An investment In SEO knowledge pays excellent interest, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin. According to Indeed.com, SEO specialists in the United States are paid an average salary of around $52,000 per year but can make as much as $133,000. But that is not the only way you can benefit from learning SEO.
If you are a small business owner on a tight budget, learning SEO can save you a substantial amount of cash by equipping you with the skills to perform some (or most) of the optimization tasks that are typically farmed out to specialists.
Even if you can afford to outsource, the knowledge of SEO can help you get value for your money by endowing you with the insight to tell apart the average from the exceptional.
Here is a look at how you should learn SEO.
Start With a Course
The typical advice given to beginners who want to learn SEO is “read this or that blog.” But that is about as effective as trying to figure out the interior layout of a house by peeping through the keyhole of the front door.
Sure, you will learn, but the knowledge will be limited or skewed, and you may struggle to develop the holistic perspective necessary for strategic thinking from the bits and pieces of information you get from blogs.
That is why you need to start with an SEO course. It will equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate your career successfully. The sweeping scope and depth of detail characteristic of good SEO courses will also protect you from a common pitfall: an unhealthy emphasis on short-term results.
Developing an effective long-term SEO strategy requires not just knowledge of what happens when you change some aspects of a website, but a fundamental understanding of search engines their business models, and the future of search.
Outside of some regions of the U.S, there are no institutions that teach SEO, but that is not a problem thanks to a large number of high-quality SEO courses on the Internet.
The SEO Learning Center by the venerable Moz is arguably the best place to start. This portal has a beginner’s guide that you can read online or download as a PDF document.
Once you have cut your teeth on the Ode, you can use additional resources on the site to delve deeper into individual topics DistilledU (short for Distilled University), and I Will Teach You SEO, provide free, high-quality learning resources for beginners, while ClickMinded, Market Motive, and Instant eTraining Certification offer excellent paid courses.
Or a Book
You can achieve many of the objectives you would with an SEO course by reading a good book.
Acquiring SEO knowledge in this manner has an added bonus because it is self-paced, you can work it into your schedule in ways that would be difficult with some of the more rigid SEO would be difficult with some of the more rigid SEO courses.
If you are a beginner looking for a jumping off point, Jerry L. Ledford’s Search Engine Optimization Bible is an excellent option.
SEO for Dummies by Peter Kent is another great option; this book will walk you through the process of building websites that visitors and search engines will love.
Find even that too hard?
Rebecca Lieb’s, The Truth about Search Engine Optimization breaks down SEO into bite-size chunks for speedy learning.
Dislike text-heavy books? Rafiq Elmansy’s, Teach Yourself Visually Search Engine Optimization, teaches SEO concepts using graphics. None of these books are free, but they are worth every dime.
Other books that should be on your SEO reading list include:
- John JerkovIc’s SEO Warrior
- Danny Dover’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Secrets
- Kristopher B. Jones’ Search Engine Optimization: Your Visual Blueprint for Effective Engine Optimization.
Short of cash? Apart from the aforementioned Search Engine Optimization Bible, other high-quality free eBooks include:
- Jacqu Carrell’s Search Engine Optimisation
- Brian Bentley’s SEO: From Beginner to Boffin
- Shaun Anderson’s SEO Training eBook
Watch and Learn
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth 1.8 million, to paraphrase McQuivey’s Forrester. A few good videos or webinars may be what you need to fully grasp some of the SEO concepts you are struggling to understand in the course of your reading or course.
However, you should, um, watch what you watch as some instructors teach SEO techniques that can get you in trouble with Google and other search engines.
Unsurprisingly, Moz has webinars on practically every hot topic under the sun. You can sign up for paid on-demand or interactive video courses taught by Moz instructors. In the unlikely event, these prove too few, you can find more at Udemy and Distilled U.
Hard up? Attracta, KISSmetrics and HubSpot offer high-quality free videos. You can find more at the Evolving SEO YouTube channel. If you like your free videos free videos served with written transcripts, the enigmatically named Quick Sprout University has you covered.
Just Do It!
However excellent, no course, book or video can turn you into an SEO virtuoso if you do not put what you learn into use. Start a website or blog, if you do not have one, and practice on it.
If possible, get an entry-level job at the company you work for or at a specialized SEO agency; the constant exposure will do wonders for your skills.
Learn from your mistakes
Do not let a good mistake—or ten—go to waste. Instead of beating yourself up when you mess up, look at your failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. This will be better for your SEO career, as well as your self-esteem, in the long run.
Ask, and It Shall Be Answered at a Forum
Forums are almost as foundation to the SEO craft as courses and good books, and proof that if you want to walk far, you need to walk with others.
In other words, you should join a few even if you do not plan to comment; you will learn a lot just by keeping track of what others are discussing.
Forums are also great for networking, promoting your skills, and finding solutions, particularly for niche problems
One of the best forums for newbies is the aptly named SEO Mastering. It has a section dedicated to SEO basics, but in case you do not find the information you want, you can always start a new thread to seek for answers from other members
If it is the sheer variety you want, join Quora and SEO reddit. Both forums have thousands of members including many industry greats and a surfeit of information on everything SEO.
Moz, that enduring fixture of the SEO world, also has an excellent forum. Note, however, that you need a paid Pro account to comment. Other discussions boards include the Cigna’ Point forum, SEO Chat, WarriorForum SEO and WebmasterWorld.
Stay Fresh with Blogs and Conferences
A course or good books will give you with the foundation you need to build a great career, but you cannot become the SEO whiz you have always wanted to be if you do not keep up with the latest trends In the ever-evolving world of SEO. There are a number of good blogs that can help you in this regard.
These include old favorites, the Moz blog and Distilled; Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik, co-founder and chief education officer of Market Motive, a digital marketing training firm; and Blind Five Year Old, a blog by Marketing Land curator Al John that derives its name from an Land curator Al John that derives its name from an eponymous SEO philosophy.
Others are SW by the Sea, a blog that tracks white papers, patent filings and other information in order to divine changes in the logic search engines use to rank web pages.
SEO conferences provide another avenue for keeping up with the latest trends in the industry, in addition to being great places to network.
One of the best known is MozCon: a three-day SEO-fest of fun, food and actionable tactics that take place once a year at Seattle.
Others are RibCon Pro, a search marketing event held in Las Vegas every year; and three-day SEO-fest of fun, food and actionable tactics that take place once a year at Seattle. There’s also Inbounder, a digital marketing conference featuring renowned speakers from all over the world convened at Valencia, Spain.
If you prefer your conferences served with a healthy helping of location hopping, reserve a spot at SMX, an event organized by Marketing Land that is held in different cities several times a year, or Searchlove, a once-yearly cities several times a year by Distilled.
Other conferences that should be on your list include SEJ Summit, an annual event hosted by the Search Engine Journal and held at Chicago, and the venerable SXSW, an integrated mega-event that provides SEO in its vast menu of programs.
There is nothing arcane about SEO, as you have probably learned by now.
Follow the right steps: start with a course or good books to build the overarching perspective you need to navigate the field. You should also augment your studying with videos, webinars, blogs and other sources; practice, practice, practice.
Don’t forget to learn from your mistakes; interact with others at conferences and online forums; and keep yourself updated. When you do so, nothing can stop you from becoming the SEO Jedi you have always wanted to be. Carry on!