As more and more new, quality websites are indexed by search engines, competition for the top of the results page is increasingly fierce. And, since Google routinely updates its search algorithm, staying updated on the changes is important. Things you were told 2 years ago may not matter at all today.
It can be a tough and technical job, which is why some companies have their own in-house SEO professional. Fortunately, that really isn’t necessary if you have a little knowledge of SEO, have a quality website, and comply with Google’s guidelines.
In this post, I’ll give you resources you can use to learn about SEO and stay on top of SEO, including some free tools that’ll be useful for fixing any issues. Enjoy…
Just getting into SEO? Want to learn a little bit every day? These resources are a good place to start:
1. How Google Crawls – Discusses the basics of how Google crawls the web, indexes, and serves results.
2. How Google Works – If you want to get into SEO, you’ll need to understand the basics of how Google (and other) search engines work. This video provides a background on Google search.
3. Getting the Basics – If you want to get traffic from Google and rank well, you’ll need to have a site that Google views as high quality. It has certain signals that it uses to gauge a site’s quality. This article covers the basics of what attributes you’ll need. Be sure to also read through their guide to creating valuable content.
4. PageRank – To understand the Google search engine and why some sites rank higher than others, you’ll need to have an understanding of PageRank. This Wikipedia article gives a good background. (It’s even referenced by Google employees.)
5. Quick Sprout’s Guide to SEO – A 9 chapter, infographic-style guide to SEO. A good resource if you don’t want to read a book but want something more thorough than a simple explanation.
6. Moz’s Guide to SEO – Don’t want to learn about SEO through long infographics? Then check out this 10 chapter guide written by the folks over at Moz.
7. SEO Starter Guide – Written by Google – A 32 page document which explains how to run SEO. This document was written by Google in 2010.
8. 8 First Step SEO Tips for Bloggers – Are you a blogger who wants to increase traffic to your website? Try reading this article first to get a good start on your SEO knowledge.
9. SEO Tips for Beginners – Are you a total novice when it comes to SEO? If so, read this short article which lists 5 things you can do right now to get you pointed in the right direction.
Creating a SEO Strategy – Hear from Googler Maile Ohye on how to create a SEO strategy using a wide variety of tools.
Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines (PDF) – In November 2015 Google made their Quality Raters Guidelines public. This document is given to search quality evaluators to help them understand how to rate the search results they are testing.
Quality, free tools – what could be better? Check them out:
10. Google Webmaster Tools – Before you look at any other tool, check out this suite of tools provided by Google. For help using Webmaster Tools, check out this page. Also check out Bing Webmaster Tools.
11. Open Site Explorer – Also known as the search engine for links, Open Site Explorer is a Moz creation. This tool allows you to see who links to your site, find links that point to old and broken pages, and research competitors to see who links to them. To check out the toolbar and view the product demo, check out this page. In order to understand this tool, you’ll need to be familiar with the terms Page Authority and Domain Authority. Note: this is a limited free tool. You can pay for enhanced access.
12. Microsoft SEO Toolkit – The Microsoft web team made an SEO tool. Check it out here.
13. Broken Link Finder – Having broken links lowers the quality of your website, which in turn hurts SEO. Find them and squash them with this free tool.
14. SEO Site Tools – An extension for Chrome that pulls up page rank, meta description, incoming links, and more for the site you’re visiting.
15. Keyword Suggestion Tool – A free tool (with an account) from SEO Book. Shows the number of searches for a specific keyword and gives suggestions.
18. Spider Test Tool – Similar tool as above, but this one is from SEO Book.
20. WordPress SEO Plugin – A popular plugin for WordPress. View the webpage to see a list of all the features.
21. Anchor Text Over Optimization – Google is cracking down on websites that are overly optimized for SEO. Part of that involves anchor text. This tool highlights where you may be at risk for anchor text over optimization.
22. Test Page Speed – Your website speed affects your page ranking, so you want to ensure your website loads as quickly as possible. This tool (from Google) will measure your site’s speed and offer suggestions for improving speed.
23. Google Trends – Shows volume of searches over time. A good tool to view keyword popularity.
Knowing the Status of Your Website
Want to know how optimized your website is for SEO? Check out these for help:
24. Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Web Page – Unsure of how to make an SEO optimized page? Or not sure if your page is optimized? Print out this graphic and hang it in your office.
25. Webmaster Guidelines – Take a while to read these guidelines and make sure your site is in compliance with Google. Don’t forget to check out the Link Schemes document, which has recently been updated.
26. Marketing Grader – HubSpot’s popular free tool gives you an overview of your marketing efforts, including an SEO analysis.
Tips and Tricks
By “tricks,” I don’t mean “If you just do x to your site, you’ll soar to the top!” That won’t work. These articles don’t promise anything of that nature. They give quality information for you to know:
27. Setting up an SEO Friendly WordPress Site – WordPress is a publishing platform that is used by millions of websites. Read this article if you have a WordPress site or want to get set up with one and are not too familiar with SEO.
