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How to Learn SEO on Your Own

 In SEO, SEO Strategy

seoPeople often ask me how to learn SEO on their own. Of course, like anything, if you have the time, there are many, many places and resources to learn from. For a business website, you are always best working with experienced SEO experts. But no matter what, it’s a good idea for you to have a solid understanding of the process and of the factors that are crucial to SEO success.

Over time, I’ve developed a short list of sites and resources I recommend in response. These could be useful for any student of Search Engine Optimization to read and share. This is by no means a complete list, and clearly it’s fairly subjective. And I’d love to know what SEO-education resources are on your list. So, please comment below with any other sites or resources that you think will be good for the self-learning SEO beginner.

With that, here is my list of beginner SEO resources for SEO self-education – or, how to learn SEO at home, in your spare time.

SEO Education Sites

Webmaster Academy from Google – This is an amazing resource from Google, for anyone who wants to create or improve a website. It offers web creation and optimization tips, lessons, and quizzes. Start your SEO education here!

Webmaster Academy is a beginners’ web and SEO course, divided into 3 modules. Each can be completed in about 1 hour. Of course, you can set your own pace.

The first module is on creating a site and reviews some key concepts. It’s fast and basic but don’t skip it.

Module 2, on “How Google Understands Your Site” covers important fundamentals of search optimization that every site owner should know. Even some experts would do well to review this material from time to time!

Module 3 is on Google Resources. This section walks you through the steps of creating a Webmaster Tools account (discussed below as well) and other important webmaster resources.

Google’s SEO Starter Guide – A few years ago, Google published this SEO starter guide (PDF) and updated it a couple years later. It remains an important document outlining, describing, and illustrating fundamental SEO best practices. What could be more significant than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth? Read this doc and check back once in a while to see if anything new has been added!

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) – Google Webmaster Tools is exactly that: Tools for the webmaster. This is a rich site from Google, with a large variety of free tools and data that will help you diagnose and understand your website. Most importantly, you will learn how to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google via GWT. This will create a feedback loop between you and Googlebot. As it crawls the sitemap and indexes your site, it will report back to you via the GWT tools on any issues or errors it discovers. This is the first, and often, most-used tool every SEO has in his/her magic SEO bag. Sign in with your Gmail or Google account and start playing, reading, and learning.

Bing Webmaster Tools (BWT) – Bing Webmaster Tools is similar to GWT, with an excellent set of free SEO and web tools that give you important information on how the Bing crawler understands your site.

Google Webmaster Central Help Forum – This is one of the best places to go to find answers to common SEO and Google-related questions. You’ll gain a lot by seeing what other webmasters are asking and reading their answers to and from each other. Contributors are rated for their expertise. You have to join this forum, using your Gmail or Google Account, to read and participate.

Whiteboard Friday – This is a fantastic and dynamic resource from the amazing people at with something new and relevant, every week. On Fridays, Rand Fishkin and others, post a video lesson on current and important SEO questions. The lesson is filmed in front of a whiteboard and a full transcript is provided with each post.  This is great when you want the info but can’t play the video out loud (and it’s good for moz SEO too! J)

As an example, this week’s Whiteboard Friday discusses what to do if you want to rank


for local searches in locations where you don’t actually have a physical presence. This is extremely relevant to the many companies large and small, who sell their wares or services in multiple regions beyond their physical domains. Watch it – or read it — here:

Google Webmasters YouTube Channel – Google Webmasters Help, on YouTube. An endless array of SEO and search-related videos.

Important SEO Blogs

Webmaster Central Blog (from Google) – This is the place to go to be sure you are up to date with announcements from Google and to keep yourself current. There are new posts and videos regularly, all on topics of concern to b

Search Engine Land – one of the leading blogs on the search industry, founded years ago (amazing isn’t it?) by Danny Sullivan, who is still one of the most important and influential voices in the industry. He is no longer the Editor-in-Chief, but the blog publishes daily and is worth following.

Search Engine Watch – Another important industry news site.

Matt Cutts’ Blog – Matt Cutts has been the head of Google’s Webspam team, and essentially, the voice of Google search and SEO for years. This is his personal blog, where he writes about many things. Although he is currently on leave, you should read his blog and watch his videos.

SEO Books

Art of SEO ( – While this book is a couple years old, it is an excellent reference, written by a handful of well-known experts.

SEO Organizations

SEMPO – The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, a non-profit serving the search industry. Membership is open to individuals as well as companies. Their website is a useful resource with an SEO Learning Center and a blog.

Free SEO Audit

Need a review of your site? Or of a competitor’s site? Call us for a free analysis and explanation of the results.

As I mentioned, this is a short list but a great place to start. I’d very much like to see this list grow with suggestions from you! Let us know where you get yours — SEO I mean — and we’ll include your feedback in a future update.

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