Learning SEO? The Beginner’s List of Resources to Get Started
You can’t get a degree in SEO. Books on SEO quickly become out-of-date.
Plus, there are hundreds of thousands of self-professed “SEO experts” out there, but far fewer people who actually understand what they’re talking about, and can apply it.
And you can’t swing a spreadsheet without hitting an article about SEO that’s either misleading, or just plain wrong.
So — how do you learn about SEO? Luckily, there are resources you can count on to always have trustworthy, valuable, and well-researched information.
To help you find them, I’ve put together a huge list of credible SEO resources in every category. If it’s on this list, you can trust what it says.
Please note: If you try to listen, read, or engage with every resource on this list, you’ll never have time for anything else. Think of it like a buffet — take a few things from the podcast section, enroll in a course or two, subscribe to three or four blogs … you get the drift.
In the past few years, there’s been an explosion of high-quality SEO-focused podcasts — which is great for anyone with a commute, dog who requires walking, partiality for learning on the go, or all of the above.
1. Skill Up
HubSpot’s first season of Skill Up is all about SEO. In this series, HubSpot Director of Acquisition (and co-founder of Traffic Think Tank) Matthew Howells-Barby and Academy professor Jorie Munroe dive into everything a search-oriented marketer or SEO needs to know this year. They start with searcher intent, move to modern ranking and conversion strategies, review international SEO, share successful link-building plays, and end with the future of SEO.
Not too shabby for less than six hours of content.
2. SEO 101
It’s a good pick if you’re just getting your feet wet.
On this podcast, SEO expert and consultant Dan Shure interviews big names and fresh faces in search. Former guests include AJ Kohn, Dawn Anderson, Marie Haynes, Barry Schwartz, Kevin Indig, and more. And as that lineup suggests, Experts on the Wire covers a diverse range of topics — from mobile-first indexing and structured data to unique link-building strategies and even SEO for the music industry.
The episodes typically run an hour to an hour and a half. There are currently more than 110 in the archive, so if you enjoy this show, you’ve got a lot to listen to.
Is SEO just one piece of the puzzle for you? Authority Hacker might be the podcast for you. The hosts, Gael Breton and Mark Webster, draw heavily on their own experiences running effective online businesses.
You’ll learn how to drive traffic to your store or website, nurture those visitors, and convert them into customers. Breton and Webster drop tons of SEO nuggets, but there’s also lots of general advice, like how to hire a solid team, pick an expanding niche, or set your own salary.
1. Tech Bound
I’m always excited to see a fresh edition of Kevin Indig’s Tech Bound newsletter in my inbox.
Each week, Indig dissects a trend, idea, or piece of marketing news. To give you an idea, past newsletters have covered Google’s push into the online travel agency (OTA) market, how to hire a great digital marketing team, and takeaways from Google’s near-constant algorithm tweaks.
He also shares several links from around the web worth reading.
Indig has also started doing a lot of interviews (which he shares with the Tech Bound audience weeks before publishing them elsewhere). Previous interviewees include the former Director of SEO for eBay and Nick Eubanks, co-founder of Traffic Think Tank and FromTheFuture (there’s some list overlap here!).
Here’s how it goes most weeks:
- 10 a.m.: I see a cool link on SparkToro Trending
- 11 a.m.: Someone shares the same link in HubSpot’s SEO Slack channel
- 12 p.m.: I log onto Twitter and see several people I follow have tweeted the same link
- 4 p.m.: Someone shares the same link in one of the SEO Slack channels I’m in
In other words, if something appears on SparkToro’s list of buzzy articles or tools, it’s usually something I should be reading — which makes sense, as links are algorithmically chosen based on their popularity with the SEO and marketing Twitter community.
If you don’t want to get addicted to refreshing Trending, subscribe to the email newsletter. You’ll get the top links in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.
#SEOForLunch, a weekly newsletter from Nick LeRoy, has a great format. LeRoy shares a timely link, tells you what’s important about said article, then gives you his take.
Following that, he recommends four to five posts from around the web worth your time.
In newsletter years, tl;dr Marketing has definitely been around a while — this one’s been going strong since 2015. It’s a curated collection of articles and resources that’s perfect if you’re short on time: each link has a straightforward explanation tagged by topic, so if you’re not interested in, say, social media, you can skip over anything with that tag.
Absorb information best when you’ve got some visuals? Good news, there’s plenty of screenshots in tl;dr.
Want to learn how to recreate the process that helped HubSpot grow organic traffic to its blog by several million users per month in just a year? In this Academy course, I’ll walk you through the exact workflow we use, sharing examples and actionable tips along the way.
