Does it not blow your mind that SEO isn't taught in universities?

As per question really. I ‘got into computers’ a couple of years ago thanks to ed dale and the 30dc, from there learned wordpress, from there realised i didnt have a clue what i was doing, from there enrolled in a foundation degree in new media to learn some stuff like flash, dreamweaver, html and css, javascript.

For me SEO is massively important. If the net is important for businesses, then surely SEO is one of the top prioroties? If not how ya gonna be seen??? the whole point of a businesses site is to be seen is it not? a few other things like ppc and local advertising etc, but SEO surely should be at the forefront?? Why isnt it being taught in school? i ask my tutors and they look at me blankly, but to be fair they have been in education for a while and although they know their stuff very well, im still amazed that SEO isnt being taught!!

Read a few threads before starting this, and yes i agree that it is fast moving, all available online to self teach, a portfolio proving what you can do is worth a lot more than a degree of some sort. But it really isnt for me at present. Ive applied for a few (loads!) of SEO posts, junior link builders, and the likes and if i went with COMMERCIAL experience then i would have at least got an interview, or a degree in something. If there were some recognised course, or better still a governing body that could say that a person was fluent in SEO, this would be a fantastic thing.

New to this area (well 2 years but still not a clue and learning loads) but it still amazes me that 1.there are no recognised affiliated courses in SEO and 2. my tutors really dont seem interested in it. Massive field, and something im so passionate about i could read/work on SEO for 16 hours straight and the same again the next day!Is it just me??

Rant over!

Kind regards


No. If anything, I’m happy that universities haven’t completely sold out and aren’t teaching the completely un-academic fable-stories that popular SEO consists of.

One can argue that as SEO is a subset of SEM, that Marketing and Advertising students can benefit from being taught some web basics. To my knowledge a lot of MBA courses do teach some basics in web marketing, focusing on off-site promotion and advertising.

However, SEO is nothing more than the best-practices for the web and basic marketing on the web. The rest of it isn’t exactly a game-changer for businesses on the web.

If you want to be involved in marketing a business-related degree would be best. In most jobs a degree is necessary to landing a job, and although it is not required at many great companies I’d say that a good 90% of employers will want a degree for a professional job.

On the subject of teaching, many universities can barely teach people Web Design, let alone a subject with NO proven foundation knowledge or no history of cases to back up many of the points. A “SEO Degree” would be one of the final nails in the coffin of academia and would be a galactic waste of money.

As I’ve already mentioned, Search Engine Marketing is a subset of Online Marketing. If you want to be in marketing then a marketing degree is probably best.

The information is already out there, and very few people in social media seem to be getting it right, despite their “results” and what they seem to tout. A SEO degree would be incredibly unprofessional, as many people seem to see the SEO/Social Media types as professional bullshitters. I’ve had proposals from social media firms that have wanted to charge several hundred pounds to optimise my meta-tags, and I have known SEO companies that have worked with brands like Coca Cola want thousands for basically registering me for a bunch a free directories.

At the moment the people doing well in SEO/SEM are those in Marketing and Advertising firms that focus on the Internet. They are the people managing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, and they’re the ones offering real solutions in both the online world and outside. I feel that that is where the future of SEO will be, and that SEO in itself will only become a small subset of Marketing.

So yeah, it will be taught in degrees at some point, but only as a single lecture in a first-year marketing class. There’s really nothing else to teach.

Thanks for your points and input, sounds like you know quite a lot about this area. This point stuck with me a bit though. SEO can be covered in such a small space of time? All of it ? Think ive either been dragging my heels or im a slow learner!! Seriously though there is quite a bit to SEO is there not?

And you say it isnt a game changer for businesses? Surely getting to the top of google and being seen online would be important to a business?

One more point, i live in northwest UK so might be different everywhere, but i see lots of jobs paying quite well asking for SEO experience or knowledge. I still think it would be nice if there was a formulated or regulated structure to prove your knowledge as well as the obvious track record that people will have to show.

