What is this Search Engine Optimization resource guide?
This is meant to be a no-nonsense SEO resource guide for the common person. I’m not going to explain everything in fine detail, but I am going to show you all of the tools, resources for best practices, and point you to information resources for you to help you progress on your SEO journey.
This SEO resource guide is meant to be a living document, ever-evolving and always under construction. I will update the guide regularly, so put a message in the comments if you have any resources you think should be added to this list, or if you have any questions.
Alright… let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
These are the classes of resources we decided on for this list. Click on any of the SEO resource section titles in this table of contents and skip to that section.
- WHAT IS SEO?
- HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK?
- TYPES OF SEO
- SEO GUIDES
- COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS TOOLS
- KEYWORD RESEARCH
- SEO BLOGS
- SEO YOUTUBE CHANNELS
- SEO COMMUNITIES & FORUMS
- SEO INFLUENCERS
- LOCAL SEO TOOLS
- SEO TOOLS FOR WORDPRESS
- SEO REPORTING TOOLS
- MISCELLANEOUS SEO TOOLS
- FREQUENTLY ASKED SEO QUESTIONS
- WHAT’S NEXT?
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the web traffic and ranking of a website on Search Engine Result Pages for search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and others. SEO is a critical component of inbound marketing and should be factored into any marketing strategy.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search engines, especially Google’s search engine, are incredibly complex, but in the following series of articles, I aim to help you better understand what’s happening behind the scenes when someone searches for something on Google.
Google Knowledge Graph & Semantic Indexing
Here is a series of 3 articles from Searchmetrics which thoroughly explain the technical components behind Google:
- How Google Interprets Search Queries
- It’s All Semantic For Google Search
- How does Google Knowledge Graph Work?
If you read the articles above, you’re well aware of the Google Knowledge Graph and semantic indexing. In this section, we’re going to check out some articles which dive a little bit deeper. But first, let’s check out the definition of Knowledge Graph via Wikipedia:
The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google and its services to enhance its search engine’s results with information gathered from a variety of sources. The information is presented to users in an infobox next to the search results.Wikipedia
If the Searchmetrics articles were too technical for you, this article by Yoast is a more approachable article to learn more about Google’s Knowledge Graph.
Here’s a fantastic 5-part series that breaks down what entity-first indexing means for SEO The Entity & Language Series: Entity-First Indexing with Mobile-First Crawling from Mobile Moxie. I’d also take a look at the following articles:
- Semantic Content Optimization with Entities from Kevin Indig
- Search Engine Journal’s article What Are Entities & Why They Matter for SEO
- A survey of ontology learning techniques and applications from Asim et al. does a good job of examining the technical processes of ontology learning. This could be helpful if you’re trying to take a deep dive into the technology behind Google.
- If you read the article above and loved it, here’s another nugget from one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, Dr. Alianna J. Maren. This article discusses how ontologies fit into ai. Though not directly connected to Google search functionality, the article can aid in understanding the underlying technology and point you in the direction of the future.
If you want to get more into the technical details behind semantic topic clustering, here is a publication from Google on the topic:
For those technically inclined and interested in thoroughly dissecting the underpinnings of Google’s semantic search feature, I suggest Niel Chah’s publication, OK Google, What Is Your Ontology?
If you want to go even further and attempt to understand the last data dump from the Freebase data used, in part, to build Google’s Knowledge Graph, you can download the data here. The data dump is relatively hefty though, to the order of 250GB uncompressed, though you can take smaller chunks.
Furthermore, if you need help parsing the Freebase triples, here’s a helpful GitHub repository.
Note: I’m intentionally glazing over this topic because I’m in the middle of a relatively large natural language processing (NLP) project dealing with the extraction of SERP ontologies, based on the assumption that SERP results can be treated as a corpus. Once the research is completed and submitted to Northwestern University, I’ll write a complete article about it with all the nitty-gritty details.
Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) are the pages displayed by search engines in response to a query by a searcher. The main component of the SERP is the listing of results that are returned by the search engine in response to a keyword query, although the pages may also contain other results such as advertisements.WikipediA
- Moz gives a good explanation for all SERP features in their article What is a SERP feature.
- Google explains Featured Snippets clearly and plainly in this post.
- Here’s the Backlinko’s Complete Guide to Rich Snippets.
Google SERP Ranking Factors
- List of Google Ranking Factors from Northcutt. This is a super page with filters so you can take different views of Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP) ranking factors.
- SEO Success Factors Guide from Zyppy is great. It breaks down more than 100 Google SEO success factors and ranks them in tiers. I don’t know how accurate the rankings are, but it’s a great guide with a clean infographic and solid UX.
11 SERP Rank Tracking Tools
- SERP Tracking from STAT Search Analytics
- SEO Rank Tracker from Topvisor
- Keyword Rank Tracker from AccuRanker
- Google SERP Checker from SERPROBOT
- SERPOSCOPE from SERPHacker
- Daily Rank Tracking from Siteoscope
Types of SEO
- Schema.org is the authority on how to use structured data to improve searchability and discoverability of your site and content.
- Landing Page Optimization Guide from MKTR.AI. This is a great starting place for anyone looking to optimize their landing page. The quality of the user experience (UX) on your website is critical in your overall search engine rankings.
Stay Fresh With These 6 On-Page SEO Grading Tools
- Woorank is a website review tool and SEO checker. I’ve never used it before, but the product offerings appear to cover keyword research, on-page SEO grading, SEO monitoring, some sales tools, and a site crawler.
- HubSpot’s Website Grader is a nice free website grader tool, with a super clean interface. I’m a nerd for clean and intuitive interfaces, so this is definitely one of my favorite free website grader tools. Below are screenshots showing what you might expect when using this tool:
- SEOptimer is an SEO audit and reporting tool with a 2-week free trial, which should be enough time to decide whether it’s worth the monthly price.
- Site Analyzer offers a set of SEO tools which includes a website analyzer. Site Analyzer offers a 2-week free trial.
- Nibbler offers a nice free (and paid) thorough website grader. The only problem with their free grader is that it will only go through 5 pages, and most sites are going to have 20 pages or more. But the paid version covers unlimited pages. The 5-page teaser should be enough for you to identify if it’s something you’re interested in paying for.
- SEO SiteCheckup provides a full suite of free SEO tools. The tools offer thorough explanations and substantial content in the form of articles, guides, YouTube videos, code snippets and more. This is definitely something to check out if you’re on a tight budget and want to learn about all the little things you should do to improve your page rankings.
- What is Content Marketing? This is another guide from Neil Patel and it’s a great piece of content for anyone new to content marketing, which contributes heavily to SEO.
- How to Create Epic Content from SmartBlogger. The title says it all.
Stay Alert & Stay Alive With These 11 Page Speed Tools
- Think With Google – Test My Site is a great free tool to measure your site’s loading speed on mobile devices.
- Image Optimization Inspector from Page Weight.
- Website Performance Tester from Load Impact.
Page Speed Guides:
- How to Score a Perfect 100% on Google PageSpeed Insights from Neil Patel.
- Page Speed Guide from MOZ.
- Google Speed Update from Search Engine Land.
- 2018 Google Speed Update information from WordStream.
- Search Engine Spider Simulator by seochat.com is a free tool which simulates a search engine by displaying the contents of a web page in the same way a search engine does, in order to identify parts of your site that a search engine can’t see.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool & Crawler Software. Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a desktop app which crawls website links, images, CSS, script, and apps. This tool is great for building out your internal linking.
- Deepcrawl provides a suite of tools to crawl a website. This is great for understanding your internal linking, site structure, finding broken links, as well as understanding your site flow & UX.
- Botify provides a suite of products which gather tons of SEO data from many of the contributing factors involved in the SERP ranking process and provide rich insights.
