At The Content Factory, SEO is our bread and butter. No matter what we’re doing — from creating content, to working PR, to building up social media accounts — SEO is always involved somehow.
There’s a good reason for that: out of everything we do, nothing has the return on investment that SEO does.
Yet, as cost-effective as SEO is, it’s still out of reach for many small businesses. It’s not like you can just a flip a switch and start ranking for keywords. It takes time, effort, and a cohesive, evolving strategy. To save money, many entrepreneurs seek out SEO training, choosing a DIY approach to content marketing.
Yet, it can be hard to know if you're really getting quality SEO training or just some bargain basement guide that's been pumped up for no reason.
For that reason, we created this guide to figuring out if SEO training is right for you — and what to look out for if you're in the market for an online SEO course.
How Do I Know if I Need SEO Training?
Chances are, if you want to write content that actually generates targeted organic traffic, you need to have some expertise in SEO. While years ago it used to be possible to just write a blog post and get traffic, now every industry that has been touched by SEO in some way.
Chances are, no matter what your market is, there’s someone out there that’s vacuuming up all the keywords in an attempt to rank for as many as possible (this is particularly true in the sex toy and mattress industries, which are some of the most competitive we’ve seen).
The harsh truth is this: if you’re just starting on SEO now, you’re behind.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t outrank your competition, but it does mean that the bar is set higher than it used to be. This means you really need to know your stuff if you want to get in on the action.
But maybe you do know a little about SEO — and maybe you aren’t seeing results.
Here are six signs that you might need some extra SEO training:
1. You’re writing content, but your traffic isn't increasing.
You might be pumping out content on a weekly basis — but it’s just not doing anything to generate organic traffic. Maybe you’ve been at it for the past year, or maybe you just started a few months ago, but either way, your content is stagnant. You can practically hear the crickets. You aren’t ranking for anything, your traffic isn’t going up, and you certainly aren’t converting organic traffic into sales.
If this sounds like you, then we have good news: you probably have the drive to make your content work, you’re just lacking the knowledge. With a bit of SEO training (which we’ve got you covered on!), that’s something that’s easy to fix.
2. You’re getting traffic, but you aren’t converting business.
If your Google Analytics page is all green arrows but you’re still not making sales, then it’s likely that you aren’t targeting the right keywords — and you’re probably lacking a strategy. Likewise, you’re probably also ranking for incidental keywords that aren’t helping you — and actually could potentially be hurting you, depending on what it is you’re trying to sell.
Don’t even know which keywords you rank for?
Then it’s definitely worth investing in SEO training, because monitoring your keyword rankings on a regular basis is a critical part of an effective SEO strategy. If you can’t wait and want to know what keywords you rank for right now, check out SEMrush Pro – it’ll tell you everything you need to know about which keywords you and (your competitors) rank for.
It’s what we like to refer to as the “Swiss Army knife of SEO” and if you click the link above you’ll get a free month to check it out and run all the reports you’ll need, a $99 value. (We love SEMrush so much, we’ve got an affiliate relationship with them, which gives you a major discount!)
3. You used to generate a lot of traffic — but it’s all disappeared.
At one time you might’ve been thrilled with the business you generated from your website, but lately things have dried up. This is a common problem — both for our clients and our SEO students.
SEO isn’t static. It’s a fast-moving target, and Google’s algorithms change on a monthly basis. If your knowledge isn’t up-to-date, there’s a chance that you’re spinning your wheels (and that with a few tweaks, you could start generating traffic again).
If you’re looking at an online SEO training course, make sure it’s been recently updated and the information isn’t outdated.
If the course has been produced a few years ago and hasn’t been updated since, find a different option (as an aside, we regularly add to and update our SEO training course, which trainees get lifetime access to).
4. You aren’t sure what content you should be writing next month — or next week.
A lot of our clients think they know SEO — and maybe they understand it from a technical perspective — but they can’t find the time to put it into action. If you’re serious about SEO, and you know what you’re doing, then you should have your content planned out months in advance. If you don’t, then that’s a sign that you need to go back to the drawing board.
And if you’re not regularly creating long-form content targeting specific keywords, you’re not going to be able to rank.
Download Our Free Editorial Calendar Template
5. You feel like your industry is an exception, and that SEO is impossible in your space.
We hear this a lot from both clients and students. They’ll tell us that, sure, SEO works for those other industries, but we’re different.
We’ve helped businesses rank in highly competitive spaces, including in ones that we were told were “impossible” to get movement in, and just about every industry is still wide open from an SEO perspective. There are a couple of notable exceptions, like the sex toy and mattress space, but even those
aren’t impossible to get traction on (you just have to go longer-tail with the keywords).
