A few years ago I was introduced to the amazing world of online marketing by a former professor of mine. I heard about keywords, rankings, conversions, code and what you could do with them if you do it right. I was hooked. And I knew that I had to learn everything I could. But where was I supposed to start?

There are tons on online marketing blogs out there. At first it was very difficult for me to decide which ones were legitimate and which ones convinced me that I was learning proper and up-to-date online marketing techniques. The amount of information out there was (and still is) overwhelming.

A great way to start in online marketing is leaning Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The good thing about learning SEO is that there is a lot of information out there. But it’s just too much if you don’t know where to start.

Step 1: Read, read, read (and watch)

The best way to start learning SEO is to read. And read a lot.

When choosing your blogs, books and other sources, make sure to start with the absolute basics. Because the last thing you want to be happening is realising that you have missed some essentials when you have already started working.

Here are a few posts you should definitely read if you are a complete beginner.

Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO

The Moz blog (formerly known as SEOmoz) can be called the “bible of SEO”. This is where I have started and this is where you can start as well. Moz’ beginner’s guide to SEO walks you through all the essentials you need to know, starting from how search engines work to how to track your website’s success. These 10 chapters are already a good start.

SEO is more than just “SEO”

In the past few years Google has rolled-out a few updates to its ranking algorithm, which have basically changed how we view SEO.

In the past it was all about the quantity of links pointing to your website, keywords, your website’s code and much more. Of course, this still applies (in a much more sophisticated and unforgiving way), but SEO is now getting much more than just “SEO”.

If you want your website to rank high in search engines your website must be genuinely good. You have to provide your visitors with great content and great usability. And this is the reason why you should learn more than just the basics, obviously.

So what do I mean with genuinely good? You have to build a brand. A brand that people will remember as being awesome, reliable and associate it with high quality.

When it comes to writing content for your website you should take a look at what is called Content Marketing. Everything that you put on your website will influence what people will think about you and your brand. And the better the content you put out there, the more clicks, visits, inbound links, shares and conversions you will generate in the end.

Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing

Quicksprout is probably one of my favourite blogs when it comes to online marketing and entrepreneurship in general. Neil Patel has written a great guide that will teach you how to write content, promote it and constantly improve it. Besides that, this guide will also walk you through some aspects of building a strong online brand, which, nowadays, influences SEO more than it did before.

Watch & learn

For some of us it’s sometimes easier to consume content in form of a video. When it comes to learning SEO from videos, Moz and Quicksprout are (again) your go-to websites.

Moz’ Whiteboard Friday are a series of more than 400 videos on SEO and online marketing. As the title already says, each friday there is a new video where professionals talk about and explain current topics from the SEO world. Most of the videos feature Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and one of the biggest authorities in the SEO community (yes, it’s a community).

Neil Patel of Quicksprout has also recently released a whole bunch of videos talking about specific aspects of SEO, which might come in handy if you want to go more into depth.

Get familiar with HTML

HTML, or hypertext markup language, is what is behind every website on the internet – its code. And since it is the foundation of every website, it is a huge part of SEO, also known as Technical SEO.

A great way to learn HTML is following Codecademy’s course “HTML Fundamentals”, which will teach you all the basics you need to know.

Blogs you should read

After you have covered the basics you should start actively following a couple of blogs and read them regularly, since SEO is changing all the time and you need to stay up-to-date with the latest news and changes. So here are a couple of blogs you should subscribe to and add to your favourite news reader app:

  1. Hubspot
  2. Moz
  3. Quicksprout
  4. Search Engine Land
  5. Distilled
  6. trendblog.net 😉
  7. Copyblogger
  8. Problogger

Step 2: Do, do, do

It is very difficult to actually learn SEO if you don’t apply all the knowledge you have acquired. Much like with other industries and activities, the more you practice the better you get at the thing you do. And what you read in blogs is mostly what other people have learned from their time working in SEO.

Set-up your own blog

There are several benefits when it comes to starting your own blog:

  1. You learn by doing
  2. You can experiment with your own website without significant risk
  3. Improve your writing skills
  4. Improves your online presence and reputation
  5. You can make money with it
  6. In case you are applying for a job, a blog looks great on your CV

Now go ahead and buy yourself a domain and server space, install WordPress, get yourself a cool design and START WRITING!

When setting up your first website, always keep in mind what you have learned from all the above mentioned sources and guides. Also, install some essential WordPress plugins.

Step 3: Repeat Step 1 & 2

There is no end when it comes to learning SEO and online marketing. The world of SEO is constantly changing. And that’s why you always have to stay up-to-date and apply the gained knowledge. Keep reading, keep writing, keep working.

If you stop reading there is a chance that you will miss something important. If you stop applying your knowledge, learning SEO doesn’t really make any sense. Keep doing both and, sooner or later, you will come closer to your goal to become the ultimate SEO guru!

In case you already started to learn SEO, what issues have you encountered so far? Do you already have experience? What tips do you have for beginners? Please share your thoughts in the comments!