Learning SEO – The Ultimate Resource

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Learning SEO – The Ultimate Resource

May 12, 2020 | seo | No Comments

Learning SEO is something anyone can do. And the best part is you can do it mostly on your own as long as you know where to begin.

With the right resources and tools, you can quickly learn the basics of search engine optimization. Then you can start applying what you’ve learned and be well on your way to becoming an expert.

The Ultimate Resource for Learning SEO

Unlike the pioneers of SEO, who learned everything the hard way, and struggled to gather information, new generations have it all handed to them. However, the information is not always structured. You need to approach more than one resource in order to get into the subtleties of search engine optimization.

I’ve separated the wheat from the chaff for all of you willing to learn SEO, and organized it in a common-sense list that will guide you through the steps. Below you will find some of the best free and paid resources for learning SEO. Grab a notebook, a pen, and start your online education!

  1. How Search Engines Work
  2. SEO Learning Guides
  3. Courses for Learning SEO
  4. Video/Audio Classes
  5. Keyword Research
  6. Link Building
  7. On-page Optimization
  8. Glossaries/Dictionaries
  9. Tools for SEO
  10. Forums for Discussion
  11. Ongoing Resources
  12. Essential Readings
  13. Mobile SEO
  14. Website Performance
  15. SEO/ Digital Conferences

Note: The information in them is often similar, though some are more exhaustive than others. I recommend reading as many of them as you can, to get an overall sense of how SEO is discussed, understood and practiced.

1. How Search Engines Work

As a search engine optimizer it is imperative you understand how search engines work. In general, you will probably be working with Google, Yahoo! and Bing search engines, but if you target different international markets, you might be dealing with Yandex, Baidu, and other SEs as well. Below, you will find the best resources for understanding how search engines work, what crawling and indexing mean, and how SEO’s practices must adapt to these algorithms.

  • How Search Works – Google created this visual story that makes it really easy to understand how search, crawling and indexing work. It gives important cues on how Google extracts information from their index in order to provide you with results they think will be most relevant for the queries you enter.
  • Inside Search – Check this out for more accurate and detailed information on how search works, what algorithms are and what they do, and how Google works to fight spam in order to give you only the most relevant, freshest results. The page also leads you to their Webmaster Guidelines, which provide essential information if your aim is a friendly relationship with Google’s algorithms. All in all, you should pay a lot of importance to Google’s support website and articles, since they lend crucial information.
  • Search Help from Google – Learn about the different types of search, what SafeSearch is (tip: it was created by Matt Cutts), what location-specific search is, how to search by image (as opposed to keyword phrases), how to filter and refine your search, and basically use Google’s search function to its maximum potential.
  • How Bing Search Works – Information from Bing’s official blog on how their search engine works. You can also check out the SEO guidelines for Bing from the official source, or this Princeton blog post explaining how Bing functions as compared to Google – nifty information indeed!
  • How Yahoo Search Works – This article by SEOBook clarifies not only how Yahoo! search works, but how it does so as compared to other notable search engines. However, it does focus more on Yahoo functions in particular, offering great insights into the history of one of the oldest search engines in existence.
  • Search Engines – In this piece by Links&Law, you get some pretty straightforward explanations on what search engines are, and are provided with excellent information on the history of search engines in general.
  • Search Engine History – There is such a thing as a search engine freak. If you’re really curious about how search engines started, how many there were, what they were able to do, and how they evolved, this detailed article is manna from the skies.
  • How Search Engines Work – Mike Grehan wrote a great theoretical paper called “New Signals to Search Engines” that detailed what I thought was the best (read “most honest”) history of the Internet. Since I first published this guide, links where the paper was available kept changing, so I duly updated them here. This year, it seems to have vanished, and I’ve replaced the link to one of his shorter articles on how search engines work. However, I want readers to still know about the paper, perhaps it’ll resurface some day, or you may be able to find it. I also recommend his blog, which is full of in-depth articles that are still useful today, although it hasn’t been updated since 2014.
  • Google Data Center FAQ – In order to get a comprehensive understanding of how Google functions as a search engine, you need to learn about its multiple data centers. Google has data centers throughout the US, but some are located in Europe as well. These data centers house the servers which power the search engine – some deal with data storage, others with crawling, indexing, or Google ads. Their exact number is unknown, as Google is a bit secretive in order avoid informing competitors’ decisions. I highly recommend this article by Rich Miller, which gives you all the known facts + the existing theories on Google’s data centers.
  • Google Crawling, Indexing & Ranking – This document from Google Webmaster Central answers the most common questions, and more, about how the search engine crawls, indexes and ranks pages and websites. If you’re keen on learning SEO, start from the bottom, by understanding how search engines work – particularly Google’s. With a solid basis of how Google search works, you’ll be perfectly prepared to tackle difficult SEO decisions. You might also want to check out this technical SEO guide to crawling, indexing and ranking written by Paddy Moogan, for a slightly different approach, and some extra info. While Google’s guide above may be more focused on informing webmasters in general, Paddy’s guide takes the SEO’s point-of-view.
  • Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird – A big part of doing SEO is knowing Google’s algorithms, and understanding how they influence search and your site. It’s all explained very neatly, and in depth by Marie Haines in this article. She’ll take you through what an algorithm change is, what each of the algorithms does on its own and, more importantly, what to do in case you’re negatively affected by an algo update. As usual, it’s also worth skimming through the comments on Moz-published articles, since their community always raises good points, and the discussions often clarify tricky aspects of SEO and other digital-related matters.
  • A Guide to Major Google Algorithms – This short guide by Michael Martinez also covers some of the Google algorithms that you need to know about, including more recent ones like RankBrain. And keep Martinez’ site, SEO Theory, bookmarked. It’s a good idea to visit it from time to time, he’s got an excellent understanding of SEO and has a very direct approach to the practice.
  • The Complete Guide to Google Penalties (Both Manual and Algorithmic) – While we’re on the algo chapter, I thought I should add this great guide on major Google penalties that you need to avoid, complete with how to recover in case they hit your site. Neil Patel’s article will help you either find the solution to a penalty problem, or learn how to protect your site against penalties and work with the algorithms instead of fearing them.
  • The Ultimate Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet – What makes many of Neil Patel’s articles and guides so great, and not just for beginner SEOs, is that they often take a step-by-step, how-to approach to subjects or SEO tactics that can otherwise be difficult to grasp or tackle. It’s pure, practical SEO knowledge in your hands, like this cheat sheet on Google algos that will confront you with even the smallest, but important effects of these algorithms.

