The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization tells us that its SEMPO Institute has trained more than 350 search marketers in its first year of operation. Congrats! Below, a little love for one of the few places offering real search marketing coursework, some alternative training options, and thoughts on what we’re planning for our SMX West show in February, in terms of training.
One of the things I especially like about what SEMPO has been doing is the focus on trying to give people hands-on training in search marketing. I’m a veteran of planning and offering large search conferences that provide broad education in the space, and I know the value that those provide. But once someone has had the introduction to key concepts, it’s extremely useful if they can actually do exercises or tutorials designed to build and reinforce skills.
Sadly, you often see things billed as "training courses" that really are more like limited-capacity seminars. Smaller numbers are nice, and there’s a place for the more individual attention such seminars can offer. But to me, "training" means someone is doing actual exercises, tutorials, or getting serious one-on-one time with an experienced search marketer.
SEMPO’s distance learning courses don’t give you the one-on-one time. However, they do provide actual lessons to complete, leading to a certificate of basic education.
FYI — anyone thinking to hire someone on the basis of a certification should understand it means that some basic or advanced level of educational training has been completed. It doesn’t mean that the search marketer has proven proficiency "in the field," so to speak. For that, as with anyone you want to hire, check references or decide you’re willing to give a newbie a chance. But the certificate does at least show someone has taken the time to educate themselves in some verifiable way. That’s important for the many new people coming in who can’t prove their proficiency yet, perhaps by work they’ve done on their own sites or in other ways.
SEMPO’s not alone in offering training courses. Below are some others that I’m aware of. Let me add the caveat that I’ve not been through any of these programs, so I’d encourage you to seek references before applying to one. But many of them are long-standing, which is one sign that they’ve been doing well:
- Bruce Clay Training:
Bruce is a search marketing vet who has long offered coursework on SEO and
Training: Like SEMPO, the Direct Marketing Association has a certification
program involving actual coursework
- Search Engine College:
Kalena Jordan is another search marketing vet who has been offering this
distance training service for years.
- Search Engine Workshops: Again, two search marketing vets — Robin Nobles and John Alexander — head up this long-standing service.
Am I missing someone offering real hands-on or significant one-on-one training time? By all means, let me know in the comments below!
Now let me swing back to our SMX West show. This is our first three-day event that is designed for marketers of all skill levels and interests. Heck, we’ve even got symbols like you’d find at a ski resort to let you know if a trail is for beginners, intermediate, or expert people.
For those that are new, we have our SMX Boot Camp sessions that run in a special track on the first day, then one additional session on the second day. The sessions are:
- Keyword Research Tools & Techniques
- Copywriting For Search Success
- Paid Search Fundamentals
- Link Building Fundamentals
- Search Engine Friendly Web Design
We’re still pinning down the last details, but for anyone who completes all five sessions, we expect to issue you with a graduation certificate. Like I said, certificates don’t prove proficiency, but they are growing as a way newcomers can indicate that they are educating themselves. We may even have a very short graduation ceremony — though I’m not sure about the caps-and-gowns.
Make no mistake. Our SMX Boot Camp is NOT training. But the sessions are proven, useful ways for attendees to quickly get up to speed and be prepared if they go forward with actual hands-on coursework. That’s why the boot camp — as well as the entire SMX West show — is guaranteed.
As for actual training at SMX West, we’re hoping to find a way for interested attendees to get some type of "advanced placement" credit toward the SEMPO distance learning courses. We’ll post news of that if everything comes together. Looking further ahead, we’d hope to partner with a variety of people who offer hands-on training for our SMX East show in New York next October. That way, SMX can focus on what it does best — general sessions about the strategies and tactics about search, while those who specialize in actual training can pick up from when our new attendees have been brought up to speed. And if you’re interested in partnering, contact our business team.