28. SEO for Blogs – Don’t have a WordPress site but still want SEO for blogs? Have a WordPress site and want to learn about SEO for any kind of blog? If yes, check out this article.
29. Patrick McKenzie’s SEO Tricks – McKenzie provides some SEO tricks. Even if you’re advanced with SEO, it won’t hurt to read this.
30. Making Content Memorable – If you run a blog, it’s important to not put your time and energy into getting tweets, likes, +1’s, etc. Why? Because it’s still not totally clear how these play into Google’s ranking. You should be spending your time focusing on producing great content. This SEO Copywriting (SuccessWorks) article gives a good overview of how to turn an article from “meh” to memorable.
31. Strategic SEO for Startups – More good SEO tips from McKenzie, this time focusing on “Startup SEO.”
32. Quick Wins in SEO – Want some quick wins (that you may not be familiar with already) in SEO? Are you familiar with title tags and h2 tags? If not, check out this article. It’ll help bring some quick wins to your website.
33. SEO for Software Companies – Run a software company and want to know how to get traffic to your website via content creation? Check out this article for all the details.
36. Conducting a Competitive SEO Audit – HubSpot gives an overview of how to conduct an SEO audit of the competitive landscape.
37. What Every Programmer Should Know – Are you a developer that’s a little unsure about SEO? Read this article written by a developer explaining the ins and outs of SEO.
38. Best SEO Tactics Post-Panda – In February 2011, Google released a relatively significant update to its algorithm. The update was known as Panda and it hurt the traffic of a lot of sites. This Quora thread gives good tips for surviving and maintaining strong Google traffic in a post-Panda world.
As mentioned, staying updated on Google algorithm changes is important. Of course, there are a few principles that are timeless and good policy. For example, maintaining a quality site with accurate information is top priority, because content is king. These things won’t change.
But being aware of any changes or updates to the Google guidelines and complying with what they’re looking for is required, too. These resources will help you do that. They also contain solid advice that you can use for your SEO efforts. Add these blogs to your RSS reader to stay on top of all things SEO:
39. Google Webmaster Central Blog – The official Google blog for all things related to its search. Written for webmasters.
40. Google Algorithm Changelog – A good, unofficial resource where you can find the change history to the Google algorithm.
41. Google Webmaster YouTube Channel – Frequently updated with a Q&A from Matt Cutts. If anything about SEO is a “must watch,” it’s this. No speculation, no conjecture, just accurate information from a key employee on Google’s search team.
42. Moz Blog – A variety of topics in the SEO arena are covered. Features a variety of guest bloggers.
43. Kissmetrics SEO posts – A collection of SEO articles that have been posted to the Kissmetrics blog.
44. Search Engine Land – This homepage has lots of good articles related to SEO.
45. Dave Naylor – Dave Naylor is well respected in the SEO industry. Read his blog to get the latest insights.
46. HubSpot SEO Posts – A collection of posts HubSpot has relating to SEO.
48. Search Engine Journal – Gives you tips while also providing some industry news and commentary.
49. SEO Roundtable – Provides a good overview on SEO news.
50. YouMoz – Blog posts written by the Moz community.
51. Search Engine Guide – Contains lots of intriguing and educational posts..
52. Alltop SEO – A continuously updated collection of all the top posts from a variety of SEO blogs.
Getting Inside the SEO Industry
Want to engage and communicate with SEO enthusiasts? Check out these resources:
53. Webmaster Central Forum – A large forum hosted by Google where you can get help with SEO issues.
54. Moz Community – A community hosted by Moz that features a Q&A, articles written by others in the community, and webinars.
55. SEO Subreddit – An SEO community in Reddit. Features news, Q&A, case studies, and more.
In addition to getting help with the 3 resources mentioned above, you can also try these paid methods:
56. Talk with an Expert – Need to talk to someone for help or advice with SEO? Check out the experts available on Clarity.
57. SEO Book Community – A popular SEO community. It does require a paid account of $300 a month.
58. Inbound – A Hacker News-like discussion board where many inbound marketing issues are covered. There’s a heavy focus on SEO here.
So, will using all of these tools, reading blogs and articles, and talking with SEO experts get you to the top of a results page? Nope. The key thing to remember with SEO is that it all comes down to producing quality content. After that, promote it and make sure it spreads. These things will get you pretty far.
Because SEO, in the end, is not much different from a business. Giving people what they want and the accurate information they need is job #1. If you do SEO exactly right but neglect the quality aspect, your efforts won’t yield much in the way of results. You have to be familiar with SEO and have a quality site.
I hope you’ve found these resources helpful and informative. Any feedback? Let me hear it in the comments.