2. SEO Learning Guides

In order to bring your education as close as possible to taking a step-by-step class, you should begin with one of the more comprehensive guides available online. The ones below will provide you with your first steps into the SEO world and get you familiarized with important terms and concepts that you’ll be using throughout your work.

You can learn SEO quite well by using just these guides, but all in all, you should go through resources I’ve listed in each category in order to get in depth understanding of the field.

3. Courses for Learning SEO

The problem with SEO is you can’t go to any school to learn it (unless you live in certain parts of the US). The internet is your oyster, but first you need to find your oyster knife. It can be difficult for beginners to know where to start. Moreover, not everything you read on the web is noteworthy or truly helpful in teaching you how to SEO.

Nevertheless, the courses below are your best bet at a complete education. Decide how fast you want to become good, but don’t rely on a single class to teach you all there is to know. Some of these courses even offer a certificate or diploma when you graduate, so you’ll have a better chance at getting hired in the field or attracting clients.

4. Video/Audio Classes

Some people find it easier to learn visually. Luckily, the world of SEO learning is filled with such opportunities, and I have selected some of the best resources you can get your eyes on.

It might be best to stay away from webinars or classes you can simply find on YouTube or other free video platforms, because they are harder to vet, and may advise you to practice gray, or even black hat SEO techniques. However, I do mention a couple of YouTube resources below that have been posted by good names from SEO, so they are definitely useful and will teach you plenty effective things.

5. Keyword Research

Keyword research is an important part of SEO, and it is the basis of a successful marketing campaign. Knowing how to choose your keywords is essential to getting your message across and promoting your content, product, or services. Whether you’re looking to increase traffic or conversions, this is where you start. The articles and guides below focus on keyword research and strategies.

Link building is one of the heaviest responsibilities of a search engine marketer, because it has to be done with finesse and a lot of planning.

Define it as you may, link building is an art which requires multiple aptitudes, including knowing how to approach others in your industry, and where to find them. The following resources detail all the tactics of earning or acquiring links in order to boost the visibility and authority of your website.

7. On-page Optimization

Content adjustments stand at the core of any search engine optimization strategy. Fortunately, there are loads of tools and learning material instructing you on what to look out for when performing on-page optimization. Below, you will find some of the more pertinent articles and guides on the subject.

  • Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page – This time a shorter guide from Backlinko, written by Brian Dean, but just as significant in drawing attention to some of the most important factors of on-page. The attached infographic makes it easy to understand what the factors are and where they go on the page. I recommend keeping it close, especially in your first endeavors.
  • 9 Step On-Page SEO Guide – This succinct guide from Hubspot is great at explaining, in an easy to comprehend manner, what the most important factors of on-page optimization are. It is very meticulous and can be used as a template.
  • On-Page Factors by Moz – A neat article presenting the essentials of optimizing your pages and making them crawler-accessible and search-engine-adorable.
  • SEO 101 Page Optimization Like a Pro – Thorough and significant, this piece written by Zain Shah for Search Engine Journal segments information well and stands as a pretty good guide for optimization.
  • On-page Topic Targeting for SEO – Another useful article from Cyrus Shepard, in which you get practical, applicable advice on keyword targeting, keyword frequency and distance, links, and more.
  • SEO Checklist – This checklist provides you with the most important factors to look out for when performing optimization on-page. Make sure you check out the links for off-page optimization and technical factors as well – they provide further insight into SEO tactics that you should be dealing with anyways.
  • 2014 SEO Playbook – This article for on-page by Tom Schmitz lists out the same factors you have been constantly reading about so far, but it offers nice explanations on their importance and gives out some clarifying examples to go with them. Although written for 2014, the ideas in it will still apply in years to come.
  • Complete On Site Optimization Tutorial – The author of this post, Sean Si, claims that this is a complete, yet simplified tutorial for on site optimization. As impossible as that may seem, the author does manage to structure the information neatly, so that for each factor listed, you get a link leading to more in depth explanations.
  • Composing Irresistibly Viral Titles – Learning how to write good titles is a weighty part of SEO, and has a lot to do with on-page optimization too. Besides making sure your titles are the right length, you also want to make sure they are relevant, and that they attract clicks! This all-embracing article by Dan Shure lists multiple ways to make titles engaging and optimized.
  • Fat Free Guide to SEO Copywriting – See what they did there? They used the keyword “free” to get us to click on the link, except they do charge a symbolic sum to download their content. In all fairness, the price is a mere $1.27, and the booklet does touch on important points of copywriting.
  • On-Page SEO Checklist – What’s better than a guide? A tutorial. And what’s better than a tutorial? A checklist! – which is what you get for free if you register with an account on the Webpage FX website. A book like this teaches you all there is to know and do about on-page optimization. Your reliance on tools for this task only works in the post-publishing phase, so it’s best to start off with all your on-page factors ticked off.
  • On-Page SEO for 2016 – If you’ve read even a small part of the resources in this list, you already know that SEO is not an exact science. It evolves and changes from year to year, even more often than that – either because Google keeps updating its search engine’s algorithms, or simply because some SEO tactics lose their value when they become overused. So while many things stay the same, others might be altogether changed. But with this really nice article which details how to do on-page SEO for 2016, you’ve got your back covered.
  • Step-by-Step Guide for On-Page SEO Management – Here you’ll find another guide for on-page SEO, this time from HubSpot, a brand that’s renowned in the digital space for their top-notch content. While this isn’t one of their most in-depth articles, I wanted to add it because it’s got a very nice and useful template which you can use when you’re trying to tweak on-page across your sites. As such, it’s very useful for those looking to manage several websites and need to keep track of the improvements they apply.
  • SEOlium On-page Optimization Guide – I love it when fundamental notions are explained in unambiguous and simple language, aided by visuals. That’s why I wanted to include this guide from SEOlium, which manages to explain very clearly and skillfully what one needs to know and do for effective on-page optimization. If you’re a SEO novice, or are training one, you might want to share this resource with them.

8. Glossaries/Dictionaries

As you learn SEO, you will be confronted with lots of new terms and concepts that can be difficult to grasp at first (especially if you come from a totally unrelated education background). Thus, having a few resources that focus solely on explaining those terms to you will come in very handy and streamline your learning process.

Both beginners and experts need to rely on tools in order to streamline their work. There’s no doubt about it: to perform good SEO, you need to rely on data – lots of data. But aggregating, sorting and analyzing all that information would take forever without the right tools to bring it all together.

