One of the most popular questions that I see being asked in Facebook SEO groups and on Quora is this: “What is the best course for learning SEO?”
With so many “gurus” promising to make you an “SEO rockstar,” it’s easy to understand the confusion.
The good news is this: anyone can learn to become an SEO expert by studying online courses that are available for free.
In this post, I’ll be focusing on how and where to learn the most in-demand SEO skills.
It’s hard to imagine a better source for on-site optimization tips than Google. They have produced a 32-page guide covering SEO best practices.
By implementing these recommendations, any site will be easier to crawl, index, and be understood by search engines.
Don’t have time to read 32 pages?
You’re in luck, as HubSpot has created a two-page, tl;dr version: The 9 Step On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide.
Website Design & Development
To be considered an expert in SEO, you will need, at the minimum, a basic understanding of HTML and the components of a web page.
If your aim is to specialize in technical or forensic SEO, you will need a deeper understanding.
My recommendation for learning web design is to review the classes offered at Alison. These courses are free to study, but if you want a certificate, you will incur a fee.
Classes that would benefit a budding SEO include:
- Web Page Development: Learn the basic languages needed to create and style webpages such as HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, and Adobe Dreamweaver. Taught in a non-technical and step-by-step manner.
- Web Page Design Using HTML5 and CSS3: Learn how to use HTML5 elements and CSS3 style sheets for responsive web design.
Local SEO & Google My Business Optimization
The first step in developing a killer local SEO strategy is to claim, verify, and optimize the Google My Business (GMB) listing.
This will increase your chance of appearing in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and regular organic SERPs.
Learn How To Optimize Your Google My Business Page is a free course offered by Udemy on how to create and optimize a GMB Page. Additionally, it teaches how to get reviews and covers the benefits derived from a well-optimized profile.
Once you have optimized your GMB page, its time to learn Beginner Local SEO. This Udemy course is designed to teach a beginner the basics of local SEO and equip the student with a strong foundational knowledge of how to be successful in local search.
Thanks to smartphones, the amount of organic real estate available at the top of the SERPs is a fraction of what it once was.
As a result, many businesses have felt the need to introduce PPC as an integral component of an online marketing plan.
If you aren’t doing PPC today, there is a good chance that you may need to start, sometime soon. Some good options for learning include:
It should come as no surprise the best AdWords tutorials are produced by Google. This is their profit center. They want as many people to know and understand the product as possible.
The AdWords Fundamentals Study Guide is an online guide designed for those intending to get AdWords certified, but it is also useful to anyone interested in learning AdWords basics. If you intend to offer PPC as a service, I strongly encourage you to get certified through the Academy for Ads.
Some argue that Bing Ads Beat Google AdWords. Regardless, Bing is certainly worth looking into.
Like Google, Bing has developed a comprehensive training program with a pathway to become a Bing Ads Accredited Professional
Content Creation & Optimization
Content is one of three confirmed Google ranking factors. Having a top-notch content marketing program is not a luxury, but a necessity to ensure any measure of organic success.
If you are looking to hone your content marketing skills, check out:
- The Strategy of Content Marketing: In this course, you will learn how to develop, organize and implement a content marketing strategy. You will also be taught how to analyze and measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification: This course is designed to teach students how to implement scalable processes for creating and promoting content that will build traffic and convert leads.
Local SEO: Citation Building & Clean-up
Local SEO is a unique. The right profiles, combined with good citations and consistent NAP, is what lays the foundation for appearing in the Google local pack.
If you aren’t sure what any of that means or you want to learn more about local SEO, you should investigate:
- The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO Ranking: The premise of the guide is “If you want to be found, you need to be visible” and it takes you through the steps necessary to accomplish just that.
- Where to get Citations: Is a guide for anyone who wants to learn how to build and earn citations, which are the lifeblood of local search.
- How to Do a Local SEO Audit in 30 Minutes: Like all things SEO, local can be done the wrong way creating an anchor on your site rather than providing lift. This audit will help you analyze your situation and determine if you need a cleanup.
