SEO, or search engine optimization, involves making changes to a website’s design and content to maximize the organic traffic it gets from search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Search engines gather info about web content and present searchers with a list of the most relevant results. SEO helps your website be as high up on that list of results as possible, which helps you get more organic traffic.
Organic traffic is any that you don’t have to pay for, and if you do it right, you can increase both the quantity of your traffic and the quality of your visitors. Search engine users find non-ad results more credible, so, unlike paid ads, good SEO can continue to pay off over time if you provide quality content that fills searchers’ needs while using the right keywords to rank highly in searches.
If you’re a freelance writer, work in marketing or communications, or manage a blog or website, your content will never be as successful as you’d like it to be if you don’t have SEO skills. Whether you’re a total novice or are looking to beef up your knowledge to help your site perform better, we’ve found the best paid and free courses to help you learn SEO online.
Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (Google Support)
You can’t go wrong with reviewing this SEO starter guide from Google, one of the most widely used search engines. This free guide introduces you to topics such as getting your site listed on Google and optimizing your site to help Google’s search engine understand your content. It also goes over best practices for site navigation, URLs, copywriting, links, images, mobile sites, and more, and includes links to further resources.
SEO 101: The Beginners Guide to SEO (Moz)
Moz is one of the pre-eminent SEO resource sites, and it offers a comprehensive free guide to SEO for beginners. The site began in 2004 as a blog for SEO experts and has since expanded to offer resources like the beginners guide as well as paid courses and industry-leading SEO software. The guide includes 7 chapters and a glossary that will help even the most basic beginner to understand how to leverage SEO and market their site.
SEO Starter Pack (Moz Academy)
If you’re looking to expand or refresh your skills, you can take Moz Academy’s paid, instructor-led online courses. The Starter Pack includes three of their most popular courses: SEO Fundamentals, Keyword Research, and Local SEO Fundamentals. Once you finish the course you will understand how search engines work, how to organize keywords, and show up in map results. This course pack is ideal for anyone managing SEO for a local business who wants to drive traffic and business through search engine rankings.
SEO Certification (Clickminded)
Taught by the SEO Manager of Airbnb, who has also managed SEO at Paypal, this course is great for beginners who prefer to receive a certification that they can include on their LinkedIn or resume. It is self-paced and offers unlimited lifetime access, meaning you’ll be able to refer to the content whenever you like. Finally, the course includes a 14-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out even if you decide another course would work better for you. The course is designed to help you learn easier and faster than you would if you tried to master SEO on your own.
Complete SEO Training + SEO for WordPress Websites (Udemy)
For those looking to start a WordPress-based website or blog, or to boost rankings for an existing one, this course is a valuable investment. It includes 8.5 hours of videos and multiple downloadable resources to teach topics like site speed, technical SEO, user experience, decreasing bounce rate, and much more. Over 42,000 students are enrolled in the course on Udemy, where it has a ranking of 4.4 stars. Once you purchase the course, you have full lifetime access to its contents, so you can reference the skills you learn at any time.
SEO 101 (Distilled U)
This course covers the most essential SEO skills. Beginners are encouraged to work through the modules in order, while more advanced users are welcome to pick and choose the topics most relevant to their needs. Topics include search engine basics, on-page optimization, technical SEO, keywords, information architecture, Google Analytics training, and more. Membership to Distilled U gives you access to the interactive SEO 101 modules as well as more advanced Further SEO topics and 133 hours of video content.
Search Engine Optimization Specialization (Coursera)
Join the more than 26,000 people already enrolled in this course offered by the University of California Davis on Coursera. Students can choose one of 6 specializations within the course or complete all of them to learn about search engines, using keywords, content and social optimization tactics, and more. If you’re able to commit 6 hours of work each week, the course will take approximately 4 months to complete. You earn a certificate for completing every specialization, which can be shared on your LinkedIn and resume, so this is an excellent choice for those looking to become certified.
Technical SEO Bundle (Yoast)
For more advanced SEO experts who are looking to hone their skills, consider a course in technical SEO, or the process of optimizing your website for crawling and indexing. This course bundle from Yoast includes a structured data training course, which helps you understand schema markup and rich snippets, and a technical SEO course, which covers topics like robots.txt, crawlability, HTTP, meta tags, and site speed. Best of all, you don’t need to have a technical background to succeed in these courses.
Advanced SEO: Developing an SEO-Friendly Website (Lynda)
If you’ve already mastered keyword research, tagging, and other more basic techniques, this course helps you learn how to make sure all aspects of your site are SEO-friendly. Taught by a marketing expert, the course includes topics like improving site indexability and crawlability, site architecture, domain names and URLs, site tags, alt text, and more. Over 144,000 people have already viewed this 2 hour and 38-minute long course to improve their website’s SEO.
The Strategy of Content Marketing (Coursera)
Content is one of three confirmed factors going into a site’s Google rankings, which means to succeed at SEO, you must understand how to create quality content that also ranks highly on search engines. This course through Coursera is a partnership between content marketing authority Copyblogger and the University of California Davis Extension school. Over 35,000 people have already enrolled and it is rated 4.5 stars on Coursera. Students learn how to develop, organize, and implement a marketing strategy and measure its effectiveness.
If you’re not optimizing your content for search engines, you’re missing out on organic traffic that could be growing your site. Increase your rankings and your traffic by investing in your SEO skills and enrolling in one of these courses.