So you want to learn about this thing called ‘Search Engine Optimisation’… We know, it’s daunting, it’s confusing, there’s so much to learn, and there’s all sorts of SEO specific terminology. Luckily for you, we live in the age of the internet: almost anything can be self-taught using the wealth of free resources available online. But with so much available on the web, how do you even get started without getting headaches from the information overload?
We’ve done some of the legwork for you by pooling together a handy list of credible learning resources for beginner SEOs. Of course, we can’t promise that by studying these resources you’ll become a veritable SEO wizard, casting magical spells on Google’s rankings and building links at lightning speed – that takes practice, practice, practice, and more practice. What they will do is point you in the right direction and help to reduce the overwhelming feeling that initially comes with traversing the learning curve. Get your bookmarks at the ready!
Straight from the horse’s mouth
There are a tonne of resources released by Google themselves in which they explain exactly what they want and how their search engine operates, as well as some resources which aim to teach SEO best practices in accordance with their webmaster guidelines:
- To beat your competition on Google you have to understand Google, so it’s a good thing that they’re happy to explain how exactly their search engine works with this concise and attractive overview. Supplement this by watching Matt Cutts’ video on the subject.
- For a somewhat technical yet incredibly informative look at the basics of SEO, read through Google’s 30-page starter guide intended for businesses and webmasters.
- If you’re looking for first-hand information relating to recent Google updates and changes that might affect your site, keep up with the official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
- To understand exactly what Google dislikes and to avoid getting penalties for spammy SEO tactics, have a read through the webmaster guidelines and content guidelines.
Though best known for their digital marketing platform, the guys at Moz are also behind some of the best SEO learning resources on the web. For starters, you should definitely spend some time having a flick through the Beginner’s Guide to SEO written by SEO’s very own superman, Rand Fishkin. It’s easy to read and navigate, incredibly informative, beautifully illustrated, and has been read over 3 million times! It’s also worth frequenting the Moz Blog for consistently published insights from top industry experts, and watching their weekly Whiteboard Friday series (often hosted by Mr. Fishkin himself) for one-on-one tutorials on the latest SEO trends and techniques.
Google has made hundreds of major updates to their search algorithm over the years, and they aren’t always so transparent about the finer details of each one. Knowing what these updates do and how they work is important for a good working knowledge of SEO, so have a scroll through Moz’s timeline of Google algorithm changes.
Quicksprout is a digital marketing service and consultancy with a penchant for education; that’s why they have learning resources coming out of their ears! They have a long list of illustrated guides, all of them written by company founder and all-round-digital-marketing-cool-guy Neil Patel, and each one delving deep into a particular subject. While admittedly more advanced than other resources available on this list, they are all presented in simple jargon-free language, with pretty infographics and simplistic layouts. Free up an evening to sit down with a notepad (and perhaps a glass of Pinot Noir) and get yourself educated, very quickly, for free, on the internet. We recommend you start by checking out the following:
- The Advanced Guide to SEO
- The Advanced Guide to Link Building
- The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing
If you prefer video content, the so-called Quicksprout University has plenty of webinars to keep you happy. They are all sorted by experience range and cover subjects such as keyword research, link building, on-site optimisation, social media, and even the more technical aspects of running an SEO campaign. If you’re interested, have a look at the beginner lessons for SEO.
Search Engine Land
If there’s any breaking news or rising trends in the SEO industry, the super keen team over at Search Engine Land are always the first on the case. Founded by two search marketing veterans at the cutting edge of new developments in the industry, Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman, the publication specialises in extensive news coverage and practical tips covering every topic imaginable – always well-written, always relevant, and always helpful.
Even as a beginner, one of the best ways to learn about a new discipline or industry is to immerse yourself in it, familiarise yourself with the terminology, keep up with current events, and become a part of the community. As such, bookmarking one of the best publications in the SEO business will greatly benefit your long-term understanding and progress. They have also penned a helpful guide based around one of the most concise infographics we’ve come across on the web: ‘The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors’. This guide will take you through all the major ranking signals taken into account by Google in under an hour of reading, detailing the meaning and importance of each one. Essential stuff for any beginner!
Another marketing platform that moonlights as an amazing learning resource, HubSpot’s whole ethos is defined by their dedication to the education of its extensive audience and user base. Their blog is written by a large network of certified experts and educators who all have the knack for making complex ideas incredibly simple. Although it covers the entire digital marketing spectrum, their articles on SEO are some of the best out there (often nicely punctuated with sleek infographics). Read through the following to get a feel for their content:
- On-page SEO 101: tips for keyword optimizing the most critical parts of your website
- What is SEO in 2017? How it’s changed, and where we are now
- The beginner’s guide to technical SEO: 7 resources you should use
They also offer a number of free ebooks on SEO, as well as a free short course programme, HubSpot Academy, that covers a wide range of marketing disciplines and actually ends in a reputable certification.
Search Engine Watch
If you’re looking for a tried and true authority on all things SEO, the editorial team over at Search Engine Watch have been conducting analysis into search engines and sharing their findings since the times before SEO was even an established concept – before Google was even a thing! As a matter of fact, the London-based site just celebrated its 20th anniversary this June, so there’s no doubting their experience in the field.
With their fingers on the pulse of the search industry, SEW is a hotbed of relevant information and practical guidance. With a heavy focus on the technical (a breath of fresh air given the amount of unspecific content out there), they feature articles that lift the hood of SEO and encourage readers to get their hands dirty. For instance, their technical on-site SEO checklist is a handy guide for those beginners who are raring to learn about the hows as well as the whats, while their extensive coverage of analytics helps readers to make the most out of data.
Since you’ve gotten this far we also recommend having a read through our own resources too. Here at Yellowball we place a strong emphasis on transparency and education when it comes to all things digital marketing. So have a flick through our blog for some expert advice and industry news, or refer to our comprehensive SEO Glossary if you ever come across a phrase you don’t understand.
We know that SEO can be a head-scratching endeavour from time to time, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. We don’t like jargon, we don’t like showing off: we prefer making things simple. So get to know us!