Search engine marketing is one of the fastest growing industries in the marketing world today, but where to go for an education can be confusing for individuals used to traditional forms of learning. There are (as of yet) no degrees in search marketing from major universities and colleges. Almost any search marketing professional that you speak to will tell you they earned their degree at the school of experience.

The search marketing industry changes at such a fast pace that even if a university were to offer a degree in search marketing, the information they taught would be out of date before the graduate could even put it into practice. Thankfully, the Internet is full of Web sites, e-books and discussion boards that combined, can provide you with everything you ever wanted to know about marketing your Web site in the search engines. Thus, the best way to learn the art of search marketing is to sit back, grab yourself a very large cup of coffee, and dig into the net.

You won't want to start your education just anywhere though, there are just as many sites sharing outdated and dangerous information as there are sharing legitimate tried and true tips. To save you the trouble of trying to sort through the clutter, I've compiled a list of Web sites, discussion boards, newsletters, e-books and conferences that will work together to give you an excellent education in the art of search engine marketing.

Search Engine Marketing News Sites

This industry moves at lightening speed. Search engines make major updates to their algorithms, new tools come and go daily, relationships and syndication deals between engines are constantly being updated. Staying on top of who feeds data to who and what the next big engine might be is vital to any search marketing professional. Industry news sites help you stay on top of the news by keeping track of the most important stories and aggregating the must-read news for you.

Search Engine Guide - Obviously you'll want to start off at our very own Search Engine Guide site. Apart from original articles and news stories, you'll also find that we've taken the time to sort through the most relevant news stories from around the Web so that you can find everything you need to know from one source.

Search Engine Watch - Perhaps the most famous search marketing related site on the Web, Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman and Gary Price operate one of the most comprehensive industry sites around. Apart from daily articles covering search engine news, you'll also find product reviews and how-to articles from some of the best and brightest in the industry.

Search Engine Lowdown - Andy Beal runs one of the best search marketing blogs on the Internet. You'll find breaking news, rumors and commentary on anything and everything worth knowing if you want to stay on top of the industry.

Discussion Boards

The Internet's version of a study group is the discussion forum. You'll want to find a good one to join up with so that you can ask questions, get site reviews, read about what's working for other marketers, and network with potential clients. Finding a good message board might be one of the most important steps for those looking to start their search marketing education online.

Webmaster World - The current king of Internet marketing discussions, Brett Tabke's Webmaster World is staffed by some of the most forward-thinking individuals in the industry. It can be tough to get answers to your questions due to the sheer volume of discussion that takes place, but a diligent searcher can find the answer to almost anything by running a search through past threads.

The Search Engine Forums at JimWorld - The original search marketing discussion forum, the search engine forums at JimWorld helped birth the industry and still feature some of the best teachers when it comes to basic organic optimization techniques.

Newsletters & E-books

What better way to learn than to have information delivered right to your inbox? Most of the sites that I've already mentioned have newsletters that you can subscribe to, but there are a few more that are essential reads for anyone just starting out in search marketing. E-books go a step further and allow you to download complete sets of information on a specific area of search marketing.

High Rankings Advisor - Jill Whalen's weekly newsletter is one of the best in the industry for individuals seeking an easy to understand approach to search engine marketing. Jill has also published an excellent e-book on how to edit your copy to make it more search engine friendly. The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines sells for $49 and is worth every penny.

Google AdWords Handbook: 21 Ways to Maximize Results - Andrew Goodman is one of the most respected experts around when it comes to setting up a great PPC campaign thru Google's AdWords program. His guide to AdWords is written in a great step-by-step format that will have you setting up campaigns and pulling in traffic in no time.

Conferences and Seminars

If you are the type that simply must attend a class to get that new information tucked away in your brain, then you'll want to make sure you attend one of the many search marketing conferences available throughout the United States. There, you'll have a chance to not only hear the latest techniques from some of the top industry experts, but also to speak with representatives from the engines themselves.

Search Engine Strategies - The biggest (and some would argue the best) search marketing conference around is offered by Jupiter Media and Search Engine Watch. Held several times a year in both the United States and Internationally, this conference is a must attend event for anyone serious about breaking into the industry.

Webmaster World's Search Conference - What started out as a casual gathering of some search marketers in a pub has grown into the second largest search marketing conference in the world. Webmaster World's Search Conference features industry experts and search engine reps in a less formal environment.

In reality, the best education will come from the experience of optimizing that first site and seeing how different techniques impact its rankings. Finding out where to start can be difficult, but the resources listed above are a great starting point. The information is out there for anyone looking to learn more about the search industry, it just takes time (lots of time) and effort.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
February 17, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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