How to Learn SEO: The Complete Guide (Plus Resources & Tools)
Over the past several years, I’ve been absorbing tons of information to learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization). According to a SEMRush report, there are 2,400 monthly (US) searches for “how to learn seo” on Google with roughly 344 million results.
That many results are enough to melt your brain but luckily I’ve combed through all of them (not really) for you so you don’t have to.
I’ve mined the top SEO & digital marketing blogs to find the best resources for learning SEO and implementing it into your workflow.
Along the way, I read a lot of junk articles but I also came across some GOLD.
This blog contains my favorite and the most informative resources only.
Yes, it’s an article about articles.
Ready to get schooled?
Before we dive in I want to make sure you are prepared for the future.
Here are my favorite blogs for learning SEO that you can continue to follow long into your journey.
Most of the links in this article come from these resources but you’ll find even more as you go through them. Stay tuned to these blogs and never miss a beat.
Top 10 SEO Blogs
- Neil Patel
- Online Media Masters
- Content Marketing Institute
- Search Engine Land
Don’t miss the end of this article, there’s way more value beyond this! Just keep reading and you’ll be rewarded.
Step by Step: How to Learn SEO
If you are looking to learn SEO and all of this information looks super daunting, I want to break it down for you so you know where to start.
This will be geared toward a wide range of people whether you work in a digital agency environment, own a small business, or work in a digital marketing role within a company.
Follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Start Reading
Yes, right off the top, start getting into the articles, subscribe to newsletters, and begin ingesting information.
Even if you don’t fully understand right away, you’ll begin to see things repeatedly and in different contexts which will help you learn.
Read as many of those articles listed as possible and more. The more you read, the more knowledge you will absorb.
Step 2: Start a Personal Project
One of the best ways to learn SEO is to begin applying it right away. Again, it will feel early but it’s best to get your feet wet as soon as possible.
If you have a personal website or a friend’s website you can try to optimize, get in there, and start using what you’ve learned.
Utilize as many of the tools listed above to begin getting familiar with them and learning which ones you like.
Step 3: Start a Free Course
Using the free courses listed at the end of this blog, start completing these courses one by one.
Some of the information may be redundant from your article reading, but it’s important to hear it multiple times and test yourself so that it gets engrained in your memory.
Step 4: Apply Your Knowledge to Your Work
Now that you have a solid understanding of SEO, it’s time to use it in your work.
If you don’t specifically work in SEO yet, you can potentially find opportunities to break into the space by proposing an SEO strategy to your company.
If you’re a small business owner or digital marketing team member, this would be a great time to start implementing what you’ve learned to your company site.
Step 5: Continue Reading, Watching YouTube Videos, Taking Courses, and Listening to Podcasts
As you’ll learn, you don’t just “SEO your site” and call it a day.
SEO is an ongoing process of continuous improvement and so is learning it.
Continue digesting information about SEO from every angle possible. The more funnels of information coming into your brain, the better.
Step 6: Research, Implement, Analyze, Rinse & Repeat
You can read all of the articles and watch all of the videos you possibly can, but continuing to put into practice what you’ve learned is a huge key to learning SEO.
SEO principles, theories, and studies can tell us plenty about what might work, but really you won’t know until you start going through the process yourself.
Some of my biggest “aha” moments have come from doing rather than ingesting.
Intro To SEO: SEO Basics
Just starting out with SEO? All you need about the basics are right here. Read through these articles and you’ll have a solid step by step base to get started.
That being said, the best way to further your knowledge after that is actually implementing, testing, and trying these SEO tactics.
You’ll try and fail but that’s a big part of what this is all about – learning what doesn’t work so that you can get closer to what does.
I’ve also included some great SEO Tools articles. Like a car mechanic, you need the right ones to get the job done.
There’s a lot here and some of these articles will have similar information so pick a handful that stand out to you and give them a focused read through.
