SEO ain’t easy.
In fact, it’s perhaps one of the most challenging parts of running a website, if you care at all about being seen online. And these days, who doesn’t?
Without a keen eye pointed towards SEO rules and expectations, you’re missing out on a huge portion of your consumers. Fortunately, there is an abundance of online resources that can help you build out an SEO strategy that goes beyond posting once a week on social media.
Here are 10 of our favorite resources:
Websites are great tools for extensively researching one, particular topic. Sites dedicated to SEO will often come complete with tutorials, expert opinions, up-to-the-minute news on changes to ranking algorithms, and other resources to explore.
When you are ready to try out something new or understand a general concept about search engine optimization, these websites are a good place to start:
At the heart of SEO is the idea of creating content focused on a “keyword.” Put simply, keywords are the terms that your demographics are searching for. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as using keywords like “radio” and “books.” Too many other websites with bigger followings and bigger budgets have already dominated the simplest of keywords.
It should come as no surprise that huge names in the industry like Barnes & Noble and Amazon are at the forefront of that particular search term:
So, what’s a humble local bookseller to do?
Using SEMRush, you can hone in on much more specific search terms that are being used by people interested in whatever you’re selling.
For example, Googling “buy local books” gives me results for websites that are much smaller in the book world than Google Books or Books-a-Million. Instead, I get results for a couple of really small (and really cool!) bookstores in my area that would have never ranked if I kept my keyword as broad.
Perhaps more importantly for the businesses focused on e-commerce, I also got results for websites that can help me find the books that I’m looking for and order them online.
Figuring out the right combination of words is like discovering a secret code. For people with little experience in SEO, it can seem impossible to crack. SEMRush makes the magic happen by providing you with comprehensive lists of keywords that will up your Google rankings and help your website be seen.
It makes the hard part easier, so you can spend more time focused on creating incredible, unique content that is going to draw customers into your website.
Pricing: Premium accounts start at $99.95/month, but you can get 10 free results a day if you sign up.
Search Engine Land
If there was a Wikipedia for SEO and SEM, Search Engine Land would be it. In addition to providing a plethora of information about every topic in the SEO galaxy, the site is well-organized and constantly updated.
One of my favorite features is the “Sections.” While the homepage compiles all the latest information into one news page, the sections split the information out into specific categories. Yes, the search bar does basically the same thing, but you have to know what you’re looking for in order to find it.
Instead, users can pop over to the “Google” section to find a comprehensive list of Google news or the SEO section to see information specific to that topic. Because the site is packed to the gills with info, it can help the overwhelming amount of resources feel a little more digestible.
But that’s not all! In addition to a constantly refreshed news page, they also offer standby resources that will always come in handy. The comprehensive SEO guide can help you “master the science of SEO,” while their compendium of webinars, reports, and white papers can help you hone your skills once you’re ready to take your learning to the next level.
The website also hosts several conferences a year that you can sign up for right through their website. The Search Marketing Expo, or SMX, is a world-renowned series of workshops that travel all over the globe to bring “a firehose of tips, tactics, and strategies; 70+ unique sessions covering the topics that matter most: SEO, SEM, agency operations and management, local search marketing for multi-location brands, CRO, analytics, attribution, content, video, mobile, local tools, and beyond.”
Pricing: Completely free! You don’t even have to create an account to access the majority of materials.
Even if you know next to nothing about SEO, you’ve probably heard about Moz. They are the leaders in the land of SEO, reigning as king of a complex and vast landscape.
What Moz offers is a comprehensive suite of SEO tools that use data and expertise to help you drive your strategy. Like SEMRush, Moz offers a keyword exploration tool that helps you prune away the search terms that are unlikely to attract readers to your page. It can also help you see how difficult it would be to get your content ranked by Google.
In addition to keyword exploration, you can also see how your competitors are doing. You’ll have access to local and national search tracking, as well as a Search Visibility score, which gives you a full picture of how you rank for keywords specific to your business.
Moz will also “crawl” your site, in much the same way that Google does when it’s ranking your website. As it shuffles through all of your pages, it catches issues and problems, so that you can fix them before Google can find them. `
Many large corporations, like Zillow and Rover, use Moz Pro to keep their own websites in check.
Jason Nurmi, marketing manager at Zillow, said this about the product:
“Moz Pro gives us the data we need to justify our projects and strategies. It helps us track the ROI of our efforts and brings significant transparency to our industry.”
Pricing: Free trials are available, with the full service starting at $99/month or $79/month if you pay yearly.
Google Search Console
When we talk about SEO, we’re really talking about giving Google what it wants. Like the eldritch god Cthulhu, it awaits in the depths of the internet with a keen eye on all you do on your website. Appease it, and you will be rewarded. Mess up, and your website will be banished to the ether, never to be seen by your intended audience again.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but not entirely untrue. Google holds 92.62% market share of all search traffic, with Bing in a distant 2nd at 2.51%.
Even Spiderman switched over to Google after the first movie.
That all being said, why not use Google’s own suite of tools for SEO? Google’s Search Console provides the same tools that SEMRush and Moz Pro offer, but for free and specifically formulated to help you optimize for Google.
With this tool, you can crawl your site and find errors that could be affecting your ranking, get a list of keywords that are directing visitors to your website, and try out different approaches to raise your search engine ranking.
When it comes down to it, it’s basically a free version of SEMRush and Moz Pro. Even if you prefer the other interfaces, it doesn’t hurt to add it on to your site in addition to whatever paid service you’re using.
Ontolo is a neat little tool that goes beyond keyword optimization. Instead, it hunts down opportunities for users to backlink to other websites. It makes the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” of content creation a little easier.