With some training, a lot of effort, and a coherent strategy, it’s possible to break through and dominate the SERPs in any industry.
6. You aren’t sure how to find keywords that you can actually rank for.
Maybe you know how to find keywords — maybe you can even write compelling content. But for whatever reason, you just don’t know what you should be writing about, or what keywords you should be targeting.
You don’t know what variables to look at. Does CPC matter? What volume should you look for? Is SEMrush’s competitive ranking different from Moz? From Ahrefs? From Google’s Keyword Planner?
Finding the right keywords is an art and a science. A good SEO training program makes you an expert at both.
7. You have no idea how to generate backlinks for your content.
You know how to find the right keywords, and you can write top-notch content. You’re an expert. But you’re still going nowhere. You know that backlinks are a way to get your content to rank faster, but you don’t know how to get quality backlinks.
SEO training isn’t just about teaching you to write content or find keywords — it’s also about showing you how to use the best content marketing techniques to make your content move and do work for you.
A good SEO training course will not just teach you how to write content and optimize the your website for speed, performance and indexability, but it will also teach you how to effectively market that content. Without content marketing, you won’t be able to send the signals to search crawlers that are required if you want to rank well.
"#SEO training isn’t just about teaching you to write content or find keywords. It's about learning the best #marketing techniques to make your content work for you." - The Content Factory
SEO Training: Is It Really Necessary?
Spend 10 minutes on Google and you can find a hundred (or more) guides on SEO.
We’ve written many of them ourselves, which you can find on this blog! So, if you can read about it for free, why would you want to pay money for SEO training?
As much as we’d like to think our SEO guides can get anyone up to speed fast, SEO is a complicated business. It isn’t something you learn in one day, and it certainly isn’t something that you learn from reading one guide.
Likewise, there really isn’t one guide for everything. Most guides — including our own — try to focus on everything a little, splitting off more specific parts into other guides. But even then, covering everything (including all the little tips that we use to get our clients to rank) is almost impossible. After all, while we’re proponents of long content, at a certain point you’re writing a textbook on SEO, not a quick guide.
With that said, if you are interested in an SEO textbook, we've got you covered!
We wrote the The SEO Pro Training Manual with the goal of providing the most comprehensive, beginner-friendly SEO resource all in one place. Just to prove our previous point, the manual is 58 pages long (don't let that intimidate you — it's full of screenshots and helpful visuals!).
The Benefit of Online SEO Training: Deep Dives, Hands-On Learning
There’s also something to be said about being able to dive in-depth on a subject, bringing in everything in a logical way. When you’re trying to piece together information from around the web — all of it written by different authors, at different times, for different industries — well, you’re going to have some issues.
Hands-on SEO training lets you get the whole picture boiled down into something digestible that you can actually use today. And an online SEO training course like ours will give you lifetime access to the training, so you can brush up on best practices whenever you feel rusty. We even include checklists, so you literally can’t go wrong.
Why Shouldn’t I Just Hire an SEO Expert?
Obviously, we’re not going to dissuade you from that — that’s our job, after all. Yet, as we mentioned earlier, not everyone can afford our services. When we sit down with a client and plan out a strategy, it’s a multi-step process that can take months.
First, there’s the SEO research. Then the planning.
Then the content writing. Then the content marketing. All of this takes time, and for it to be truly effective, it has to happen month after month. The businesses that can afford the full package typically see excellent growth, but not everyone can keep an SEO company on retainer for month after month.
Each of these steps costs money — if you’re hiring an agency to do your research for you, for example, you’re going to be paying at least $1,500 for a very basic package. On the other hand, if you’re doing it yourself, you just need a $99 SEMrush subscription and a Google spreadsheet.
Download Our Free SEO Keyword Research Template
Then, of course, there’s actually writing the content.
If you’re doing it right, then you’re paying an agency to write 2,000-word blog posts for you. Even if you’re paying just $.50 a word, that’s $1,000 per blog post — and you’re going to want at least four of those per month for maximum impact.
Going the DIY route is much cheaper — the only thing you have to “spend” is your time. If you can squeeze in a few hours every day to get a little more done on a blog post, you might not be able to squeeze out 8,000 words a month, but you could pull 4,000 (and honestly, even if you could writeone 2,000-word post out, that would be better than nothing).
And then there’s link building, social media, and PR — all of which is crucial to getting backlinks and pulling people to your content.
Each of those individual services could cost upwards of thousands of dollars per month. Once again, when it comes to DIY content marketing, it’s just about how much of your time you can devote to the practice every week.
And yes, we know that there are fly-by-night SEO companies out there that will charge you nothing to “audit” your website and write content for you. Chances are, though, you’re just going to get a report generated by a free website with no context. And your content? You can bet that if you’re not paying much for it, you’d be better off just going on Fiverr.
