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Would you have pursued a four-year degree in PPC or SEO?; Tuesday's daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, would you have pursued a degree in PPC or SEO?

One can obtain a four-year degree in marketing, but would a similar degree, specifically focusing on organic or paid search, be worthwhile? This question was inspired by a tweet from Eli Schwartz (thanks, Eli!), and in the comments, professionals have shared that they lecture or even teach courses at well-known universities.

All the resources an aspiring SEO or PPC pro may need are already available for free, but the same can be said for virtually any field. There are also many other considerations to ponder when it comes to PPC/SEO degree programs: Why don’t these programs already exist? And, if they did exist, would they add more “prestige” to our industry, and us as practitioners? Would professionals that hold such degrees be taken more seriously within their companies and with clients? Might an SEO or PPC degree become prerequisites for entry-level positions? How might this affect conferences?

One of the things I love about getting to meet people in the search industry is that we all have different backgrounds, so the question “How’d you get into SEO/PPC?” is a nice way to learn about someone’s journey. But, there are a lot of “professionals” that engage in shady tactics, and perhaps formal curriculums can help remove that element. As always, my inbox is open, send your thoughts to gnguyen@thirddoormedia.com (subject line: Kickin’ it old school)

George Nguyen,

Google officially launches SeekToAction for key moments for videos in search

SeekToAction markup is now out of beta and can be used for any site with videos. This markup allows Google to identify “key moments” (shown in the image above) from your videos.

To use SeekToAction markup, your URLs must have the ability to deep-link to a point in your video other than the start, and Google must be able to fetch your video content files. With more and more videos showing in Google Search, it’s a good idea to put in the effort to make your videos stand out from the rest. Using SeekToAction markup can help enrich your video results in Google Search, which could potentially improve click-through rates.

Read more here.

Answer our new survey on attending or exhibiting at in-person events

Pre-pandemic life is starting to return. Travel is up. Masks are coming off. And, indoor dining is an option once more.

The relaxation in pandemic restrictions is also rippling through the business world as conferences and trade shows schedule in-person events for this summer and fall. We’re not surprised, since the last edition of our Events Participation Index showed that many marketers were ready to hit the conference hall floor as early as the third quarter of 2021.

But a sizable number of marketers still seemed luke-warm to the idea of business travel, which is why we are once again asking marketers to share their sentiments on returning to in-person events.

Please click here to take our 3-minute survey.

Video: Richard Nazarewicz, Technical SEO Manager at the Wall Street Journal

Search Engine Land News Editor Barry Schwartz and Richard Nazarewicz, technical SEO manager for the Wall Street Journal, sat down to discuss how to approach technical SEO for a publication such as the WSJ, the importance of evergreen content, the impact of algorithm updates on the WSJ and more.

“I’m not the only SEO in the company — we are all SEOs.” That was my favorite tidbit from the chat. One might assume that, since it is a major publication, that wisdom only applies to publishers, but that’s just not so: everyone in your company who touches your site can impact its SEO. Listen to Richard’s talk with Barry for more perspective that you can take back to your own teams.

Watch the discussion here.

The Marketoonist provides some perspective on what consumers really care about

For the third time, the answer is “no.” When asked if forum links work as a link-building method, Google’s John Mueller answered succinctly: “no.” This question was addressed in 2014 and in 2018, but here it is in the new decade. In all likelihood, links in forums are nofollowed, and they’re almost certainly not going to be as valuable as natural links.

Do customers really care what you do to gain their attention? “All of this corporate research — shopper decision trees, category management decks, and the like — can be valuable. But followed too closely, they can lead to marketing myopia,” said Marketoonist creator Tom Fishburne, “Consumers don’t think about brands nearly as much as the marketers of those brands think about the brands.”

“If you think smart folks have this figured out…” “​​Google’s internal meme generator is old, and one of the more active places internally for voicing opinions,” John Mueller tweeted, “Closing in on the #1 all-time spot is a black image with just the words ‘I’m so tired’ on it. If you think smart folks have this figured out & are thriving, think again.” Remembering that everyone’s just doing their best helps me be more patient — that, and telling myself it costs nothing to be nice.

“I think people were pretty noisy about quitting the Bay Area . . . But they’ve been very quiet in admitting they want to move back.”

The quote above comes from Eric Bahn, co-founder of an early-stage investment firm based in Palo Alto, and it’s in line with what the data is telling us. Only a sliver of you live and/or work in the Bay, but it’s a proxy for the overall trend that’s occurring in major metropolitan areas nationwide.

“In an area near San Francisco’s Financial District, where tech workers tend to cluster, average apartment rental prices dropped more than 20 percent in 2020, according to census and Zillow data compiled by the city,” Kellen Browning wrote for the New York Times, “That area saw the biggest price jumps in the city in the first five months of 2021.” Traffic is also making a return. 

Similar things are happening in Boston (closer to where I currently live), as well. Browning’s research indicates that a majority of those who left the Bay Area in 2020 were young, affluent and highly educated (read: likely to be tech workers). The attractions of urban life are among the reasons this demographic is moving back: restaurants, shopping and nightlife were some of the hardest-hit industries, so it’s no surprise that some folks are looking to make up for lost time.

So, now, in the second half of 2021, where is the dream of remapping the American workforce? The cost of living in these metropolitans (along with traffic) was supposed to decrease, remote work was supposed to become the new norm and tech’s high-earning tech workers were supposed to spread out across America.

While some companies, like Oracle, Palantir and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, have moved their headquarters out of California, for now, it looks like “returning to normal” really does just mean “returning to 2019” when it comes to tech and major cities.

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