By Cort Tafoya, SEO Consultant & Instructor at Timelapse

Picking the right SEO class can be a challenge. Between your unique business goals, online and offline course options as well as free ebooks littered across the web, it’s hard to know which educational path to take.

The last 4 years I’ve been a SEO trainer in the S.F / Bay Area and other Northern California locations.The majority of attendees at my training sessions are:

  • Executive level decision makers
  • Marketing managers working for medium, large or startup companies
  • DIY entrepreneurs looking to grow their business
  • Technical people, engineers and others who handle website maintenance or redesigns

SEO is valuable to so many people with a diverse range of interests and specific needs. If you build websites or write content, knowing SEO is incredibly important.

To help people find the right option for learning SEO, I’ve listed 5 universal tips for picking the right type of curriculum.


1.Pick an instructor led course (not online)

The most impactful training I can provide people comes from real stories, real experiences and real SEO work. Automated courses or videos can’t give that to you.

An instructor can tell you how and why they made certain decisions, which SEO myths to ignore (there is a lot of misinformation out there about Google’s algorithm) and much more.

Every time I teach SEO there are at least 15 questions from attendees who raise their hands to jump in with a query about my last slide or something I just showed them via screenshare.

I love these questions (chances are others in the class have them too), but my point is that an instructor led class has the flexibility to stop and answer them. Reading material or video / screencasts can’t provide those answers for you.

2. Bring keyword ideas to your SEO training

Please, for the love of God, help me help you.

An experienced instructor can Google search your keywords during the class and show you higher value keywords, what your competitors are doing and where you’re missing these phrases on your website in less than 2 minutes. I’ve done it dozens of times.

Do not try and make your instructor think of keywords for you.  I absolutely hate this.

I can provide 50x the value to your training if you give me seed keywords. Yes 50x. I can even use them to come up with content ideas and help build your editorial calendar.

But SEO trainers don’t know your industry or your product. They don’t inherently know your keywords, and it takes way too long to find them for you during the session.

3. Make sure your SEO training session reviews multiple tools

SEO tools and software provide information you can’t just Google around for.

For example, SEO Moz, which lets you sign up for a free 30 day trial, gives you keyword difficulty scores. These scores aren’t calculated anywhere else and seriously help you prioritize your keyword targeting by placing low difficulty phrases at the top of your list.

Other tools like, Google’s structured data testing tool, or Google’s Keyword planner can significantly strengthen your SEO performance and strategy.

A good SEO trainer will do live overviews of such tools and not lecture the entire time.

4. Elite SEO trainers combine Google Analytics into their class curriculum

Whatever marketing tactic you invest in, isn’t it important to measure the results? And isn’t SEO a marketing tactic?

You can’t be effective long-term at SEO marketing unless you know how to tie the work you’re doing to real results. Google Analytics helps you measure the performance of your organic search traffic and the top landing pages for search visitors (i.e. the pages generating the most organic traffic). You can even setup conversion tracking to see how many leads or sales SEO if generating each month.

In all my SEO classes, I show people how to drill down into their Google Analytics to identify key SEO metrics. We also go over how to track conversions.

5. Make sure your trainer provides homework and action items

During a SEO training session, the information can come fast and furious. Some students have talked to me afterwards about being completely overwhelmed by their new to-do list.

A good SEO trainer will help you prioritize and streamline your SEO efforts by showing you the correct order of operations and value of each SEO task. Only an expert who has been through the process of building organic search traffic from scratch can show you which pitfalls to avoid, and what to focus on when your time is limited.

They’ll also point out some helpful tools to get you started. But don’t sign up for classes where the trainer isn’t available to show you what your next 6 months of SEO efforts should look like.

Learn more about search marketing and have a SEO expert trainer review your site. Even a brief phone call can help identify serious errors, missteps and opportunities.

Thanks for reading.

Cort Tafoya, SEO Consultant & Instructor at Timelapse