Today I was fortunate enough to speak to an Internet marketing class at my alma mater, James Madison University (JMU — Go Dukes!). While search engine marketing is only a component of this class, it’s nice to see that some colleges and universities are beginning to understand the importance of Internet marketing in general as its popularity continues to rise at the cost (often) of traditional marketing media, such as print, radio and TV.
However, JMU is more the exception rather than the rule. Many candidates I interview for positions at Search Mojo have little or no exposure to Internet marketing through their college studies. This begs the question: Why are so many universities failing to cover such a popular, growing and effective area of marketing?
I think the answer is simply this — search engine marketing, as well as Internet marketing in general, change at such a rapid pace, it’s difficult for the professors to even keep up. As a search marketer reading this blog now, you’re likely doing your daily download of search marketing news and tips. And perhaps you only focus on search marketing. For professors however, they may teach many subjects in a particular field, such as market research, buyer behavior, etc. as well as Internet marketing. Internet marketing may only be one area they have to keep abreast on.
Not to mention, it’s ever changing. Most of us keep up with blogs daily, trying to stay on top of the latest search changes and news. Unlike traditional marketing, which can still be taught with a traditional textbook, Internet marketing’s ever-changing landscape makes it impossible to capture in a textbook. By the time the textbook is printed, Internet marketing has already changed dramatically. The only “book” I’ve ever found on SEO that was truly up to date is Aaron Wall’s SEO Book, which is really more of a blog, but treats each day like a new lesson.
So where does this leave us? Recent college grad candidates often come to us with little exposure to search marketing, depending on their respective universities. We certainly do our best to expose students when we can, but the universities need to make a commitment to search marketing too. Search marketing is a great source for well-paying, interesting jobs, and right now, there seems to be unlimited job growth in the field. Universities need to help their students be prepared for the jobs that are in demand — in search and other forms of online marketing. The world is changing — even in marketing. It’s time that more universities sit up and take notice.