The Ultimate SEO Guide For Beginners

The Ultimate SEO Guide For Beginners

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    You were at a braai over the weekend and overheard your high school friend mention something about meta descriptions, keyword research and search engine optimisation. You got home and Googled those terms, and slowly but surely you spiralled into the daunting yet exciting world of SEO (search engine optimisation). But the question remains: where do you get started? Don't worry, we'll be your Sherpa up the mountain of ranking on Google.  

    SEO Guide For Beginners

    Covered in this article

    Light Reading
    SEO Courses

    You can't get a degree in SEO. Books on SEO quickly become outdated. Plus, there are hundreds of thousands of self-professed "SEO experts" out there, but far fewer people who actually understand what they're talking about can apply it.

    So — how do you learn about SEO? Luckily, there are resources you can count on to always have trustworthy, valuable, and well-researched information. To help you find them, we've put together a huge list of credible SEO resources in every category. If it's on this list, you can trust what it says.

    Please note: If you try to listen, read, or engage with every resource on this list, you'll never have time for anything else. Think of it as a buffet — take a few things from the podcast section, enrol in a course or two, subscribe to three or four blogs, and you get the drift.

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    Light Reading

    In the age of the internet, we can learn any skill we put our minds to. Want to learn how to make tonkotsu ramen from scratch? Do some light reading. Want to learn how to weld training wheels to your Harley Davidson? Do some light reading. Want to learn how to master SEO? Check the list below for some light reading on the subject. 

    For better or for worse, there's far more great content out there than you could possibly read — even if you did nothing else. Below are our favourite blogs that will aid in your quest to SEO greatness. 

    Search Engine Land

    Here's an important one! Search Engine Land offers the latest news in the world of search engine optimisation. This website always has the latest information on all things search, from algorithm updates (both confirmed and unconfirmed) to Google My Business updates and DuckDuckGo changes. There's also a good mix of evergreen content and opinion pieces.

    Search Engine Journal

    Search Engine Journal is another reliable source for the latest news in SEO, SEM, and social media. Several posts are published each day — typically one more timely article, such as "Chrome May Warn Users of Slow Pages Before They Click," and two or three evergreen pieces, like "11 Reasons Your Website Can Have a High Bounce Rate.

    Search Engine Roundtable

    Barry Schwartz — who also contributes frequently to SEJ — runs this forum coverage site. Schwartz reports on the most relevant, interesting SEO discussions happening around the web. And it's not just a recap. He connects the conversation to a larger trend or idea, so you always understand how it fits into the big picture.

    Distilled, an online marketing agency, has a reputation for running a fantastic advanced SEO conference where every session is valuable and fresh — and its blog is no different.

    From in-depth posts on technical SEO best practices and tool tutorials to thoughtful opinion pieces, Distilled's blog is a gold mine.

    Blind Five Year Old

    One of our favourites on the list, Blind Fiver Year Old is an SEO agency headed by AJ Kohn, who also does all of the writing. AJ's posts are thought-provoking, insightful, and meaty with a thick layer of humour on top of it all.


    Moz, where to begin. These dudes wrote the book on SEO. Well, more accurately, the blog. Moz saves the day when you need to know something, ASAP. In addition to clear, comprehensive, trustworthy content, you should also check out Whiteboard Fridays. These weekly videos always break down interesting and relevant topics.


    HubSpot content falls into two main categories: experiments/case studies and best practices/foundational concepts. This seminal post on topic clusters influenced an industry-wide shift in how websites organised their content, while this early post on updating old content helped marketers optimize their existing pages before that was a tried-and-true conference topic. You can browse all of our SEO-related content — organized by level of expertise — on our SEO Topic Learning Path or check out the recommended articles below.

    Seer Interactive

    Seer Interactive, a digital marketing agency, publishes new posts nearly every day — and proving that quantity doesn't need to come at the expense of quality, all the content is helpful, easy to read, and most importantly, well-researched.