It’s broken up into two sections: the fundamentals of an effective content strategy, and building your own Search Insights Report.
Each lesson includes a few interactive exercises, making the process of putting together a Search Insights Report for your own property much simpler and more straightforward.
2. SEO Training
For a higher-level intro to SEO, try HubSpot’s free SEO course.
It takes a little over an hour and a half to complete. In that time, you’ll discover how to determine your site’s SEO potential and develop a strategy, create content that’ll rank, and build links to that content.
You don’t need to use Serpstat’s SEO platform to take any of its short courses, which include Advanced Competitor Research, Backlink Analysis, How to Cold Pitch SEO courses, and more. While most of the lessons incorporate Serpstat, you can easily recreate the processes in the tool of your own choice.
If you’re in SEO, you’re almost certainly using Google Analytics. Google provides several different courses for getting yourself up to speed or taking your skills to the next level:
- Google Analytics for Beginners
- Advanced Google Analytics
- Google Analytics for Power Users
- Getting Started With Google Analytics 360
Successfully completing these courses will earn you certifications, which will boost your application during the job search.
5. Moz Academy
Each of Moz’s 16 paid courses cover a different fundamental aspect of SEO: local SEO, reporting, on-page optimization, backlinks, keyword research, etc. The price of each course ranges from $49 (SEO fundamentals) to $595 (also SEO fundamentals, but with a certificate for completion).
Like the other options on our list, SEMrush offers both courses and certifications. The cool thing about the latter? If you don’t want to take the course before getting certified, you can take the exam immediately. This is a fun way of testing your knowledge in different areas of SEO — especially if you’re preparing for an upcoming interview.
But back to the courses. Along with the usual suspects of topics (keyword research, link building, rank tracking, and so on), SEMrush also has courses on social media fundamentals, reporting and project management, and PPC.
Distilled’s online “SEO university” encompasses two courses: an intro to SEO course that covers topics like information architecture, competitive research, and on-page SEO, and an intermediate one that goes over Excel skills, HTML, international SEO, and more.
Examples and exercises are weaved in throughout the videos, which makes the content more engaging and sticky.
Access costs $33 to $44 per month, depending on your plan. That might sound steep (especially considering many of the other courses on this list are free), but you also get to see every presentation given at SearchLove events — a well-regarded series Distilled runs. It’s like a conference ticket that never expires.
Starting my career in blogging may have biased me, but blogs are by far my favorite way to keep up on SEO trends, new strategies, and interesting case studies.
For better or for worse, there’s far more great content out there than you could possibly read — even if you did nothing else. Below are my favorite blogs (but please keep in mind, just because one isn’t on this list doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of your time):
Whenever I’m looking for “breaking news” in the SEO world, I head to Search Engine Land. This website always has the latest information on all things search, from algorithm updates (both confirmed and unconfirmed) to Google My Business updates and DuckDuckGo changes.
There’s also a good mix of evergreen content and opinion pieces.
One last note: You know a site is great when its founder decides to move on — and take a job as Google’s Public Search Liaison. If that’s not a sign of authority, I don’t know what is.
- The Periodic Table of SEO Factors (updated for 2019) (This is downloaded over 50,000 times a year)
- How to prioritize SEO tasks by impact
- Here’s what happened when I followed Googlebot for 3 months
Search Engine Journal is another reliable source for the latest news in SEO, SEM, and social media. Several posts are published each day — typically one more timely article, such as “Chrome May Warn Users of Slow Pages Before They Click,” and two or three evergreen pieces, like “11 Reasons Your Website Can Have a High Bounce Rate.”
- How to Choose a Domain Name That Will Stand the Test of Time
- The Three Pillars of SEO: Authority, Relevance, and Trust
- 140 Top SEO Experts You Should Be Following in 2019
Barry Schwartz — who also contributes frequently to SEJ — runs this forum coverage site. What does “forum coverage” mean? Schwartz reports on the most relevant, interesting SEO discussions happening around the web.
And it’s not just a recap. He connects the conversation to a larger trend or idea, so you always understand how it fits into the big picture.
There are also lots of fun pictures from the Google offices (it’s nice to remember there are people behind the algorithm!).
- Vlog #25: Danny Sullivan On Working At Google & What He Sees Differently Now
- Vlog #22: Eric Enge On SEO Testing, Structuring Content & Managing Client Expectations
- Google: There Is Nothing To Optimize For With BERT
Distilled, an online marketing agency, has a reputation for running a fantastic advanced SEO conference where every session is valuable and fresh — and its blog is no different.
From in-depth posts on technical SEO best practices and tool tutorials to thoughtful opinion pieces, Distilled’s blog is a gold mine.
