Learning SEO in College… Trade Schools, etc.

Another comment on an SEOmoz.org post that I made, which I am recycling as per usual:

Danny,

 I will argue that all formal education is always at least 5 years behind the appropriate "real world" education.  Its probably more so with fast-moving industries, but even true in more steady fields.

That all said, I think you may just not be looking hard enough.

I personally have a Bachelor's degree in E-Business from Towson.  Check out the courses.  And I graduated ALMOST 5 YEARS AGO!  

Again, its not the most relevant.  No they don't teach practical applications of SEO.  But then again that's no different than how my roommate who was a Com Sci major couldn't program a lick of code.  Lots of theory. 

Colleges and Universities are typically places that teach theory and the process of learning more than practical job skills for early-career success.

Trade schools and IT training schools like this one or this one can teach you the nuts and bolts of online marketing, etc. if you want to go that route.  Certainly you can also learn it on your own as well.

I've also found that many schools bring in outside professionals to give guest lectures to expose students to the "nuts and bolts".  I believe Rand has taught a few, and I've taught about a half-dozen myself.  Check out the powerpoint slides (bottom of page) if you like. 

I think you are simply expecting the wrong thing from a college (university) education.  Its about theory and learning to learn.  If you want practical skills consider a trade school or certification program.  Its not just you here though, IMO far to many people go to a university seeking "job skills" b/c that is simply the status quo in the US.  I would like that to change.  We need more technical people with tangible skills.

Another item I didn’t address here though is the issue of qualified teachers. There is already a huge shortage in business schools. Few available, willing teachers to teach SEO and Internet Marketing. Those who can are too darn busy.

Maryland Sales Tax on Web Design & Computer Services

Fight The Tech Tax

Help repeal a bill that is currently in the Maryland General Assembly stating that sales tax of 6% must be collected on “computer services” effective July 1, 2008:

Link: Repeal MD Sales Tax on Computer Services

It will ultimately hurt small businesses b/c they are the ones who outsource and thus will pay the tax… large corporations do their design, programming, etc. in house and thus they pay no tax on it, since it involves no transaction.

Its clear this covers “programming” but I’m unclear as to whether or not it includes “web design”. My firm does mostly SEO which I would imagine we can argue (rightfully so) is a marketing service, not a computer service… but we do sometimes do a bit of web design as well… Update: It does include “web design”.

Update:

I had Bill Slawski take a peak at the legislation and he seemed to echo my disappointment with such a law. In my reply to him I wrote:

Thanks for giving that a look Bill. It seems dumb in so many ways. First off, if I raise prices for programming by 6% than I’m that much less competitive versus a firm in another state. Since (unlike physical goods) there is no cost to the consumer to choose a firm in another state, I’m now less likely to make the sale due to price competition factors. Thus, I probably will sell x% less programming projects and thus the state government will make less on my personal income tax returns since I’ll make that much less profit. This seems “penny wise and dollar foolish” to me, especially when you figure that my personal income tax rate is alot higher than the 6% sales tax.

Anyhow, too tired and time-starved to really give this the verbal assault it deserves.

It looks like it does include “web design”.

Until I decide otherwise… I think I may start charging an “SEO Setup Fee” and coincidentally begin offering “Free Web Design & Programming” with every purchase :)

Baltimore SEO Meetup # 4

Okay so its been two months since I’ve last posted and even then it was not very frequent. I think I’ve come to the realization that I just won’t be able to give much time to maintaining this blog. As such, it will remain a home for my random commentary about SEO, entrepreneurship and pretty much whatever else comes to mind.

Today I’m going to use it to give a quick plug to the SEO Meetup Group I have been “organizing”. We’re having our 4th event on November 29th (a Thursday) in Canton.

> Full Details – Signup and/or RSVP

It should be a good time. I made the tricky decision a few days ago to “re-focus” the group and we trimmed our membership from over 80 members to just over 50. I believe we have a better core group though now, as about half of the people on the previous list weren’t really heavily involved in SEO. The intention of the group is to be a way for professionals to share ideas with peers. Its not intended to be an SEO 101 course for someone who just started building their first website last week. Don’t get me wrong – if you are in that boat I wish you well – but you’d do much better to spend a couple of hours reading and digesting SEOmoz’s beginner’s guide to SEO than you would attending a meeting intended for those who have been actively in the field for a little while.

Our Comcast Nightmare – Comcast SUCKS!

Executive Summary: Six months after we moved out of our old office and “transferred” our Comcast internet service to our new office, we were still receiving invoices for the old office… plus those for the new office. Finally they’ve stopped sending those invoices, though we’re still waiting on the refund we were promised. To make things worse, we just got an invoice for Cable TV at the old office. That’s right, we’ve been gone from there for 6 months but somehow we decided to order Cable TV for that office? Unbelieveable.

