Ready Designs

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Where to Start Learning SEO

Search Engine Optimization

March 23rd, 2010

I’m often asked how to learn SEO. The more I learn about the industry myself, the more I recommend that anyone who can, hires an SEO specialist. It’s a hugely deep and time consuming field. However, while it’s great to have the budget to hire a professional SEO for every project, that isn’t always realistic. Besides, as a Web designer or developer, the more you know about SEO the better you can plan your sites, even if an SEO expert may be hired down the line. Here’s where to get a basic grasp of SEO concepts and how to delve deeper if you choose.

Read A Guide

SEO changes rapidly due to the evolving nature of search engines and their algorithms, so I although there are plenty of books on the subject, your best bet is to get your information from reputable industry blogs. Only a few years ago, meta tags were the crux of SEO, and I’m sure books touting it are still in print. The field itself is a deep and rich one with many complex facets, but there are some excellent guides for getting started. A personal favorite SEO 101 guide is the “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” put together by SEOMoz, an industry leader. There you will learn the basics of how search engines operate, how to conduct keyword research, and how to build a site’s popularity, links, and ultimately search engine rankings. In short, everything you need to know to get a grasp of the basics is all laid out in that one guide.

Dig Deeper

Once you’ve read the Beginner’s Guide above, look around other parts of the SEOMoz site. There you’ll find some amazing articles and a weekly video to help you delve deeper into the black box that is SEO. Visit Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal for some more SEO meat, then head over to Sphinn to see what’s trending, what’s changing, and what’s worth being talked about in the industry (Sphinn is basically the Digg for SEO geeks).

Get Some Tools

If you are serious about learning SEO, it will take a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting with various tools, especially Google Analytics. You’ll also want to pick up a few Firefox add-ons, including NoDoFollow and the free version of the SEOMoz Firefox toolbar. If you have a WordPress blog, start optimizing it right away with the All-in-One SEO Pack, Google XML Sitemaps, and Statpress Reloaded.

All of this barely scratches the surface of the SEO iceberg, but I hope it gives you a place to get started. If you know of other beginners’ SEO resources, have an SEO question, or just want to voice an opinion, please leave a comment. All approved comments on this blog are search engine followable, giving you some link-juice for your fledgling SEO campaign.

Even More Goodness! (Added 7/26/10)

SEOmoz, my favorite SEO blog, has written a far more comprehensive guide on where and how to learn SEO. They include online and print publications to read, communities to join, and even some conferences and classes to attend. I highly recommend you check it out!

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