Do you need to be a genius to SEO/SEM?

Source Title:
What Degrees Or Professional Backgrounds Do SEO/SEMers Have?
Story Text:

SEW have a thread running that gives a bit of background on members there. Nuggets include Stepforth Jim "I am entirely unqualifed", SEObooks's entire life history in detail, stuntdubl "dual-major BA Business Management/Computer Information Management", Mikkel deMib Svendsen "no formal educational background". But most posters at TW, continue to be shy in coming forward with any personal information.


My resume' would happen to

My resume' would happen to look as if I might qualify, but it's more coincidence than being of material interest, IMO. I've been to more than a few get-togethers attended by the name-brand nicks and I really can't recall anyone giving educational pedigree a moment's thought. What has been of interest was field experience.

Those involved in suckerin..., ermmm, selling to corporate clients probably find the formal background helps assure the client.

it isn't about IQ

I think SEO and SEM take different skill sets. I know folks who are damn good at squeezing maximum ROI while running SEM campaigns and I think for them it takes good writing skills and an acute watch of the numbers with fine tuning.

SEO is really a different game. I don't think it is about raw IQ at all, but being adaptable, quick-witted and (most importantly) an independent thinker. You need to want to figure out how things work, not pay someone to tell you. SEO is about being creative and inquisitive, two things that tests do not measure well.


Same here from a school point of view RC. Too bad it was just a coincidence ;)

I think as an employer I'd much rather hire someone who DIDN'T have a degree. (They're probably more hungry to learn vs. someone who thinks they nearly know it all). I think the HUNGER to learn is huge in SEO. The thrill of the hunt an all.

I agree with the degree

I agree with the degree thing SD, the last person i'd wantto hire would be a fresh degreee holder. I'd want someone hungry, not full of their own cleverness, and thinking the world now owes them a living..

For me, i left school at 15, and have done a LOT of sales stuff, im good with words, and people (on the phone at least) and have done fantasitcally->abysmally depending on timeframe. But whatever i've done, has been borne of desire, and emotion, rather than academic qualifications.

Ivana would have fit if she sees this thread heh! she's a born acedemic...

Them what's toots their horns the loudest usually have the least

to toot about.

I don't participate in horn-tooting threads because, quite often, the people waving their credentials around are the ones whose advice and expertise I would least want. Looking at that thread, the priniciple holds true today.

The best people for SEO work are the ones who are willing to learn from mistakes, and to do a little research before forming opinions. The impulse to run out and do what everyone else is doing is so rampant in this field, that there are relatively few people whose work I would trust right away.

And I don't mean that everyone is incompetent. I just mean that the best qualifications people can have are the qualities that people in this field least often tout: flexibility and resilience. So many SEO "experts" and gurus hang on to yesterday's wisdom (and insist on sharing it) that it's no wonder people out there are totally confused about what to do.

I note the fact that the people with the best reputations for success almost universally agree that you don't get the real dirt in the forums.


Does a degree from the university of life count?

Does a degree from the university of life count?

Funny you should ask about that, I get an email most days offering to sell me one of those for the knockdown price of a few hundred dollars.

All you have to do is send the nice man the money, and you are Google employee material at a stroke.....

> flexibility and

> flexibility and resilience

I think that about sums it up, especially as experience comes with resilience.

What dirt?

I note the fact that the people with the best reputations for success almost universally agree that you don't get the real dirt in the forums.

I think a lot of people who are phenomenally successful know the "real dirt" doesn't change much. Small details, exploits, loopholes, and tricks change, but the basics of building a strong, search-friendly website really don't.

You don't need an advanced degree to do this work- but you do need creativity and common sense, which can't be taught!

No Degree

Some college, no degree, I have structured environment and authority "issues" ...

I agree with the flexibility

I agree with the flexibility and resilience part, but I don't think it is enough. SEOs need to be creative too -- to see out of the box sometimes. Also, I disagree about the toot thing. Not all, but some of the best seos I know love to brag about what they've accomplished.

Bragging about what you have in rank is quite a bit different than bragging about your degrees. I am not talking about publicly saying "I got #5 in sex at Google", but among small groups it happens all day long.

Side: I think a lot of public SE forums are becoming hangouts for people who sell SEO, not necessarily do seo.

Well, horn-tooting isn't worth arguing over, but...

I haven't seen the really good SEOs tooting their horns. In my opinion, they are too busy to waste their time with that kind of self-promotion. There are more effective ways of promoting oneself, such as through results.

The most successful people I

The most successful people I know do *not* have a degree...inside SEO and outside.

