How Students Are Learning SEO in Colleges Today

How do you get REAL marketing education?

At college?

Sure, that’s one of the straightforward paths that lead you to a career in marketing. A degree is not necessary for this industry, but it sure sets you on the right track.

The problem with colleges is that they don’t teach marketing well for the experts of the future. They teach you the basic concepts and theories of marketing, such as the Marketing Mix, Ansoff Matrix, and the consumer decision making process. That’s valuable knowledge to have, but it’s only foundational and not very practical.

What will you do with it? Well you’ll probably implement it into modern marketing practices, such as the search engine optimization. And where do you get SEO classes? Is it possible to get this education at college?

How Colleges Implement Courses in SEO

To see how marketing is being taught at university, let’s check out a specific example. We’ll take the Marketing department at Harvard Business School. The website has some cool articles and featured cases, which help students to understand the practical side of what they learn in class. But the website itself doesn’t look very appealing, so it seems that whoever was making it didn’t quite understand marketing concepts.

Now let’s go through the courses in the MBA curriculum. The first-year curriculum is mandatory and it includes general management principles, the elements of the marketing mix, and brand management simulation. So far so good. The second year allows the students to choose courses. Is there a SEO-specific course? No. SEO is not even mentioned in the Creating Brand Value course. And we’ll all agree that in practice, brand value development is inevitably linked to search engine optimization.

This is the case with most colleges. They rarely even mention this aspect of modern marketing. They’d rather focus on boring theoretical courses, which often impose them typing in google “please write my research paper for me cheap” and using a custom research paper service for students. The students are not inspired to conduct research through theory. They want real practice in marketing concepts that work, and higher education is failing to deliver such training.

Berkeley is one of the few universities that took the SEO issue seriously. It offers a Professional Sequence in Digital Marketing program, which focuses on Internet search, mobile apps, and social media as part of the marketing process. This program covers the concepts of data analytics, product positioning, brand awareness, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and everything else a modern marketer should know. The curriculum consists four required courses, which the student has to complete within one year.

Berkeley’s program is a positive example of an educational program that teaches students what SEO means and how they can practice it.

Berkeley also offers a course called SEO Fundamentals and Business Applications.

Why Aren’t All Colleges Following Berkeley’s Example?

Let’s be honest: SEO is an ongoing learning process. A one-year program at college may not be enough for the student to master all concepts.

That’s the precise reason why it’s hard for universities to offer SEO education: the practices are constantly evolving. Sometimes they completely change. All it takes is for Google to introduce a new update to its algorithm and that’s it – what you knew no longer matters.

The fact that Google is never clear about the way its algorithm works is another reason why no one can give you definite knowledge on the matter. Most of the practices are based on assumptions.

So the university doesn’t teach you in-depth education because it can’t give you something that’s 100% relevant for the future. The courses may give you the foundations of search engine optimization, and you’ll create your own SEO college through continuous learning and practice.

How are students learning SEO at colleges? They implement the practice before they graduate. They learn the theory of marketing and they infuse it into their own projects. Many of them start websites as group or individual projects. Some get freelance jobs and put their knowledge to action. If they lack knowledge, they gain it through online research.

What’s the Best Way to Get SEO Education?

A precise school for SEO is a complex process that colleges aren’t ready to bring to action.

But you know what? Formal education in SEO is not necessary. You can go formal about marketing theory and principles, which are very needed for a good practice. As for SEO, you’ll gain the knowledge through consistent learning, research, and experimenting with your own projects.

To become a great SEO expert, you need to understand the basics of human psychology and have good language skills. That’s something you can learn at college. From there on, you’ll update your skills by getting into freelancing and starting your own online projects. You’ll always keep improving!

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan