Adrianna graduated from Texas A&M (Gig 'em!) and spends her time optimizing websites for first-page success. When she's not at the office, she's touring art and history museums, writing for leisure, and taking far too many photos of her cat.
For someone new to the topic, learning SEO can be quite similar to a jigsaw amateur attempting to complete a 1000-piece puzzle. You’re eager to get started, so you open the box with glee, untie the bag with zeal, and scatter the tiny pieces onto the table with a bit more enthusiasm than needed. But when you get your first look at the Mountain of 1000 Pieces (not 100, not 974, but exactly 1000; they weren’t joking), you stare in bewilderment while questioning why you bought this monstrosity in the first place. And then you ask yourself: Where do I even begin?
We’ll tell you: Start with the edges.As opposed to just plucking random pieces from The Mountain and hoping for the best, dig through and set aside a pile just for edges. When separated, follow the image on the box as a guide for putting together the puzzle’s border. Once you’ve got the basics down, then you can sort through the rest of the pieces, categorize them, and use the border as the foundation for assembling the rest of the puzzle.
The best way to learn SEO is to follow a logical process. We’d strongly advise against plucking a random topic from the gargantuan mountain that is SEO and trying to make them fit where they don’t belong. (Unless you’re taking that as a challenge, then go right ahead. You do you.) SEO includes on-page elements, off-page elements, and technical elements, all of which have sub topics, sub-sub topics, and sub-sub-sub topics. Quite clearly a solid, basic foundation of the elements is necessary before you’ll be able to truly understand and analyze higher-level concepts.
Alright, enough with the analogy. What are some actual, beneficial resources beginners can use to start learning about SEO? Well, whether you’re tech savvy, traditionally minded, or a visual learner, we’ve got you covered.
FOR THE TECH SAVVY
a.k.a. People Who Like to Use Electronics to Read Things
1. The Beginner's Guide to SEO
It’s only appropriate to start this beginner’s-guide-to-SEO list with a resource actually titled The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. This virtual handbook created by Moz (respected industry experts) covers the very foundations of SEO: what it is, why you need it, and how it can change your life. Well, your website’s life. 10 chapters long, it’s a brief yet comprehensive introduction to this complicated industry.
2. SEO Link Building Tactics
An important part of SEO is the online reputation of your website. Domain authority and trustworthiness play a significant part in ranking, so learning strategies to boost these elements are crucial. Point Blank SEO, a link-building blog, provides beneficial resources as well as a master list of white-hat (Google approved) link-building tactics ranging from basic to expert that will improve your website’s domain authority (and you don’t even have to pay to read it).
3. Google Algorithm Change History
It’s no secret that Google likes to keep us on our toes, and when you’re a beginner, it may seem intimidating because you never know when they’re going to do something unexpected (see: Penguin). Moz’s comprehensive list of confirmed and unconfirmed algorithm updates is a fantastic resource to keep on hand, not only to keep track of changes but also to review previous updates and analyze the effects they had on search engines. After all, Google sets the rules, so you should understand them before you start to play the game.
For the Traditionally Minded
a.k.a. People Who Like to Learn Things in Books
1. SEO Like I'm 5
Is this your first time hearing about SEO? Are you not even sure what SEO actually means? Then start here. Straight-to-the-point language paired with helpful images makes SEO Like I’m 5 easy (and entertaining) to read. Featuring topics from choosing the right keyword to capitalizing on your website’s online presence, it’s the perfect place to start piecing together your foundation.
2. The Art of SEO
Do you like a challenge? Then pick up a copy of The Art of SEO, a book perfect for someone who knows about SEO but doesn’t know about SEO. This 952-page behemoth covers everything, including understanding search engines, SEO strategy implementation, and website development to name a few. While it may sound daunting (it is the closest comparison on the list to the 1000-piece puzzle I mentioned earlier), but the authors break down each idea into manageable chunks that are easy to follow.
3. Everybody Writes
Content is King. If your website doesn’t offer relevant, valuable content to the user, the authority and ranking you’ve been working so hard to build will suffer. Everybody Writes is a great tool for learning how to write content that makes users actually do what you want them to do (hint: convert). You don’t need superlative grammar skills, a fancy English degree, or an endless imagination to write effective web copy. Ann Handley can show you how.
FOR THE VISUAL LEARNERS
a.k.a. People Who Like to See Things to Learn
1. Perfect On-Page SEO
Infographics are an awesome resource for quickly learning and understanding what may otherwise be a complex topic. BacklinkO’s diagram dissects a webpage and identifies the on-page SEO components that make a website successful in both the users’ eyes and the crawlers’ eyes (if they had eyes, that is).
2. Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors
For those of you who like to get a bit scientific (and SEO is practically a science: hypothesizing and experimenting are the daily norm), here’s a genius periodic table developed by Search Engine Land, detailing a summary of the major on- and off- page factors search engines analyze. For each element listed, they pose a question you can ask yourself when evaluating the performance of your own website (much more useful than the periodic table you were forced to memorize in high school).
3. Ranking Factors Pie Chart
If you love pie, then you’ll love this next graphic. Moz created a pie chart summarizing the factors that determine how your website ranks and assigns them a percentage based on their importance to Google’s algorithm. It’s located within chapter 1 of their beginner’s link-building guide, so be sure to read that, too!
TIME TO HIT THE BOOKS
Learning SEO doesn’t have to be stressful. All you have to do is don’t be that person who starts putting together a 1000-piece puzzle without a strategy (unless that’s how you float your boat). It will cause unnecessary annoyance, and eventually you’ll find yourself breaking apart the mismatched pieces and flinging them across the room in a fit of frustration. Then you’ll have to sigh, roll your eyes, and pick them up, so your dog doesn’t eat them. Save yourself the anxiety and don’t do it. We just presented to you a list of 9 educational and valuable resources for understanding introductory-level SEO. Use them. Please.