The Basics to Learning SEO: The 80/20 Rule

by Posted @ Aug 02 2016


I dare you. . . Google ‘SEO’ Or ‘Learn SEO’. . .

Wait, no don’t.

You already did, didn’t you? Are you overwhelmed by the results?



Learning SEO

There’s a lot of information out there. But, a lot of information doesn’t mean good information. Some of it is bogus, a lot of it is dated, and some is even detrimental. There’s really no formal way to learn SEO. There aren’t many actual classes and if you aren’t lucky enough to have an SEO expert as a friend or co-worker, there’s really only one way to learn – on your own.

Thankfully you don’t have to learn everything the hard way, the way seasoned vets of the trade did.  The hard way is reverse engineering, testing, failing, succeeding, and then combining this all into a comprehensive industry viewpoint. Now, all of the information out there, but it’s really hard to determine where to start and to sort the good from the bad.

What follows are the tools and resources that were most helpful to me when I was learning the basics of search engine optimization. Out of the plethora of information on SEO in general, this is but a small list, but it can easily teach you 80% of what you need to know about Search Engine Optimization.  For most, 80% is enough.  However, if SEO is your job, that other 20% is imperative to learn and comes only through the hard way described above.

Tips to Learn SEO

1. Read

First you need to understand how Search Engines Work. Whether you are working with Google, Bing, Yahoo! Or DuckDuckGO, Google has created this nice little interactive infographic that walks you through the steps of how ‘search’, ‘crawling’ and ’indexing’ works– words you will hear often.

Next, you need to learn what SEO is, and Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is one of the best guides out there. This guide provides you with all the basics to understand SEO, with additional resources when you graduate from the Beginner’s class into things like link building, keyword research, social media, etc.

2. Watch

So, maybe you don’t have the time or the capacity to read a ton of information, what about watching? There are some great Video classes on SEO – I recommend shying away from YouTube or other free platforms because there are different types of SEO techniques and some of these videos can advise black or grey hat techniques which are not recommended and will cause headaches for you down the road. Moz Webinars and Kissmeterics Webinars are vetted, white hat organizations that have good-quality videos.

3. Listen

Unfortunately, when you are tying to learn something, it’s harder to really digest things when you can’t interact or hear how people use terms in conversation, right? Podcasts can be a great way to hear how all these terms you have been reading and watching are used in conversations and lecture-type orations. Are you a road warrior, or really into multi-tasking? Podcasts are great! Me personally, I’m obsessed, but instead of going into my love for casts like “Lore” and “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, here are a few SEO podcasts that I listen to that can help you understand the lingo a bit more. Digital Marketing Podcast, SEO Rockstars and for more on digital marketing I subscribe to The Digital CMO with Mike Orren.

4. Talk

Now, you’ve digested all the information you possibly can. It’s time to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’, ‘put your money where your mouth is’ or whatever idiom you’d like to insert here. Seriously though, talking with others in the industry is the best way to learn SEO.

Meetups are a great way to not only meet people that are interested in the same things as you, but great grounds to learn new things and talk to other newbies and experts in the field. If you don’t have Meetups in your area, or your inner introvert screams ‘stranger danger’ in new spaces, there are also forums that are a great source of information and ways to keep in touch with other SEOers. is a way to find other marketers – smart ones that share ideas, information and really cool stuff. If you want to connect, interact and learn, this is a great place. Quora is another great site – it’s not just for the know-it-all’s, but it’s great for the seekers of information. Just sign up and let those questions fly!

So, these are just a few tools that can help you as you start out. Once you become more informed you will be able to trust your own judgment, find your own resources that suit you. Good luck!

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