Please dont read any of this as an argument as i fully value your and other opinions!

Alan (minus the a, that was a mistake!)

In my opinion SEO should be introduced into journalism and any writing focused studies. I mean the majority the ethical SEO is about content and keywords. As a developer I just drop in content. It really is the person who is writing the content that has most responsibility when it comes to SEO. I mean if I set someone up with a site and they write horrible content what I am really to do – I’m not a writer but a programmer. All writers should be responsible and understand SEO that applies to written material. The problem with SEO seems to always resolve to crappy content which is than compensated for with black and gray hat techniques.

With that said, they don’t teach SEO at universities because its very much “black magic”. For most part its just a bunch of snake oil, unless your analyzing the content. Content really rules all. It isn’t the responsibility of a programmer or even designer to write content. That is something that needs to lye on the copywritting side of the spectrum.

nail on head

I myself don’t even understand how one can claim they are an “SEO expert” without being a established writer.

Thanks for your points and input, sounds like you know quite a lot about this area. This point stuck with me a bit though. SEO can be covered in such a small space of time? All of it ? Think ive either been dragging my heels or im a slow learner!! Seriously though there is quite a bit to SEO is there not?

First, I want to say I agree entirely with Ultimate’s and oddz’ posts.

Second, if by SEO you don’t mean content like oddz is talking about, but code, you can learn that in a day if you already know how to write HTML. Simply, Optimisation of your code for Search Engines means
-use the right tag for the content (mark lists up as lists, headers as headers, tables as tables, paragraphs as paragraphs)
-use the title tag properly (title of the page, then name of the site)
-use the meta tags properly (mostly, the description tag)
-use as little markup as you can get away with… that is, keep your content-to-code ratio high by only using the tags you NEED to mark it up (empty “sandbag” elements for CSS are ignored by user agents unless they support CSS, so don’t worry about those unless you have kilobytes of them)
-Structure the content in a sensible manner… just as you were taught when writing college papers. This means proper use and nesting of header elements

Not only is all of the above great for search engines, but they make your sites Sensible, Logical, Usable and therefore it’ll also take care of Accessible 90% of the time (really, a lot of sites are inaccessible to minority UAs and the disabled simply because of crappy markup!).

To me, as a coder, SEO means “don’t let your crappy HTML slow indexing spiders” and “the tags can be used by spiders and other UAs to correctly identify the TYPE of content inside them”.

I’ve been paid to do SEO/SEM work, but in many ways it’s always boiled down to one of three things:

  1. Is your information laid out in a logical manner?

  2. Competitor Analysis: If someone is better than you, see what they’re doing and see why it’s doing so well.

  3. Is your HTML written by a competent designer/front-end developer?

  4. Is your content written by a content writer?

That’s really all there is to it. Anything else I would view as Online Marketing, and that’s the kind of stuff that advertising and marketing firms spend their time and market knowledge on.

It’s all relative on what industry you are in and your competitors. I would argue that the most important thing in regards to SEO is improving the user experience and letting your links grow naturally as a result of user satisfaction. This will come from things like well-written content, a nice design and a good cognitive load between the landing page and what the user wants.

I think that oddz has already covered this point better than I could. There’s really not enough concrete knowledge to make it a viable subject at university, and the second it goes into anything worthwhile we’re basically studying online marketing.

Stomme poes and oddz are correct in stating that SEO is largely about professionally written and edited content and on-page work to boost a sites popularity. There are other things that can be done, but they’re largely best-practices any way (semantic HTML, analyse competitors, etc). Again, it would be hard for someone to regulate SEO in the same way, although in a way you could say that Google technically “regulates” SEO by providing the results for peoples work.

I appreciate that it’s an involved subject when you work in it, but so are many subjects. What needs to be established is their relevance to academia.

Can i just take the opportunity to say thanks for the replies. Good to hear constructive opinions, very good food for thought and making me think that bit more. Cheers