Online Resources for Would-be SEOs

Whether you’ve just learned what search engine optimization means or you smirk at the “googleprayer” tag, you know that SEO is one career that offers the ultimate in on-the-job training. So where do you turn for the textbooks? Keep reading for a guided tour.

As always, I have to start out by saying that I don’t do search engine optimization for a living. That said, I’ve been writing about it for more than three years now, and my resources have kept me on the ball as far as what’s been happening in the field. If you get a sinking feeling when you put “seo guides” into Google and see more than two million hits, take heart. You’ll still want to go through the list I’m going to give you to decide which ones will work for you. I’ve used all of them to further my own SEO education.

When you find the ones you like, you will want to consider setting up a feed to have new posts mailed to your inbox. Practically every web site is doing some kind of RSS feed these days. I don’t have everything on a feed, because I don’t want that kind of flood in my inbox. But I find myself relying more on the resources I receive in my email than I do on the ones I have bookmarked, simply because it’s more convenient.

Along those lines, Media Post Publications (http://publications.mediapost.com/) is the first resource I’d like to mention. You can register for free to receive a number of their newsletters. The ones I receive each focus on a different aspect of marketing and search. They include larger news, such as the reasons behind the latest battle between Google and Microsoft. They also include smaller, more practical items, such as the changes you can make to your web site to convince more people to convert.

For the latter, I recommend the company’s “Around the Net in Search Marketing” newsletter. It summarizes several blogs that can be found, well, around the net, and includes links back to those blogs, so you can read the full story yourself. A recent issue included blog posts about improving your “About Us” page (which I will definitely be reading with interest!), whether reciprocal links are now held in as much disdain as paid links, a humorous look at canceling an AdWords account, and two other items. I admit, they had the good taste to include a recent piece by yours truly covering click fraud, but I was reading this newsletter well before that happened.

It seems like almost every important web site that covers search engine optimization starts with the phrase “search engine” in its name and URL. Well, duh! That’s a pretty well-established SEO technique. I’m not going to put these in any particular order, since they vary in their emphases; what one person considers pure gold might not suit another person’s needs as well.

Search Engine Guide (http://www.searchengineguide.com/) gets mentioned first by virtue of the fact that it indirectly inspired this article. Manoj Jasra’s November 19 blog post offered “9 Ideas for Blog Posts When You Are Stuck,” and it was aimed squarely at those of us who write something for our readers every day – or nearly every day. Jennifer Laycock is another standout blogger on that site; she writes about such practical matters as tweaking your landing page to gain more conversions, designing a small business marketing conference, and more. The site bills itself as “A Small Business Guide to Website Promotion and Increased Search Engine Traffic,” and it delivers. In addition to blog entries, it offers a newsletter and other resources to help you optimize your web site.

Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/) is the site that Danny Sullivan started when he left Search Engine Watch. It focuses heavily on news in the search field, with recaps every day. It isn’t just about news, however; some recent articles explained how to tag effectively for usability and SEO, how to maximize your exposure in Google, and more. You can subscribe to their daily search news recaps, their columnists, a monthly recap of search news, and a full feed of all their blogs. They put on several conferences and webcasts. If you want to focus on particular subjects or search engines, you can browse through several “lands” (Google Land, Yahoo Land, Microsoft Land, Columns Land, etc.) that correspond to your interests.

Search Engine Watch (http://searchenginewatch.com/) didn’t just roll over and die when Danny Sullivan left, of course. In addition to their coverage of the news, they have an extensive “Search 101” section (the full heading is “Search Engine Marketing 101") with a selection of links to basic articles. They also have an active forum.
 

It would be very much amiss for me to not mention our own SEO Chat site, of course. We publish new articles three times a week, and we have more than a score of free tools to help you optimize your web site for the search engines. We also have a weekly newsletter that includes content you won’t find elsewhere and very active forums. I’ve spent a good bit of time in those forums myself, mostly lurking and learning from the knowledgeable SEO amateurs and professionals who post there, often helping out the newcomers. It’s been said that we have some of the most newbie-friendly SEO forums online, and I can easily believe it.

Matt Cutts’ blog (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/) is always worth a look, and many SEOs seem to start their day by reading him. For those who don’t know, Matt Cutts has been working for Google since the beginning of 2000, and currently heads the search engine’s Web spam team. He sometimes posts about SEO and answers SEO-related questions online, though he emphasizes that “The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.” Cutts has been posting to this personal blog very regularly since June 2005. “Google/SEO” is one of the specific categories you can check in Cutts’ blog.

Of course, if I’m mentioning Cutts’ blog, I should also mention Jeremy Zawodny’s blog (http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/). He’s employed by Yahoo, and Cutts and Zawodny occasionally comment on each other’s blogs. I admit I haven’t read his blog much, but he is popular with some SEOs.

Search Engine Roundtable (http://www.seroundtable.com/) says that its mission is “to provide you with a single source to locate the best search engine marketing threads on the Internet.” Each post is a brief summary of the thread, with a link back to the original forum and thread. In addition to the nearly dozen forums they cover, they have their own forums. SER is where you’re likely to find out about problems that other webmasters are experiencing, weird behavior from the search engines, major sites getting penalized, who does local search better, and more.

If you’re a real addict about Google-related news, you may want to go to the source, so to speak. News from Google (http://googlepress.blogspot.com/) is available by newsfeed and features all of Google’s press releases.
 

I’m turning into a fan of Michael Martinez’s SEO Theory and Analysis blog (http://www.seo-theory.com/wordpress/). He delves more deeply into this topic than anyone I’ve seen. His posts are often challenging, sometimes controversial, and guaranteed to make you think. Lately, he has begun talking about putting together an informal peer-reviewed journal to be distributed in .PDF format that will cover SEO case studies.
 
Search Engine Journal (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/) covers both news and tips, with Loren Baker as the editor. Recent pieces covered how to get the most “link juice” for your articles and how to reduce accidental clicks on Google AdSense units. Being a writer myself who is always on the prowl for more excellent resources, I really like the list in their right column (though you need to scroll down to get to it) of the blogs that they read and suggest to others. You’ll find Matt Cutts’ blog on that list, as well as several that I’ve mentioned in this article and others that I’ve been meaning to start reading (Marketing Pilgrim, Stuntdubl, etc).

Google Analytics has a companion site called Conversion University (http://www.google.com/analytics/conversionuniversity.html). It features articles grouped under four main categories: driving traffic, converting visitors, tracking and testing, and analytics in context. The articles are strongly focused on items related to Google, as you’d expect. For example, there’s an article that explains how to figure out what you can afford to bid for keywords when buying cost-per-click ads. But much of the content can be put to more general use.

There are other resources you can find on the Internet, including several that I like to use, but haven’t listed. But the selection I’ve listed for you in this article should help you get your SEO studies off to a good start. Good luck in your education!

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