The kinds of links that I’m talking about meet Google webmaster guidelines. They have nothing in common with links “built” using various link schemes.
If you want to learn about link building the right way, read:
- Illustrated Guide to Link Building (eBook): This comprehensive guide from Search Engine Journal will illustrate why, when, and how you should execute each link building technique to gain actual and desirable results.
- SEO Link Building Basics: This Udemy course offers an introduction to link building, focusing on fundamentals and link prospecting.
- The Noob Friendly Guide to LinkBuilding: Overwhelmed by link building? Not sure where to begin? This guide not only discusses theory, but teaches actionable, link building skills.
Social Media (Organic)
My personal view of organic social media marketing aligns with Avinash Kaushik. The best approach is to Stop All Organic Social Media Activity, immediately.
That said, I wouldn’t be fulfilling the mission of this article if I didn’t point you towards some resources that take a much different view, like:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Strategy: This SEJ guide is chock full of best practices and actionable recommendations.
- What is Social: In this online course, students learn about the goals, structure, and deliverables of social marketing.
- The Power of Social Media.
In the age of the web there is no currency more valuable than one’s reputation. A series of bad reviews can lead to the demise of a business.
Knowing how to manage your online image is paramount. The best time to manage your reputation is before you have a problem:
- Me: Managing your Digital Self: This course teaches how to leverage digital technologies to benefit students both personally and professionally
- Introduction to Personal Branding: In this course, students learn how to create a personal brand, but more importantly, discover what it means to maintain and inhabit that brand.
- Reputation Management in a Digital World: This course teaches students how to develop, manage and protect an one’s online reputation through social media, including Twitter and Facebook.
Social Media (Paid)
Unless your name is Kardashian, there’s a strong probability that the only way to achieve any meaningful reach on social media is to pay. And that’s OK – assuming you track your spend and manage the ROI. Learn how by studying the following:
Facebook has taken a page from the Google playbook and developed their own elearning and certification programs. If you follow the Facebook Blueprint, you’ll have all the tools you need to be successful there.
Ads on Instagram
Although not as robust as parent company Facebook, Instagram has its own set of tutorials designed to get you started
Thanks to the 45th president of the United States, Twitter is mentioned every day in nearly every newscast and has never enjoyed more visibility.
If you want to leverage some of that for yourself, check out The Field Guide to Twitter Advertising: How to Create & Launch Campaigns to learn how to create and launch a successful Twitter campaign.
Inbound marketing aka “permission marketing” includes social media, blogging, and paid advertisements.
This “new media” presents an opportunity for a more targeted form of advertising.
Inbound marketing is able to target the right people by getting their consent before advertising to them.
- Inbound Marketing Course & Certification (HubSpot): This course is one of the few that offers free certification. It covers the fundamentals of inbound marketing, SEO, landing pages, blogging, conversions, lead nurturing and even email marketing.
- Diploma in E-Business: This course promises to teach students what is involved in online marketing and how to implement a successful digital marketing strategy
Everyone knows that video is popular, but did you know that people now watch 1 billion hours of YouTube per day? If your content marketing efforts are limited to text and images, it’s time you take a deep dive into:
- Video Marketing Primer: Discover what video marketing is all about. Learn the basic strategies necessary to develop an online video campaign.
- YouTube Marketing: This guide details the steps for creating, promoting, and optimizing video content.
Google Penalty Recovery
The best advice on Google penalty recovery can be found right here at Search Engine Journal. If you’re suffering from a Google manual action, read:
- The Complete List of Google Penalties & How to Recover: There’s a lot of misinformation FUD surrounding Google penalties. The most common one is mistaking an algorithm for a penalty. This post provides actionable recommendations for recovering from a Google penalty.
Digital marketing is more complex than ever before. The only way to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape is to make it a point to keep on learning. If you take the time to study and apply what you learn, you truly can become an SEO expert.
More SEO Guides & Resources:
- SEO 101: Learn the Basics of Search Engine Optimization
- A Complete Guide to Getting Started in SEO
- The 11 Best SEO Books You Should Read