Almost daily, I stumble across someone online asking which course is best for learning SEO.
With Google regularly updating the core algorithm and accelerating the implementation of machine learning, the digital marketing landscape is changing rapidly.
That said, outdated tactics that worked 10-15 years ago are still promoted as best practices in a multitude of SEO groups and forums.
The days of tweaking one or two things to meaningfully improve organic search results for any length of time are over. Google’s John Mueller has said just that.
Today, in order to make it online, one needs to look at improving the whole website.
To many, that may seem daunting. Fortunately, when you break it down into manageable pieces, it really isn’t. The key is to focus on the parts of the algorithm that carry the most weight.
Moving forward, I think it’s reasonable to expect machine learning and AI will play a bigger role in the core algorithm. Introducing BERT, last fall, was just the latest move in that direction.
According to U.S. News and World Report, an Online Masters Degree in Digital Marketing costs between $14,000 and $32,000 in tuition.
The good news is that the same level of knowledge is available for free – if you just know where to look. Better still, in the field of SEO, you can still crush it without a degree – if you have the knowledge.
As mentioned earlier, the most productive way to tackle this is by studying those areas with the biggest impact on organic search traffic. That includes the following.
Mobile search is the foundation of local SEO. A study by uberall revealed that a whopping 82% of shoppers perform “near me” searches on mobile devices.
It’s the logical starting point for anyone promoting a brick and mortar or professional service business. Sharpen your skill set by investigating these courses and Guides
This free Udemy course is designed for local business owners and digital marketing beginners that have little if any knowledge of Local SEO. It is designed to be the starting point for learning the fundamentals.
Upon graduation, the student will have a strong foundational understanding of local search and the knowledge base to excel in the next course.
This UC Davis MOOC is available as a free trial through Coursera. The syllabus covers:
- Why Local SEO is Important.
- The History Local SEO.
- The Current Local SEO Landscape.
- Organic Search Versus Paid Advertising.
- Google My Business.
- Improving Your Local Visibility.
- The Importance of Off-site Citations.
- Quality Off-site Link Building.
- The Importance of Customer Reviews.
From Hubspot, this guide is a roadmap containing a series of both ongoing tasks and one-offs designed to boost visibility in local search results.
Search Engine Journal’s ebook provides a strategic and targeted approach to winning at Local SEO. An approach distinctly different from general SEO.
The umbrella of technical SEO covers any action designed to improve search results taken at the upper levels of the website or the server.
It refers, in particular, to actions that affect crawling, indexing and the rendering of web pages. The bottom line is to get as many valuable pages indexed and ranking as possible.
This is another UC Davis MOOC, available as a free trial through courser. The syllabus covers:
- Introduction to Technical SEO.
- Laying the Structural Foundation with Technical SEO.
- HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap.
- The robots.txt File Protocol.
- Overcoming Pesky Error Codes.
- 404 Pages Best Practices.
This course from Lynda.com introduces a variety of technical SEO aspects. Lynda offers a one-month free trial.
This free course from Coursera connects and adds to the Lynda.com course above by going into detail on page-speed, key metrics, and data analysis.
Beyond the fundamentals, this ebook from Search Engine Journal takes it up a notch with advanced tactics sure to give you a competitive technical advantage.
With a 36% market share, no other CMS even comes close.
Sure WordPress is SEO-friendly right out of the box, but with so many people using it, that’s all the more reason to look for an edge.
This guide takes you from indexing thru translations and everything in between.
“The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds… yet 53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
In short, a fast page speed equals a good user experience, a happy user that will (hopefully) return to your site again and again.
Google now uses page speed as one of its ranking factors, so it’s essential to learn how to keep your page fast and furious.
This Udacity course will help you optimize a website for speed and explore how mobile and desktop browsers render pages.
Another Udacity course, this one focuses on how to build web applications that react quickly and render smoothly.
This is an invaluable resource filled with links to articles, blogs, books, docs, events, people and talks relating to Web Performance Optimization.
Analyze and optimize your website. An interactive “guide” that provides suggestions for your specific website to make it faster.
On-page optimization includes all activities performed directly on a website that have demonstrated the ability to improve organic search rankings.
