SEO can be daunting; especially for a small business owner or young professional just starting out.
To make matters worse, there are millions of pages of outdated information, misinformation, or just plain bad information about how to properly implement an SEO strategy.
The key, of course, is to know what’s important and then invest the time necessary to master those things. That doesn’t mean that you need to be a pro in hundreds of areas. You just need to tackle the essential website optimization items.
What follows are the top factors for optimizing a website in 2019 and places to find free courses to master each.
Technical SEO refers to those actions taken at the website or server level designed to improve search results. More specifically, those actions which affect crawling, indexing and rendering of webpages.
The end goal is to get as many high-value pages indexed and ranking as possible.
Here are some courses and guides that are certain to boost your technical SEO skills:
- Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: Google has literally written the book on best practices for on-site optimization. This 32-page guide was originally intended to be used as an internal document, but was later released as a webmaster resource. Don’t have time to read 32 pages? No problem. Hubspot has published a two-page, tl;dr version here.
- Search Engine Optimization for WordPress: With a market share of 33 percent, it pays to know a little something about the best practices for optimizing a WordPress site. This knowledge could also come in handy the next time your SEO plugin breaks.
“Great content” is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to ensure any measure of organic success.
As one of three confirmed Google ranking factors, you better have a solid understanding of the kind of content that appeals to both users and the Google algorithm.
These courses and guides will put you on the right path:
- The Strategy of Content Marketing: This Coursera course is a partnership between Copyblogger, and UC Davis. Students learn how to plan, organize, develop and implement a content marketing strategy. Equally important, the course teaches students how to analyze and measure the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign.
- HubSpot Content Marketing Certification: In this course, students learn how to implement scalable processes for creating and promoting a content marketing program that will build traffic and convert leads.
Schema markup, is a form of microdata. It creates an enhanced description (a.k.a., rich snippet), which then appears in search results.
Schema provides added context to a page which can be useful to both users and search engines. Schema often provides context to a page which may otherwise be ambiguous.
It doesn’t appear as though anyone is offering a free course on schema, however there are several useful guides on the topic, including:
Google is working hard to understand the context of search queries. Their goal is to return search results aligned with searcher intent.
If your website doesn’t conform to Google’s understanding of intent for a particular keyword, there is nothing you can do to reach the top of the SERPs.
For that reason, it’s critically important to convert any traffic that you do manage to drive to your page. The following courses and guides will help you maximize the ROI on the traffic that does come to your site:
- Learning Conversion Rate Optimization: In this Lynda.com course, topics include: Debunking CRO myths, identifying goals, understanding your target audience, prioritizing pages for optimization, creating test hypotheses, testing your value proposition, setting up tests, and analyzing the results.
- Conversion Rate Optimization Courses: This Hubspot course teaches a system for prompting web visitors to take a desired action on a webpage, in order to increase conversions.
Page speed can impact both traffic and conversions.
According to Google, “the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds… yet 53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
In short, fast page speed equals a good user experience. Slow page speed equals a poor user experience.
For that reason, Google now uses page speed as a ranking factor. If you have a need for speed, check out these courses and guides:
To be clear, I’m referring to the types of links that conform to Google webmaster guidelines. Not links that are acquired or paid for by using various link schemes.
Check out these guides for and courses for successful link building techniques
- SEO Link Building Basics: This Udemy course offers an introduction to link building, focusing on fundamentals and link prospecting.
- Backlink Training: This Monitor Backlinks tutorial covers all of the basics regarding backlinks, why they are important, and how to build them.
Know this: mobile search is local search. Fifty percent of all mobile searches have a local intent. Winning at Local SEO requires a unique skill set. Hone your skills by checking out these courses and guides:
User experience (UX) is all about understanding users; their needs, values, abilities, and limitations. Good UX also takes into consideration the goals and objectives of the business.
The best UX practices improve the quality of a user’s experience. If you are interested in providing a better user experience, then look into:
Guides: A Collection of UX Guides Created by Google for Select Industries
It will never be easier to execute a winning SEO strategy than it is today. Take advantage of it. Arm yourself with the knowledge to succeed. You won’t regret it.
Disclaimer: Some of these courses are free, but contingent upon completion within a limited time (trial period). Others are free, if you choose to audit a course and forgo a certificate. Select guides may require submitting an email prior to downloading.
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