- Comprehensive Technical SEO Audit
- Search basics: the difference between URL structure and Information Architecture
- How to Present a Recommendation (these tips completely changed how I deliver recommendations both at HubSpot and with freelance clients!)
I try to read everything written by AJ Kohn, owner of SEO agency Blind Five Year Old. It’s just that good. His posts are thought-provoking, insightful, and meaty. As if that weren’t enough, he’s funny!
Kohn doesn’t publish too often — probably because each post is typically a mini-thesis — so I recommend going through the archives and then making sure you keep up with his new stuff.
- Algorithm Analysis in the Age of Embeddings
- The Invisible Attribution Model of Link Acquisition
- Analyzing Position in Google Search Console
Who hasn’t cut their teeth on the Moz blog? It’s a classic for a reason. Imagine you’re in a meeting with your developers, and they hit you with a question about hreflang tags. You have no idea what an hreflang tag is — sounds like an unsuccessful sneeze — but you also know this is a tough crowd, and if you’re clueless, you’ll lose valuable internal capital.
So you quickly search “what are hreflang tags”, find a Moz post, skim it, and glean enough in 15 seconds to look up and announce confidently, “Yes, we should use hreflang tags to help users searching in different languages find the localized pages on our site.”
That’s what Moz content does: it saves the day when you need to know something, ASAP. In addition to clear, comprehensive, trustworthy content, you should also check out Whiteboard Fridays. These weekly videos always break down interesting and relevant topics.
- Beginner’s Guide to SEO (If you haven’t read this, are you really in SEO?)
- Machine Learning 101 – Whiteboard Friday
- How to Create 10x Content – Whiteboard Friday
Our team has doubled down on posts about SEO in the past two years, and I’m proud of the results. Content falls into two main categories: experiments/case studies and best practices/foundational concepts.
This seminal post on topic clusters influenced an industry-wide shift in how websites organized their content, while this early post on updating old content helped marketers optimize their existing pages before that was a tried-and-true conference topic.
You can browse all of our SEO-related content — organized by level of expertise — on our SEO Topic Learning Path or check out the recommended articles below.
- How We Octupled Image Search Traffic to the HubSpot Blog in 1 Year
- The Ultimate Guide to Technical SEO
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics
Seer Interactive, a digital marketing agency, publishes new posts nearly every day—and proving that quantity doesn’t need to come at the expense of quality, all the content is helpful, easy to read, and most importantly, well-researched.
Many of their in-depth guides are in my bookmarks.
- Data Studio Tips for Non-Designers (this helped me put together some stunning reports)
- How to Calculate Your Own Click-Through Rate
- Screaming Frog Guide to Doing Almost Anything: 55+ Ways of Looking at a Tool (if you’re new to Screaming Frog, this article is gold)
Officially, this is the SparkToro blog — but it’s called Rand’s Blog, and Rand Fishkin is the only one who posts.
Which is cool, because it means you get a lot of (thoughtful, well-argued) opinions in the mix, along with interesting data and case studies.
Fishkin shoots from the hip, and the industry is better for it.
- Less than Half of Google Searches Now Result in a Click
- Why Web Marketers Should Invest in Demand Creation
- Can You Still Blog Your Way to Visibility & Credibility?
10. SEO by the Sea
A lot of SEO blogs regurgitate the same ol’ tips and tricks that everyone else is sharing. Not SEO by the SEA.
On this blog, Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital Bill Slawski summarizes and explains SEO-related patents. I won’t lie, sometimes I have to read his posts a few times for the information to sink in, but it’s always worth it.
- 20 Ways Search Engines May Rerank Search Results
- How Google May Handle Question Answering when Facts are Missing
- Using Ngram Phrase Models to Generate Site Quality Scores
To stay on top of all the latest announcements from Google, check out the official webmaster blog. Every time a big change comes out — like when Google decreed you could only use the stars review schema for businesses that weren’t yours — the SEO community publishes hundreds of hot takes, analyses, and predictions.
Follow-up posts are definitely worth looking at, but I recommend always going to the Google announcement first. Some takes are less accurate than others. If you’ve read the original post, you won’t be misled.
- Rolling out mobile-first indexing
- What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates
- The new evergreen Googlebot
12. Marie Haynes
I discovered Marie Haynes in the aftermath of the August 2018 “core update” — a.k.a. The MEDIC update. Haynes published an incredible analysis of MEDIC that was shared, well, everywhere.
She’s become one of my go-to sources for learning more about specific algorithm updates and changes.
- E-A-T and SEO
- What can Google’s Updated QRG tell us about quality in 2019?
