How To Educate Search Staff from Scratch

Educating employees in SEO (define) and PPC (define) marketing can seem impossible when they have no search background. It doesn’t matter whether the employee is new or already on board — search marketing education is a major challenge.

Have you decided to tackle SEO in-house by appointing someone to head up the effort? Are you a SEO company adding to your current staff? Either way, if you’re struggling to organize a program to teach employees the fundamentals of search, read on.

Finding The Right SEO or SEM Employee

Let’s say you’re looking to find a SEO or SEM (define) who’ll work full-time in-house. Your choices are bleak. You can poach employees from an SEO firm, or you can grab a successful, independent SEO and lure the practitioner into the cage of an office cubicle. Another option: bring in new staff with little or no experience and train them yourself.

Google’s luring thousands of college students to AdWords training under the tutelage of their super-savvy profs. The students’ assignment is to develop a search marketing strategy for real businesses while getting hands-on experience — with the winner receiving a prize. As a search marketing agency owner or corporation, you’ll then need to track them until graduation; hope they still want to manage PPC campaigns; and still remember their Google experience.

OK, it’s not really a viable solution.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you choose a greenhorn in SEM and decide to let them hit the ground running with on the job training. What’s the right process for training employees from scratch?

Develop Search Marketing Training In-House

In order to train your in-house employees, you can choose to do a book or online class. Consider putting together your own training process to specifically cater to your organization’s current and future needs.

Step 1: Goals

As with any great SEO campaign that focuses on metrics for success, you need to set goals. Establishing the right goals for your training program is your key to success. Is this an overview for your whole workforce? Or, are you focusing on high-level training of an individual?

Consider what your potential future goals are. You only want to do this once.

Step 2: Audience and Structure

Based on your goals, you should have a good idea who your audience is. A new hire dedicated to SEO? Jim in sales who’s picking up marketing skills to diversify his work experience and gain some expertise? Perhaps you have a small team of potential SEO professionals who will focus on different aspects of SEO.

This will determine your structure, whether it’s a SEO 101, or separate modules on organic SEO, PPC, and analytics that will be learned by different individuals — or teams. Take into consideration whether your employees learn best by reading, being in a classroom setting, or rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.

Step 3: Documentation and Build

Documentation, documentation, documentation. You want all your work to pay off now and in the future. Leave the process in the past and save your work in some format. Add training to your corporate style guide or create a separate document outlining the goals and structure of the training.

In order to build valuable in-house content, you need to become an expert yourself to transfer that information to other employees. Based on your objectives, audience, and structure, put together a lesson (or lessons) — again, documentation — that fits your exact needs as a company, pulling from online sources such as articles, blog posts, and forums. Consider including highly recommended written materials.

The ever-changing nature of SEO requires updating in-house training material every six months or so to verify it’s still timely and accurate. Thorough documentation will make that a minor chore.

Then again, you can always take a search marketing course. Check back with us next time as we dive in to available SEM courses.

Join us for SES London February 19-21 and for training classes on February 22.

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