Even if you do decide to hire a company to take care of your SEO needs, we still suggest signing up for SEO training. After all, don’t you want to be sure that the company you’re working with isn’t just feeding you nonsense?
What Should I Look for in SEO Training?
There are hundreds of websites out there shilling SEO training. So what differentiates the best online SEO training class from the worst one? How can you be sure you’re getting your money’s worth?
Here are four things to know before you spend your cash on a digital SEO training course that gets you nowhere and teaches you nothing:
1. SEO certification is usually a scam.
A lot of SEO training classes claim to offer some sort of certificate. This is provided, they say, to give you leverage — either at your current company, your future job search, or any potential clients that may come to you.
Let’s be blunt: unless your certification is from Google, it doesn’t matter. (And even Google’s certifications are so bare-bones that they aren’t make-or-break in the digital marketing world.)
Most people shilling certificates are using them as leverage, as a sort of bait to trick students into thinking that they’re getting something approaching the validity offered by a degree.
The reality is, though, that there isn’t a “SEO certificate” that has any weight in this industry.
If you’re really after something to hang on your wall, though, we’d be glad to print something out for you.
2. Look for a proven track record of SEO results.
Someone who is teaching a class on SEO should have a track record of actually providing tangible results to companies. Can they cite companies they’ve helped grow their traffic or increase conversions? Can they point to success stories from their own business development efforts?
You wouldn’t take a cooking class from someone that didn’t cook delicious food — why would you take an SEO class taught by someone that’s never had success with keywords?
3. Make sure they’re up-to-date with SEO best practices.
A proven track record is nice — but it also has to be current. This industry is always evolving, and today’s best practices might not be relevant a few months from now. The best classes are based not on yesteryear’s techniques, but today’s. Likewise, any company teaching an SEO class should be able to show you results that are recent.
Beware of a trophy case that’s covered in dust.
4. Be wary of promises or guarantees (e.g., "Rank on the first page of Google in 7 days!).
We’re always very clear about one thing: although we’re SEO experts, there’s no such thing as a guarantee in the world of search. While a steady, consistent strategy will get results over time, anyone promising you that you will absolutely rank for a specific keyword in X months is lying to you.
Likewise, beware of companies trying to sell you “one simple trick” to rank for keywords. While there are tricks you can use to rank slightly faster, the reality is that there is no one trick that will get you to rank for a specific keyword in a week (or whatever time frame they’re promising).
To ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, find a company with a proven, current track record that wants to see you succeed — but isn’t willing to promise you that they’ll sprinkle you with some magic SEO dust.
"Beware of companies trying to sell you 'one simple trick' to rank for keywords. Few things in life, let alone #SEO, are ever that simple."
How Much Does SEO Training Cost?
The cost of SEO training is variable: some introductory, one- or two-day sessions cost anywhere from $1,100 to $4,000.
Typically, these classes only cover the basics (such as simply talking about what a keyword is — and maybe diving a little into vocabulary a bit more). While the basics are absolutely important, if you’re paying dropping grand on a training session, it needs to have more in it than what you can pull from a Google search in five minutes.
Longer SEO training courses can run anywhere from $3,000 to $8,500.
We’ve seen some classes that are more expensive, but typically they are part of a larger university-affiliated marketing program.
The two biggest factors in the cost of SEO training courses are the length of the program you sign up for and if the class is taught one-or-one or in a group setting:
- One-on-one SEO lessons typically are more expensive, longer, and tailored for your specific industry needs.
- Group sessions don’t have the personalization that one-on-one lessons do, but they typically cover all the same topics.
Is in-person SEO training worth it?
There are a few in-person group classes out there that regularly travel around the country (or invite attendees to fly out to them). While being in a classroom might sound more hands-on and appealing, the reality is that while you’re paying extra to meet “in person,” you likely won’t have a lot of personalized face-to-face time.
After all, these classes are often taught during back-to-back days, and you aren’t going to find an instructor doing SEO research for 30 people beforehand in order to personalize her lesson for her students. In that case, you’re just paying extra money to travel to a seminar you could’ve gotten online (without the extra cost — or hassle).
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for everyone. While some people might benefit from a more general class taught in a group setting, a one-on-one session might be more appropriate for others. It essentially boils down to how much you’re willing to pay and what you’re looking to get out of a class.
TCF’s SEO Training Programs
As you might’ve picked up from this post already, TCF offers an online SEO training course – you can check it out here. If you’d like a free preview of our presentation style and the kind of information that will be presented and elaborated on, check out this free webinar: 9 Expensive SEO Mistakes You’re (Probably) Making.