SEO Book offers an SEO training program for 100 dollars a month that gets users access to:
A series of Training Modules
A Community Forum
A Competitive Research Tool (a white-labeled version of SEM Rush).
I’ve been a member there for the last few months, and thought I’d share my thoughts about/experiences with the program.
Why I Like These Types of Programs
Two things you’ll find frustrating about trying to learn and gather information in any space are:
- Noise – For every intelligent blogger/writer willing to sell or give away advice and ideas, there are legions who are some combination of lazy, under or misinformed, and/or sleazy. If you are new to a space or even just looking for information on a specific subject you’re unfamiliar with (like keyword research, keyword expansion or keyword analysis), you’ll find it difficult (even dangerous in as much as you might follow the wrong advice) to sift through the garbage to find answers.
- Public content can be accessed by anyone – Every time someone exposes a trick or hack publicly, it’s greatly de-valued. You see this in the SEO/SEM space when someone decides to blog about the latest great do-follow link source: every SEO and affiliate and Google engineer can read that post too, and the tactic becomes less useful in a number of ways. Some types of information are infinitely more valuable when privately disseminated.
John Andrews had a great post recently about the types of content people will be willing to pay for. As a guy who works for a keyword software  company selling a productivity solution, I think it’ll be the informational offerings that save people time (offer signal amongst the noise) and provide web marketing strategies and even easy tricks to a select number of paying subscribers.
SEO Book’s SEO community and training are a great example of this.
The SEO Book SEO Training
SEO Book offers a ton of modularized training videos and tutorials (a comprehensive list of the modules is located in the training section). Having sort of “grown up” in the search space reading the SEO Book blog content, I’ve always found the writing style to be very easy to digest. The structure and presentation are very strong (logical flow, liberal use of headers and bullets, the occasional pretty graphic).
A lot of the training content is pretty sophisticated, but again the beauty here is that it is pure signal. Even if you could piece together 70-90 percent of the content from various places on the Web (frankly you might be able to), you would waste hours (hundreds? thousands?) on bad information and useless sales-focused fluff, and your learning process would be disorganized (if you find the article about information architecture and internal linking structure before you know how Google ranks a page, it’s as useless as if you’d never stumbled upon it) when you could have spent 100 dollars to be spoon-fed the same information.
The SEO Book SEO Community
Here is where a lot of the recurring value of the program comes in. Even if you are a very sophisticated marketer and/or have spent a lot of time with the training modules, the SEO Book forums are excellent. They’re populated with:
- Aaron Himself – He responds to seemingly every post (he has over 11k posts on the board). I have asked three or four questions and started a handful of threads, and he’s answered/participated in every one. The answers are outstanding. If you think of this type of access in terms of what it would cost outside of this offer (to have a top SEO on retainer) a price point of 100 dollars a month is a pretty staggering value.
- The Moderators – I don’t know what kind of arrangement is set up with the moderators but they are all experienced Web marketers and are extremely active and helpful answering questions, as well. This makes the 100 feel like it’s going towards a team of consultants (or “coaches”).
- The “Customers” – The really fascinating thing here is that the people who are “members” are often affiliates and/or marketers themselves; the people asking very basic questions are hungry to learn (they actually paid to get in!) and then seem to come up the curb quickly to start contributing some great stuff. Affiliate marketers investing this kind of time to discuss and learn tactics are often the people doing the testing, and generally have bleeding edge insight into the way the Web works.
Since I signed up I’ve probably found three or four really great link sources that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, and that would be worthless if they were published on a free blog. I’ve also had multiple questions given a lot of attention and lengthy responses.
SEO Book Competitive Research Tool
This is a white-labeled version of SEM Rush (for organic search). Really this is probably worth something like half the cost of the membership itself (if you bought the tool outside the program it would be 20 dollars a month, I believe, which is a very low price point as compared with other tools that do similar things).
Things I'd Like to See
Here’s the obligatory “but it’s not perfect!” portion of the review. Mainly I think the most interesting additions would be an expansion of the training, and a bit more focus/depth on certain topics in the forums. Fleshing out certain modules in the training section and adding on a few different subject matters, as well as having more forum content and discussion around things like PPC and Email marketing would be interesting. This would probably require hiring some help (someone experienced in PPC search engine marketing to author some in-depth paid search content and maintain that section of the forums; prompting discussions, answering questions, etc.) which I’m sure would be a remarkably difficult hire.
Should You Buy an SEO Book Subscription?
Absolutely, yes, you should.
Investing in software to make you more efficient is great, but investing in the ability to leverage those tools is equally important. If you are either learning online marketing or practicing it daily, a multiple in value of the hundred dollar a month price tag lies in the training, community, and access to the competitive keyword tool and coupons. So go sign up!