Detailed Timeline:

Timeline of Comcast’s Ineptitude:

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SEO Meetup Groups

In follow-up to the launching of our recent Baltimore SEO Meetup Group (my post | press release | group page) I’ve recently seen a few more groups start up.

Rebecca over at SEOmoz gave us a plug in her recent post about meetup groups, and it looks as though her town of Seattle now has its own group, as do Portland and Charlotte (organized by Keith), as well as Virginia – which, truth be told was my inspiration.

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DC / Baltimore SEO Meetup Group

Hi all – I just created a “meetup group” for those interested in SEO in the DC / Baltimore metro area. Check out the page via link below and sign up for updates if you are interested. We’ll give it a couple of weeks to judge the interest and then try to schedule something.

Click here to check out
The DC / Baltimore SEO Meetup Group!

 

Update – February 2009:
The Baltimore SEO Meetup Group has been tweaked a bit… we’re now making it a quarterly meetup for experienced Baltimore SEO professionals. By having it a little less often it makes it a little less of a time commitment on my end to arrange presentations, speakers, etc. I’m pretty swamped lately running my Baltimore SEO firm (which has a new Charlotte location) and so the time managing the group is a bit of a strain! That said, we’re very pleased with the response and love meeting all the other local SEO gurus in Baltimore and throughout Maryland!

Q&A: Getting a Website Crawled and Indexed

One of my associates recently sent me an email requesting:

One of the questions during the [recent sales presentation] was: “How often do search bots visit a site?”

I know this is a “it depends” kind of answer, but I’d love to get a paragraph from you on that so I can send it to them.

A paragraph or two? Nonsense. A half dozen? That I can do :) My response:

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Q&A: Banner Ads and New Website Revenue Models

Its been forever since I’ve written, but that’s how it goes. Here’s another Q&A from an email I got today:

Question:

Jon –

I found your site from a general search of website developers. I am helping my wife build a rough pro-forma for a potential business. What I am curious about, and hopefully you might be able to share some insight with me, is an expected revenue target from advertising on a site (money made from a firm to post banner/ad on her site). Is there a rough ‘guesstimate’ on what “X” traffic would yield in terms of monthly or annual revenue from an advertiser? Can such a thing be a assumed?

Thanks in advance for your time.

My Reply:

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Video Professor Update

I just approved a few new comments and posted a few more links on the Video Professor post I put up about a year and a half ago.  This post has stirred up alot more attention than I thought it would have when I originally wrote about it.

On another note, not many posts lately as things are a-changin’ again with my business.  I’ll post an update in the not-too-distant future.

FindLaw’s Templated SEO Services & How Its Not Custom, Top-Shelf SEO

I was recent asked to evaluate a FindLaw contract for a firm I work with, who has a prospective client that uses FindLaw and is considering more custom SEO services from another vendor. Specifically, I was asked to discuss what the contract included and what is what lacking with regard to SEO. While this is specific to this one instance (and I cannot share the contract for privacy reasons), I think there are some points here that go across the board for all of these law firm online marketing services.

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Google Checkout

So I just tried to order a couple of Google T-Shirts through the Google Store.  Not surprisingly, the store uses Google Checkout.  To my surprise, however, it does not seem to want to work – at least not in the IE 6.0 browser I tried it in (which is what like 80% of the internet world uses, though 9 times out of 10 you’ll find me using FireFox, this was that 1 time out of 10).  Frustration.  Anyone else have issues with Google Checkout?

FindLaw, Template vs. Custom SEO

Its been a while since I’ve written, as I’ve been swamped. Here’s an excerpt from an email I replied to the other day with regard to how custom SEO services are different from those provided by a larger firm with a template approach. In this case, FindLaw.

_______(removed)_______ is right on. Just to add my two sense, SEO boils down to three things:

1) Technical / Site Structure Issues (10%)
2) On-Site Content (30%)
3) Off-Site Components aka Link Popularity (60%)

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Craigslist Scam – My Personal Experience

Its always a bit discomforting when you realize someone has tried to scam you. Sure I get the normal load of tons of emails from Princes and Kings in Nigeria who want to give me $5 million in exchange for assisting with the money transfer needs. Those are easy to spot as scams. Why in the world would they email me to do that? Why would they offer so much money? Even if all that was understandable, how would I explain the unusual income spike to the IRS? Clearly an easy scam to spot.

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Marvelous Link Bait / Online PR Idea

Brett Tabke’s Bot Blog.  Its his robots.txt file which has a blog in it as a .txt file.  Dorky, yes.  Old school, yes.  Terribly interesting and different.  Indeed.

The blog is about bots and blocking them, etc. (which is most commonly done with a robots.txt file), so what more appropriate way to launch a blog about it than to feature the blog in that file rather than just another typical blog template… Genius.

Its been up over 6 months and I’ve just noticed it, though I’m not really into that particular topic.  Yet, I still link.  Genius.