Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 220.127.116.11
I'm not in high school yet, so I haven't committed to any profession or anything like that yet, and I have lots of freedom in the future to take varied classes. I'd appreciate a lot of input, so I can get an idea of what path to follow to become a (hopefully successful) SEO. Thanks a lot.
First off, welcome to WebmasterWorld. It's cool to see someone your age jumping in and thinking about your life and asking good questions like this one.
My strongest piece of advice is to develop a hunger for learning. Discover what sparks your passion and your curiosity, and then explore it. Ask questions, pull things apart, and really learn how they work together as a system.
If you're interested in search engines, that could take a lot of different forms. You might focus on math in school, to understand how calculations are done. You could study language and practice writing, if you're interested in content writing. You could learn about coding languages, if you want to learn about programming. Or, if you've got a creative flair, take art classes and become a graphic designer.
If you want to practice SEO, treat the web like a lab experiment. Create a site, build pages, and see what happens. Create A/B experiments. Choose a topic that you know and like. That way, you'll find it easier to create the site and the content you need. If you're bored writing the text, your reader probably will be bored and click away. So, again, follow your passion.
Very few classes in high school (or college) will directly prepare you for a specific profession. However, you'll learn the base-set of skills you'll need. You'll also learn how to ask thoughtful questions, explore alternatives, and find meaningful answers.
I'm a big proponent of life-long learning. School is one learning community, but places like WebmasterWorld are also excellent learning communities.
According to the American Booksellers Association, the average manager reads 0.7 business books every five years. However, the average Fortune 1000 CEO reads 7 business books every year. That's a 5000% difference! I know you said you were interested in SEO rather than being a CEO, but the point still holds true for any profession. If you want to be at the top of the game in any profession, one of the best ways to get there is to have a hunger for knowledge.
Welcome one of the web's best forums. Check out the great threads here in the WebmasterWorld library, read new threads voraciously, and ask questions along the way. You can have a whole lot of fun while learning here.
Lots of luck!
For your idea about the A/B experiment, is there anyway to create sites that will show realistic results in search engines without paying for domains and hostings? Like, would a Geocities site be okay for these experiments? Or is there no way to do what you suggested without paying for a site?
SEM in 5-10 years' time is bound to look quite different, just as SEO articles written in 1999 look so funny now.
I also came across this looking for the above thread:
A beginner's guide to web promotion [webmasterworld.com]
Also essential reading for "becoming an SEO":
Brett's guide to 15k a day [searchengineworld.com]
is there anyway to create sites that will show realistic results in search engines without paying for domains and hostings
This is something that may be dificult. To be honest, you can find hosting that will also cover the cost of your domain for less than $100 per year. This will give you a place to play with designs and promotion, and if you get tired of it you can just abandon it after a year.
If you are really interested there is no more valuable tool than real world experience. Plus it gives you something to work with as you learn from your marketing or programming classes. You will be suprised how much math and logical reasoning you will use if you decide to work on a dynamic site. (using ASP or PHP)
You have already found a very valuable resource (WebMasterWorld) for learning what you need to know online and you will find all of the encouragement you can stand here as well.
If you are concerned with spending money, start with a free Yahoo account, or GeoCities then when you out grow their services you can move on to something bigger.
Good luck, and I hope you stick around.
Oh, one more thing. If you ever hit one of those classes where you just can't see how it will ever be useful. Do your best to keep yourself interested no matter how much of a waste of time it may seem to be. There is always some gold burried somewhere in all of the dirt.
as to the root questions here, there is no simple answer.
Someone said practice, and I think that is the operative situation here. Build lots of sites, and watch what they do, make sure you understand the changes you make and how they affect your traffic and if you provide a product or service, the conversion rate of that traffic.
Build lots of different sites, watch how they grow differently with various search engines.
Remember that nobody in these forums KNOWS the answers, myself included. The search engines themselves hold the secrets, and all any of us can do are study and share the results and make educated guesses. If you want to be an SEO, then you should do the same.