From a rookie point-of-view, using keyword or on-page tools will help you get firsthand experience on how to SEO. Only by getting practical are you able to understand the theoretical, so here are some tools that will definitely set you on the right track. The Internet is filled with them, but it will be your own experience and methods of work that allow you to decide which ones will be more useful to you.

  • Google Analytics – Search engine optimizers come in all shapes and sizes; you could be an expert, hired by the largest companies in the world and provided with all the resources and budgets you could wish for, or you could be a freelance blogger looking to increase visibility on your website. Whichever one you are, there is no doubt you will find good use in utilizing the free tools Google offers, and Analytics is definitely one of them. Here is an articles helping you understand Analytics and coaching you on how to use it to maximum potential. This Google Analytics Guide goes pretty in depth with the applications of the tool, where and how it gets its data, and how it can be useful for you. I also want to include this article on Understanding Google Analytics by Ian Cleary, since it features some simple explanations of the categories found in G.A.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – This useful collection of tools helps webmasters and SEOs with more practical aspects of optimization, such as running audits of your website, alerting you whether parts of the website are not properly indexed, and much more. Professional optimizers learn to work closely with GWT in order to track the status of their website, and so should you; all that can be overwhelming at first, since this toolkit provides you with a lot of options and operations. For a better understanding of the tool, take this course from Google on Webmaster Tools Help, and read this SEO Guide for Webmaster Tools from Search Engine Land.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools – As you may have gathered, this aggregate of tools is Bing’s own version of GWT; that is, it’s their main tool for those optimizing websites for Bing’s search engine, and it offers support with aspects such as crawling and indexing, submitting sitemaps, checking for metrics like impressions and clicks, CTR and traffic (data here is gathered from Yahoo! as well, not just Bing). For some in-depth understanding of the tool, read the Bing Webmaster Guidelines, this Getting Started Checklist, and this thorough Overview article written by Simon Heseltine.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Let’s get you started with the keyword research basics. If you’ll be optimizing for Google’s search engine, this should be one of your most important resources for finding keyword ideas and getting a sense of how competitive they are.
  • Google Trends – In time, you will learn that getting unique keyword ideas can prove tricky if you only use one or two tools. For instance, Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is the most used tool, so you will be competing with everyone else for the same keywords, not to mention it only produces very related terms. However, you can expand your list and get new suggestions by using Google Trends. This tool has a lot of potential for those looking to write viral content. Pay attention to Google Correlate as well, which can give you suggestions on what else people look for in relation to your keywords.
  • Übersuggest – This tool offers multiple interesting keyword suggestions through a simple, yet highly effective method: it takes your keyword, matches it with all the letters of the alphabet and retrieves suggestions from Google for all combinations., The list is neatly organized and displayed, so you can choose only what is most relevant to you. Example: if your keyword is “coffee”, Ubersuggest starts looking for coffee + a, coffee + b, and so on; it then brings up combinations like [coffee allergy] or [coffee beans]. After you’ve selected a relevant list, you can go back to GKP and verify search volume and competition.
  • Keywordtool.io – In many ways similar to Ubersuggest, this keyword tool has the extra value of adding alphabet letters at the front of your selected keyword as well, so it searches for a + coffee, b + coffee, etc. More than that, it combines your keyword with 0-10 numbers as well, so your list is nicely completed. It is ideal for getting into long tail keywords and expanding your keyword groups.
  • Soovle – This nifty tool is also quite smart when it comes to expanding a list of keyword seeds or coming up with unusual suggestions you may not have found otherwise. It gathers keywords from sources like Google search, Bing, Yahoo!, Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia and so on.
  • SEOBook Keyword Tool – Register with an account, and you’ll gain access to the free version of SEOBook’s keyword tool. On the same page, below the tool, you find a helpful article on how to make the most of it.
  • PageSpeed Insights – Another one of the many free tools from Google, this one helps webmasters check how fast their pages load. This is important because anything over a second usually leads to a high bounce rate and decreases quality of UX.
  • Screaming Frog – From time to time, it’s a good idea to perform a crawl test of your website and check whether search engines have properly indexed your website. Perhaps you would like certain parts of your website to remain non-indexed (see uses for robots.txt and how to use a robots.txt file), in which case you have to get technical.
  • Open Site Explorer – This is a powerful, versatile tool from Moz that can be used in a limited, free version as well. It allows you to analyze the authority of a page, page link and social metrics, the number of inbound links, linking domains, anchor text, and more. With a paid account, you get access to even more tools, like the On-Page Grader, which points out exactly the good and the bad of your on-page factors.