Backlinks are a critical part of Google’s evaluation of your website. The more pages that link to your website, the more credible you look online. Get enough backlinks, and someone might just start thinking you’re an expert in the field.
Pulling information from over 80 sources, Ontolo works in the background to find prospects for guests posts, social media tagging, and reputation building.
Basically, ontolo works to weed out and refine available opportunities for you to share your expertise with other websites and for them to share theirs with you. It can compile social media contact information, emails, outbound link statistics, content language patterns, advertising opportunities, and community engagement information all in one, easy-to-use information hub.
From the “About” page:
“When searching your prospects with ontolo, highly-detailed, refined queries are created behind the scenes. This allows you to find exactly the prospects you’re looking for, and only the best in your database.”
Pricing: Pro accounts start at $97/month with a 30 day money-back guarantee. They also offer custom code packages.
No matter what level of SEO-expertise you’re at, from newbie to battle-scarred veteran, forums are the place to be. There, you can find people dealing with the same issues you are, people who have already solved the problems you’re experiencing, and even people that are seeking your help once you’ve got a few SEO notches in your belt.
They also work well in conjunction with sites like Search Engine Land to keep you updated on the latest shifts in the SEO landscape, including methods for efficiently adapting to emerging changes.
Warrior Forum has been around damn near as long as the concept of digital marketing has existed. Since 1997, it has hosted over a million users seeking help and camaraderie in their journey to achieving their SEO goals.
The forum is split up into thirty different boards, which include specific topics like SEO, PPC, and email marketing. Here, you can talk to others who are interested in the same areas you are.
Additionally, it is the home of “Warrior Special Offers,” which are exclusive deals offered by experienced users to other users of the forum. You can find courses, ebooks, and webinars here for deep discounts. It’s especially valuable for folks new to the digital marketing scene, as it provides an opportunity to learn from experts without the steep cost of traditional learning platforms.
If you’re looking for a fun way to network with like-minded individuals, Wicked Fire is the way to go.
In addition to being a plethora of information on every digital marketing topic from launching your startup to driving traffic, the laid-back atmosphere gives you the chance to rant, celebrate, and enjoy your learning process.
A few of the thread topics include “Enlightened Members,” where users can go to learn from the best, “Education Center,” the home of both completed and ongoing case studies, and “Newbie Questions,” an area for those new to SEO to learn the basics.
To view most of the threads, you have to be a member. Fortunately, registering an account is completely free. Once you’re signed up, you can direct message other members, post your own questions, and share insights on the topics that interest you.
Google Webmaster Central Help
Google seems to have it all when it comes to SEO resources. To accompany their Search Console, they also host a forum called the. Here, you can find resources beyond what is offered in the Help Center.
What makes this particular forum so unique is that Google employees hang out here, answering questions that people just like you have about digital marketing and SEO. That means that you never have to worry if the information you’re getting is good or not.
Experts are denoted as Platinum, Gold, or Silver Product Experts, Google Employees, or Google Community Specialists. Recommended answers are pinned to the top of the page, and the area is constantly moderated to keep spam out. If you’re nervous about entering the world of online forums, this is a great place to start.
Another benefit of using the Help Community is that most common questions have already been answered. Google provides a sophisticated search function that helps you pinpoint other users who have asked similar questions and check out how contributors have already helped. If you’re not finding what you’re looking for, you can always post a new question.
Be aware: Posts that are not relevant to the Google Search Console may be taken down. There is little room for off-topic questions, and moderators are strict about members following posting rules. While less low-key than other forums, it helps keep the community safe and organized for all everyone.
SEOChat is part of the WebmasterWorld site, where you can find information about new developments in social media marketing, search engine rankings, and anything else you could imagine needing to know about when it comes to hosting your website.
Their stated mission really nails down what the forum is all about:
“Running a website takes a great deal of knowledge. The design, coding, maintenance, promotion, marketing, and management of a website is almost an impossible task for one person alone without extensive training. We are here as a forum for the members to share and gain knowledge in operating and promoting a website. Think of us as part of your extended site development and process team.”
Topics are arranged into message boards, including specific spots to talk about Google SEO, social media optimization, and beyond.
One of the coolest boards is “Review My Site.” Here, you can post a community-wide request for other users to visit and evaluate your site using their knowledge of web hosting and SEO. In return, you can offer to review other’s sites, which is a valuable experience in and of itself. You can learn what they are doing right and how to avoid what they’re doing wrong.
Don’t let the retro design fool you. What SEOChat lacks in design, it makes up for in community and knowledge.
The Moz Q&A Forum
If you’re looking for information specific to search engine optimization without the other “fluff” of running a website, the Moz Q&A Forum is a good place to start. Moz staff and other leaders in the field work to answer your questions about moving up in search rankings, building a backlink network, and methods for dealing with site crawl errors.
While the site is free to view, you can’t post your own questions without a Moz Pro account. If you do have a paid subscription, participating in the community can earn you MozPoints. It’s their way of rewarding an active community and incentivizing people to answer questions thoughtfully.
Users who earn 200 MozPoints in a single month are eligible to get their next month of MozPro free. You can earn points for commenting on posts, getting a thumbs up on your comments, writing a Moz Blog post, and more. It pays to be active. Even people just starting out in the SEO game can start earning Moz points.
Invest in Your Website’s Future
Hosting a website is hard, but we hope these resources make your journey a little easier. It’s hard to find time to participate in the forums and read up on the latest SEO news when you’re trying to get your business off the ground, but it pays off in the long run. What you lose in time, you’ll make up for in experience. It’s an investment in the future of your website, and in your abilities as a website host.
Find your favorite resources from this list and beyond, then reference them frequently. You’ll be glad you did.