SEO has not operated in a silo for a long time.
That was not always the case.
Years ago, I could talk about SEO as a fantastic channel for its ability to draw in interested prospects and leads through improved ranking and qualified traffic. It seemed ranking inevitably brought clicks, and clicks to the website frequently turned into prospects.
Over the past few years, as searchers have become increasingly busy and distracted, as Google has evolved and gotten more sophisticated, and as competitors have gotten more SEO savvy, the conversation has shifted.
SEO isn’t going away. In fact, it’s more critical than ever that you show up multiple times in multiple places in order to reinforce brand name awareness when you’re in a competitive industry and/or have a long sales cycle.
Success with SEO requires that it be part of a strategic digital marketing mix. Again, years ago, my minimum qualifier to succeed with SEO was that my clients had to be blogging and doing social media. Now, it’s more involved and those two activities alone often won’t cut it.
How SEO Integrates with Digital Marketing
Those of us still in the SEO field know that we possess multiple digital skills not limited to but including: content strategy, keyword research, blogging, copywriting, SEO copywriting, conversion, landing page optimization, backlink strategy, messaging, social media marketing, digital PR, and more.
While many of my colleagues have expanded their services from SEO alone to include more traditional digital offering, I have decided to stay true to the course, deepen my organic SEO skills, and continue to offer that as my leading service.
However, we’re in a digital world.
Which means that even if I do not offer digital marketing skills directly, I have to speak the lingo, and know what my Digital Marketing clients have on their plate and how, where, when and why organic SEO would add more mileage and leverage to their campaigns and redesign initiatives.
And with that, I signed up for General Assembly’s Digital Marketing course.
Digital Marketing Course Review – 6 Things to Know
I’ve taken dozens of courses since I started my business 7 years ago. But General Assembly’s (GA) course has required the biggest time and money investment so far. Here are 6 things to know about the course:
- Who is it good for? As promoted, this course seemed relevant for those who were either new to the marketing field and needed an overview of the whole spectrum, or more experienced traditional marketers or managers who needed to better understand tactics so they could guide and assess their team. In glancing over the group of students, there seemed to be a good mix of consultants, freelancers, small business marketers, and in-house marketers. The Facebook group for our class had zilch interaction; it would’ve been nice to have a more engaged and communicative forum to network and chat with.
- Time Commitment: As promoted, the course easily added 5+ hours onto my week, and my course lasted a little over 5 weeks. Of course I loved that I could access the course anytime and I often worked at night on these assignments (promising my husband that the end was in sight and we could get back to watching New Girl and I would get in bed at a decent hour so I wasn’t cranky in the morning (yes I’m old).
- Structure and Organization: I liked the way lessons were presented. Some were PowerPoint-esque and you clicked through. They all kept my interest with embedded videos, charts, stats, interactive questions and images. These were integrated with talking head videos, and my favorites were case study videos where we saw application of the concepts being used. There were 10ish components to each lesson, and woven in were mini-quizzes. At the end came the homework, which was challenging, with multiple parts. This easily consumed a couple of hours. I was pleasantly surprised with the brain workout and that the homework assignments required thought, time and planning. You couldn’t move on to another lesson without turning in your homework which is probably a good thing, as I would’ve cheated by taking a peak at future lessons and thus taking me even longer to finish my course.
- Mentor Time: the mentors weren’t necessarily teachers – as teaching was done virtually at our own pace and pre-recorded – but digital marketing professionals working in the field who were available by email (which I never used) and individual weekly 30-minute webcam sessions. One mentor in particular specialized in SEO and worked at Bitly, so we had good chats and I mostly used the time not to talk about the assignments, but about my messaging and how we saw organic SEO fitting into the digital marketing mix, which again was my reason for taking the course in the first place.
- Framework: General Assembly taught via the Objective-First Framework, which is similar to my SEO philosophy of identifying the priority, and mapping out a plan that accomplishes objectives towards that priority and the established goals. The course was centered around campaigns with SMART (strategic, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals. It emphasized learning about digital campaigns that could be measured and completed in 2-4 weeks, which seemed limited in scope to short-term tactics. However, given the fact that the course was only 5 weeks long it did allow us to jump in to concrete exercises and learnings.
- Last Thoughts. The SEO mentions were understandably basic. Being the SEO snob I am, of course I thought the information could’ve gone deeper and more complex than telling us to assign keywords to content marketing efforts. I also would’ve loved getting more into Google Analytics, which we had a basic walk-through of. My favorite parts of the course were around paid marketing and media plans. Also when we went into metrics and measurement of CTR, CPC, CPL, CPA and so on. I was happy persona development was included; though I wish there was a section on copywriting. While anyone can blog, it takes a different skill to write persuasively and effectively. I think that is one of the most basic and fundamental skills to effective marketing, and one that most young marketers don’t grasp until they’re much later into their careers, if at all.
Looking over my notes, we covered a ton of information. I was pleased with the course and would definitely do it again – and certainly would recommend it to anyone else who wants a deeper dive with practical application of digital marketing techniques.