Mollie Vandor is a product manager at BetterWorks, and the former associate product manager at Cooking.com. Prior to that, she helped launch Ranker.com, where she served as the product manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”
Search engine optimization isn’t exactly something you can major in — at least, not yet. In fact, many professional search engine optimizers are self-taught. They’ve supplemented backgrounds in marketing, computer science and the like with self-education via online courses, videos and blog posts.
Whether you’re looking to build your knowledge of the basics, master more intermediate material or get to the head of the advanced class, a wealth of online resources can help you graduate your SEO skills to the next level.
- There are plenty of places to learn freshman level SEO, starting with that most useful of school supplies — the cheat sheet. Try Business Insider’s “10 Basic SEO Tips Every Web Developer Should Follow.” The definitive SEO destination SEOMoz also has a Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO to get you started.
- Google publishes an excellent Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, similar to Yahoo’s SEO Basics, which is less technical and more colloquial. Both guides are great for the SEO student looking for a comprehensive introduction to the topic. Taken together, they basically amount to an SEO 101 textbook.
- If you want to supplement all that online learning with the good, old-fashioned printed word, check out Get To #1 On Google In Easy Steps and Search Engine Optimization For Dummies, both of which break down SEO into simple steps. The first book’s visual pictures and tips make it easy to read. The second goes a little more in depth, but is still a relatively easy read to get you started.
- Finally to make sure you’ve mastered all the basics, review SEOMoz’s “Beginner’s Checklist For Learning SEO.” Its series of tasks test your SEO skills — think of it like a final exam for the fundamentals.
- Congratulations, you’ve passed freshman SEO. Now it’s time to take that knowledge to the next level by applying broad basics to specific situations. The SEO Theory blog has a whole section devoted to posts about intermediate SEO techniques like nofollow links, making the most of microsites and smartly using subdomains.
- If you’re a small business owner, web design company GNC Web Creations offers a free SEO course run through Yahoo groups. It’s aimed at helping small business owners get their hands dirty with in-depth SEO techniques.
- Visual learners should check out SEO firm Vertical Measures, which has a compendium of free webinars and videos covering topics like content optimization, keywords and sitemap. Similarly, SEOBook publishes a series of SEO videos covering content creation, keyword choice and more.
- If you’re willing to spend some money, SEO expert Kalena Jordan runs a very well-reviewed series of classes online through Search Engine College. The curriculum includes courses on PPC Advertising, copywriting, usability and more. With fees ranging from $200 to $1500, there’s something for everyone.
- For the price of a few fee-based SEO tutorials, you could also start attending SEO conferences, where you can engage in group learning and meet other search-minded scholars. Search Marketing Expo is definitely the most popular SEO conference in its class, with conferences happening all year long around the world, but there are also numerous other conferences covering SEO, including Web 2.0 Expo in October and PubCon in November.
- Now it’s time to sink your teeth into some serious advanced placement SEO, specifically, by tackling really technical knowledge and encountering the breakneck pace at which the industry grows and changes. The best place to start your advanced placement training, believe it or not, is actually by turning off your computer and picking up a book. Try SEO Warrior or The Art Of SEO, both of which provide fantastic in-depth SEO techniques and analysis, perfect for SEO professionals, or anyone who wants to master professional-level skills.
- Since SEO is an industry that changes faster than the Google trending topics list, the most important advanced skill to master is staying ahead of the curve. The best way to do that is to stay plugged in to the places where people share day-to-day insights on the industry. There are plenty of SEOs to follow on Twitter, as well as SEO blogs that publish in-depth articles and analysis on a regular basis.
- Quora has a fantastic SEO community, as does Stack Exchange. Both sites are Q&A based, so you can find answers to commonly asked questions, or post SEO queries of your own.
- WarriorForum and SEOMoz also have thriving communities of hardcore SEO geeks who share advanced search secrets every day. In particular, SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday series is a wonderful way to get a weekly dose of in-depth analysis on topics like link building on Twitter and Mobile SEO. They also offer an advanced training DVD series to really help you round out your skills.
- There’s also no better place to go than the source. And, in SEO, the source is Matt Cutts, Google’s guru of search, who also happens to post a regular blog covering everything from sculpting pagerank to his latest vegan diet. While you’re bookmarking advanced placement blogs, be sure to also include the Google WebMaster Central Blog and YouTube channel.
Ultimately, since SEO is such a rapidly changing field, you can never really be done educating yourself on the latest trends, topics and tactics. It’s truly a skill set that requires continuing (and continuous) education. But, with resources like these and a willingness to learn, you’ll be graduating summa cum SERP ranking in no time.
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