The most precise thing I can say about the making of syllabi is this: a syllabus should in essence be a manifesto. It is a tattered flag that you wave. When a few sad souls have been drawn to you, then you begin the lessons. If your syllabus is not drastic enough, then perhaps it is clear what the problem is: you are not holding anything in the air, you are not waving anything. You are standing quietly by yourself. Please make a shabby sign and write on it: Poems to Kill a King. Then there will be some coming to ask what you mean. - source
When I first launched the SEO MBA email newsletter at the start of the year I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I mean, I knew that the topics I wanted to write about were important - from my own first hand experience, I could see a skills gap in the industry. Having spent the last few years architecting large scale SEO investments for clients and hiring senior level SEO talent I could see that:
Time and time again industry surveys say the same thing:
“The top 5 challenges are all SEO execution and resource challenges” - Aleyda's survey
“The average SEO at a big company has been waiting over six months for their highest priority technical change and doesn’t anticipate seeing it deployed for at least another six months” - Will Critchlow
“43% of people cite lack of buy-in or resources as the biggest risk to SEO success.” - The State of Technical SEO Report by Areej and Paddy
But could I pull it off? Could I write meaningful and interesting pieces on this topic? And would people want to read it? Thankfully I’ve had some success there and I feel very lucky to be able to send this email to the few thousand of you on this list and get such amazing feedback. Thank you to everyone who’s offered encouragement, said nice things and motivated me to keep going.
The SEO MBA was always designed to be both an email newsletter and a course. Partly because I think there’s a skills gap in the industry, and partly because I really love teaching. I wanted to explore online courses, education and to see if I could get the ideas to stick.
But when I put up a syllabus outline and started testing the beta programs I was blown away.
The first beta in April sold out in 20 minutes.
The second beta in September sold out in 11 minutes.
The full SEO MBA course in executive presence launches next week.
So I’m getting ready to replace my shabby sign that reads “Poems to Kill a King” and replace it with a real syllabus, a polished landing page and the full online course.
The course content is designed for both in-house or agency SEOs and the syllabus is really my manifesto and rallying cry for the industry:
Week 1: Good SEO Strategy. Most “SEO strategies” I see are simply dressed up lists of action items from a technical audit. They don’t come with any real awareness of business value, resource allocation or a strategic frame.
In this module we’ll get to a coherent strategy that’s compelling to the business, that you can talk about confidently with senior executives.
Week 2: Business Models & Business Value. The biggest reason SEO isn’t taken seriously at the executive layer is because we’re not connecting SEO to business value.
In this module we’ll start with a high level understanding of business models, how that shapes the things companies invest in and then get all the way to connecting SEO traffic to revenue.
Week 3: Financial Models and Investment Case. Once you get more senior in your career you can no longer consider just the SEO components of a strategy. We need to understand the “full accounting” of what our initiatives will take.
In this module we’ll get to a spreadsheet financial model with the revenue opportunity and the costs associated in order to create a business case for our work.
Week 4: Effective Business Presentations. It’s very common for SEO professionals to be frustrated that they can’t get the resources they need. While at the same time never having actually put together a compelling pitch to explain what they want.
In this module we’ll look at effective business presentations in order to be able to create a compelling pitch to senior executives and secure the resources we need.
Week 5: Getting Things Done. SEO is fundamentally a cross-functional initiative. We need other teams to invest their resources in our initiatives. This requires building social capital, clear communication and stakeholder alignment.
In this module we’ll look at how to align our strategies with other teams and how to build the buy-in to get the resources we need.
The course itself is 5+ hours of video. Each module comes with homework assignments and further resources. Every module features real examples and case studies from my own work drawing on my 15 years experience working in house, at an agency and as a consultant.
In addition there’s some templates for you to copy and use:
A financial model / investment spreadsheet for creating a business model for your key initiatives
A full SEO strategy presentation
And yes, there will be the ability for agencies and teams to buy multi-seat licenses and bulk pricing.
Live vs Self-Paced
I spent a lot of time exploring the difference between a live cohort based class and a self-paced course. Everyone who was smart told me I’d make more money running a few big live cohorts every year. And maybe I’ll still do that? But I could also see how limiting these cohorts were. After each beta course I was flooded with emails from folks who hadn’t managed to grab a ticket.
So I decided to launch the course as a self-paced video course online.
But - I want to keep the magic of peer feedback and live discussion. So at the middle tier and above I’m offering weekly office hours where we can get together and chat about course content or challenges people are facing in their roles.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Thank you to all the folks who went through one of the beta programs and gave detailed feedback.
Don’t worry - the email list is going to remain free. And I’m going to keep writing. But next week the course opens for enrollment and I am excited, terrified and nervous.
See you next week,