Best SEO resources – how to learn SEO
Quick Summary Unless you deal in big business, it can be hard to hire an SEO professional of a high enough quality to ensure top search engine rankings for your company. Whether due to a minimal amount of available funds, or a DIY lease on life, a company may decide to try to learn SEO as they implement tactics. Small business owners and startups come to mind as the parties most likely to benefit from a self-education in SEO.
Unless you deal in big business, it can be hard to hire an SEO professional of a high enough quality to ensure top search engine rankings for your company. Whether due to a minimal amount of available funds, or a DIY lease on life, a company may decide to try to learn SEO as they implement tactics. Small business owners and startups come to mind as the parties most likely to benefit from a self-education in SEO.
In support of these busy professionals, here’s our guide to the best SEO resources (how to learn SEO.)
Your SEO Dictionary: Common Topics and Resources
Maybe a general SEO dictionary would be the best place to start. Agree? Here’s a pretty in-depth resource from Moz, and a more streamlined guide to the basics from Hubspot.
Let’s dig into some of the most important topics for understanding SEO:
Keyword research is the act of choosing keywords specifically to try and target relevant users. It also involves validating your keyword choices, and optimizing for purchasing intent.
A few articles to help understand the basics of keyword research:
- How to do keyword research (Moz)
- Using Google Keyword Planner to do keyword research (Google)
- Understanding keyword intent (Spokal)
- Targeting interest and intent with keyword research (Kissmetrics)
- Keyword research tool options (TNW)
Onsite SEO (also known as “on page ranking factors”)
Onsite SEO includes all of the efforts that can be made by website administrators to improve SEO on the website.
A few articles to help understand the basics of Onsite SEO:
- Onsite SEO: Everything you need to know (Search Engine Journal)
- Onpage ranking factors: the basics (Moz)
- How to complete an Onsite SEO audit (Vertical Measures)
- CHEAT SHEET: Onpage ranking factors for blog posts (SEMRush)
Offsite SEO includes all of the outside forces that affect a website’s ranking (and can’t be directly affected by website administrators).
- Onsite SEO vs Offsite SEO (SEMRush)
- GUIDE: Offsite SEO (Neil Patel)
- Top 5 Offsite SEO Ranking Factors (Search Engine People)
White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO
White Hat SEO defines SEO best practices, while Black Hat SEO techniques seem like a way to trick search engines, but may end up getting your website de-indexed (that’s bad).
A few articles to help understand the basics of White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO:
- Defining what hat SEO (BLR)
- White Hat SEO tactics (Search Engine Journal)
- INFOGRAPHIC: The difference between White Hat and Black Hat SEO (CognitiveSEO)
- Risky Black Hat SEO tactics (Positionly)
Backlinks (also known as “link building”)
Links to your website from other relevant and high authority websites can help your website’s authority and increase rankings on the SERPS.
A few articles to help understand the basics of backlinks:
- Link building basics (Moz)
- GUIDE: Guest Posting (Kissmetrics)
- How to get backlinks without guest posting (Backlinko)
- Can you rank in Google without links (Spoiler alert: no) (Moz)
Site Speed (also known as “page load”)
Site speed (how fast your website loads) is an important ranking factor and often falls to technical details.
A few articles to help understand the basics of site speed:
- How page speed affects SEO (SEMRush)
- Site speed SEO best practices (Moz)
- How to improve page speed (Oncrawl)
- How to use Google Page Speed insights (Envato)
Trends and changes
Like with anything else in the digital marketing world, SEO is constantly changing. You might recognize a couple of these sources from some of the articles shared above. These resources represent the best places for keeping up to date with SEO trends and changes, as they happen. Be sure to subscribe to their email newsletters!
Search Engine Journal is a great resource not only for SEO, but also many other complementary topics (like content marketing). One of their regular writers is Larry Kim, an SEO expert in his own right. Supplementary content includes webinars, ebooks, and in-person summits.
An inbound marketing company and provider of SEO tools, with a blog made up of numerous insightful articles. Check out their 10 chapter resource, The Beginner’s Guide to SEO for an excellent primer. Their weekly “Whiteboard Friday” topics focus mainly on trends and changes.
A software tool that helps identify and act on SEO issues, while also helping to conduct research for future efforts. They host a weekly Twitter chat (#semrushchat) that focuses on hot topics for people who regularly deal with SEO.
Self-billed as a media outlet that covers every aspect of the SEO industry, Search Engine Land is not a bad place for a learner to let themselves get lost. A breadth of contributors results in news updates multiple times per day. They also offer a Guide to SEO composed of 9 insightful chapters.
Neil Patel (Quicksprout Kissmetrics)
Neil Patel is the author of Hustle, and successful online entrepreneur in the digital marketing realm. He runs an often-shared/quoted blog and informative podcast, called Marketing School. He shares very comprehensive guides and tips very much at the pulse of the current atmosphere. His collaboration with Sujan Patel, Quicksprout, has a 9 chapter infographic guide to SEO.
Finally, it would be remiss to end this list of resources without mentioning Google’s own. Though they don’t reveal exact algorithm search engine ranking factors, their guides provide useful insights for determining what works, and what doesn’t. A couple top Google resources regarding ranking factors:
- SEO Starter Guide (Google)
- 146 PAGES: Google Rater Guidelines/How Google Tells Manual Raters to Grade Websites (Google)
- Google’s 200 Ranking Factors (Backlinko)
SEO Plugins for WordPress to help focus efforts
WordPress is one of the best content management tools for SEO success. These plugins further improve SEO.
- Yoast – ensures that you’re using a target keyword everywhere it needs to be
- All in One SEO – The original SEO plugin for WordPress, with a number of technical features
- Broken Link Checker – identifies broken links to be fixed or deleted
Tools for measuring efforts
In addition to plugins, plenty of free and paid SEO tools are available to help people to be aware and efficient in their efforts.
- Google Keyword Planner – keyword research with Adwords data
- Google PageSpeed Insights – identify obvious SEO issues, straight from Google
- Google Mobile Friendly Test – gives general direction to determine if your website is mobile friendly (or not)
- http://keywordtool.io/ – help with keyword research
- AnswerThePublic – find semantic search terms
- Screaming Frog – onsite SEO crawl
- SEMRush – suite of SEO tools
Moz – featuring Open Site Explorer and other SEO tracking tools and reports
Eventually, you’ll master the basics, and decide to inquire about more advanced topics. If you’ve reached this level, or want to start looking ahead, here are a few of the best SEO resources for how to learn SEO:
- What is duplicate content? (Moz)
- Duplicate content checker tools
- Is it duplicate content if reposted on LinkedIn or Medium? (SEJ)
- Syndication/canonicals (Search Engine Land)
- SEO and social media (Search Engine Land)
- Local search basics (Search Engine Land)
Everyone learns in different ways, and books can be an excellent way to learn and understand the basic concepts of SEO. Of course, it’s important to focus on books that cover general SEO knowledge, as they’re published too slowly to be able to focus on all current SEO best practices.
A popular WordPress plugin and SEO consultancy, Yoast has written a number of SEO ebooks for beginners. A few options:
- Shop SEO
- Content SEO
- SEO for WordPress
A focus on the relationship between SEO and social media, this book is “timeless” in its deliberation over high-level SEO tactics.
Finally, a number of digital marketing conferences can be the best way to ask experts questions and meet others on the path to learning SEO. JM Internet Group shares a list of SEO Conferences in 2017 for your consideration.
What are some of the best SEO resources/information for how to learn SEO that you’ve come across? We’d love to hear your insights in the comments below!