By Kelly Weeler on 2009/01/09
No one can dispute the value of Search Engine Optimisation in today's online world, but it can be a tricky process to master. Not everyone can afford to hire an SEO guru or an in-house practitioner, but don't despair: there is hope. SEO is a skill that can be self-taught and there are an abundance of ways in which you can do just that.
Heading down to your local book store and grabbing the brightest "how to" manual can be tempting, but a night's reading does not an SEO make. An SEO-dedicated book is an excellent way to learn about meta tags and link structures and can teach you a great deal, but these things alone are not going to send your website flying up the search engine rankings. There are many things involved in SEO that are not found between the two covers of a book - everything from the design of your site to your target audience is vital in this practice. Many effective SEO campaigns come through trial and error and knowing your own product and customer-base inside out. This doesn't mean that you can't teach yourself effective SEO practices, but simply that you can't rely on only one resource and you need to be prepared to make mistakes.
So, What is the Best Way to Teach Yourself SEO?
Hire an Expert
Experts can be expensive and hiring an in-house SEO guru is not always feasible for many smaller businesses. But many SEOs provide consulting services that are a great way to get you started. Setting up the initial SEO on your site, the consultant can ensure that your campaign is primed to run smoothly. Sitting with the consultant during this time also allows you to learn the basics of SEO and will help you to carry on the work yourself in the months to come. Many SEO consultancies also offer short courses and workshops that can be invaluable to your SEO efforts. Once you have spent a morning learning the basics, these consultants will often make themselves available to give you advice in the future should you need it.
Use the Web
The web is simply bursting at the seams with sites claiming to be able to teach you SEO. A sure fire way to learn the basics is to avoid the sites that offer you "successful SEO in ten minutes". SEO does not take ten minutes, but rather requires a fairly deep understanding and at least three months for the results to begin to show themselves. One of the best ways to learn online is to visit as many "how to" sites as you can and get an overall impression of the basics of SEO. Many sites offer real life case studies, instances and advice that can help to illustrate some of the problems surrounding SEO and give you a greater understanding of its processes. Many of these sites also offer specialised advice that is helpful to your particular field or market. This more specific advice can be invaluable for those starting out in SEO and should be used in conjunction with the words of wisdom from the more generalised sites.
Take a Web Course
Perhaps a more traditionally reliable option online is to subscribe to an SEO course or online school. These paid-for courses are generally quite affordable and often can be completed at home or in your own time. With study materials supplied and a structured way of learning, these courses can give even the most novice of online users a good grounding in SEO. Many of these courses also offer certificates of their completion that can be added to an individual's CV and are a useful thing for your staff to undertake.
SEO does not work in isolation to any other eMarketing technique and is most effective when you use it in conjunction with other online strategies. For example, an SEO strategy in combination with a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign can really make a difference to your site's rankings. Learning about eMarketing as a whole is one of the best ways to both understand and practice effective SEO and there many resources available online and offline to help you in this regard. Textbooks on eMarketing as a whole are not a dime a dozen, but can be found and are often also available online as free downloads in support of the freedom of the very medium that they are teaching about. Using such resources gives you an overall understanding of SEO and its sister components and acts as an excellent starting off point for a successful campaign.
eMarketing: the essential guide to online marketing
Quirk eMarketing in Cape Town, South Africa, offers a full range of online marketing services. With many international PPC clients and years of experience, Quirk wrote the book on eMarketing, literally. Free to download, eMarketing: the essential guide to online marketing edition two contains a comprehensive chapter on PPC that is easy to digest and will get you started.