If you are in the process of learning SEO as a career choice or as a hobby, you will find a variety of different resources available on the WWW. You will want to pay close attention to when these resources were produced, as SEO has morphed over time. Many past methods of optimization are no longer valid. If you employ such a method, you may find that the harm done by it is of a degree that may be problematic. If you aren’t trying to optimize for a site that has a great deal of value to begin with, then this might not be as much of an issue for you, but keep in mind as you progress and gain traction with your efforts that you may have to do a bit of backtracking to fix problems if the information you use is dated or simply invalid. You may find yourself draw to “black hat” techniques, which is a realm you should at least be aware of as it has served to build the knowledge available search engines and helped advance search engine proficiency by providing numerous challenges to search engines. You should be aware that “black hat” methods are not found to be acceptable by search engines, as these methods seek to manipulate search result and improve the rank of websites “unnaturally”. Most of the search engine optimization community is found in the “white hat” camp where there is an attempt to adhere to the wishes and guidance of search engines. And, some would argue that there is no purely “white hat” approach or “black hat” approach. It’s true that most probably fall somewhere in between on a spectrum between the two. This camp or condition is called “grey hat”. There are many other flavors of hats available to practitioners of search engine optimization.
Over time, you will cobble together your own bag of methods. And, if you are looking to operate a business providing SEO, you will want to find the right mix of tactics to attain the best placement within search results. There are a number of strategies and subtleties that give some an advantage over others. The key to being a good SEO service is largely about being able to produce content that creates a genuine interest and is sharable and worthy of passing along to others as a resource. The sites covered in this article are about SEO, but they also follow good SEO methods, at the core of which is providing excellent content on their chosen topic. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in this list. And, they wouldn’t be shared as these sites are within this list. When people want to share your work, you’ve arrived.
What SEO does is makes the excellent content accessible to both search engines and site visitors in a number of ways including the structural soundness of the content or information architecture, server settings, security, and smart coding. None of this really matters without something worth getting to or something that entertains or advances the topic of interest.
This is a challenging reality, as there are already many experts out there, with great sites and a history of optimization in place. Can you manage to compete? Sure you can, but search engine optimization is more than just the technical. Good SEO practitioners solve problems and have a creative capacity that is exceptional. In many cases good SEO requires several people all working toward optimization and bringing the right elements to the effort.
Learning the Basics
These websites are a good place to begin the process of understanding SEO:
How Google Crawls – Ever wanted to know how the search engine Google grabs site information from WWW, stores it and delivers it to search engine users? This resource will tell you the basics of how Google crawls (spiders), indexes (stores the information in databases) and provides the results (serves search results) when a query is processed and returned as SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
How Google Works – Google works. This YouTube video tells you how, in simple terms. This will also help you understand other search engines like Google and the basic underlying elements to the technologies that support these engines.
Getting the Basics – Now that you know how the technology works at a broad level, you can start to understand how to use this knowledge as a benefit to your own website, by exploiting the core components that constitute an indexable, search-engine-friendly, user-centered site (your very own content-rich and architecturally optimized web resource).
Quick Sprout’s Guide to SEO – This guide is a little more detailed, should you wish to build upon SEO the basics with little more sophistication. The style of the material is infographic-esque, with good visual queues and relatively solid information for SEO beginners and even those a little further along in the learning process.
PageRank – How does Google order the search results that it returns after a search is submitted? One of the most important ways is a method Google coined: PageRank. This double-entendre trademark is representative of the founder Larry Page and the idea that web pages are being ordered for results that follow a search query. The method Google uses is based on a voting concept, where pages vote for one another by using links. When site A links to site B, via a number of pages, those links on site A tell Google that site B may be a good choice for certain search terms (namely the terms or keywords used in the link text). Check out this Wikipedia article to find out more.
Creating a SEO Strategy – Maile Ohye explains how to establish an SEO strategy, employing a plehora of cool tools. If you need a plan, this video will get you well on your way with an legitimate SEO roadmap.
8 First Step SEO Tips for Bloggers – So you’ve started a blog. Are you looking for ways to bring traffic to your carefully crafted knowledge in your area of specialty? This is will provide a great foundation for blogging professionals and those who wish to put a blog out and find readership, as well as drive sales.
SEO Tips for Beginners – Need a quick understanding of SEO, so you can look like you are in the know at a dinner party? This is a quick trip for SEO basics. You can go in knowing little and leave a little more “SEO smart” than you were before.
How to Learn SEO – Distilled offers several links and some words about learning SEO. Get a bit of traction with the masters.
Moz Guide to SEO – The folks at Moz are pioneers in SEO and complementary marketing channels. You can rely on their understanding of SEO. Any student of SEO will benefit from frequenting this paragon of a resource and highly utilitarian toolset. Check out their multi-chapter guide to optimizing web sites for search engines and people.
Setting up an SEO Friendly WordPress Site – Guidance on establishing proper SEO for WordPress can be found here. If you want a quick hit to put optimization in place (at least in part), this is a good start for WordPress users.
SEO for Blogs – WordPress isn’t the only blog platform. This guide covers the basics for other CMS system.
To round out this list, we’ve included a few more SEO resources worth adding to your optimization reading list:
Free SEO Tools
Need Tools? Here are some of the best options for the sledgehammers and chainsaws of SEO:
Google Webmaster Tools – The one tool you can’t live without. Google Webmaster Tools tells you what you need to know to keep your site indexed and ranked well. If you don’t know, let Google tell you. If site suddenly disappears from search results one day, this should be your first stop and the most likely place you’ll find out just why your site’s been abducted from the SERPs.
Bing Webmaster Tools – a tool similar to Google’s WT. Since Google isn’t the only voice in search, you will want to understand your optimization in the eyes of Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. Add some Bing to your SEO bang and make more bucks.
Open Site Explorer – A link analysis tool by the tool makers at Moz. If you want to know what sites link to your site or any site for that matter, here’s a good starting point, once you find out the answer from Google Webmaster Tools. The full version is not without cost, however. So, this link analysis tool is only partially free and limited in utility.
Microsoft SEO Toolkit – The search engine mavens at Microsoft bring you a fine SEO toolkit to add to your arsenal of search engine optimization tools.
SEO Site Tools Chrome Extension – Get the SEO details on any webpages right inside your browser (if Chrome is your browser). This tool provides an analysis of the any web page’s SEO quality and potential.
Keyword Suggestion Tool – What keywords do you need to focus your site on? Find out by knowing as many as you can. This keyword suggestion and research tool by SEO Book is a great way to get a comprehensive view of your keyword options, so that you can select the keywords that will help you rank and profit.
Broken Link Finder – Broken links are seen as lazy when search engines find them on your site. Keep your links up-to-date, or pay the price of the lazy stamp. This great tool keeps you in the know about the link validity of the links on your hard working sites.
Majestic SEO – Find out what your backlink or inbound link profile looks like. Majestic SEO offers a limited backlink analysis tool for free. You can gather basic information about the number of inbound links to your website and other valuable link statistics.
Generate .htaccess – When you need an .htaccess file for your Apache setup, to improve your SEO. This is an easy-to-use tool for that job alone. Good SEO starts with an .htaccess file meant to improve crawlability and reduce the resources search engines use to index sites. By helping make the process more efficient, you fulfill your duty as a good netizen. Search engines like to see that you’ve placed effort behind this duty. And, that will certainly pay off, if not for appearances, then for limiting the duplicate content and canonical issues that tend to burn resources and limit the depth that crawlers plunge into your directories and impede upon having tightly consolidated PageRank or link power.
.htaccess File Generator – Number 2 for your .htaccess file creation needs – this tool is a little more sophisticated than the two above, but not as friendly in terms of the interface.
Advanced Robots TXT Generator – Use this free online tool to generate a robots.txt file. And, don’t miss the opportunity to start a good conversation with search engine crawlers. This is the first file requested by most crawlers or spiders. If you send a 404 status code back to the server the crawler lives on, you are basically starting the conversation in a uninterested manner. There are a number of reasons while this file can be essential. SEO is just the start.
This is just the start, of course. However, this list should put you on the right track to finding even more resources to kick off your learning process. SEO is complex, but if you maintain a focus on quality content and endeavor to place a good technical foundation under it, you will see results in time. You may not get to page one of the SERPs immediately, but you will be taking steps that will allow you to get there if you stay true.