How to Learn SEO

Corey Northcutt    By under SEO.

So, you want to learn SEO?

I've been at it ~18 years now and I don't recommend learning the way that I did: through forums and black hat. Google changed. The internet changed. And unlike when I first began, blogs exist.

People write them. They write them about SEO. They do it more than a little and they usually get it wrong.

Northcutt only hires marketers that already have 5+ years at their craft. We're a little unique this way. We're not where SEOs cut their teeth because our enterprise SEO clients are rarely all that green to SEO themselves.

But if we were to get somebody up-to-speed from scratch, or after flawed SEO training, we'd follow a 3-step process.

SEO 101 is just

It's super flawed in ways. Moz over-hypes the minority that speak SEO over the majority that do. I've found that the latter usually has more practical and scalable (even if less interesting) methods. They're maybe a bit worse at sharing it.

But honestly, for all of Moz's flaws, this resource covers so many foundational topics in an accessible way. I think that they see this too because they recently announced that they're rewriting it.

Where this resource excels: it's is one of the most thorough guides that I've seen that's all in one place. The accuracy is well above par.

And did I mention that it's completely free?

Most books, paid guides, webinars, and masterclasses that I've seen over the years can't say the same.

SEO 201 is your bullshit filter.

You'll need a good one.

Your first challenge is building the case for why 101 is so bad. It shouldn't be hard... for example, citing surveys of "experts" that claim your Twitter follower count is a ranking factor. There's no basis behind that theory other than being a common myth. And it's not a rare example of inaccurate SEO information spreading like a wildfire on the web.

For this, just fact-check ranking factors. You don't have to trust in our fact-check, though, I obviously do. We trust 3 sources, but none wholly by itself: patents, Google (direct), and the scientific method. Most of all, science.

Over time, you'll start to poke holes in 99% of the SEO content you read like it's second nature. Just try not to be a jerk about it.

You'll also develop superstitions. I've got plenty that don't make the big ranking factor list. They could make you an even better SEO, so long as you don't mistake superstition as something more. You're not a wizard.

SEO 301 are your systems.

For this, we train with our team on the actual day-to-day grind. I went to school for systems analysis, so I might obsess about it more than most. I really believe that all the tools, blog posts, etc. are worthless compared to your workflows.

We have a 24-module audit framework that uses a bunch of tools, a strategic framework for mapping keywords into a site architecture and sculpting internal PageRank, and an off-page framework with ~200 situational tactics, and an internal database with 50,000+ situational opportunities (and relationships).

Never stop experimenting, expanding relationships, or updating your documentation.

Collectively, this makes SEO pretty straightforward.

You're not a wizard. Click To Tweet

Keep practicing.  Get good.  And maybe come work for us.