Examples include optimizing content and meta tags. It also includes the use of microdata, like schema, which adds context to a page
A UC Davis MOOC, available through coursera. The syllabus covers on-page optimization, optimizing for local and global searchers, how to conduct a website audit and how to align SEO strategies with business strategies.
Module 4: On-Page Signals in this series promises to walk you the entire SEO on-page optimization process – starting with keyword research on through optimizing key page elements.
This guide was originally written as an internal resource for Googlers, but was later released for public use. It acts as an introduction to the fundamentals of SEO. If you don’t have time to read the full 32 pages, Hubspot has you covered, with a two-page cheat sheet.
From Schema.org themselves, focussing on microdata in both RDFa and JSON-LD.
A Google codelab guide details methods for adding different types of structured data to an HTML page.
Provided by SEMrush, this guide gets into detail on Schema with examples.
That means, if your web page doesn’t satisfy the search intent for a particular keyword, there is little (if any) hope of your website reaching the top of the SERPs for that phrase.
This shift makes it more important than ever before to convert the users that do land on your site.
This course from Lynda.com covers topics including:
- How focusing too much on CRO can actually hurt sales.
- How to identify which business goals CRO testing is most effective for.
- Predicting which type of pages you can test quickly and which have the largest impact on your business.
From Hubspot, this course teaches you how to test and analyze aspects of your website with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that convert, by completing an action after landing on a webpage.
This Hubspot Guide is an introduction to CRO; why you need do it, what it can achieve and the best practices for execution.
From Moz, you will find a structured process for CRO which includes a series of helpful checklists.
User experience (UX) design is the process a design team uses for developing things that create positive experiences for users.
This involves designing an entire process for integrating all aspects of design, usability, function, and branding.
Springboard offers a mix of UX Design courses, videos, and resources from across the web, organized so that even a beginner can easily follow.
This edX course explains how to create exceptional user experience designs.
Google has created a series of playbooks, (guides) for optimizing UX for the following six niches:
Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing useful, relevant, and high-quality content for the purpose of attracting and retaining a targeted audience.
Ultimately, the goal is to convince your audience to take profitable action.
Coursera provides another great course, a partnership between Copyblogger and UC Davis.
In this course, you will discover the key tactics that content marketers use for acquiring and retaining customers.
Specifically, you will learn how to develop a content marketing strategy, analyze the effectiveness of your campaign and learn how to write compelling copy.
This free certification explains how a framework is created for producing content on a regular basis, how to repurpose content and how to become a strategic content marketer
This SEMrush guide explains the four core element of a successful content marketing plan: business case, value proposition, positioning and strategic plan. Next, they describe how to implement each one.
A Search Engine Journal free ebook, this explains what content marketing is, why you need it, how it has evolved and what types of goals you should be focused on.
As a bonus, you will find tools to make your job easier as well as case studies that underscore the effectiveness of a properly executed campaign.
As long as links remain an important factor in search rankings, link building should be a regular part of your digital marketing efforts.
Links that are legitimately earned and relevant still move the dial.
This course from Udemy covers the basics:
- Why links matter.
- How to analyze a link.
- Link building mistakes.
- Link building myths.
- How to build links.
This course from Lynda.com covers a number of link building topics, including:
- Link popularity.
- Page ranking.
- Search-related link components.
- Perfecting links.
- Avoiding problematic links.
- Analyzing incoming links to a website.
- Using local pages and directories.
- Working with bloggers.
- Social networking links.
- Getting more links.
- Paying for links vs. buying links.
Lynda offers a one-month free trial.
This is a HUGE resource – 39 chapters to be precise. This guide from Search Engine Journal shows how to leverage proven link building tactics for yourself, the benefits of different types of link building, which tools make the job easier, and so much more.
From Ahrefs, this guide covers link building theory, skills, tactics, tools and resources.
Expect to see an acceleration in the rollout of Google core algorithm updates over the next year and beyond.
Understand where Google is heading and optimize for tomorrow. Take advantage of these resources and you will be successful.
Disclaimer: Some of these courses are free, but contingent upon completion within a limited time (trial period). Others are free if you choose to audit a course and forgo a certificate. Select guides may require submitting an email prior to downloading.