For SEO basics, you’ll want to understand at minimum what these terms mean and how they apply to SEO:
- Search Engines and Search Intent
- User Behavior
- On-Page SEO
- Keywords & Keyword Research
- SEO Tools
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console
The Definitive Guide to SEO in 2022
SEO Tools: The Complete List (2022 Update)
15 BEST Keyword Research Tools for SEO [2022 Reviews]
20 Essential Technical SEO Tools for Agencies
Tom’s WordPress SEO Guide: The Definitive Guide To Optimizing Your WordPress Site For Higher Rankings
More About SEO
Google Rankbrain: The Definitive Guide
The Complete SEO Checklist For 2022
10 Ignored SEO Tasks That Can Boost Your Rankings
A checklist: Important SEO points to cover in a content campaign
A 16-Step SEO Audit Process To Boost Your Google Rankings [2020 Update]
The Advanced SEO Formula That Helped Me Rank For 477,000 Keywords
What Not to Do
Everything I Taught You About SEO Was Wrong
Flying close to the sun: SEO tactics that may get you burned
On-Page SEO: Grabbing The Low Hanging Fruit
If only this were the entire solution we’d all rank #1 on Google!
The bottom line is, on-page SEO is necessary and the most obvious but once you’re “finished” with it, there is still so much more to do. Don’t ignore the other SEO ranking factors to feed the Google algorithm and the users who are looking for your content.
On-page SEO involves improving your website content within your website on any given page. This is in opposition to off-page SEO which deals with optimizations made outside your website (backlinks, for example).
This includes keywords, user behavior improvements, image optimization, and much more. It’s quite broad and overlaps with some of the other sections of this article.
On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2022 Update)
How I Optimized My Slow WordPress Site To Load In .2s (With 100% Pingdom + GTmetrix Scores)
The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings
Google Rankbrain: The Definitive Guide
SEO Best Practices: How to Create Awesome Meta Descriptions
Off-Page SEO: Link Building Strategy
If you’re just now learning SEO for the first time, you might want to prepare yourself for this part. The dreaded off-page SEO.
We all wish SEO would work without off-page. Off-page can be tedious, time-consuming, and difficult. The truth is, you need a high-quality backlink building strategy in place if you’re serious about ranking #1 in the search results. Start with these articles and let the fun begin!
Note that off-page SEO does not only include backlinks, but this is a huge component of it. Other sections in the article will address additional off-page SEO tactics.
Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2022 Update)
Backlinks: The Definitive Guide (2022)
How to Build Your Website Authority in 90 days
SERP Features & Ranking Factors: How To Rank #1 On Google
The Holy Grail. #1 Google Ranking. Or is it? If you’ve never heard of position zero, it’s a thing and sometimes it’s better than ranking #1.
Even if you don’t ever rank #0 or #1 for your target keywords, these articles are critical to understanding SEO in 2022.
Being familiar with current ranking factors will help set you up for success. It’s almost like looking at a blueprint before building a structure.
100+ Google SEO Success Factors, Ranked
Large-Scale Study: How to Rank for Featured Snippets in 2018
Google Ranking Factors – A Summary Of Google’s Local + National Ranking Factors
How to Target Featured Snippet Opportunities
Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2022)
Case Studies: What Works?
OK, reading articles about tools and optimization only go so far. Where are the results?!
These case studies will give you a better idea of the ‘how & why’ when it comes to SEO.
Read what other businesses and organizations have done and think about how it can be applied to your own or your client’s. It might give you perspective for your own results as well and help understand what’s possible or realistic.
SEO Case Study – 313% More Organic Traffic with REAL Examples
White Hat SEO Case Study: 1,000+ Daily Visitors (In < 6 Months)
How We Scaled a Startup from 0 Organic Traffic to 100,000 Visitors/Mo (In About One Year)
CTR & CRO: Because If You Can’t Convert, Why Bother With SEO?
Work on SEO all you want but if you can’t convert, there’s no point in all your work.
Some people separate SEO and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) but it should be just as much a part of the discussion.
