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.


Teaching yourself SEO can be a challenging process, but it isn’t impossible.

SEO changes every day, so there’s no time like the present to get started learning!

This post will focus on how and where you can learn the most in-demand SEO skills.

On-Site Optimization

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:

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:

Google AdWords

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.

Bing 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:

Local SEO: Citation Building & Clean-up

Keep in mind that mobile search is local search. Currently, 50 percent of mobile searches have local intent. That stat could easily go higher.


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:

Link Building

As Google’s Penguin Algorithm and RankBrain get smarter, my expectation is that “real” editorially given and thematically related links will become even more valuable.

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:

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:

Reputation Management

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:

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 Ads

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

Twitter Ads

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

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.

Video Marketing

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:

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 Takeaway

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:

Image Credits
Featured Image: Lalmch / Pixabay
Screenshot taken by Chuck Price, February 2018