on the world of SEO.
First of all, I need to say that I totally agree with that BUT this only applies to people that already know (a little / a lot) about SEO.
My point is that a lot of companies send employees to a one hour conference on SEO or to a half a day formation on On-page Optimisation, Content creation, log analysis,... Some of these encounters are free but generally they aren't and they actually can cost a lot of money. And this money could for me be invested in a better way.
So why can't you learn this way?
- Because most of the time people that participate in such meetings go there with a paper and a pen and write down everything they can instead of trying to understand what the subject really is, they generally end up copying the strategy used as an example instead of analysing what their company website really needs to rank high and convert a lot.
- Because even a 3-hour class is much too short to really be able to understand all aspects of SEO. Yes you can have a general introduction to most of it, but it seems totally impossible to me to get into details of every aspect of SEO in such a small time frame. And the problem is that SEO is a question of details. Server Log analysis or Speed optimisation alone could take much more time.
(Some people will say that website loading speed is not the job of an SEO and I personally disagree with that, but that's another question).
- It's not always the case but it is very common that the person giving the lecture will try to sell its service(s). If you want to really be able to learn you need to be taught by someone who is giving away without wanting anything in return and that's very very rare in this kind of events.
- If chance you really find the perfect lecture: interesting topic, well developed, subject focused, in-depth analysis, there is a lot of chance that as a novice you won't have the background to actually make the most out of it and you could even missunderstand some important notions. This is last point is obviously a major problem.
So how do you learn SEO?
Well SEO is one of theses field where there is an active community and no it is not totally ermetic as I tend to hear more and more when speaking with people. There are lots of places were you could speak and learn about SEO on the internet but also in the real world. In my town for exemple there are small SEO & webmarketing «*coffee time*» were you can meet professionnals or amateurs with which you can start a conversation and follow it up by email. I'm pretty sure this event is not unique in it's kind.
We also have the chance to have a place called the internet on which you can find lot's of places where you can talk and ask questions to people, SEOChat is a good example of such an SEO community.
Trying to read discussions from people that are opened to criticism and that do some testing instead of taking for granted the first article you find on Google. Try asking basic, intermediate or advanced questions to understand how SEO worked, evolved and works today. Take time to read books on the subject, watch the central webmaster central office hours. Analyse website strategies is also a good idea
This will allow you to create the necessary background to start working properly on your website, and resist the mermaid screams that just say: «Do this and you'll be first in a couple of weeks».
For some SEO might sounds easy and by all means it's not that complicated but you need to know how things worked and take the time to do it properly.
Reading a thread like On-Page Optimisation What you need to know won't make you an expert, it will just put some basic facts in front of your eyes but every single subject could take a couple hours explanation on itself. By all means I'm not saying that thread is bad, I wrote it but reading an article such as How 16 companies are dominating SERPs are far more interesting once you are able to understand the basics.
Am I saying that you should stop going to SEO meetings and conferences?
I'm just saying that you should go with a different objective than pure learning. These events are a great opportunity to network and networking is very important.
The secrets of what makes a good SEO?
There are only three I can think of :
- constant questioning
- constant testing