- The June 3, 2019 Core Quality Update was a big one
Digital agency Builtvisible’s blog posts always manage to demystify confusing and technical topics in just a few thousand words.
The team also has a knack for publishing primers on interesting topics just as I’m thinking, “It would be useful to know how to do X,” or, “I waste so much time on Y.”
If you want to work smarter, this blog will be invaluable.
- An SEO’s guide to XPath
- The Ultimate Guide to Log File Analysis
- How to use Google advanced search operators to find indexation and technical SEO issues
Paul Shapiro posts new content to Search Wilderness a few times a year. And I don’t blame him — he’s got a full plate! He’s head of SEO for Catalyst, co-runs /r/BigSEO, and founded the Online Geniuses Slack community.
His credentials probably give you a good idea why the posts that do come out are worth every minute of your time.
- How to tag your keywords 10X faster and beat your SEO competition on insights
- Calculate Keyword Growth Using Google Trends, Python, and the Slope Formula
- How Much Content is Not Indexed in Google in 2019?
- Giphy’s Visibility Drops: Conspiracy or Consequence?
16. Siege Media
The Siege Media blog sure is easy on the eyes. But even if the design looked straight out of 2009, I’d still read it: because the content is also really, really good.
Posts range from detailed case studies and expert round-ups to best practices and guides. You’ll also find a lot of videos and podcasts (with transcripts and time stamps, in case you prefer reading to watching or listening).
- How to Get Image Snippets on Mobile
- When and Why the Skyscraper Technique Can Fail
- Why You Need 2x Content Not 10x Content (interesting countertake to the Moz post I recommended above)
Portent, a digital marketing agency, puts out a great range of content. From podcasting and link-building to Amazon and PPC, its blog will be useful to every type of marketer.
We’re here, however, for the SEO posts, and luckily, Portent has that in spades. Like the best SEO advice, it’s simple (to read) but sophisticated (in practice).
- A Developer’s Guide To SEO (this should be required reading for every SEO, designer, and developer)
- How to Choose the Right Attribution Model for Your Vertical
- SEO 101: Defining the long tail (a critical concept that I don’t hear talked about much)
To brush up on your analytical skills — or take them to the next level — beeline to Annie Cushing’s blog. Cushing just released a book series called Making Data Sexy, so rest assured she knows her stuff.
While her blog was fairly quiet while she worked on the book, the archives are chock-full of great resources.
- Regular Expressions: Don’t Use Google Analytics Without Them (Everyone in SEO should know RegEx)
- How To Pull Domains Out Of A List Of URLs In Excel [VIDEO]
- Excel’s INDEX MATCH Alternative To VLOOKUP For Marketers [VIDEO] (Not to be hyperbolic, but Index Match has changed my life)
19. Go Fish Digital
This digital marketing and reputation management agency has educated SEOs and marketers since 2009.
Bill Slawski, the agency’s director of SEO research (and author of SEO by the SEA, which is also on this list) publishes lots of great technical SEO content, like Contextual Knowledge Panels at Google and A Crowdsourcing Evaluation of Clustered Search Results. (There’s no overlap between Slawski’s articles for Go Fish Digital and his own blog — he’s just prolific.)
You’ll also find posts from other members of the team, from intern Kalina McKay (An Intro to Your First Link Building Campaign) to COO Daniel Russell (What Does Article 11 or “The Link Tax” Mean for SEO in the EU).
Many companies say they have a content-driven culture; Go Fish Digital actually walks the walk.
Recommended article (in addition to the ones linked above):
20. Sterling Sky
Joy Hakwins is one of the foremost experts on local SEO and Google My Business — and luckily for everyone who works in local search, she frequently publishes her wisdom to her agency’s blog.
You’ll appreciate Hawkins and her team members’ clear, matter-of-fact writing style as they demystify confusing, often contradictory Google My Business policies and local SEO best practices.
- How to Interpret Google My Business (GMB) Insights
- When Can Service-Based Businesses Have Multiple Google My Business Listings?
- [Quiz] The 2019 Local SEO Black Belt Quiz
I’ve never attended a Google Webmaster Hangout live, but I’ve read nearly every recap DeepCrawl has posted. The company has recapped nearly virtual Hangout for more than five years.
These recaps alone are worth the price of admission (or subscription), but you’ll also find interviews with experts, best practices, and explanations of fundamental SEO concepts.
- Webmaster Hangout recaps
- How Do Search Engine Crawlers Work?
- Ask the Expert: Hamlet Batista Answers Your Automated Text Generation Questions
Want technical SEO and nothing but technical SEO? You’ll appreciate the Botify blog. Apart from the occasional product-focused announcement, every blog post is tactical, in-depth, and data-backed.
