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!
Must Read Blogs & Communities to be a part of (that I read everyday):
- 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!
18 thoughts on “What Is The Best Way To Learn Internet Marketing?”
Great stuff Mat!
For those who don’t know, Mat was my “Dave Mink” at the start of my experience with internet marketing, SEO, eCommerce, etc. Every time my wife bugs me about staying up till whenever working on internet stuff I blame Mat 🙂
As Mat taught me the ropes and helped me start my first website, he practiced what he was preaching “Test this, test that…here’s what I’ve done and here are the results – now go and do likewise with your site.”
After 6 years of internet marketing success, I can thank Mat, and Dave, and Andy, for a large part of my success in this game of SEO and social media (although Social Media wasn’t even really a big topic at the time).
Thanks for the great reminders Mat and thanks for all you continue to teach me.
.-= Nate Moller´s last blog ..How to Choose the Best Dropship Products =-.
Thanks for the kind words Nate. It is always awesome to surround your self with people that love the things you love and have the same passions!
Hey, I went to high school with a David Mink. Was he in Germany in the 70’s? is the world really that small? LOL
Great article. 🙂
.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..(Children) are the sons and daughters of Lifes longing for itself =-.
I completely agree – you learn from your own mistakes. I’m sure everybody involved in SEO cringes at some of the tactics they first employed 🙂
.-= Andy Walpole´s last blog ..How small businesses view their online strategy =-.
Haha I don’t think this is the same one considering this David Mink is in his early 30s ….. would have been funny though!
Good point, and YES I cringe thinking back to some of the advice I used to give.
There are so many facets to internet marketing that it’s such a difficult question to answer. The fact is, if you have to ask that question then you haven’t even started taking the necessary steps to learn how to market online. One magic word, READ. Read anything, everything you can get your hands on. Of course it depends on what you really want to become and expert on, but there is so much information out there you just have to start reading something and build on it every day. The blogs you mentioned are great, but I would also visit Sphinn on a daily basis if you want to learn SEO and internet marketing in general. Of course forums are the best place to get questions answered, and there are too many to mention. I learned out of necessity when I was between jobs and got a my first consulting gig through Craigslist, doing some basic SEO. I really didn’t know SEO but I learned as I went along and eventually with tons of reading and practical experience I learned to do SEO well.
Thanks Mat for this great post.
I agree with you and “seofanatic” that the internet marketing is so multi-faceted that it is something one can not learn just by reading one or two books.
The ever evolving nature of it gives even a veteran big headache as he has to constantly do research and then test the strategies and then implement them.
One can only be successful if he/she takes it as part of life as life is also ever changing. 🙂
Thanks for your comments guys, and glad I could provide something useful here for my peers!
Are you reading my mind (or just the same questions on LinkedIn)? I was working on this topic for a blog post based on a recent question on LinkedIn.
All, I have to say is “true, true, and true.” When this person asked (on LinkedIn) “what’s the best way to learn SEO and get into the business?”, I told him to build a site and learn how to make it rank, then let his prospective employers see his work. If he does it well enough, he may not want the job. 🙂
.-= Anthony Kirlew´s last blog ..What You Need to Know About SEO (Off Page SEO Part 2 of 3) Fueled Friday =-.
hahaha, just been on my mind for a while and finally decided to post it. @tamar told me the same thing after I posted this. I guess its a good topic on a lot of our minds. 🙂
Trial by fire is what I like to call it;however, testing and measuring cannot be overstated!
.-= Thomas´s last blog ..Good Content = Great SEO =-.
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You do not necessarily learn from your own mistakes. People share their success and fails in blogs, and they explain every step they were taking to reach this or that level. So there is an opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.
People share their success and fails in the blogs, and they write what to do in order to be successful in internet marketing. So I believe that you can learn not only from your own mistakes, but from others as well. Good luck!
Matt, I loved reading your story.You’re one of the IM pioneers. Appreciated your wise words which still ring true today in so many ways. Testing is a vital ongoing part of IM success – as are links!
The internet & cyberspace has come a long way since 1997 and there is a lot of noise/activity out there. It can be confusing for someone starting out in IM to know who to listen to, who to learn from. I myself decided, once I learnt to tune out the ‘noise’, that I needed to find people already successful to learn from, find a good training institution to learn the basics, then just do it. Take action,keep moving forward, learning from my mistakes, and not giving up.
Thanks for your learning recommendations.
You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found a lot of people will go along with your site. Matt keep up the great work, and Keep guiding us.
Your story is really interesting and even I started my journey by browsing through different websites, books etc. IM is self taugh syllabus and you will learn from your failures. I really appreciate your learning recommendations section. They are really useful.