Search engine optimized does not necessarily mean conversion rate optimized, but they don’t have to conflict with each other either. Take a look at these awesome CTR (Click-Through Rate) and CRO optimization articles and get the wheels turning.
Infographic: 11 amazing hacks that will boost your organic click-through rates
10 CRO Truth Bombs That Will Change the Way You Think
Should My Landing Page Be SEO-Focused, Conversion-Focused, or Both?
The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read
Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques (100+ Techniques and Free PDF)
19 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2022
Why Good Site Architecture Is The Only CRO You Need
10 Conversion Copy Tips Every SEO Writer Needs to Know
Content Writing: The Key to Long-Term Success
Content writing is an integral part of SEO. Blog posts are practically the beating heart of SEO in 2022.
Comprehensive, authoritative blog content is how you grow your organic traffic long-term.
If you can’t write or don’t want to you’ll need to find someone to do it for you. If you are willing to write the content, you’ll find that thanks to the tools and resources available to us that it’s less painful.
We suggest this strategy to nearly any niche since it’s really the best way to gain new traffic to your site (non-brand searches).
There are thousands or even millions of people searching for exactly what you have knowledge of. Positioning yourself as the authority in your space is how you grow your domain and your business.
Here are some articles for killer content writing strategies and tools that will help you along the way.
How to Get 260.7% More Organic Traffic In 14 Days (New Strategy + Case Study)
Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About 10x Content
How to Create SEO Friendly Content with SEMrush
Content Marketing Best Practices: Content Writing in 2021
9 Evergreen Content Formats for Long-Term Success [Examples]
Your Must-Have Checklist for Successful Blog Promotion (Infographic)
SEO Clickbait: How to Write Headlines Everyone Loves
Social Media: Yes, It Counts!
Whether you love it or hate it, social media activity and presence have an impact on SEO.
Does Google specifically rank sites with great social media higher? Not necessarily.
But there are significant enough correlations that SEO experts have determined that social should be a part of your SEO strategy.
It’s also been said that you should work on distributing your content just as long as you work on creating it. That can be tough to digest and implement but the benefits can be huge!
I’ve decided to through a couple of fantastic social media articles here to help you out.
50 of the Best Social Media Tools Selected by Top Marketers
Best Chrome Extensions for Social Media Professionals
Storytelling on Social Media: How to Do It Better
12 Ways to Boost Brand Awareness on Social Media
15 Tips to Building a Better Social Media Presence
9 Content Amplification Tactics to 10x Your Reach
How to Conduct a Social Media Audit in Just 30 Minutes
50+ Social Sharing Sites That Boost SEO & Drive Traffic
5 Tips to Get 195,000 YouTube Views per Month
Google Search Console & Google Analytics: A Must
Google Search Console is frequently overlooked. Don’t do that. If you’ve read any of the articles above you’ll have read about GSC at least 20 times. It’s that critical.
Google Search Console is literally data straight from Google. So if we’re trying to optimize for that specific search engine, there’s really no better place to start.
Google Search Console is extremely helpful for tracking progress and analyzing data to inform later updates.
Google Analytics is more commonly known but I continue to be surprised at the number of medium and large businesses that don’t have it incorporated.
For SEO, Google Analytics can be particularly helpful for running reports on key user behavior metrics like Time on Page and Bounce Rate.
Get started with GSC and Google Analytics here:
The Definitive Guide To Optimizing WordPress Sites With Google Search Console
How to Use Google Search Console to Audit & Improve SEO
5 Must-Know Google Analytics Strategies To Measure SEO Success
Keyword Research: Building The Foundation To Your Empire
Guessing at keywords your audience might be searching for? Still trying to rank #1 for single-word keywords? (*sets Yoast focus keyword*… ‘Blog’) You might need some schooling on keyword research.
Keywords may not have the ranking power they once did, but they’re still important. Understanding how to use keywords and what role keywords play in 2022 and beyond will help set the stage for your SEO implementation even beyond keywords.
So what are you targeting?
