As part of our training program we like to lay out time frames for people new to PPC in terms of how long it will take to feel comfortable and become an expert. I usually say 1 year to be proficient, 2 years to become an expert and 3 years to be able to actually apply that knowledge at an expert level.

In the most recent training I made a joke, but then quickly realized it was more accurate than my previous timeline. Here it is:

End of year 1 – You feel proficient

End of year 2 – You feel like an expert

End of year 3 – Your realize there are no experts

Yes, I realize the silliness of saying this while the sub headline on our home page is “brought to you by the experts at Hanapin Marketing.” But it still illustrates the point that I am trying to make which is that the industry changes so often and the tools we use evolve so fast that what I learned in 2000 is not relevant to what I did in 2012. And what I learned in 2012 may be irrelevant in 2013.

In fact, things are changing so quickly that British Sam had enough to write a post on 25 changes to PPC in the past year alone. It’s a bit depressing to think how fast our technical knowledge becomes irrelevant but there are some things you can do to stay ahead of the game and even speed up the learning curve.

3 Ways to Speed Up the Learning Curve and Stay Ahead of Changes

1.) Do Case Studies

A common blunder in PPC is not wrap up tests and report on results. Doing formal case studies forces you to do this crucial step, which helps you understand the impact of your changes/optimizations/ideas/strategies.

A good case study has four sections. They are defining the problem, identifying the solution, describing how the solution was implemented and the result from the implementation.

2.) Speak at Conferences/Train Newbies

The best way to learn is to teach. By presenting and/or training others you are (hopefully) ensuring that you not just know how to do something but you also know why to do it. This is important because the how is what changes frequently but the why evolves at a much slower pace (and sometimes not at all).

3.) Focus on Good User Experience Instead of How to Win Within the Current System

While the rules and tools change, mostly the aim of the changes is to improve the experience of the person conducting a web search or browsing the Internet (expect for Enhanced Campaigns, which was a revenue play). That means that focusing your paid search and display strategies on how to give people what they want will keep you ahead, or at least on par, with the bulk of industry changes.