Interested in learning SEO and want to know where to start online?
The online marketing industry writes copious posts about tactics, tools, and the latest algorithm updates, but there is also a lot of misinformation out there.
Also, Google makes around five algorithm changes per day to its algorithm, so often what you’re reading is out of date.
With that reality in mind, I decided to pull together the top 11 different ways you can learn SEO and know that you’re picking up solid, accurate information.
(If you prefer hands-on learning, you can check out my Technical SEO Training class).
[Disclosure: Please note that links to books mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I the books below I personally used to learn about SEO and now sit on my bookshelf as reference.]
1. Learn about the history of search engines and SEO
Read this book: How Google Works, or this one: The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
Or, watch the new SEO Movie.
2. Read information from the search engines
I always recommend that my US students and mentees start with a history of how search engines evolved and then review the current “rules” provided by the search engines themselves.
Below are the “rules” directly from the search engines.
Google’s SEO resources
- Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
- Google’s steps to a Google-friendly site
- Google’s Webmaster Central Blog
- Google’s Webmaster Central office hours (and if you can’t attend them live, Deepcrawl always summarizes the top takeaways from each, or you can watch the recordings on their YouTube channel.
- Google’s Webmasters social channels and help forum
- How to speed up your site. The Critical Rendering Path free course
Bing’s SEO Resources
While not the biggest search engine in the US, make sure to check out these resources from Bing:
3. Read the beginner SEO guides
Additionally, there are some solid industry leaders that produce great resources as well that will introduce you to the basic SEO concepts including:
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO
- I also taught a class on SEO at Georgetown University
- Local SEO overview
4. Follow Industry Publications
Finally, there are some industry standard publications and online events that will help you stay on top of the changes in the algorithms and industry. Those include:
- Search Engine Land
- Marketing Land
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Watch
- SEO Roundtable
- Moz Blog
- Search Engine Roundtable
5. Listen to Industry Podcasts
- Duct Tape Marketing
- FM/ SEO 101
- Search Engine Nerds
- The Digital Marketing Podcast
- Search Talk Live
- The Agents of Change
- Marketing School
- PNR: This Old Marketing
- Experts On The Wire
- Lion Zeal Show
6. Track the most recent industry studies
Most of these studies are created by vendors, but in particular, I’m fascinated by the research being conducted by:
7. Follow the industry experts
There are few folks that have been in the industry since the beginning and are great about giving a solid perspective around Google updates based on their experience watching search changes throughout the years. The big ones are:
@randfish on Twitter / https://moz.com/rand/
@wilreynolds / http://www.seerinteractive.com/about/team/wil-reynolds/
Greg Gifford (local SEO genius)
Mike King, technical SEO wiz
@iPullRank / http://ipullrank.com/author/ipullrank/
8. Understand how humans interact with the search results
Check out the free User Experience for the Web (WebUX) course.
9. Learn Google Analytics so that you can measure your strategy
Google offers free courses online via their Analytics Academy. They are:
- Digital Analytics Fundamentals
- E-commerce Analytics
- Google Analytics Platform Principles
- Google Tag Manager Fundamentals
- Mobile App Analytics Fundamentals
Or when I got started using and understanding Google Analytics, I read these books:
- Web Analytics: An Hour a Day
- Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
10. Join online communities so that you can get support as you’re learning
These are the ones that I frequent and post questions when I’m stuck:
- Moz’s Community
- If you’re in DC, our DMV Search Marketing Meetup Google+ Group
- #SEMRushChat on Twitter (every Wednesday)
- Online Genesis
- Technical SEO Google+ Group
11. Find a coach or mentor
Here’s where I wanted to share with you how I got my start in SEO.
I built my first website in 1994 on a whim (Hampshire College offered a course), and I put my rainforest preservation curriculum on it (I created a nonprofit when I was 16. More on that here). I also built my first email newsletter that same year.
I did light web editing and web page creation for various jobs when I landed in DC post graduation, (at National 4-H Council, and Barquin International), but I really got my deep dive into SEO when I was working at the Points of Light Foundation as the Director of Sales and Marketing for 1-800-Volunteer.org.
My job was primarily focused on selling the volunteer management solution behind 1-800-Volunteer.org, as a true startup, I didn’t have the capacity to stay on top of ALL of the marketing of the site by myself.
Then one day the CFO came into my office and asked me why he couldn’t find our site in Google. At that time, my SEO experience did not include dynamically driven, complex, homegrown CMS system sites (like 1-800-Volunteer.org) so I told him that he needed to send me to SES Chicago where I would ask other SEOs to determine why our site had fallen off of Google.
So there I am at SES Chicago in an SEO audit session with about 200 other people. When they asked for volunteers, I was the first to raise my hands. After explaining that the developers had blocked Googlebot in the robot.txt file, I realized I was in for quite a lesson in enterprise SEO as they listed off issue after issue that I had to address in order to the site back into the Google index.
I left the session and called my development team to explain all the issues the audit session found with our site, and I spent the rest of the week at SES going to sessions, asking questions, and working every evening from my hotel room to build a full online marketing plan for the site, and an online marketing training plan so that all our the customers that used the site to recruit for volunteers could optimize their own volunteer postings.
Quite a few of the individuals who bought the 1-800-Volunteer.org volunteer management product were older women close to retirement age (or came out of retirement to run the Volunteer Center) and those were my first online marketing students. It was a great experience because I can now train anyone on SEO/online marketing regardless of their technical skill. Oh…and I got the site back in Google.
This is all to say that you can jump start your SEO knowledge by finding yourself a mentor or by having your site looked at by someone in the industry who could hold your hand through your site’s SEO challenges.
And that’s the type of SEO coaching that I provide to my students – quality SEO education that includes one-on-one coaching to ensure that you truly understand how SEO works and how to craft the best solution for your business and your particular online marketing challenge.
I coach and mentor a limited number of students each quarter and if you’re interested in joining the next group of students, drop me a note.
Thanks for reading!
PS: Thanks for taking the time out to read my post and geek out about SEO with me! I get my inspiration for post topics from other SEOs and in-house marketers struggling with SEO strategy and implementation questions, so if you like this post, please…
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