The key to being good at SEO is to fully understand it. Here are five great resources to help you on your way.
1. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
There are countless guides available online covering every aspect of of SEO, but the ‘Beginner’s Guide’ from Moz takes some beating. The guide covers everything from how search engines work, to usability, right through to measuring results, which makes an ideal first port of call for anyone embarking on an SEO journey.
2. The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors
Where a website ranks on a SERP (search engine results page) is defined by a complex algorithm, made up of many different ranking factors, or signals (but of course you already knew, that, having read the guide above!). This table breaks each of those signals down, categorises them, and illustrates how each of them works together with regard to SEO.
3. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
A solid understanding of how to read and analyse website visitor data is essential for any aspiring SEO guru, and this guide (from Moz, again) serves as a great introduction to Google Analytics – the SEO analyst’s best friend.
To the uninitiated, Google Analytics can appear intimidating to say the least, but this guide does a fine job of breaking it down into manageable chunks of information that you can take away and make use of right away.
4. Google Analytics IQ (Individual Qualification)
Once you’ve grasped a basic understanding of Google Analytics, it’s time to put your new found knowledge to the test.
Sitting the Google Analytics IQ exam is a perfect hands-on introduction to the tool and its inner workings. Start by following the study guide and then, once you feel confident enough, head over to the IQ exam page and book yourself in for the 90 minute exam.
Sitting the exam is a great way of pushing yourself to explore areas of Analytics you may have otherwise chosen to ignore, plus you get to brag about your new qualification once you’ve passed it.
To fully understand how to optimise websites, you need to understand websites. Content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress have made website management easy – arguably too easy – and this can lead to laziness.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the CMS and SEO plugins we have access to today are amazing, but I’d urge you to head over to http://www.w3schools.com/html/ and work your way through the HTML tutorials, so at least when you make changes via your CMS you’ll know what’s happening behind the scenes.
Better still, if you have time I’d urge you to build a simple webpage from the ground up, incorporating the stuff you’ve learned along the way so far. Playing around with title tags, headings etc. is truly the best way to understand them.
Read every day: SEO is a fast moving industry and the dos and don’ts change as frequently as the English weather, so read as much as you can to keep yourself in the know.
Ask lots of questions: Reading is great, but doesn’t always answer those burning questions you have niggling away in the back of your mind. If in doubt, ask. Post comments on blogs, get involved in forum discussions and attend local meetups, if that’s your thing. This is the social web, so don’t be afraid to be social.
Get your hands dirty: Without a doubt the best way to learn about the intricacies of SEO is to get stuck in and do it. Set up a test blog or single page site where you can experiment to your heart’s content. Once you’ve got the basics down you can keep coming back to this test bed to hone your skills in the future too – this is something I do and it helps me out a great deal.