Our friend David Harry recently launched a new SEO community called the SEO Dojo. I've been a member through the community's "beta" period, and it is packed with a ton of great information and there are numerous "hardcore" SEOs offering up their expertise to answer questions and help drive discussions. Some highlights:
- Ask the Experts & Dojo Chat - I haven't had a chance to be as active in the chat as I'd like but from browsing transcripts its obvious that there is a lot of activity and that there will be numerous SEOs eager to interact, answer questions and offer feedback.
- Knowledge Exchange - The forum area allows you to have your site reviewed, offer or shop for services, and more.
- Study Hall - This area is home to a lot of great SEO guides authored by David and the Dojo members. The site audit framework is a particularly valuable resource for SEO consultants.
If you're an SEO or looking to learn the subject, private communities like the Dojo and SEO Book are outstanding places to sift through the noise and find more signal: beyond the static guide-style resources available, these communities are home to an expert-rich collection of search marketers, and tend to discourage the less motivated forum members you often see cluttering free forums with a nominal monthly price point.
I'd definitely recommend anyone that serious about SEO check out the SEO Dojo today.
David was kind enough to answer a few questions about the SEO Dojo community and what it can offer SEOs:
Can you tell us a bit about SEO Dojo? What's the impetus behind it? What are you hoping it will accomplish?
Well, the whole thing started in late 2008 when some mates in the SEO world had been talking about how there weren’t any quality SEO communities out there. Most of the public ones tend to be overrun by spammers and noobs (nothing against them, but sometimes we don’t want to talk about the same basic stuff). By early 2009, we started to plan a community for SEOs, by SEOs.
Around that time, I had been tweeting lots of uber-geeky search stuff and followers had asked why I didn’t put out a newsletter. Originally, I didn’t think there was really a market for the geekier side of search; I relented and the SEO Geeks Newsletter was born (now 6 months and more than 1k peeps later).
From there it simply evolved. The framework of the original community vision evolved with patent and paper DB, a collection of SEO-related videos, training tracks (including a geek’s guide to understanding search engines) and deeper community elements. It has simply grown like mad and we’re adding new things all the time (we have some webinars in the works as we speak).
As far as what we’re trying to accomplish, that’s simple. We wanted to create a haven where professional SEOs (and even webmasters) could congregate to exchange knowledge, interact and even take their knowledge to the next level. A family, a community and a land of higher learning.
What distinguishes SEO Dojo from other SEO communities, like SEO Book and SEOmoz?
One thing that became obvious when we decided to offer the training center to the masses (instead of keeping it to ourselves) was the two-headed dragon that are those fine fellas you mentioned (and even other great training courses like the ones from Bruce Clay, SEMPO and SEO College). To that end I talked to a large number of folks that had used their offerings (SEO Book and SEOmoz) to see what they liked, didn’t like and thought could be improved … some informal qualitative research if you will. We also looked at the demographic in hopes of reaching a market that wasn’t being actively serviced.
The first thing we decided was that those guys already had some great tools and there was no need to re-invent the wheel. As such, we decided to stay away from that, and partner with some companies that were already established in the tool world (see our sponsor list for more).
The next thing we wanted to do was try and appeal more to the experienced SEO practitioners and offer a community where they can interact and exchange knowledge, have co-op opportunities and encourage members to work together. There is strength in numbers you know. All that being said, we have added some training sections for those not entirely up to speed with the world of SEO. Our main focuses though, are professional SEOs and webmasters.
Does SEO Dojo offer something for every level of SEO?
Well, as I mentioned, originally the goal was to go after the more experienced practitioners and not so much the noob market. We’ve relented somewhat and included some goodies for them, but it really isn’t the main focus.
I would say the main focus is for the intermediate and above skill level people. You’d be surprised though how many people don’t actually have a strong grasp of the technical side of search engines. Considering this is one of my main areas of study, there is a strong emphasis in teaching not only SEO, but information retrieval concepts to increase a member’s ability to understand the data and testing that they may be doing. The term SEO has "Search Engine" right in there and I believe ALL SEOs should have a greater understanding of how they actually work.