- Beamusup is an SEO Crawling Spider used to find site errors, duplicate pages, broken links, understand your internal linking, and more.
Kevin Indig’s blog has a couple of great articles about internal linking.
- Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide (2019 Edition) from Backlinko is fantastic, just like the rest of their content.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building by Moz. This is another piece of content that’s been around for a while, but still has a ton of value.
- Ahrefs is one of the most used platforms for backlinks, web traffic analytics, and more. Ahrefs offers a $7, 7-day trial which should be enough for you to identify if it’s something you want to pay for.
- SEMrush is our team’s favorite ‘catch-all’ SEO, web traffic analytics, and competitive research tool. SEMrush provides a backlink auditing tool within its suite of marketing software.
- Majestic is a link index database.
- Monitor Backlinks is a tool to check the quality of your backlinks.
- OpenLinkProfiler provides free tools to analyze all links to your site. We love free stuff, so this is pretty high on our list of cool free tools.
- Urlprofiler is a tool that helps you quickly audit links.
Overall SEO Guides
- The Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide from Google is a good place to begin.
- The 2019 SEO Guide from Backlinko. Brian Dean of Backlinko objectively creates the best content on SEO. This is a must read if you’re just getting into SEO, and still a worthwhile read if you’re looking for updated SEO tactics.
- The Advanced Guide to SEO by Neil Patel & Sujan Patel. This is an SEO guide that spared no expense and goes to great lengths to give you as much information as possible. If you’re looking for advanced SEO techniques, this is a good place to start.
- Creating an SEO Strategy from Kevin Indig is one of the more insightful strategy articles or guides I’ve seen.
- MOZ’s Beginner Guide to SEO. This guide is from 2015 but is still jam-packed with relevant material regarding SEO.
- Do you need an SEO? This is a great response by Google, explaining whether or not you need an SEO.
- ContentKing Academy covers a ton of specific pieces of SEO and is worth a look if you’re new to SEO.
9 Competitive Analysis Tools For SEO To Keep The Bad Guys In Check
Competitive Analysis is one of the most important steps in developing a successful SEO strategy. We have a thorough guide to competitive research we’re publishing in the last week of June, so be sure to check back.
In the meantime, this is a list of tools you can use to perform competitive analysis and keyword research.
- SEMrush is a great platform to analyze competitor SERP rankings, web traffic, web traffic sources, Ad spend, links, and more. If you have the budget, SEMrush is a great tool.
- Serpstat is another All-in-One SEO platform. Serpstat has cheaper options than most of the other ‘all-in-one’ platforms for SEO.
- Buzzsumo is an excellent tool for analyzing competitor content as well as content trending on different platforms, in different business verticals, how many links each piece of content has, and plenty more.
- SimilarWeb has a nice free option. SimilarWeb has nice features for funnel analysis, app analytics, keyword analysis, and website analysis. SimilarWeb is a great tool, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Our biggest complaint is that the website data tends to be 2-4 weeks behind.
- Knowlium offers a suite of competitive intelligence software. They also offer a 30-day free trial. We haven’t used Knowlium, but it looks like it might be worth a trial run. (If we run a trial, we’ll do a quick write-up on it to let you know what we think.)
- Spyonweb takes information from public sources and shows you websites likely to be owned by the same person.
- Analyze ID is a tool you can use to find other websites owned by the same person. The tool uses Adsense, Google Analytics & several other resources to track the same owner.
- iSpionage has a suite of tools to help you identify search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns run by your competitors. They have an SEO performance tracking tool on its way, as well, which is what earns iSpionage a spot on this list.
- Quantcast helps you better understand customers for segmentation purposes. If you are interested in running deeper analysis on assumptions about customer personas or customer segments, this is a great option for you. This falls more under “Audience Intelligence” than “Competitor Analysis” but this seems like the best place on this list for Quantcast at the moment.
