Vocational Training Programmes for Skill Development
Why participate in an SEO training course?
There are many reasons to consider doing optimisation courses.
We all know that the internet is a wonderful place to find or provide information. The internet revolution has changed our lives as much as the arrival of the Bronze Age or the Atomic Age.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the application of techniques designed to bring webpages to the top of search engine results pages for targeted keywords to increase visitor numbers. Search engine optimisers specialise in promoting websites for clients. Some optimisers find it academically challenging although the primary interest of most is to provide excellent professional service for financial reward.
There are more opinions on how to move webpages to the top than optimisers. Every statement that most optimisers would accept will be challenged by someone who claims to be the world's greatest expert. For example, most would say that you are unlikely to achieve top positioning if your targeted keywords are not in the Page Title tag - that it is the top on-page factor. The occasional experienced optimiser will disagree. Evidence based research providing compelling data to confirm that an opinion has merit is difficult to find. There is not even one peer reviewed internationally recognised journal or website edited by experts with appropriate academic qualifications.
Google is the most popular search engine and everyone with a website wants to be at the top for their search terms. Search engines are e-commerce companies that accumulate wealth in proportion to their popularity. It is in their individual interests to enhance their programs that position webpages in the order that best answers a search request.
There are at least 200 factors in the Google positioning program (algorithm). Just to make it interesting, Google changes their positioning algorithm at least once a day and brings in major changes at less frequent intervals. The Panda update introduced in 2011, involves machine leaning - it is as if the Google algorithm is training itself to provide better search results. The bottom line is that Google holds the key to enormous potential wealth but the combination to unlock it is as closely guarded as Fort Knox.
The majority of optimisers would accept that understanding how Google works is challenging. Those in the SEO industry will have their own way of optimising webpages and websites. Fundamentally, we have on-page optimisation (page content and coding) and off-page optimisation - the acquisition of links. Links are known to be more important than on-page content in the Google algorithm.
Writing articles or comments on quality websites that provide benefit to readers is desirable and entirely acceptable. Natural link acquisition is beneficial and appropriate particularly when it is undertakine with moderation. There is increasing interest in link bait to bring in those precious links. A provocative statement on a forum can be particularly effective.
There was a period when reciprocal linking and automated linking with programs that disseminate poor quality articles and blog comments seemed to be a way forward even if those who indulged in such malpractice might have difficulty explaining it to their competition. Such optimisation is frowned upon by all respectable optimisers and the search engines are less than impressed: They may impose a penalty such as removing websites from their index.
Some hold the view that a link is a link which is undeniable. Others believe that a link is only of potential value when it is indexed by Google, it carries link juice from a webpage that has PageRank and / or has keywords in the anchor (linking) text. Money is money - undeniable; Monopoly money is not recognised by the high street bank.
It is easy to formulate a reproducible way to optimise websites and follow the protocol. More difficult is to realise that an ongoing improvement to the protocol is required. Some would suggest that it is all simple and that others complicate the issue. Others take the view that SEO is not that easy. One difficult part is to know how much to explain to potential clients. Make it sound complicated and you may lose the customer. Make it sound easier than it is and the client may find that your promises become unfulfilled.
There is information overload on optimisation. Books, websites, internet articles, and videos abound.
SEO courses provide opportunity to be updated. If it is held by somebody with SEO experience and an academic background or in an academic institute it is likely to be thought provoking.
A good training course will help you to maximise your website's potential so that it will receive more targeted visitors. There are many online and off-line optimisation courses held at venues varying from schools to universities. Some are free but others attract a fee. The advantage of on-line SEO courses is that anyone can attend - there are no geographical restrictions. Courses held at venues have the advantage of interaction between tutors and the attendees.
How can I determine if those offering a course have the required genuine expertise?
Testimonials are a good place to start provided they are on the attendee's website; anyone can write a testimonial about themselves and put it on their own website. A major part of SEO is acquiring natural links.
Google says tells us that "Today we use more than 200 signals, including PageRank, to order websites, and we update these algorithms on a weekly basis." The PageRank of a website is determined by the total value of the links to the HomePage of the website. In the author's opinion, HomePage PageRank is the top factor in the Google algorithm. If the HomePage PageRank of an optimiser is at least 3, it demonstrates ability to acquire links that are accredited by Google.