That’s why we like to think of it as "SEO training" more so than an "SEO school." We’re not as focused on teaching the SEO basics, but providing somewhere for those more experienced people to interact and expand on their knowledge.
Out of curiosity, why "Dojo"? Are you into martial arts as well as the art of SEO?
Oh most certainly. People often ask why I have such a screwed up domain name, and well, it’s because of that. Originally just a personal site for ranting, it just kept getting more popular and I was kind of stuck with the domain. Sure, I could change it and 301 everything, but I enjoy the challenge of succeeding with such a branding headache ... lol.
Huo Mah = Fire Horse (in Chinese) which is simply my astrological sign. I spent more than 25 years in martial arts (as well as studying Qigong and Buddhism). One of the last areas I studied was called Jeet Kune Do. This essentially advocates cross training and finding what works for YOU … not an enforced learning of a style and techniques that aren’t suited to everyone. As such, when I started teaching self defense, and students would say, “What do we call what we are learning?” – I’d jokingly say, “Huo Mah Fa” (the way of the fire horse). The main point was that they are learning their own way of fighting.
Considering my blog has maintained that eastern flavor, and given my background, it seemed an obvious choice to call it the SEO Dojo. I like to think we’ve extended the concept of the dojo as well. A dojo is about community, training and support. The mantra “We’re all students – we’re all teachers" is a carryover from that. A practitioner with 2 years' experience can teach one with 1 year … and those with 3 can teach those with 2. Essentially, it is the community that makes strong warriors. I hope to emulate that with our little family.
Besides, "SEO training for Search Warriors" just sounds cool … right?
The price point seems low considering some of the names and expertise accessible there – why not charge more?
That part all plays back into my days in the world of martial arts actually. Back 10 years ago I used to have a martial arts school that I ran after hours. At first I offered the lessons free, as "passing on the art" is a large part of one’s responsibilities as a martial artist. Problem was, that many students didn’t seem to take it seriously unless there was at least a nominal fee in place.
With the SEO Dojo, we struggled with this originally as we didn’t want to be elitist, but at the same time make sure that those joining us took the place seriously. We looked at the various communities and courses being offered in the space and decided to price it so that it was accessible, but not FREE.
Upon launch we’re setting a reasonable $30/month price point that is likely less than most people spend on coffee each month. If accessing the information and people we have involved isn’t worth that – then I think it keeps out people we’d likely not want anyway.
Will the prices change? Sure, as we continue to add more elements (such as some upcoming webinars) and the community grows, the prices will surely rise. Watching Aaron build his community over the last year or so, I’ve taken notes as far as not becoming too large that we can’t service all the members. I whole-heartedly agree with his decision to keep it manageable … and want to emulate that.
What sort of content is available in the series of guides available to members?
Wow, where to start with that one? We’ve had 100 or so beta-testers in there playing in the space for nearly 10 months now. Over that period we’ve removed some sections, added others and it’s always a work in progress. Some of the highlights include:
- The knowledge exchange member's forum
- Learn search and SEO (from 30 plus sections) in the Study Hall
- Exclusive, actionable content (and worksheets)
- Participate in our weekly Live Chats
- Start tests and get help in the Testing Zone
- Work together with other members in the Co-op Marketplace
- Access the top minds in SEO with "Ask the Experts"
- Free downloads: SEO Handbook & Link builders guide, Google Analytics for SEO and more
- AdWords Vouchers for new adwords accounts.
In the reading/training sections, we cover SEO basics, geeks' guide to search engines and ranking factors, a link builder’s handbook (and spreadsheets), a community-created SEO site audit framework and more (we’re adding new content each week). Upcoming tracks include content programs, advanced keyword research and more.
One area that we’ve been working on lately are some webinars. It started as a weekly chat session for the members and grew from there. Interactions are HUGE as far as I am concerned and the core of taking ones SEO knowledge to the next level. That and actionable items such as the spreadsheets we’ve developed.
David is offering the first 25 readers of this post a 25% discount at SEO Dojo. Just use the coupon code WSRocks.