Search engine optimization (SEO), you know what it is or are familiar with the concept, but is learning it important to you?
SEO has always been a fascination of mine, but never a full-blown priority until recently. I’ve been able to rank my digital products well on Amazon and Udemy, and now I what to do the same for my websites. I follow a simple mantra, if nobody can see you, nobody will buy you. In other words, if your post, product or service shows up on the ninth page of Google search results, it will be tough to attract traffic/visitors to your website (no traffic = no sales). Therefore, understanding and implementing SEO activities can lead to generating more page views.
Many studies highlight the importance of being on the first page of search results. Call it convenience or laziness, most searchers limit their clicks to page one results. According to Philip Petrescu, “On average, 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the first page alone, the first five results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.”
I know that learning about SEO and applying the best practices won’t always guarantee first page results. However, it will provide me with strategic advantages and allow me to select my first-page ranking and keyword battles more wisely.
Who Should Learn SEO
Although SEO is just one of many online marketing activities, it’s the most critical one to learn because the goal of any online marketing activity is to get noticed. For instance, Facebook (social), YouTube (video), and Amazon (marketplace) feature keyword fields to optimize search. Understanding SEO obviously helps with ranking in search engines, and it will help you succeed in other domains as well. You should learn SEO if you:
- Own or manage a website or blog
- Conduct internet marketing activities (affiliate, content, social media, video, etc.)
- Generate revenue through online marketplaces (Amazon, Fiverr, Udemy, Upwork, etc.)
- Value SEO/SEM as part of your digital marketing strategy
When learning about SEO, you can disregard labels such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced/expert. Also, taking too many courses won’t lead to a greater understanding because the law of diminishing return will quickly set in and data points will become redundant.
Top 5 SEO Training Courses and Resources
Your goal should be to develop an excellent knowledge base to implement a viable strategy. On the flip side, studying SEO is a small part of the science because it will boil down to experimentation, error, and execution. For instance, putting my new skills to use has produced a few page one victories, but those have required multiple tweaks of my WordPress plugin, title tags, URLs, and meta descriptions (anchor texts are also important as you’ll discover).
In a quest to learn SEO, a person can get easily overwhelmed by search results (the irony). Fortunately, my exposure to e-learning platforms gave me a head start on where to look.
Coursera provides global access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online. They’ve partnered with Stanford, Yale, and Princeton to name a few. Students can take courses for free or pay to obtain course completion certificates as I did for a marketing course I completed. Additionally, Coursera offers multi-course specializations in various subjects.
Unlike their direct competitor, edX.org, Coursera offers a robust six-course SEO specialization in partnership with the University of California. I’m currently enrolled and after completing the first course, I was thoroughly impressed and look forward to taking the others. Moreover, I recommend paying for the program, if you wish to expand your career options or desire to become an SEO consultant.
Udemy is where I teach several courses relating to online business, marketing, and self-publishing. They offer 40,000+ courses through 15 main subjects to over ten million students. Where Coursera is more academic/theoretical in nature, Udemy tends to attract experienced instructors.
As of this writing, a search for “SEO” revealed 26 free courses and 256 paid with these worth exploring:
- What Is SEO? Learn SEO Basics & Optimize Your Website (Free)
- SEO For SEO Beginners (Free)
- SEO Roadmap: SEO to Rank #1 & Skyrocket Sales (Paid)
- The Complete SEO Course – #1 Position on Google in 30 Days! (Paid)
Moz started in 2004 as an SEO consultancy and expanded in the same direction to offer a range of software as a service (SaaS) solutions. Their brand has become synonymous with SEO, and they’re considered a global authority. In fact, a search for “what is SEO” yields two Moz results on page one (that’s walking the walking).
Moz offers a couple of short courses on Udemy, but you’ll find a treasure chest of online learning resources including guides, webinars (Mozinars), quizzes, whitepapers, and more at their website. I explored several of their resources which proved to be beneficial.
While Moz is synonymous with SEO, Google is search. Google commands nearly two-thirds of US search activity, and they have an incredible global brand. Millions of online users prefer Google over their chief rivals i.e. Bing and Yahoo. Suffice it to say; most training resources structure their contents based on Google’s search engine, algorithms, and announcements.
Google doesn’t offer an SEO training course per se, but their brief SEO starter guide is a must read (I recommend reading it after you learn a few things about SEO). Furthermore, their suite of free tools including Google Analytics, Webmaster, AdWords, and others embody nuances to excel in SEO. For example, their free keyword planning tool found in AdWords is used by millions of SEO practitioners including myself. Furthermore, I rebooted my Webmaster account when I was reminded of its value through the Coursera course. I find Google’s products to be relatively intuitive, but they do offer free training for their various platforms.
There are several excellent WordPress SEO plugins (All-In-One-SEO and Yoast), but unless you know how to customize them, your strategy and activities will be compromised. Yoast is behind the second most used SEO WordPress plugin and for training purposes, they have an academy consisting of a blog, ebooks, and courses. Also, their YouTube channel is worth exploring.
HubSpot provides a lot of useful content regarding online marketing, and they offer many guides on different marketing topics. Conversely, I was very disappointed with their much touted Inbound Certification course which yielded little value add concerning SEO. As a result, I didn’t complete their course and don’t recommend it.
I use Google’s keyword planner religiously to plan my posts. With an appreciation for SEO, I research keywords first, before writing anything. My goal isn’t to always pursue the most popular keywords because I’m better off targeting less popular terms, getting on the first page, and getting some clicks than being on page three and getting no clicks. In other words, you should consider possible outcomes concerning your chosen keywords by reviewing click-through rate (CTR) studies and analyzing first page results (your competition).
Make sure to revisit your efforts in a week. Wherever I’m trying to get ranked and noticed, I double back to review how I can better meet my objectives then make changes accordingly.