What I Didn’t Learn in College: Beginner’s Basics for SEO

I’m beginning to write my 1st blog post four months to the day since I started at SEER Interactive. After graduating with a degree in marketing in May, I quickly reported back to Philadelphia to begin my career in SEO in June. As I reflect on the past four months, I owe a big thanks to all of the tools and resources that have helped me gain the knowledge necessary to start off on the right foot, and a bigger thanks to my coworkers who opened my eyes to most of them. As a rookie in the SEO game, these awesome people have been instrumental in helping me learn how to take advantage of all of the resources at my disposal. In my efforts to be the best new addition to the SEER team as I could possibly be, I wanted to put together a list of the basics that have helped me during the past four months.

The title of this post really stems from the fact that I had very little knowledge of what SEO was before I had my eye on SEER. SEO was not something that came up very often in my marketing courses, nor was internet marketing in general, for that matter. I will give credit where credit is due – there was an Interactive Marketing course offered one semester, which looking back I’m kicking myself for not taking – but how could I have foreseen that this was where my career would start? So, whether you’re a marketing major trying to figure out what you want to do when you graduate from college (and believe me, I was totally in your shoes at this time last year) or an SEO newbie just like me, my goal is to do my part to help you prepare for a career in search engine optimization.

The following is a rundown of the tools and resources that have helped me get to this four month milestone. I am in no way claiming that I know everything there is to know about these tools, but I at least have a basic understanding to know that they are pretty freakin’ helpful. Note: these are obviously not the only tools and resources out there, simply some of the main ones that have guided me along the way. Here we go!

SEO Glossaries

SEOmoz – A Complete Glossary of Essential SEO Jargon – Glossary of Local Search Terms and Definitions

Plain and simple, there sure is a lot of vocab to learn! These glossaries helped me to grasp a basic understanding of SEO jargon, which is definitely the place to start. How could I work on recommending META tags or bread crumbs until I knew what these terms were referring to? These glossaries include very basic definitions that act as a great resource for learning important SEO vocabulary, as well as serve as a reference when you need a quick reminder as acronyms start to blur together.

Beginner’s Basics

SEOmoz – Beginner’s Guide to SEO
and Rand’s Comprehensive, Intro to SEO Powerpoint Slide Deck

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO speaks for itself, nicely broken into chapters such as Keyword Research and Search Engine Tools and Services. I (embarrassingly) still remember the day that I got extremely proud of myself for following Rand on Twitter and noticing when he tweeted a link to this awesome guide. What is more, Rand’s Powerpoint (this time caught through following SEOmoz’s Daily SEO Blog in my Google Reader, thank you very much) is 150 slides-worth of awesomeness. It highlights the basics of SEO for newbies like me, with images and examples that help to understand key points.

Tips on Search Queries

Search Engine Land – Google Power User Tips: Query Operators
Dumb Little Man – 20 Tips for More Efficient Google Searches

As Wil so kindly mentioned today in a meeting, understanding how to search with advanced queries is one of the keys to effective linkbuilding. These two posts help me to learn the basics of using operators to find what I’m looking for more efficiently, allowing me to find more opportunities in less time. I’ve learned how helpful operators such as “site:” “intitle:” “inurl:” and “related:” are in running effective search queries to find valuable linkbuilding opportunities.

Linkbuilding Tools

Raven – Site Finder (Video currently not available)
Ontolo – URL Reviewer

Basically, the Raven Site Finder rocks. I don’t think you can access it unless you have a Raven account, but linked above is a quick video that highlights its main features. I’m not going to get into more details about this now, as I’ve got some ideas for a future blog post about this fantastic tool (thanks to Napoleon for the heads up on this one!). Ontolo’s URL Reviewer has to be one of my favorite tools that Brettthankfully discovered – it allows you to paste in a list of URLs, click a button, and watch each URL will open in a new tab all at once. This tool saves so much time (and pinky pain from constantly cutting and pasting – I wish I was kidding) when reviewing hundreds of sites for linkbuilding opportunities. The SEO dork inside of me came out when I realized how helpful this tool was going to be!

Keyword Tools

Google Adwords – Keyword Tool
Think Pragmatic – Ubersuggest

Both of these tools are immensely helpful for keyword research. Now that the new Keyword Tool seems to have worked out its kinks and you can once again filter by exact match only, I’m back to loving it once more. Ubersuggest rocks too, and credit goes to Mark for showing me this one. Type in any keyword, and it compiles a ton of keyword ideas from Google Suggest to help make sure you’ve covered all of your bases.

SEO Blogs & Twitter

SEOmoz – Daily SEO Blog, YOUmoz Blog, & Randon Twitter
Ontolo – Blog & Garrett French on Twitter
Search Engine Journal – Blog & Twitter
Raven – Blog & Twitter
SEER Interactive – Blog (and all of my coworkers on Twitter that I’ve mentioned in this post!)

These are just a few of the blogs and influential people I follow to do my best to keep up with SEO news. Many of the tools and resources discussed throughout this post were initially brought to my attention through these outlets. I had to mention the SEER blog of course – it sure is a great resource for me! With awesome posts from both our SEO and PPC teams, the SEER blog is the first place I turn when looking for answers regarding anything related to search.

I can’t forget to thank Rachael for coming up with the idea of me creating a “Resources for SEO Newbies” wiki page in the first place – who knew it would eventually turn into my first blog post? With all of that being said, Happy 4 Month Anniversary to me!