  • SEORCH – Similar to Moz’s on page grader, this free tool shows you what’s good about your on-page optimization, what’s bad, and what’s missing.
  • Portent’s Content Idea Generator – It would be unfair to say that this tool is useful to beginners only. Sure, as a rookie you may rely on it more often, but even the most experienced authors run out of ideas from time to time. This clever tool from Portent is not just an idea generator, but great at suggesting catchy, clickable titles as well. Each part of the title is explained, so you learn various tactics of creating attractive headlines. Try it now, just for fun!
  • Headline Analyzer – Writing good, luring titles is a key element to getting people to read your content. This tool from Coschedule analyzes your title in terms of word balance and grammar, gives you character and word count, shows you how the title will appear in SERPs or e-mail newsletters, and provides insightful pointers on how to improve.
  • SEO Review Tools – Another group of useful tools that aid your SEO efforts. You can check the authority of your or your competitor’s domains, check for page authority, backlinks, internal links, search for keywords, verify redirects, and check social metrics for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and many, many more.
  • GoogleGuide – This is not actually a tool, nor is it an official Google product. However, it is an extremely resourceful website teaching search nerds how to get the most out of search, how to refine and filter searches, how to perform advanced searches, instructing you on everything you need to know about Google search operators and in which situations they are useful.
  • Insanely Large List of SEO Tools – It takes real experience and work to actually gather such a comprehensive list of SEO gizmos. David Portney’s list includes tools for every step of SEO you could think of, and then some. Keep this in your toolbar as a permanent go-to in your learning process, but for your consequent hire jobs as well!
  • Microsoft SEO Toolkit – This SEO toolkit from Microsoft enables you to manage various aspects of your site and make sure it’s well optimized for the search engines. All you have to do is download and install it, then take advantage of its capabilities for pointing out search engine and UX optimization opportunities, detailed reporting of page load time and resource usage, and the very useful error identification of broken or invalid links, duplicate content, and more. 
  • Wattspeed – Shamelessly self-promotional, but objectively worthy of being on this list, the Wattspeed plugin for Chrome created by our devs at Advanced Web Ranking, should be part of your free toolkit whether you’re an SEO, or a web developer. The plugin allows you to verify web pages for keywords, see if it’s mobile-friendly, check the meta description, and get a bit techier with pagespeed insights, HTML5 errors, social shares, mixed content, and more. It’s definitely useful if you want a quick glance over your website or your competitors.
  • Mobile Friendly Test – Since I first put together this SEO resources list almost two years ago, the digital world has turned severely mobile. Nowadays it’s almost essential for a large majority of online businesses, or businesses that rely on the online as well, to have a mobile-friendly site, or even a special mobile dedicated site. As usual, Google’s test tools are very useful. When it comes to mobile, you either are, or you aren’t. And this tool shows you what needs to change in case you’re not.
  • Free Keyword Tool from Wordtracker – As you may already know, Wordtracker specialize in creating highly performing keyword research tools. But they also offer a free version of their keyword tools. Albeit limited, if you’re a beginner and only starting to make keyword lists for your site to create content and pages, you may find this tool very useful. It gives you nicely related terms with their respective volumes, assigns a value to the level of competition for each term, and adds a very nice and useful KEI metric – the highest potential keywords in your market. You only get 10 related search terms at a time, but for some of you, it might be just perfect in the beginning, especially if you combine it with other free tools.
  • Keyword Discovery – This is another nifty little tool that allows you to find search terms for your site. What I find nice about it is that it somehow manages to give you, as you’ll find described on the site, both generic and long-tail keyword, that are somehow gathered from some 200 search engines from all over the world. In its free version, the Keyword Discovery tools offers hundreds of search terms, and search trends for the last 12 months. If you get the paid version, you’ll get up to 10,000 search terms per query, and a complete 12-month trend history.
  • Wordstream Free Keyword Tools – For beginner purposes, or for someone who’s managing a single site, free keyword tools can still make a difference. That’s why I definitely wanted to add Wordstream’s list of free keyword tools, starting with the generic tool that relies on a constantly updated database of over a trillion unique search queries. Then, you can keep refining your lists by taking your terms through the keyword niche finder, the keyword grouping tool, or the negative keyword tool. While this might mean a little bit more work from you than would be required with a paid tool, in the end, you’re left with a highly valuable keyword list. I also like the adult filter, and the “nichefy keyword results” filter. Pretty nifty, but make no mistake – you’ve got a limited number of uses per day, so use them wisely! You get 10 tries on your first day, and just one per day from then on.

