Three Top Guides to Learning SEO for Beginners

I believe I’ve already mentioned the wonderful Moz guide to SEO for beginners.  It’s the top-ranking guide to teach us total newbies how to do the research that we need to do to get those referrals from search engines.  I’ve had TWO! in the 45 days that this blog has been around. I think I owe that to (1) better structure for this blog   (2) more descriptive and helpful titles for blog posts; and (3) using the Moz Keyword Planner to add more tags to posts. 

Today I’m going to dive more deeply into the Moz guide a bit later in this post. First, I’m also going to  offer up two other great beginner’s guides that I have found to be especially helpful and easy.

Best in Helping Newbies “Get” SEO  quickly

Although the Moz guide rightfully has earned its rankings as the top guide for beginners in the arcane arts of SEO, it still can be a bit technical for those of us new to these ideas.  If you’re looking for something short and sweet that will help you to wrap your head around search engine algorithms, without requiring too much prior knowledge, I would recommend you start with Kissmetrics SEO Guide.

This guide is just one longish post, with practical, easy to understand explanations and useful tips for beginners.  (By comparison, the Moz guide has ten chapters. It feels like an entire course on SEO and sometimes it gets a bit technical.)  Kissmetric’s “comprehensive” guide is really just a super-easy introduction to SEO.  Some of its advice is geared to the technically savvy; for example, it discusses HTML code and the robots.txt file–which us old school bloggers know refers to old-style techniques of dealing with crawlers (in the days before WordPress, Blogger, Wix and Foursquare).   That is more relevant to those creating full-scale commercial websites, rather than blogs (for the most part, there are always exceptions.)  What I’m saying is that if you don’t understand the tiny bits of tech talk in this piece, it shouldn’t concern you. Don’t sweat it.

This post also has some related links are also worth some study.  This infographic on how to optimize a web page (or a blog post) to get the most bang is SUPER HELFUL.

There are some indicators that suggest that this guide may be a bit dated.  In one of its related links, Three Lazy SEO Tips to Jumpstart Customer Acquisition , the author describes that keyword planning is broken and not up to 2005 standards. Ooops.  Dear Lord, how old is that post?   I cannot find any date on it, so I’m supposing it is well over a decade old. Yikes.  Kissmetrics does maintain a current blog with more up to date and useful advice, for example this post on some overlooked tactics in how to effectively use social media.

The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

If you’re totally new to the idea of SEO, I would suggest you start with Kissmetrics Guide, then follow that up with Google’s VERY OWN Guide to SEO, Google Search Engine Analytics Starter Guide. 

This is a simple PDF file, chock-full of easy explanations and helpful hints on how to optimize your blog (or website) to make things easier for Google’s crawlers to understand and rank your site.   I learned a good deal from this document such as that “nofollow” thing:  Use nofollow in a reference when you do not want to pass your reputation on to the site you’re linking to.   Much of the advice is also found elsewhere, but it’s nice to have the authoritative, pretty easy to understand guide handy.  This is the second great starting point for beginners in SEO.

The Great Kahuna:  Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Moz’s ten chapter Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a monster of a guide.   If I were to teach a class on social marketing for home business (which is one of my, ahem, ambitions),  I would devote a good chunk of time to covering the material found here.

After an excellent introduction to the whole idea of SEO and how crawling and indexing work (Chaps 1-3), in Chapter Four, you get down to the nitty-gritty of understanding how a search engine sees your page.   A word of warning: some of the advice given requires a good understanding of HTML in order to know what to actually do.

Chapter Five on Keyword Planning  provides not only great information on the topic, but links to useful resources for Google and Bing, with references to its own, free keyword planning tool that I’ve found to be most helpful.

Chapter Six takes on the the problem of usability and how that impacts SEO scores.   This chapter discusses the “long click” — search engines measure how long someone stays on a page that they’ve clicked onto, before they return to the search engine return page to look for another website.  INTERESTING! Who knew? 🙂   This chapter is also worth spending some time with to better understand why and how your audience finds your site.  It suggests that we content creators must develop a better feel for what audiences needs from us to get the information (and products) we have to offer.

Chapter Seven goes into search engine ranking factors in some detail.   It has the most comprehensive guide to link building strategies anywhere on the Internet, hands down.   The chapter also offers insights into the use of social media, using humor to “go viral” and other tips and tricks that I will be giving a much closer study in the weeks to go –just to grow this little blog.

Chapter Eight: Search Engine Tools and Services is very technical. This chapter covers  three Search Engine tools: Google, Bing, and their own Moz tool, to better examine your own site.  Very interesting stuff which I hope to explore in later posts! It deserves its own post to break it down into more digestible pieces.

Chapter Nine: Myths and Misconceptions about Search Engines  is an interesting read on some issues about how search engines work in greater detail, without getting overly technical.  This one tip I found most interesting was the information about paid “promotions” in search engines. Turns out,  if you pay to have your site promoted, it does nothing to improve your “organic” SEO rankings.  So paying Google to promote your site won’t help your site when you’re done with that campaign–and this is true for all search engines.  This chapter discusses many of the “no-no’s” like keyword stuffing and other methods of manipulating the search engines — and how those methods actually cause your SEO rankings to plummet!   Further, if you’ve already been led astray by these bad practices, this chapter helps you to clean up your act and lift the penalties.

The Final Chapter (#10) gives you some advice on how to measure and track your relative success in SEO.  This is easily the most technical of the chapters.  A combination of classes in marketing and classes in actual honest-to-cornflakes search engine optimization might be needed to truly dig into this chapter.  I think you would need to have some experience in working with actual tools to get the most out of this chapter–though this chapter does list a whole slew of tools (including, ahem, the ones they built.)  If you’re ready to go to the whole next level of SEO, beyond the beginner status, checking out these tools might be a good first step.

As I work my way through these self-teaching lessons, I wish to thank my 28(!) followers for valuing my work on this infant blog.   Drop by, leave a comment. 🙂   I so look forward to interactions, especially from members the Twitter #bloggerstribe.

You’re welcome to follow me on Twitter at @impracticaladvi
I follow back!   Best, ~Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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