"Toy Cow Standing on a Glass of Milk"There’s no denying that there are a ton of really great resources with free information about search engine optimization, social media marketing, content marketing, and PPC as well as any other topic you can think of that is directly or indirectly related to one of these topics.  It’s also interesting to note that the majority of these resources also offer a variety of paid training options and workshops.

So why would anyone in their right mind actually buy the cow or in other words, pay for training when they can get it online and for free?

A good and very fair question.  In some ways it’s not unlike when we get an ache or pain and instead of calling to make an appointment with a doctor we take a few other approaches first.

  • Call a friend to see if they have any good advice or remedies (9 times out of 10 the friend isn’t a medical professional)
  • Wait it out – if we ignore it long enough it’ll go away and we can remain blissfully ignorant of the cause
  • Google the symptoms and self diagnose

We also tend to avoid routine checkups and preventative health visits because we don’t ‘feel bad’ and aren’t experiencing any symptoms that would lead us to believe that we are anything but healthy.

We’ve all done it and why? Well, to save time and money of course.  None of us want to part with either of those two things if we don’t have to.  And sometimes it works, the symptoms go away and we feel better or those online instructions for how to diagnose and treat the mystery illness were legitimate. Other times it doesn’t work and in the end we have higher costs and a longer recovery time.

So how does this related to SEO training?  The health of a website, the strength of a company’s search engine marketing strategy, is as important to the success of your business as being in good health is important to your quality of life as a person. Often-times when we try to wait it out, use resources found on Google to self-diagnose , or phone a friend – we get good information that may really be misinformation.

How can good information be misinformation?

  1. Not all industries are the same –  While the general tactics also known as “Best Practices” can be applied to your website and search engine optimization strategy, they may not be the best practices within your competitive landscape.  It’s even possible that in following the generic rules you’re opening the door for your competition to move ahead of you.
  2. Not all websites are the same – Is your goal to sell or to generate leads?  How might the “best practices” vary depending on the goals of the business and the website?
  3. Information becomes quickly outdated – Even if it’s from a trusted resource, the information could easily be outdated.
  4. It doesn’t come with directions – Most of the time even the “how to tips” are so general, that unless you already have a working knowledge of the subject, it’s difficult at best to figure out how to implement the advice.

I’m a huge fan of all of the free information available, I’m also a fan of formal workshops and training.  You may think I’m saying that because I’m an instructor, but my love affair with training started long before becoming part of the Search Engine Academy.  My days of attending and paying for training, especially hands-on workshops are far from over.

Reasons to Embrace (and pay for) SEO Training:

  • It will increase your confidence level and all of the articles you’re reading will make even more sense.
  • It accelerates the learning curve  – what will take months of spare time reading to absorb can be covered in a short period of time.
  • You’ll gain insight into how all of the pieces and parts fit together rather than having to connect the dots through multiple resources.
  • A well done workshop will equip you to either do your own search engine marketing or know what to look for in an SEO or SMM agency.

In my opinion relying on articles and free information alone when it comes to search engine optimization is a little like hiring a CPA that doesn’t keep up with their continuing education units.  My guess is that there are just as many free accounting articles as there are SEO posts, but I wouldn’t want an accountant who only used Google as a resource and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to do my own taxes unless I were properly trained.

The investment in both time and money ensures that any time or money you’re spending toward future or ongoing efforts is paying off.

What are your thoughts about training?

Until next time,

Cheers!