10. Forums for Discussion

One of the best ways to learn SEO is by talking with others in the industry. This is easily accomplished by becoming an active member in forums, but you can also be a simple observer and check to see what others are discussing.

If you have questions the Internet doesn’t provide answers for, logging into niche-specific forums can be a great idea and source of information. As you become more knowledgeable in SEO, you might also like to check forums to get ideas for posts, keep in touch with important bloggers and content writers, and even use these platforms to promote your own work (especially when it solves others’ problems).

Here are a few essential forums and communities you should check out. For more resources, type in “SEO + forums” in your favorite search engine and start sifting!

11. Ongoing Resources

One of the ongoing tasks of an SEO is to be constantly aware of the changes, updates and events that occur in our field. In order to do that, you need to know what the most authoritative websites and blogs are.

There are loads of information out there, but for starters you should focus on the safest resources, those that give out relevant news and provide you with interesting articles on innovative and selective SEO techniques. What you find below is your basis:

12. Essential Readings

There are a lot of books on search engine optimization and marketing that can help you on your quest to becoming a SEO Jedi. Luckily, some of them are free, so you have access to a vast deposit of knowledge that can complete your training. Not all of them target SEO for beginners, which is why I’ve listed them at the end; they will be part of your continuous learning process and help you expand your knowledge.

Books in PDF

eBooks for FREE

  • BIGcommerce SEO Bible – Written by the Spring Merchant team, this bible was published in 2012; it focuses on paid search SEO and how to run a good campaign ad that attracts conversions and increases sales. Thus, if you’re interested in optimizing an online store, or online marketing strategies that get people to buy products or services online, this is a great resource introducing you to the fundamentals of such practices.
  • The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing – By now, you will have probably gathered that the basis of any successful SEO campaign is very good, informative content. Even an ad-based campaign is founded on excellent ad copy and precise keyword selection. In this advanced guide by Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragon, you will learn the step-by-step process of creating a content marketing campaign, starting with creating target personas, goals, branding, keyword research, setting up a schedule for writing and publishing content, promoting that content, measuring your results, and even tips on never running out of ideas.
  • SEO – From Beginner to Boffin – Brian Bentley has a very direct, pragmatic and technical approach to SEO, perhaps thanks to his scientific education background. His eBook approaches SEO as a science, looks down on Google, and practically convinces you that you can be successful. It provides you with theory and pragmatic approaches, gives you cues on technical aspects of SEO, and even gets into detail about the more popular social media platforms.
  • SEO Training eBook – Another search engine optimization book for beginners, written by Shaun Anderson, for which you will need to subscribe to get access. The Hobo Guide to SEO for Beginners is exactly what most of you need to get started in this field, providing you with theory, tips and tactics on how to practice and master search engine optimization. Investing in SEO – Although this article is not related to taking your first steps in search engine optimization, I wanted to introduce it anyway because it throws light on the practical aspects of working in, and with SEO. In it, Jeff Sauer discusses how PPC is commonly favored in detriment to SEO simply because it delivers immediate results, and success (or lack thereof) can be easily measured. As a future optimizer, you may have to deal with customers and educate them on how your work brings improvements. Sauer’s article on Proving SEO Value is somewhat related, and worth a read.
  • 50 Shades of Digital Marketing – Although this might only interest some of you – and later on in your education -, it’s nice to know the resource is there. Francesca James and Hannah Durham tackle the topic in depth, and provide readers with theory and actionable steps that would assist any digital marketer.
  • BIGcommerce SEO Bible – Written by the Spring Merchant team, this bible was published in 2012; it focuses on paid search SEO and how to run a good campaign ad that attracts conversions and increases sales. Thus, if you’re interested in optimizing an online store, or online marketing strategies that get people to buy products or services online, this is a great resource introducing you to the fundamentals of such practices.
  • The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing – By now, you will have probably gathered that the basis of any successful SEO campaign is very good, informative content. Even an ad-based campaign is founded on excellent ad copy and precise keyword selection. In this advanced guide by Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragon, you will learn the step-by-step process of creating a content marketing campaign, starting with creating target personas, goals, branding, keyword research, setting up a schedule for writing and publishing content, promoting that content, measuring your results, and even tips on never running out of ideas.
  • SEO – From Beginner to Boffin – Brian Bentley has a very direct, pragmatic and technical approach to SEO, perhaps thanks to his scientific education background. His eBook approaches SEO as a science, looks down on Google, and practically convinces you that you can be successful. It provides you with theory and pragmatic approaches, gives you cues on technical aspects of SEO, and even gets into detail about the more popular social media platforms.
  • SEO Training eBook – Another search engine optimization book for beginners, written by Shaun Anderson, for which you will need to subscribe to get access. The Hobo Guide to SEO for Beginners is exactly what most of you need to get started in this field, providing you with theory, tips and tactics on how to practice and master search engine optimization.
  • Investing in SEO – Although this article is not related to taking your first steps in search engine optimization, I wanted to introduce it anyway because it throws light on the practical aspects of working in, and with SEO. In it, Jeff Sauer discusses how PPC is commonly favored in detriment to SEO simply because it delivers immediate results, and success (or lack thereof) can be easily measured. As a future optimizer, you may have to deal with customers and educate them on how your work brings improvements. Sauer’s article on Proving SEO Value is somewhat related, and worth a read.
  • Conversation Marketing eBook – When you start feeling like optimization, keyword research and link building just aren’t doing enough for you anymore, you might like to delve into this free eBook and learn more about how to get the most out of Analytics, social media, and internet marketing in general. Here is another Fat Free Guide to Google Analytics, written by Ian Lurie, which adds to the conversation, so to speak. It is a useful guide for beginners and advanced SEOs alike, since it takes you from setting up Analytics, to tracking your goals and working for actual results.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing is the new way to do it. If you want the right kind of attention for your blog, website, product, service or what-have-you, then you need to attract them with the right kind of offer. You need to add value to their online experience, and this book tells you how to do it. SEO is a fragment of inbound marketing, so make sure you understand the whole picture of what you’re dealing with.
  • Marketing Guides – When you’re ready to learn more about marketing, check out these three guides written by Jayson DeMers: The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online, The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing, and The Definitive Guide to Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm. Lower on the page, you fill find more chapters on a variety of marketing-related topics, which you can download individually as per your particular interest or need.
  • How to Convince Your Boss to do SEO – One of the more practical aspects of doing SEO implies convincing bosses or clients that they need SEO. That’s not saying you need to become a salesperson, but that you have to know how to educate others on the importance of online marketing and all that it entails. This guide by Nicole Kohler explains how.
  • The Link Building Book – Paddy Moogan wrote one of the best guides to link building, but in this new book, he takes it to a whole new level. When you’re done reading hundreds of articles with short lists of link building techniques, you’ll probably want to turn to something more serious, and this book is it. You get all the resources you need in one place, and learn tactics that are proven and most likely successful for anyone who tries them.

