12 Best Free Online Resources for Learning SEO

It’s easy to forget sometimes, when you hang around the cool SEO blogs, that there are those of us who are just starting out – learning for the first time the ways your website code and inbound links effect the likelihood that your pages will rank.

Like most of us I stumbled into SEO. I was working at a web development company, and the president asked me to look into this "SEO stuff."

It’s been a long and exciting (though sometimes painful) learning experience since then.

One of the most important things I learned: don’t believe everything you read.

But there are a few resources I’ve found over the years to be deep wells of actionable knowledge.

The 12 resources below are, I feel, the best places to learn about SEO.

1. SEOmoz

This was one of the first websites I frequented when I started learning SEO. The open spirit of the community combined with the consistent publication of thorough educational content makes this one of the first places I send those looking to learn more about SEO.

To get the real meat and potatoes you need a PRO Membership, but via the blog and the free SEM guides there is a ton of free information for most SEO’s, beginner or otherwise.

2. Webmaster World

Most SEO bloggers are guilty of writing too much theory and too little in the way of concrete examples. As a result we’re often left thinking, "sounds good, but how do I know this really works?"

Webmaster World is one of the oldest and most trusted forums on topics related to web development and marketing online as a whole. These are real webmasters sharing their thoughts and issues in an environment conducive to open discussion. As a result the threads often involve specific issues, a variety of voices and, most importantly, no-holds-barred discussion of the issue at hand.

Of course, you have to subscribe to Webmaster World to participate – but that’s not free.

Two other forums worth checking out:

3. SEO by the Sea

Bill Slawski’s blog is the #1 place to learn about search engine patents. Period.

Kudos to Bill for being <strikethrough>insane</strikethrough> determined enough to read through every search engine patent he can get his hands on and then translate them for the rest of us.

Keeping up with patented search technology helps you keep abreast of what search engines are capable of – and where they may be going in the near future.

4. SEO Book

Aaron Wall is widely considered one of the true papa’s of search. He’s been at it a long time.

Aaron is one of the few bloggers online whose posts I never miss. Not only does he share actionable insights on SEO, but Aaron’s writing often highlights the transcendental issues that link SEO to other aspects of the online world – and understanding the big picture is crucial to surviving online competition.

5. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Search Engine

This the legendary paper submitted by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin during their Ph D work at Stanford. It is a blueprint of sorts of the original working model for Google.

While in its current form Google in many ways dwarfs the original concept, the original Google concept was truly an engineering work of art – and reading the paper above will take you a long way in understanding the processes that are at the core of the search engines we know today.

6. Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land was founded by Danny Sullivan who is perhaps the most recognized face and name in SEO. Danny is frequently on the cusp of the latest developments in search – with unprecedented contacts at the search engines and a huge network of experienced SEO’s and developers.

There is a constant stream of relevant and well-written posts at from some of the best SEO’s in the business. Subscribing to this one is a no-brainer.

7. Google’s SEO Guidelines

While I wouldn’t tell anyone to do "whatever Google says" to do to get your website to rank, it’s important to know what Google’s public position is on a variety of tactics/techniques you might employ.

8. Search Engine Guide

This self-billed "small business guide to search marketing" is not just for small businesses – the posts here are written by a community of experienced SEO’s who have experience getting websites to rank when there isn’t a wealth of resources at your disposal.

9. Search Engine Journal

The blog you’re reading now has been around for some time. Loren Baker, who started it, is one of those other papa’s of SEO.

Maybe I don’t need to tell you about this one since you’re already reading it – but in case you were thinking you need to look elsewhere, you’ve got years worth of tremendously helpful blog posts right here.

10. SEO Black Hat

There’s power in the dark side.

QuadsZilla doesn’t mince words when it comes to where he stands on the "White Hat vs Black Hat" issue. He’s black hat all the way – and proud.

I don’t necessarily condone some of the tactics black hat SEO’s employ to boost their rankings, but there is plenty to learn about automation and how ranking algorithms can be exploited. Even if you plan to be an angel it’s worth knowing what the dark side is up to.

11. Sphinn

This website was also started by Danny Sullivan. It’s essentially a social bookmarking website dedicated to Search Engine Marketing (with some laterally-related topics).

Sphinn is a great place to go when you’re looking to sift through the SEO blogosphere and find those posts that are picking up steam (as well as some classics that are worth going back to read).

12. SEO Fast Start

This eBook from Dan Thies, a veteran of SEO, has been around for quite a few years now. That doesn’t mean it’s outdated – Dan updates every edition with the latest in search engine updates and tactics. Dan’s writing style is straightforward, and he offers plenty of great SEO advice for beginners as well as some tips seasoned folks might not have thought of (or just need a refresher on).

Bonus. Your experience.

The best way to learn SEO is through hands-on experience and experimentation. There are a lot of smart people out there sharing killer content, but the best education you can get comes from seeing for yourself. Get your feet wet.

This guest post written by Mike Tekula of Unstuck Digital – an Internet Marketing agency that provides SEO Consulting and other custom-tailored services.

8c483b04a324ef7621b7418c51ff177f 64 12 Best Free Online Resources for Learning SEO
Mike Tekula helps small businesses leverage the web, and search engines, to grow.

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13 thoughts on “12 Best Free Online Resources for Learning SEO

  1. its a very comprehensive list of resources. And this list truly can serve the beginners to kick start with their SEO activities. Great job !!

  2. Thanks Mike for this fabulous post with an amazing wealth on knowledge! It’s often rough for those of us who are still in business infancy to know who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t. This information is invaluable. Thanks!

  3. Nice list indeed. You can also consider including this one: free and useful resources for developers even.


  4. Thank you very much for the list, man. You’ve really collected the best resources. The ones suggested in comments are also worth-considering. But the greatest point in the whole story is the bonus… the hands-on experience. You’re absolutely right. Someone intellligent has said, “University can give you the knowledge of Aristotle, but can’t make you Aristotle.” It’s your hardwork and experience that teaches you how to use your knowledge for the best outcome.
    Thanks again!

  5. Thanks for writing this article. These resources are great. As there are many resources on the web I’ve tried to include as many as possible here. this is current as of this year and I will try to keep it as current as possible. Many of the blogs listed here are also included in this list.