Understanding SEO is crucial. In the past you may have been able to get by with publishing great content and images and then seeing what happens, but now that more and more people understand SEO, there is strategy involved. You not only need to know the ins and outs of SEO so that you can keep up, but you need to understand it enough so that you can get creative and stand out from the pack. For most businesses owners, this overarching plan is going to start with learning a little bit more about SEO on his/her own.

Fortunately, teaching yourself the basics of SEO can be simple if you know where to look. There is a lot of information out there on this topic, so it’s important you’re trusting the right sources and going through the right steps so that you don’t get confused.

Steps to Teaching Yourself the Basics of SEO

Below explains the steps you can take to help create a basic understanding of search engine optimization and how it relates to your business:

  1. Reading is the core of your understanding.

Just as with learning about most things, reading is going to be the best place to start and it’s going to be the core of your understanding. Even if you don’t understanding everything you read at first, taking the time to process some of the great SEO guides out there will help you in the future when you do come across a scenario where that information would be helpful. In other words, hopefully what you read will come back to remembrance later when you need it, or at the very least you will know where to go to look back and re-read.

Of course as discussed above, there are thousands of articles out there giving SEO advice. When you know something specific you want to learn you can use the resources discussed in the next section. For now, I recommend starting with The Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz or SEO: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners. Many of the resources in the next section will also have beginner guides that you can trust.

  1. Give SEO tools a try.

There are several different SEO tools out there that you can try in order to see how everything works. Upload SEO plugins to your website, get started with Google Analytics and check out some of the reports, download free trials of any paid tools that interest you, and see how keyword research works with the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This will help give you a sense about some of the things you were reading and help you put it into practice without any real consequences.

  1. Get active in the SEO community.

This means commenting on SEO articles and asking questions, sharing SEO articles on social media, joining SEO groups wherever possible (LinkedIn has some great options), and reading and commenting in different SEO forums. You can also subscribe to SEO websites so that you get their latest content right to your inbox. The more active you can become the more comfortable you will feel when it comes time for these next few steps.

  1. Connect with SEO mentors and influencers.

Social media is going to be a huge factor in helping you understand SEO. Once you have become active in the community and know a little bit more about how everything works, try and connect with SEO experts on social media. Write to them and let them know that you read an article you really liked or that you have a question about something they’ve published in the past. Being specific and showing that you are aware of the person’s work will help get you that connection and hopefully start a long-term relationship.

Keep in mind that you may get denied by a few influencers, but don’t let that stop you. Once you start connecting with more and more people, you’ll start to have mutual connections, which will help you stand out to some of the experts who haven’t noticed your involvement in the community. In the end, a mentorship could come out of the relationships and then you’ll have a great place to go and ask questions.

  1. Start writing about the basics of SEO.

Once you feel like you have a fairly good handle on SEO, writing about it is going to bring you to that next level. Write about something you feel confident about and then publish that on your blog. I think you will find that writing about something forces you to ask a lot of questions you maybe hadn’t thought about before, which will help you further your education even faster.

  1. Move on to interviewing different SEO agencies.

So a lot of Webmasters will feel like they don’t need to work with an SEO agency once they understand how SEO works. While this may be true for some, the majority of companies will need someone to think about SEO strategies full time. Because SEO is always changing and content constantly needs to be optimized, it’s a full time job that needs more than just someone who understands the basics of SEO.

Interviewing different SEO agencies to help your company can help you practice what you know when asking questions, but also give you an opportunity to hear about some of the agencies’ ideas and opinions. Tip: I highly recommend learning SEO on your own first before jumping into these interviews.

SEO Resources to Keep On Your Radar

Below are a few resources you can use frequently to keep up with the latest SEO news and new features being announced:

  1. Google Webmaster Central Blog. This is the source of most of Google’s algorithm updates and announcements of new Google features and tools. It also offers several tutorials on certain aspects of Google.
  2. Google Webmaster YouTube Channel. This is another resource specific to Google news, but they do a great job of creating videos to help you understand confusing information.
  3. Search Engine Land. This is arguably the top SEO blog on the web. They are always analyzing new Google announcements and featuring SEO advice from real experts.
  4. Search Engine Journal. This is a great SEO blog because it features a lot of guest authors who offer different perspectives and bring different experiences to the table.
  5. Alltop SEO. This website works like more of a directory for SEO blogs.

Do you know of any great ways to teach yourself SEO that we may have missed? Do you have any questions or any stories to share? Let us know in the comment section below.