13. Mobile SEO

Since I first wrote this SEO resources list, the world has gone mobile – very, very mobile. In order to survive the new digital landscape, stay ahead of competitors, and be where your audience is, you need to have a mobile-friendly, or mobile-dedicated website. So I’ve added a few resources that will introduce you to the topic. If you’re a beginner reaching this list, you may get the advantage of starting a website with mobile in mind, which will save you a lot of trouble, time, and money down the road.

14. Website Performance

You can’t be an SEO and not care about website performance. While this aspect may not fall under your direct responsibilities, it is your duty to know at least the fundamentals of website performance, so you know what to demand of your webmaster or your web developer.

15. SEO/ Digital Conferences

SEO and digital conferences may not fall under the area of interest for beginners, but if you’re looking to advance and truly make a career out of it, it should help knowing which the best events are. From an attendee point of view, SEO conferences are a great place to take the pulse of the industry, find out the latest, most useful bits of information, and networking. As a speaker, you build your brand, position yourself as an authority in the industry, and promote your services.

Conclusion

That’s all, folks!

Well actually, that’s not it at all. As you become more informed and experienced, and begin to trust your own judgement, you will be able to find more and more suitable learning resources. However, by the time you’re finished reading what I’ve provided in this list, you should be capable of putting to practice a lot of things, and thus call yourself a true SEO.

Did you find these resources useful? Is there anything else you would like to have seen added, or is there any other good resource I missed? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Good luck, and happy learning!

Editor's Note: This post has been updated for 2017. New resources and chapters have been added to keep the post relevant for the present and future.

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