Those with expertise in optimisation will have a passion for it. They will have published many articles and blog comments, some of them offering original research. They will offer training to others so that others can learn from their expertise. Beware of courses or optimisers that suggest they can show you how to get to the top on Google for any keyword you choose. There are some experts who have been providing SEO training courses for many years. Bruce Clay offers acclaimed Courses internationally with venues as varied as California, Australia and India. His Courses are not cheap.
The success of a course or lecture depends not only on the speaker but the attendee. Feedback from specialist doctors to my lectures typically indicated that 60% thought I had pitched it correctly; 20% found that the information provided could have been found in books or on the internet and that the level was less than they hoped for and 20% thought I gave too much detail.
Any optimiser who claims to know how to get your website to the top for any keyword you wish is misleading you.
Where can I find a good search engine optimisation course?
By its very nature, those who provide a good training will advertise it online. As you surf the net, you will spot endless courses.
There is much to be said for courses run by recognised academies, colleges or universities. For example, in Manchester there is one with some of the local leading lights, with 10 acclaimed experts, from the region's new media industry who have joined forces with academics in the North West of England to produce a groundbreaking new search engine optimisation (SEO) course designed to improve search and social media marketing skills.
This depends when you feel that you need to move up a gear and also the level you have reached. Of course not everyone feels the need for training.
There are courses at basic level, intermediate level and advanced level.
The social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have an effect on SEO but there is debate on their exact role. It probably varies according to different niches. There are SEO courses focused on social media. There are special interest courses - for example there is a training course available for web designers.
If you're part of training team in an organization, you may have a range of courses you offer as part of an internal program. How much response do you get when you let people know about your courses? Could it be better?
It's a crucial question right now because training budgets are under scrutiny and organizations will be looking at their programs and asking whether all these courses are necessary. If the take - up isn't very good, there's a chance some courses may be cut ( also some training jobs! )
I often hear people say something like, " We'll let everyone know the course is running and see what response we get. "
This can mean different things. It could mean:
- the course is listed in some internal training directory
- the directory is sent out to people, maybe with a training calendar showing all the available courses and some dates
- the program is on the HR or Training page of a website for people to find if they happen to look
- a separate flyer for the course is sent out by hard copy or email
- the information may be sent to everyone or just to certain people who will choose who to send on the course
Often, however the course is listed, there's precious little information given about it other than the title and a few lines describing the content. This is is nowhere near enough to get people's interest. As an independent trainer, I know I have to market my services to get people to buy them. But a lot of people in internal teams don't do enough to promote their courses. They don't always see the need. They just think they need to list the course with a few details and, if people are interested, they'll come.
It doesn't work like that, people still need persuading to give up their time and go on a course. So how do you promote a course successfully? Here's a very quick guide to marketing.
One - focus on the problems people are facing, the difficulties they have which the course is meant to help them with. In other words, what's the need that's given rise to the course?
Two - use these problems as your main " hook " to get people's attention. The description of the course should set out these problems so that people can identify with them.
Three - tell people how the course will solve these problems. What benefits will they get from attending, what will they learn, how will that help them?
Four - give the course an interesting name that reflects the benefit or the solution they're looking for.
Here's a brief example.
A typical listing for a course might be like this:
Title: Time Management.
This is a 1 day course for all managers and will cover topics such as Delegation, Organising your work area, Making To Do lists, Handling emails."
Title: How To Get More Done In Your Day.
How often do you get to the end of a day and wonder where the time went? Do you find yourself constantly juggling several tasks at once and never actually finishing any of them? How many times do you set out in the morning with the best intentions but find that interruptions and distractions have thrown you off track before you even get to lunchtime?
Well, this workshop is just for you. It will help you to plan your day, deal with distractions and actually get things done. You'll learn how to:
- write and use a To Do list the right way (most of them are useless and you'll find out why)
- prioritize your work so that you can focus on the most important task
- deal with interruptions and distractions without losing valuable time and wrecking your plan for the day
You get the idea.
It's not a question of using " hype " or over - promising, it's just a question of helping people see exactly what they'll get from attending. And that's what they need to persuade them to give up valuable time and go to a training course.
The other point is that people don't make a decision the first time they see something, they may need to be reminded several times before they respond.
So, if you really want to see the numbers go up on your courses, give some thought to the way you market them.