I have been asked this question by more than 1000 different business owners (at least) over the last several years, and I am finally ready to talk (post) about it (and attempt to give my answer). It is probably one of the most annoying and frustrating questions that anyone could ever ask me. It is the question itself, and not the asker that is frustrating and annoying though. Anyone in this industry knows that there is not just a simple answer, or a one “save all” solution, and I mean “legit” industry people.
The Secret (wait for it…..)
In real estate, the secret to success is always being associated with location, location, location. So what’s the big secret to successful Internet marketing? It is all about testing, testing & more testing. Any true successful Internet business owner that I have met (or know) has already done (and doing) what they are preaching. There is nothing better then learning from a real person who has “been there & done that”.
If you want to learn how to make a site rank, then you need to create one that you can test the crap out of. You need to spend time on SEO forums and blogs (I will share my favorite later) attend a search marketing conference or two. Get on Twitter and follow some amazing Internet minds. Just don’t follow, talk to them (they will be more willing to chat back with you then you realize) and soak up every bit of knowledge and information they are willing to share. You then need to take this information and test, test & test some more.
I first got into Internet marketing before I really even knew what it was, while working for a small radio station in the middle of nowhere (Southeast) Arizona. I was told by my bosses at the time, “we want to be found for “xyz” and see what this whole having a website thing is about”. This was back in 1997. By creating a website, learning (from books at college believe it or not) about meta tags, titles and what not I was able to rank sites easily. It’s funny that I learned these from web design text books (early stages of technical SEO perhaps?)
Obviously a lot has changed since then, but I remember continuing to test, test, test and learn. I once got another “radio” website to link to us, and found that we were getting a ton of hits from that source. (light bulb moment) Hmm, getting links are good for websites, they bring traffic. I had no clue at this point that link building would be so critical for website trust and ranking down the road, but that’s just it – I learned it from testing testing and doing more testing. I never stop learning.
I had the awesome opportunity to be a part of a business, and learn from (now my business partner) David Mink, one of the first people to introduce me into (officially) “Internet marketing & SEO”. Funny thing, most people know me as the SEO, or Internet marketing person from our Dream Systems Media crew, but it was in fact, Dave that got me started with all this. He himself didn’t know, or have really a clue where all this (online marketing) was going (at the time), but we knew we wanted to be a part of it, and knew that someday this would be the direction of all marketing.
Dave had created an online business already, had a website, and gave me free reign to market it. When I asked him what to do, he told me; “Figure it out”. So I did. I learned I could not rely on asking someone questions – this was one of the greatest lessons he ever taught me. Going back to my roots of testing testing and …. you got it, more testing.
I have had lots of opportunities for trial and error, and as more time passes the better I get at what I do. I have made many mistakes, and lost a lot of money in the process, but this is what has made me a better marketer. I know what works, and what to avoid because of testing. Also, because I am not afraid to continue to test, and continue to do all I can to educate myself in this field, I feel we are successful. I will never stop testing & learning!
- SEOBook, Aaron Wall (SEO)
- Techipedia, Tamar Weinberg (Social Media)
- Search Engine Journal, Loren Baker (Internet Marketing)
- Search Engine Guide, Jennifer Laycock (SEO)
- Outspoken Media, Lisa Barone (Branding, Blog Marketing & SEO)
- NewspaperGrl, Janet Meiners Thaeler (Press Marketing)
- Top Rank Blog, Lee Odden (Online Marketing)
- Marketing Pilgrim, Andy Beal (Online Marketing News)
- Small Business SEM, Matt McGee (Local, Small Business SEM)
- LinkSpiel, Debra Mastaler (Link Building)
- 10e20.com, Chris Winfield (Viral Marketing, Social Media)
- SEM Clubhouse, (PPC, SEM)
***It is important to educate yourself on the “dark side” (IMO) so, if you feel the same as I do – here is a good post by Rishil with a decent list of sites to check out: http://explicitly.me/do-i-need-to-know-blackhat-seo
***(disclaimer) this is where some of the “testing” may come into play. I don’t know how clear I have made it that I have tested many of “throw away” type sites….
Conferences to learn from:
- SMX, all are good, but if you can attend SMX Advanced I would highly suggest doing so.
- Pubcon (Vegas baby)
- Any Local Marketing Events (do a search for them on Twitter, you will find them – or just ask)
So when people ask me; “What is the best way to learn Internet marketing?” I finally have an answer – a post to direct them to! I also hope that many of you can learn a lesson from what I am trying to share here. Do not be afraid to test & try things, it is the only way you are going to get better at what you do!