Learning SEO Basics
So you’re a marketer. And you’re trying to figure out SEO. Nothing fancy. Just the basics.
Well, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to learning SEO basics. The good news is that, in the world of SEO, there are no gatekeepers. The SEO community is an open source of information for whoever wants to learn. No college courses to take and no expensive textbooks or required classes.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that starting your SEO training can be overwhelming because there’s so much out there. Where should you start? Who’s a reliable source? How do you stay current on a skill set that changes as quickly as the technology it’s based on?
You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers. In this multi-part blog series, we’ve assembled a complete list of resources for the SEO beginner, all of them designed to help you navigate the landscape and get up to operating speed quickly.
Step 1: Learn how to do things the right way
If you’re completely new to SEO, the Moz beginners’ guide to SEO is the perfect place to start. Written in straightforward, beginner-friendly language, it outlines the basic purpose and processes of SEO.
It starts with an overview of how search engines work (and why SEO is important), then moves into clear explanations of keyword research, content strategy, usability, link-building and performance tracking. By the time you finish the guide, you’ll have a basic high-level understanding of every element of SEO, plus a solid sense of how they work together.
Even beyond their beginner SEO guide, Moz is a great source for all things SEO. If you’re looking for more in-depth information, you can’t go wrong with their blog, which features all kinds of SEO-related content contributed by experts across the nation.
Once you’ve got your basics down, turn to Google’s search engine optimization starter guide for more details about implementation. Rather than focusing on what SEO is and how it works, like the Moz guide, the Google starter guide gets into the nitty-gritty. You’ll learn actionable steps you can take to improve the SEO presence of your site. While the guidelines offered in the starter guide are general and don’t include recommendations tailored to specific website types, you can still build a great SEO foundation for your site by following them.
Step 2: Learn how to not do things the wrong way
White hat? Black hat? Why are we talking about hats on a marketing blog?
“White hat” and “black hat” describe two types of search engine optimization tactics.
White hat SEO tactics focus on achieving sustainable, long-term SEO gains. They typically follow Google’s best practice guidelines for webmasters, always working toward the goal of creating a great site experience. Implementing them tends to take significant amounts of time and effort.
Black hat SEO tactics focus on getting short-term results quickly. They don’t follow Google’s best practices and run the risk of incurring penalties from Google as a result. Often, they’ll involve shady solutions like buying links from other websites or overusing keywords in a way that detracts from users’ experience on the site.
While black hat SEO tactics were popular in the nineties and early 2000s, SEO has moved on. Google continually updates their algorithms to reduce the effectiveness of black hat SEO strategies and encourage user-focused, white hat strategies.
As an SEO beginner, it can be difficult to know the difference between black hat and white SEO tactics. Nothing is scarier than the idea of Google penalizing your site for a mistake you didn’t know you were making.
Thank goodness Google’s Webmaster Guidelines outline black hat, penalty-causing SEO tactics in detail on their support pages. A quick read-through will set you up for SEO success, ensuring you avoid black hat tactics and keeping you on the straight and narrow.
Step 3: Get help from SEO experts
That’s where we come in. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency with SEO capabilities that fit your needs. We work collaboratively with our clients to ensure they understand our SEO strategies as well as we do. And we customize our strategies to our clients.