    Here's one to add to your bookmarks! The SparkToro blog is written and maintained by none other than industry legend and Moz co-founder, Rand Fishkin. Resembling the Wild West tanked with case studies and market data, Fishkin shoots from the hip, making for insightful reading from one of the most important voices in the marketing world. 

    SEO by the Sea

    In this blog, Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital Bill Slawski summarizes and explains SEO-related patents. SEO by the Sea is a great blog to bookmark as you will constantly find yourself returning to it to brush up on certain elements and makes for a great refresher when you forget certain details. 

    SEO Guide For Beginners

    Top SEO Courses On The Internet

    We've done the heavy lifting on this one so that you don't have to. As an agency that strives to be on top of every single algorithm change that Google and other search engines throw at us on a daily basis, it is important for our team to be in the know. And how do we do that? Above and beyond reading the aforementioned blogs, we upskill all the time. After all, that's one of the most important things these days — knowing everything... to a certain extent, of course. When choosing an SEO course it is important that it covers a broader spectrum than just keyword research. Being able to analyse the data that Google Analytics and other web apps throw at you is important too. Here are some of the online courses that we've used and recommend you use as well. 

    HubSpot Search Insights Reports

    Right out the gates we come swinging with HubSpot. With its free online courses on everything from inbound marketing 101 to building buyer personas, HubSpot offers a load of useful information worth its weight in gold. Want to learn how to recreate the process that helped HubSpot grow organic traffic to its blog by several million users per month in just a year? In this Academy course, they walk you through the exact workflow we use, sharing examples and actionable tips along the way. Each lesson includes a few interactive exercises, making the process of putting together a Search Insights Report for your own property much simpler and more straightforward.

    SEO Training

    For a higher-level intro to SEO, try HubSpot's free SEO course. Clocking in at around 90 minutes, the course is very hands-on, easy to use and well put together - we make use of this course whenever a team member needs to be upskilled. This course will show you how to determine your site's SEO potential and develop a strategy, create content that'll rank, and build links to that content.

    Serpstat Academy

    You don't need to use Serpstat's SEO platform to take any of its short courses, which include Advanced Competitor Research, Backlink Analysis, How to Cold Pitch SEO courses, and more. While most of the lessons incorporate Serpstat, you can easily recreate the processes in the tool of your own choice.

    Google Analytics Academy

    Often overlooked when it comes to SEO training, Google provides several different Analytics courses that will not only improve your understanding of search engine's I/O methodology but give you access to an array of free tools that will form part of your SEO strategy. These Google Analytics courses are:

    Successfully completing these courses will earn you certifications, which will boost your application during the job search.

    Moz Academy

    One of the world's first SEO experts, Moz has been going strong since its humble beginnings in 2004. Each of Moz's 16 paid courses cover a different cornerstone of search engine optimisation: local SEO, reporting, on-page optimization, backlinks, keyword research, etc. The price of each course ranges from R750 (SEO fundamentals) to R10 000 (also SEO fundamentals, but with a certificate for completion).

    SEMrush Academy

     Another Velocity Media favourite, SEMrush offers both courses and certifications. If you don't want to take the course before getting certified, you can take the exam immediately. This is a fun way of testing your knowledge in different areas of SEO — especially if you're preparing for an upcoming interview. Topics such as keyword research, link building, rank tracking, and so on can all be found at SEMrush Academy.  The courses also touch on social media fundamentals, reporting and project management, and PPC.


    Distilled's online "SEO university" encompasses two courses: an intro to SEO course that covers topics like information architecture, competitive research, and on-page SEO, and an intermediate one that goes over Excel skills, HTML, international SEO, and more.

    Examples and exercises are woven throughout the videos, which makes the content more engaging and sticky.

    Access costs R500 to R670 per month, depending on your plan. That might sound steep (especially considering many of the other courses on this list are free), but you also get to see every presentation given at SearchLove events — a well-regarded series of Distilled runs. It's like a conference ticket that never expires.

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