In 1998 I was working in a

In 1998 I was working in a factory @ the age of 18 doing assembly work by the thousands for 6.00 an hour. Was introduced to a gentleman who discovered that you could take a page that was ranking for "dog food" in Excite, switch out every instance of the words "dog" and "food" on the page with a term like "free sex", upload it, submit it and have a top 3 listing in a matter of hours. Repeat several million times for every money making keyword known to man and we were in business. Not much has changed today, just add a few links to the equation. Something like that anyways:) You can't learn this stuff in school....

Interesting perspectives...

I don't have a degree and nothing outside of high school. Hasn't hindered me one bit. I don't feel at a loss from it. Someone told me a long time ago that they could see me doing what I set my mind too even if I had an anchor tied arounds my neck. There are some hard lessons I've had to learn along the way - and I'm learning some corporate crap I've never had to deal with before atm, but, I don't regret doing it the way I've done it. We all have our challenges. I have lots of reasons I could have not succeeded, but, I'll be damned if I ever have or will let any of them stop me.

Does she know?!

Nick: Ivana would have fit if she sees this thread heh! she's a born acedemic...

The fact that she married you Nick, even though you dropped out of school at 15, says a lot. (Unless you haven't told her yet? ;)

Michael Martinez: So many SEO "experts" and gurus hang on to yesterday's wisdom (and insist on sharing it) that it's no wonder people out there are totally confused about what to do.

Yes, indeed. Kinda like telling people that submitting to Google will help them get indexed.

Behave, Jill

Michael Martinez: So many SEO "experts" and gurus hang on to yesterday's wisdom (and insist on sharing it) that it's no wonder people out there are totally confused about what to do.

Jill: Yes, indeed. Kinda like telling people that submitting to Google will help them get indexed.

While you provided a link to the discussion, you didn't bother to point out what I had posted there on April 30:

Last Friday, a week ago, several of us created orphaned pages on Web sites to test my repeatedly stated assertion that submitting new content to Google will get it crawled.

When I was challenged about this assertion, I had to fess up to doing some major cross-linking to new content throughout my network (from related content). And I usually feature new content on at least one domain main index page, as well as add it to appropriate site maps.

So, how did I know for sure that Google was crawling my new content because I submitted it? I didn't.

And even if Google DOES crawl the two interlinked orphaned pages that I have submitted to them, it has not done so within a week, as I predicted it would.

It is easy enough to verify that Google did not sneak past my searches of my server logs:

Nothing on Xenite.Org has been indexed with the phrase "orphaned page" in the past week. That phrase does indeed occur on the two pages. I am not sharing the URLs because I want to see if those pages EVER get crawled by Google.

I may create some other orphaned pages to do some further testing of other ideas that came up in the previous discussion.

For the time being, however, I concede that I have been dispensing bad advice about submitting new content to Google. It hasn't worked for me in this test, and I don't see any of the several other people who created orphaned pages reporting that it has worked for them.

The challenge for new Web sites, then, is to find good links quickly that will get them crawled and indexed. Anything like a free-for-all page won't work. But I believe there are a lot of different free content sites out there which, in the short term, could prove useful.

I say "short term" because, as soon as anyone compiles and publishes a list of such resources, they will immediately be abused and ruined for a lot of good people.

FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE CURIOUS, that link to Google still shows that the orphaned page never showed up. Since we lost another hard drive at Xenite, and since we don't back up our server log files, I have no idea of whether Google ever fetched the page. My feeling is that it did not.

So, there is an example of flexibility you won't see much reciprocated throughout the SEO world, particularly among people who like to point out partial facts and half-truths.

One thing is for curtain,

One thing is for curtain, the best SEOs aren't developing artificial constructs of superiority, while their very old high horse buckles under the strain.


Aren't you only as good as your last result?

No you are as good as

...the cheque you can get a client ("real" or AdSense etc) to write you

No you don't need to be a

No you don't need to be a genius, just be able to look for patterns and observe results.

My observation is that the best SEO's tend to be low key, unless they are building a larger SEO corporation or selling some good or service then they have to switch to marketing mode to sell same. The very best also tend to be able to look at the big picture in the industry.

In the 60s...

I studied Applied Recreational Narcotics.

Does that count as a necessary SEO qualification?

> Applied Recreational

> Applied Recreational Narcotics.

Hehe, I thought that was required study for SEOs?

I've got a degree in making computers make funny noises, strngely enough it hasn't helped me a bit with SEO.

In the 60s...Applied Recreational Narcotics

In Northern Ireland then, I would have thought it a pre-requisite

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