The 2018 guide to free SEO training courses online


Over the past decade SEO has been growing into its position as a critical marketing channel for businesses.

You might be new to this environment, or you may have new team members that need to be trained up on search engine optimization.

Before you go handing over your gold coins to a training consultant, we suggest you read this article where we have outlined some of the best (and importantly, free) SEO training courses and websites to take your knowledge to the next level in 2018.

This is an update to a guide written by Chuck Price in 2016, with many of his suggestions still holding value so after you’ve finished with this article we would recommend jumping over there for some additional pointers and a look at some of the skill sets needed to become a skilled SEO.

It’s a favored description by the doubters and the uninitiated: SEO is all tricks, underhand manipulation and most importantly, guess work. In actual fact, good SEO is far from guess work. Google may not give us complete visibility into the workings of their search algorithm but they more open than the doubters think!

What better place to start than with two guides provided by Google, the globally dominant search engine and therefore the target platform for lots of SEOs worldwide.

Starter guide

Updated in December 2017 Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is an up to date resource from the Big G, targeted at those starting right from the very beginning.

Be warned, Google may have trendy offices but their guides lack the same personal touch. Their starter guide is dense and rather dry, but useful nonetheless.

Interestingly you may gain more value reading it first and then coming back to it once you have had certain aspects explained in a less matter of fact manner.

Webmasters learning page

This web page overlaps with Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide to an extent. However, this resource provides a wider breadth of information including web developer specific advice. In fact, the initial module titled ‘Webmaster Academy’ has now been replaced with the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

The information and links on this page are applicable to marketers, designers and developers alike, with Google providing useful YouTube, Blog and forum links to turbocharge your learning.

Moz is one of the most well known platforms and information sources within the SEO industry. The clean aesthetics of the website and easy to understand language make digesting the information presented much easier than for Google’s Starter Guide.

Made up of 10 chapters on critical areas of SEO (such as how search engine operate or myths and misconceptions) this guide is full of analogies which can be a real benefit for the newbies to formulate their own mental map of the SEO ecosystem.

A must-read, and one of the most frequently-mentioned recommendations for those discussing SEO guides online!

Neil Patel loves long-form content, and he’s rather good at it. Heavily researched and highly detailed, his Advanced Guide to SEO makes no apologies for being a continuation for those who no longer gain value from the more basic guides. Through 9 chapters Neil will take you through his course, tackling more advanced link building theories or technical items.

Much like Moz’s guide, Neil speaks to you as a person, using more colloquial language than more corporate led guides. The plethora of screenshots and infographics also help you to tackle each chapter in a step by step, linear process

The guides by Google, Moz and Quick Sprout are great for those looking to learn the ropes of SEO and gain an understanding of the specific elements that make up an SEO campaign. For newcomers, the guides above will certainly have an impact on your site’s rankings when implemented.

However, to really make the most of your SEO efforts, you need to look at the bigger picture. SEO has a habit of sucking you in and making you focus on the minutiae – take the time to really understand your audience and buyer personas, subsequently creating a long term strategy that delivers greater results.

HubSpot are inbound marketing specialists that offer a range of free online learning tools, all engineered to help you create more effective inbound funnels and deliver conversions. Resources include an onsite SEO template, a variety of ebooks and free digital marketing courses that will earn you a certificate when complete

They’re simple and easy to understand. We would recommend starting with the Inbound Certification which provides a general structure for your inbound sales funnels and content strategies.

Both video content and transcripts come in multiple chapters, with a multiple choice test at the end and certificate. They also take it further than just SEO, training you on sales techniques so that your customers get the very best experience possible, are delighted, and become promoters for your business.

Continuous learning

Gaining an understanding of the SEO ecosystem and the basics of on-site optimization, content creation, link-building and analytics is critical in ensuring that you set off on the right path. The courses above are very valuable in providing this initial overview, but you also need to make sure that you are keeping up to date and adapting your campaign strategy accordingly.

The ‘goal posts’ for user-focused campaigns rarely change, but updates do occur which you need to be aware of in order to react. We have included below some of the main SEO-specific sites that you can bookmark and follow on social media, not only to keep up-to-date, but also to build on your foundations.

Search Engine Watch

At Search Engine Watch we provide a blends of tips, industry news and how-to guides to help you further your knowledge around search engine optimization. With a blend of in-house expertise and industry contributors, we publish articles regularly.

Make use of our checklists (such as Christopher Ratcliff’s Technical SEO Checklist) to methodically ensure that you have covered all bases. We may be biased, but it’s a rather good resource!

Embrace the community

There are a plethora of sites on the web publishing helpful (and not so helpful) SEO related content and guides. Some of the most popular being Moz Blog, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal.

However, there are a number of individuals and businesses that you should follow on their blogs or social media to utilize multiple sources throughout the SEO industry:

  • Rand Fishkin
  • Larry Kim
  • John Mueller
  • Neil Patel
  • Danny Sullivan
  • Barry Schwartz
  • Vanessa Fox
  • Bill Slawski

These individuals (amongst others) will crop up time and again as you dive deeper into the SEO world. It is also valuable to follow the various platforms available to businesses.

The content produced by these organizations are often heavily focused around utilizing analytics to improve campaigns:

  • Ahrefs
  • BuzzSumo
  • SEMRush
  • Kissmetrics
  • Searchmetrics
  • Backlinko

This is not an exhaustive list, but is a great place to start. It takes a certain amount of research to understand which individuals, businesses and organisations produce content that is most applicable to your requirements and current level of knowledge.

We would, however, advise that utilizing as many courses, guides and sources as possible will give you a well rounded view of SEO and allow you to make your own decisions, draw relevant insights to your campaigns and get great results.

What we believe you will find is that the SEO industry is actually reasonably open in terms of disseminating guides and discussing techniques or new updates.

This provides an environment in which a newcomer can learn a substantial amount about running a successful SEO campaign just by reading and engaging with the online SEO community.

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