A Guide to FREE SEO Training Courses

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To make matters worse, there are millions of pages of outdated information, misinformation, or just plain bad information about how to properly implement an SEO strategy.

Here’s the good news: there is more than enough FREE training materials available to turn a knowledge-hungry newbie into an SEO expert.

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.

How to Become an SEO Expert: A Guide to FREE Online SEO Training

Technical SEO

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:

Courses

Guides

  • 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.

Content Marketing

“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:

Courses

  • 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.

Guides

Schema

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:

Guides

User Intent

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:

Courses

  • 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.

Guides

Website Speed

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:

Courses

Guides

Link Building

Thanks to Google’s Penguin Algorithm and machine learning algorithm (RankBrain), links that are both earned and thematically related, carry more weight than ever.

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

Courses

  • 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.

Guides

Mobile-First

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:

Courses

Guides

User Experience

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:

Courses

Guides: A Collection of UX Guides Created by Google for Select Industries

The Takeaway

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.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Pixabay
In-Post Image: Pixabay

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Moz Domain Authority Update Will Devalue Link Sellers

Moz announced an dramatic update to their Domain Authority metric that will improve its ability to catch link sellers and other spammers. Domain Authority (DA) has long been used to calculate prices for links. This change may disrupt the traffic in paid links but it may improve its usefulness for SEOs who have longed for a more accurate measure of quality.

Will Moz DA Devalue Private Blog Networks?

Devaluing links from sites that sell links is an express goal for Moz’s new Domain Authority metric.

One Twitter user acknowledged this in a tweet

“The problem is that there are so many guys selling DA 30-40 links for 50$ each and so many fall for that, but behind those DA 40 links are GSA spammed domain and later buyers wonder why they received Google Manual action. Tl’dr – DA is an excellent way to cheat newbies.”

Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist at Moz responded in a tweet

“Yep, and the new DA addresses that. We are able to devalue link sellers, link buyers, comment spam, link islands, links from untrafficked sites, and a whole bunch more link schemes. It is truly a dramatic change.”

I asked Moz’s Ross Jones if the new Domain Authority will catch Link Sellers. Here is what he said:

We specifically targeted link sellers as one of the groups. We both seeded known link sellers that don’t rank for anything into the bottom of SERPs so that the neural network would learn to classify them lower and added specific ranking factors.

Then he said this about devaluing Private Blog Networks:

PBNs represent a double-edged sword for Domain Authority. If a webmaster creates a PBN that blocks our crawlers, they will artificially decrease their Domain Authority. If they intend to sell links from their PBN, this is a loss.

On the other hand, if they allow us to crawl the PBN, then we have specific variables that target sites that “control their backlinks”. PBNs will remain somewhat elusive, no doubt, but we are certainly better at devaluing them than before.

Moz’s Spam Score Didn’t Catch Link Spam

Moz’s spam score has been called ineffectual by some because it didn’t catch link spam. Russ Jones clarified that the spam score was never meant to catch link spam. The Spam Score is a measurement of on-page factors only.

This is what Moz’s Ross Jones tweeted:

“…the Spam Score is a measurement of likelihood of being deindexed or penalized, and it is totally based on on-site metrics (not links). Most people get confused and think it detects link spam. It doesnt and it isn’t supposed to.”

Moz Fixes a Shortcoming in DA

One of my concerns about Moz Domain Authority has been that it is biased against sites that do not try to rank but are nonetheless high quality websites.

DA is a measurement of factors that make a site rank. That gives it a bias against sites that are important but don’t try to rank and consequently lack the signals particular to competitive sites.

Five years ago I observed:

“While Rank Metric tools can be useful tools to use, they… only measure characteristics of sites that tend to rank well.

This particular site is a non-profit organization that has been around since before the Internet existed. The non-profit site does not try to rank, so consequently it was missing the characteristics of sites that tended to rank well and ended up scoring poorly on that third party metric.”

A company I consulted with had been avoiding working on projects with high quality sites that had low Domain Authority scores. They were missing out on opportunities to spread their message to a relevant audience.

And this is a bias that the new Moz DA has appeared to address.

According to the official announcement by Moz:

“…the new Domain Authority is better at understanding sites which don’t rank for any keywords at all than it has in the past.”

This is an important improvement that may correct a longstanding bias in Domain Authority. Google may already be creating link graphs that are based on topics and niches, which have shown to generate more accurate rankings and also make it easier to find link selling websites.

Will Moz DA Rank Links More Effectively?

The kind of analysis that can better focus on small sites that don’t tend to rank is very similar to the latest link ranking algorithms.

Moz is understandably quiet on the specifics of their new link analysis algorithms. Moz did say they have switched to neural networks for the link calculation.

“Rather than relying on a complex linear model, we’ve made the switch to a neural network. This offers several benefits including a much more nuanced model which can detect link manipulation.”

Spam Score Integrated into Domain Authority Link Analysis

Adding the Spam Score to the DA analysis process is a sophisticated update to DA and could vastly improve the quality of the Domain Authority metric. This means that a DA score could more accurately portray the actual quality of a site, rather than simply link count type metrics.

Here’s what Moz announced:

“In addition to looking at link counts, we’ve now been able to integrate our proprietary Spam Score and complex distributions of links based on quality and traffic, along with a bevy of other factors.”

That’s a considerable improvement to the Moz Domain Authority metric.

Moz Domain Authority May Become More Useful

Moz Domain Authority is a popular metric particularly with link sellers and those who deal in Private Blog Networks.  Domain Authority is also popular with SEOs but less popular with SEOs who understand the limitations of the tool.

This update may change that equation by making Domain Authority less relevant to link buyers and more relevant to SEOs.

The reason Moz’s Domain Authority will be more relevant is because it appears to have incorporated link analysis improvements (including moving to a neural network), which makes it more relevant to how links may be analyzed by a modern search engine.

Domain Authority is also incorporating the Spam Score metrics which should improve its analysis of relationships between websites. The new Domain Authority metric will debut next month (March 2019).

Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author
Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author

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