Editor’s note: This guide was updated in September of 2016 to offer the most up to date resources.
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. Moz (previously 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. This beginner’s guide is a great place to start.
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.
Another forum worth checking out is Cre8asite.
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
insane 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 shortly.
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.
The blog you’re reading now has been around for some time. Loren Baker, who started it, is one of those other papas 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, we’ve got years worth of tremendously helpful blog posts right here.
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.
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 SearchEngineLand.com from some of the best SEOs in the business. Subscribing to this one is a no-brainer.
Started by Danny Sullivan, Marketing Land is great for keeping up with all the top online marketing news. They also offer tons of daily articles and how-to guides on a wide variety of internet marketing topics. This is a great place to get all your news, as they bring you all the top stories of the day.
9. SEM Post
Launched in 2014 by Jennifer Slegg, the SEM Post provides news and insights about the digital marketing field. Jennifer is a well-known industry expert, writer, and speaker. The site aims to do more than just report on the news, but to dig into how it will affect your campaigns.
Run by Barry Swartz, News Editor at Search Engine Land, is the head of this new source. Their goal is “to provide a single source for the reader to visit to locate the most interesting threads covered at the SEM forums.” SERoundtable is a fantastic resource to stay up to date on changes in the industry.
11. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide
This is a detailed guide straight from Google about SEO. In these 30 pagse, you will learn what Google looks for and how to do basic SEO, including writing metas, best practices when choosing a URL, and much, much more.
12. 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.
In addition to learning, you also need to track your results. This list of free and paid SEO tools is chock full of tools that can help you test all the new strategies you learn!