Keyword Research Guides
- How to do Keyword Research in 2019 is an awesome tactical guide that walks you through the nitty-gritty of keyword research. This is a must-read if your keyword research isn’t already tip-top.
- A better approach to keyword research for content marketing from Kevin Indig.
16 Keyword Research Tools Worth Researching
There are a lot of keyword research tools out there. The hard part is sifting through and figuring out which one to use.
Personally, as an entrepreneur and startup founder, I lean towards free options as much as possible. When I decide to purchase, I try to maximize the utility gained (my econ professors would be proud) per dollar spent on each tool. Basically, I want to get as much as I can for as cheap as I can. Typically that means buying a bigger ‘all-in-one’ type tool like SEMrush, SimilarWeb, or Ahrefs.
Here is a list of keyword tools you can use to improve your SEO efforts:
- Google Keyword Planner is the granddaddy of all keyword research tools. You can use it to find new keywords, as well as get search volumes and forecasts for keywords. It’s free so go create a Google Adwords account and test it out.
- Google Trends is another free tool from Google. You can use Google Trends to identify the search popularity of specific keywords by geographic location, business industry, search type, and more.
- Ubersuggest is a free suite of tools from Neil Patel that allow you to see the keyword traffic volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, cost-per-click (CPC), other keyword ideas, website traffic analyzer, site keywords, and more. The best part is that it is 100% free.
- WordStream Free Keyword Tools are a complete suite of free keyword research tools. WordStream has a keyword suggestion tool, a keyword niche finder tool, a keyword grouper tool, a negative keyword tool, and a nice list of popular keywords by niche.
- Keyword Tool is a free tool for finding keywords for Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, Google Play Store, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re not using one of the more robust paid tool suites.
- Moz Pro Keyword Explorer and SERP Analysis Tool are great for rapid and accurate keyword research.
- Keyword Studio is a tool that helps organize your keywords as well as add CPC and search volume for each keyword.
- KWFinder is a keyword research and analysis tool. I look to use their free version when I have a quick keyword need. Their keyword tool provides you suggestions by location, question, language, and more.
- Term Explorer is a keyword tool that helps you find the most profitable keywords by providing you with relevant keyword information.
- SERPs tracks thousands of keywords across numerous search engines, languages, devices, and geographic location. SERPs also offer a 30-day free trial for you to test it out.
- Sentinel is a tool that helps you classify keywords by search intent, search volume, and several other search engine ranking heuristics.
There are too many blogs about SEO. This is a list of our favorites here at MKTR.AI.
- Kevin Indig’s Blog, as well as his newsletter (Tech
Bound ),are some of our favorite advanced SEO resources. Much of Kevin’s content is technical in nature, but absolutely amazing based on his time with Visa, Atlassian, and working in the German Accelerator.
- Brian Dean (Backlinko) produces the best user experience of any marketing site we’ve seen. It’s seriously worth cruising through his site just to see what an immaculate user experience looks like. Beyond the incredible UX, Backlinko’s content is fantastic for everything SEO – their annual SEO Guides are a virtual “must read”.
- Neil Patel is one of the best in the business and his content is always top notch. His content is easy to read and easy to understand. Neil’s writing style simplifies topics and keeps the content fresh and engaging.
- Rand Fishkin’s Blog. Rand was the Founder of Moz, SparkToro, and also an author. His blog is loaded with brain nuggets beyond just SEO & Marketing.
- Search Engine Journal is loaded with great content about SEO, content marketing, PPC, SEM, and more.
3 Must-Subscribe SEO YouTube Channels
Backlinkowith Brian Dean is an extension of the Backlinko blog and produces solid SEO video content.
- Neil Patel’s YouTube channel is a solid resource for digital marketing information, SEO, and motivation to take action on your marketing goals.
- Ahrefs TV has really stepped its game up in the last year in producing video content.
