First SEMPO Institute grad shares his experinence

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The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization recently announced the launch of the SEMPO Institute and Bryson Meunier, product champion for product placement and submission at Resolution Media was the first person to register and be certified through the Institute.

DM News' associate editor Giselle Abramovich spoke with Mr. Meunier about his experience with others in the industry.

Why is search engine optimization important?

Bryson Meunier: I think these stats from SEMPO's "State of Search Engine Marketing 2006" prove SEO is important:

• Two-thirds of advertiser respondents said they expected to spend between 10 percent and 50 percent more on organic SEO in 2007 compared to 2006.

• Organic SEO placed second for providing the highest ROI of any marketing vehicles in advertising respondents' marketing mix.

• SEO is the most popular form of SEM, used by 75 percent of marketers.

What are the challenges within SEO?

With SEO continuing to grow, agencies and marketers are looking for ways to advance their knowledge about this space. One of the challenges is that it moves so quickly that today's whiz-bang tricks are tomorrow's old news. But if you can learn the fundamental best practices, you're ahead of the game. And those, unfortunately for some, can come only with experience.

What should marketers do to overcome this challenge?

To meet this demand, SEMPO formally announced their SEMPO Institute in January. The program encompasses three courses designed to help marketers learn the basics of SEM. Each course is an online, distance learning series that is self-served.

The first course, Fundamentals of Search Marketing, consists of 14 lessons intended to give each student a high level of understanding of the essentials of Search Engine Marketing including everything from History of Search Engines to SEO Roadblocks to Intellectual Property.

The Fundamentals course also provides an option to upgrade to advanced search engine optimization or advanced search engine advertising at a later date. Advanced SEO is a 5-module, 15-lesson course designed to teach the how-to's of search engine optimization. The Advanced SEO modules cover topics such as advanced keyword research, advanced link building and developing a reporting and analytics strategy. Advanced search advertising, launching in Q2 2007, is a 14-lesson course intended to teach specific tactics and advanced theories in search advertising and auctioned media.

What should marketers expect to gain from the courses?

Overall, the SEMPO Advanced SEO course will give you a solid foundation in the basic principles and fundamental details of search engine optimization. However, it may not be an effective outsourcing training solution for all companies and agencies. And it will certainly never be a magic bullet to the top of the SERPs.

Do you have any recommendations for marketers interested in taking the course?

Before you register for the advanced course, evaluate whether it is the right fit for your organization's structure and needs. Benefits include having the portion of your marketing organization dedicated to SEM/SEO working off the same skill set with congruent and consistent training. Keep in mind that the training may create consistency, but at what level? In my opinion, the program may not be suited to advanced practitioners who are taking it to expand their skill set or agencies that are looking to their professional agency to define the standards by which advanced search marketers should do business. But, for a first step in traversing the SEO landscape, the Advanced SEO course can be valuable.

As marketers discover the power of search and the necessity to make their brand findable on Search Engines, there will be an increasing need for education. The SEMPO Institute and its course roster may be just the ticket to get you on your way.

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