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO in 2022 [Guide + Tools]
Keyword Research For SEO: The Definitive Guide
How to Do Keyword Research with SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
Local SEO: Get Found
Have a local business but not getting traffic through Google or Bing? These articles will cover (pretty much) everything you need to know about Local SEO.
It’s not as simple as setting up Google My Business and Yelp and calling it a day.
Important local SEO ranking factors include:
- Google My Business
- Link Signals
- On-Page Signals
- Social Signals
Find out what else is involved:
The Definitive Local SEO Guide for Beginners
Local SEO Strategy & Solutions: What Works in 2022?
Technical & Advanced SEO: Down To The Nitty Gritty
This is where things get a little crazy.
You’ve optimized the heck out of your site, you have a killer blog, backlinks galore, and more. But something still isn’t clicking. You may need to take a deep dive into technical SEO.
Technical SEO can involve:
- Website structure
- HTTPS Encryption
- Crawl budget
- Structured markup
Technical SEO is only becoming more and more prominent moving forward. Educate yourself, be prepared, and start working on it.
That’s it! Hopefully, you’ve just increased your knowledge database by at least 100x.
All in all, SEO isn’t that complex. Yes, there are thousands of details and hundreds of ranking factors but it can be simplified.
The core of it all: Create a great site that fulfills search intent and provides a fantastic user experience.
Think about it, Google just wants people to have a good time and solve their problems.
Those are the sites that will rank well.
Just focus on producing good content and providing a solid user experience. Once you have that down then you can think about all of the more technical aspects that come along with SEO. Optimizing your site and content is a long-term process. If you take shortcuts, expect to be hurt later on.
It always amazes me when I hear about people taking shortcuts by doing things like buying backlinks. First of all, those backlinks are usually junk and will bite you later on long term.
Second, try actually writing good content and having a strong distribution plan in place. Then you will naturally gather strong backlinks and natural backlinks are often the highest producing.
In summary, work hard and use white-hat tactics, be patient and you will be rewarded.
Hopefully this article and related content has helped you make some progress on your journey to learn SEO.
It wouldn’t be an SEO article if I didn’t put a bonus at the end. These are the tools I use every day and I’ve found to be absolutely imperative to success in the world of SEO.
BONUS: Top 10 Essential SEO Tools & Plugins To Boost Rankings & Optimize Your Site
- WPMU DEV Plugin Platform – We recommend this over Yoast. Read here to find out why.
- SEMRush – Probably the best digital marketing tool out there. Period.
- Google Search Console & Analytics – The staples from Mountain View, CA.
- SEOQuake – Convenient plugin for running SEO site audits.
- Ubersuggest – Another nice keyword research tool. One of the cleanest.
- WP Rocket/WP Fastest Cache – Paid & free caching plugins for WordPress, use them if you aren’t using the WPMU DEV suite.
- Smush – Image compression and optimization is one of the fastest ways to speed up your site. This WP plugin just plain works.
- AMP for WP – AMP plugin for WordPress. Use along with Glue for Yoast & AMP to create lightning-fast pages and posts.
- SEO Review Tool – This might be overkill but has some good resources for site auditing.
- Keywords Everywhere – Keywords galore! They’re everywhere. Pulls keywords from, well, everywhere.
A couple more because why not: Ahrefs, Keyworddit, WooRank, Screaming Frog, Schema WP plugin, All In One Scheme Rich Snippets WP plugin.
Free Courses To Learn SEO
Still not enough for you? If you’d rather a full step-by-step instructional course than individual articles, think about taking a couple of free training courses.
They are definitely more time-intensive but you’ll be walked through SEO by the experts and even better, come away with a resume-worthy certification!
It’s definitely something every digital marketing professional should be doing throughout their career as the landscape is ever-changing and we want to stay sharp.
Several of the companies that write the awesome articles above also provide some great free courses. Find out what targets your needs the most and is most worth your time, then dive right in!
HubSpot Academy Courses & Certifications
You have everything you need to get started – now get out there and get ranking!
What are your favorite SEO tools, articles, and blogs? What is your favorite SEO tip?
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