I have to say that one of the most important qualities in SEO circles is the process of continual development and learning. A lot of SEO professionals have some sort of university or college degree behind them but if you look into their history further you will find that they are often in unrelated fields and they are not necessarily from a web design or marketing background.
For example Alessio Madeyski was a microbiologist, and at university I studied to become a chemist. The truth is the most important thing you learn while studying is that you are responsible for your own personal development, the onus is on you to pick up the books, do the homework, attend the lectures and read around your chosen subject. You are responsible for your own learning path and developing these skills will set you up for the future.
Jon Cooper recently wrote about his struggles of his chosen degree subject “…if you want to do anything tech related, college is the farthest thing from a requirement. Universities do not keep up with the times, and for the rising costs they’re now charging students, it’s sometimes difficult to justify college all together.”
While there is undoubtedly a gap in the current education system for more emphasis on the technical aspects of SEO and internet marketing there are those trying to bridge that gap such as DistilledU and many are still calling for tighter and rigorous regulation in our space.
But what if you want to learn more about SEO?
Then I would recommend that you find yourself a mentor. Having someone you can email, call or even meet up with on a regular basis in order to keep up with the latest trends will really help you get off the ground running. Everyone in SEO had to start somewhere, this is an industry built on experiential learning and exposure to new and challenging problems.
Find the best agency in your location and try to get a job; on the job training is one of the quickest ways you will learn SEO with a wide range of industries and great people around you. If you can’t get a paid job consider an intern position, Ed Fry is a great example of someone who did a great job of advancing his learning on an internship.
In addition, I would encourage you to read lots… Read everything and anything you can that relates to SEO. Web Design, UX, content marketing, social media, science, advertising, psychology – all of it will help you form a solid foundation and provide you with practical tools and methodologies which can be applied to your work.
In order to give you something to read through this long cold winter season, I have compiled a list of “essential SEO reading” to help get your education off to a good start. This list is in no way exhaustive, but rather a selection of various books and sites that will help you learn more about your chosen field:
- Beginners Guide to SEO
- SEO Glossary
- Excel for SEO’s
- Distilled linkbait guide
- Maths for Web Analytics
- Please Exit the Link Building
- Creative Link Building Ideas
- Don’t Make Me Think
- Content Strategy for the Web
- Information Architecture for the Web
- SEO By the Sea
- Kaiser the Sage
Whether you decide to boycott the formal education system or you just want to become a better-rounded and well educated SEO, I recommend that you never stop learning because the moment you stop learning is the moment you will become obsolete.