Most articles include step-by-step instructions and screenshots, as well as handy breakdowns of relevant ideas or terms. Check this blog out when you’re looking for inspiration or experiment ideas.
- Orphan Pages and SEO: Stop Hurting Yourself
- Is Page Depth a Ranking Factor?
Hat tip to Ahrefs for introducing me to this blog. Every month, Merj publishes a roundup of technical SEO news, such as, “New Features Described in Chrome 76 Beta,” and “Wayback Machine Adds Changes Feature.”
If you’re coming back from vacation, an intense, heads-down work period, or a cruise with no internet access, it’s a fantastic resource for catching up again.
Recommended articles (in addition to the monthly roundup):
Glenn Gabe, who leads the internet marketing agency GSQi, started this blog in 2012. Impressively, since then he’s published at least once a month — usually more. His posts are in-depth, conversational, and packed with informative screenshots.
Gabe specializes in Google algorithm changes and SERP updates, analyzing victims and victors with a true zeal. He also shares SEO tool recommendations, improvements, and use cases.
- When The Hammer Falls – Analyzing Lyrics in the Google SERPs and Its Impact on Traffic [Case Study] (From 2015, but still incredibly relevant)
- Should You Remove Low-Quality Or Thin Content Versus Improving It? Seeing The Forest Through The Trees
- How To Use Scroll Depth Tracking, Adjusted Bounce Rate, and Average Time On Page As A Proxy For User Engagement and Content Quality
The iPullRank blog comes to you from the fine folks at the eponymous digital marketing agency. It has a healthy mix of marketing content, from local SEO and link building to UX and PR, and features custom videos, infographics, and visuals.
New posts go up approximately three times per month.
- Your Analytics Data Isn’t Real And It’s Only Getting Worse (the analytics apocalypse is here — get ready!)
- Mobile UX: 75 Best Practices For A Masterful Mobile Web
- 10 Ways Brands Forfeit Their Branded Search
SEO Slack Groups
SEO Slack communities are fantastic platforms for meeting other professionals, hearing about job opportunities and/or recruiting for your own team, sharing and discovering resources, and, of course, learning.
In my experience, there is too much of a good thing. If you’re a member of several active groups, you might be overwhelmed by all the information and discussion. I’d recommend being an active participant in one or two groups versus a somewhat silent member of three or four.
I’m a member — and ardent supporter — of the Women in Tech SEO Slack group. Areej Abuali, the founder and leader, does a great job leading virtual meetups, moderating conversations, and keeping the group active.
Channels include Coding, Events, Analytics, Jobs, and Motivation.
Traffic Think Tank is a private community of SEOs that’s available for a monthly or yearly fee. The content is designed to more than pay for itself — in addition to a network of marketers, consultants, and business leaders, you also get access to Q&As and webinars with the founders, as well as 300+ hours of tutorials, templates, and other resources.
This free SEO and marketing-focused community has more than 20,000 members. That scale can be both overwhelming and invaluable — while you may need to log off every now and again, the size means you can join local events, learn from hundreds of other people with your job title or facing similar challenges, and participate in AMAs with the likes of Nir Eyal and Guy Kawasaki.
More than 43,000 people belong to this subreddit, which, despite the name, encourages discussion and debate about all things inbound marketing. However, I’ve noticed most people tend to stick to SEO.
The most popular posts get anywhere between 20 and 300 comments; not bad for a more niche subreddit. While the quality of the advice can vary (as you’d expect from any open community), the AMAs are consistently excellent. Previous guests include Rand Fishkin, Aleyda Solis, and Bill Slawski.
TechSEO is far smaller than /BigSEO, hovering around 6,500 members. Its focus is “the tech nerd side of SEO.”
This subreddit also hosts a lot of AMAs. There’s some overlap with the guests on /BigSEO; however, /TechSEO has also gotten Alexis Sanders, Gary Illyes, and John Meuller.
If you’re looking for a good place to find and share technical resources, ask advanced questions, and learn from the tech SEO greats, join this subreddit.
At 113,000 subscribers, /SEO is the largest subreddit of the group. That’s both a blessing and a curse: the typical posts gets more engagement, but there’s more misinformation.
/SEO does not host official AMAs, although occasionally someone will do an impromptu one (like AMA: SEO’d a site from $0/mo to $30,000/mo in earnings within 3 years).
Newer SEOs will get the most out of this subreddit.
I hope this helps you as you continue to learn more about SEO. If you’ve discovered a helpful resource from the list, let me know on Twitter @ajavuu.
You can’t get a degree in SEO. Books on SEO quickly become out-of-date.