Search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is much more than a buzzword in the technology community. It’s the act of optimizing websites so that search engines are more likely to rank them higher. While this may sound like some sort of mysterious magic, we promise you it’s not.
How Search Engines Work
To really understand anything about SEO, one has to first understand how search engines work. A more accurate way to word this might be “what search engines are.” We understand that search engines scan the internet to retrieve relevant answers to user queries. What actually occurs is that when a user submits a query to a search engine, that query is analyzed by a complex series of algorithms. These algorithms consider hundreds to thousands of factors, some factors more important than others.
The search engines then scan the internet for information to address the factors that impact these algorithms. These scans are conducted by scripts, typically called “robots,” “spiders,” or “crawlers.” What really happens is that these “robots” are sifting through the code that websites are built with. Next, they evaluate what’s in that code. There are several key elements here that they’re looking for, but the structure of the site itself is also important. In addition to the actual code on a webpage, search engines also take into account the content on a page and how what sort of experience that page can deliver to a user.
So how does a search engine know where to crawl for information? Webmasters can utilize certain commands in a website’s code to direct a search engine’s “robot” to look (or not look) in certain areas. Once these scans are all complete, the data is applied to the complex algorithms we mentioned earlier. These algorithms then rank websites to provide the user with, at least in theory, the most relevant results to the initial query. To learn more about Google’s approach to crawling the web, check out this article from the Google Webmaster Tools Support forum.
Resources to Help You Learn SEO
Effective SEO can create huge financial benefits for any business. Sure, SEO is time-consuming and does require some skill, but it is something that anyone can do. Below, in no particular order, we list 25 resources that can help you (yes, YOU!) learn how to begin implementing SEO on your own site. We’ve broken our list of 25 terrific resources into 4 categories – News, Blogs, Guides, and Training to make it easy for you to find resources that will best help you. Let’s get started!
Sites for SEO News
- Search Engine Land is widely considered to be THE go-to resource for ongoing SEO news, analysis and strategy. You’d be hard-pressed to find any serious SEOs who aren’t reading SEL articles on a daily basis.
- Search Engine Journal, similar to Search Engine Land, is an ongoing publication with regular contributions from industry experts. Both are well known for their coverage of news in the search field.
Our Favorite SEO Blogs
- Matt Cutts is not your average SEO blogger. In fact, he has spent years as the head of Google’s Webspam team. As you can imagine, he has a highly respected take on SEO from a very enviable position. As of the time this post is being published, he is on hiatus from his role with Google. There is no set end date for his leave.
- Like Matt Cutts, Duane Forrester is best known for serving in a similar position with search rival, Bing. While Duane’s organization may not have the market share Google does, his insights are incredibly valuable and his blog posts are always a great, informative read for anyone interested in SEO.
- Users interested in hearing straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth need look no further than the Google Webmaster Tools blog. When any real SEO has an issue, this is the first place he/she turns.
- SEO Mastermind Bill Slawski’s blog, SEO by the Sea, provides unique information about search engines. These articles feature in-depth analysis of search engine strategy by examining patents, acquisitions, white paper publication and other actions taken by the search engines.
- One of, if not the, most respected blogs (and also communities of contributors!) in the whole SEO industry is the Moz blog. This blog is useful because it covers a great wealth of subjects at depths that can benefit any user. As believers in SEO integrity, we are huge fans of Moz’s work.
- Majestic SEO offers another fantastic SEO tracking and management platform, somewhat similar to Moz. They also offer a tremendously credible blog to help users get the most of their platform by understanding SEO inside and out.
- Anyone who considers him/herself a digital marketer will regularly follow Hubspot’s Marketing blog. While this blog branches into far more than just SEO, the information found here is highly valuable – especially the big picture information provided by Hubspot’s coverage or other areas of marketing.
- SEM management platform, Wordstream, offers another must-follow digital marketing blog that is highly respected in the SEO community. While Wordstream itself focuses more on paid search, the insights found in this blog are highly relevant to all aspects of marketing online.
- Stone Temple Consulting’s blog is interesting because so much of the content is data-driven. The guys at STC are constantly sorting through huge quantities of analytical data to find trends and patterns that can help all SEOs perform their duties more effectively.
- At OkDork.com, Noah Kagan, one of Facebook’s original employees, shares digital marketing wisdom from not only his time at Facebook, but also as a solo-preneur in the internet marketing world.
- Although not a specifically traditional digital marketing-focused blog, ThinkWithGoogle.com offers readers a tremendous amount of valuable marketing insight from the unique perspective only Google could offer.
Helpful SEO Guides
- Mentioned earlier on our list of favorite blogs, Seattle-based SEO platform, Moz, has also published several “How-To” guides for SEO beginners. These are an industry standard for anyone entering into digital marketing.
- One of the greatest strengths any SEO can have is strong copywriting ability. The Ebooks offered on Copyblogger.com can help individuals from any background develop writing skills that search engines will appreciate.
- A sister company to Search Engine Land, Digital Marketing Depot offers a library of useful Ebooks, whitepapers and additional resources that can benefit marketers from any level.
- QuickSprout offers digital marketing and analytics tools. They also provide a very insightful blog and have published this incredibly useful guide that is a must-read for anyone interested in learning SEO.
- There is one guide that everyone in the industry should read and re-read several times a year. That’s the Google Webmaster Guidelines. While Google refuses to disclose too much information about their ranking algorithm, this is where they do provide SEOs with some valuable pointers.
SEO Training & Events
- Search Marketing Expo, or SMX for short, conferences are the most well known in the digital marketing industry. Offering several annual conferences across the globe, SMX offers SEO training from industry leaders. Representatives from search engines like Google and Bing regularly keynote at these events.
- Pubcon is another leading digital marketing conference with US-based events. Pubcon attendees rave about the information shared at these conferences – both offered by speakers and shared among colleagues.
- Having mentioned Moz twice before in our list, it should come as no surprise that this group has also built a leading SEO conference in the US. Held each summer in Seattle, Mozcon is the ultimate meeting of the minds for not only members of the Moz community, but anyone interested in learning more about digital marketing.
- Similar to Moz, Hubspot is another training-focused service platform that has created its own conference. Today, Hubspot’s Inbound Conference has become such a mainstay in the SEO community that it has become one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in the U.S.
- Thousands of members of today’s SEO community thank DistilledU’s SEO Certification program for getting them into the field. DistilledU is an online training program with interactive modules and hours upon hours of training videos that enable users to learn at their own speed.
- In addition to the online training offered via DistilledU, Distilled also provides SearchLove Conferences in the US and UK. These conferences boast industry-leading speakers and a dedication to providing actionable information that benefits users at all levels.
- SEObook.com is a great resource for new SEOs and students. Offering training, blogs and a great community for members, SEOBook offers students the chance to learn valuable SEO tips at a comfortable pace without the expense of traveling to conferences.
How to Start Learning Today
The reason we chose each of these 25 resources is because we believe that they can help anyone interested in learning SEO. Obviously, we understand that no one can simply dive in to each of these at once and become an overnight expert. Our advice is to choose your path based on how you’re most comfortable learning. If diving into guides, books or conferences doesn’t seem your speed, start out with a conversation at digital marketing forums like Inbound.org and Webmasterworld.com. The key is to simply get started. Even if you aren’t an expert, small adjustments here and there can work wonders for your site’s search rankings!
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