7 SEO Communities & Forums To Infiltrate
- Search Engine Optimization topic on Quora. Quora is quickly becoming one of the world’s best resources for community-sourced content. If you’re not using Quora for your marketing, as well as your research, you’re missing out.
- Big SEO Community on Reddit. While this isn’t necessarily a blog, it merits a mention due to some of the exceptional posts.
- Growthhackers.com SEO posts. Much like the Big SEO community on Reddit, GrowthHackers has a lot of great community-generated content that goes far beyond just SEO.
- Black Hat World forum. Not sure this is something we should actually share due to some of the nefarious stuff posted on there, but there are many great posts on this forum.
- Moz’s Community Q&A. This is a great place to search or ask questions about SEO stuff.
- Warrior Forum is a community forum for online marketers, digital marketers, whatever-kind-of-marketers 😜 … Anyway, it’s a nice resource for marketing questions.
- Webmasterworld.com is exactly what it sounds like — a forum for webmasters. There are tons of good posts about webmaster content here.
- Marketing Domination Media Made a list of The 80 SEO Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter
4 Local SEO Tools To Own Your Hood
Local SEO can be brutal and it’s increasingly important. That’s especially the case if you have local competition who pay click farms to click on all of your paid ads, driving up your ad spend.
To help you figure out how to improve your local SEO, here is a list of resources:
- Local SEO Checklist is an amazing free resource checklist with 30 steps you can take to boost your local SEO. This is probably my favorite local SEO resource.
- Google My Business is essential for your local SEO rankings. GMB is
free,and it allows you to manage how Google displays your business on Google Search Engine Result Pages, as well as on Google Maps. MyPresencesis an awesome free tool that helps you find places to get your business listed by business type and location.
- MOZ Local helps businesses manage their listings across the search ecosystem.
6 Wicked Simple SEO Tools for WordPress
7 Structured SEO Reporting Tools
- SEMrush, SimilarWeb, Ahrefs, and most of the other “All-in-one” platforms have reporting tools in their tool suite.
- Custom Report Builder from AdStage
- Cross Network Dashboard from Adalyz
- Marketing Agency Software from Reportgarden
2 Miscellaneous SEO Tools For You
- JSON-LD Schema Generator For SEO is a free tool from Hall Analysis that generates structure markup for your website.
- StoryBase helps you find content ideas to help you create better content for your readers. This falls somewhere between SEO and Content Marketing, but this is the best place for it on this list of
Frequently Asked SEO Questions You Ought To Know
What is SEO and how does it work?
SEO is the process of improving the quality of content and functionality of a website in order to increase website traffic from search engines. There are a number of ways SEO can be broken down, but these are the basic components of SEO:
1. Google SERP Ranking factors
2. On-page SEO
– Keyword Research
– Technical audits
– On-site optimization
— Page titles
— Meta tags
— Keyword usage
– User Experience (UX)
3. Off-page SEO
– Content Marketing
– Outreach & Backlinks
4. Tracking Data, Testing hypotheses, and analyzing the data
What is SEO and why do I need it?
SEO is the optimization of a website in order to drive traffic through search engines. You need SEO if you don’t have an Ad budget and need web traffic.
How much does SEO cost?
SEO is free. The tools you use to gather and analyze data typically have free tiers as well.
This is why SEO gained so much momentum over the last decade. It’s allowed small sites a chance to compete with the big guys by leveraging SEO to drive traffic to their websites.
What is SEO in simple words?
SEO is the optimization of a site so that it ranks higher on search engine result pages and drives more traffic to the website.
How can I learn SEO fast?
1. Start a website if you don’t have one already.
2. Setup Google Analytics and Google Search Console
3. Read this article about starting an SEO strategy from scratch
4. Go through the rest of this list and jump around to see what makes the most sense for you. At different levels of development different people and different content are going to make sense for you.
What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?
SEM, search engine marketing, is the use of paid tactics to acquire website traffic via
SEO is the use of unpaid tactics to acquire website traffic via search engines.