If you’re looking for an excellent guide to SEO, you’ve got a lot of choices. Popular websites are all vying with each other to come up with the perfect guide to SEO so that they become the reference of choice for internet users wanting to find out more about how to move up in the page rankings.
Doing well on a competitive keyword like SEO guide, requires expert content marketing that establishes the website as an authority on the topic in Google. We cover content marketing tips in more detail in another post.
Choosing a guide can be a challenge. After all, you’d prefer it if you had a single guide you could refer to each time you wanted to progress in your SEO efforts. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best (and top ranking) SEO guides currently on offer from major digital marketing websites. Let’s review each.
First: The Origins of Google SEO
The origin of Google was founded on the principle of back links, referred to as the page rank algorithm. In the early days of the internet it was easy to rank websites in comparison to each other in the same industry niche by the number of back links each had. If website A had 50% more back links than say website B and website C, it was more authoritative because it was referred to (back linked) more often. This is why SEO is called organic/natural, because the ways people engage with content are the signals used to rank content.
Larry Page (Google Founder) first noticed this phenomenon when researching academic guides in university while preparing to write essays. He would compare website sources by reading them and thereafter rate them in order before writing a university paper that “referred” to these sources. Then he would compare how many back links each source had. His manual assessment was usually exactly the same as the number of back links each had- and therefore the number of links was a reliable signal of the quality of content. This concept was very useful for measuring and ranking content, and was the genisys of Google.
Once SEO’s worked out how Google was using back links to rank content, this led to the spam era of automated bots building millions of spam links from websites that only existed for the sole purpose of providing back links. The SEO algorithm was later updated to ignore spam websites or even penalise websites that continued this practice of building spammy links to their own website.
These SEO guides explain the other SEO signals that Google use to rank web pages in detail. Now days the algorithm is very smart, so SEO is not really about trying to beat the algorithm – it is about creating good websites with SEO in mind.
Moz - Beginner’s Guide To SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Moz.com is one of the internet’s premier websites for finding out how to promote your business or website online. The site contains up-to-date news and information on all things to do with SEO, and updates articles regularly, including its beginner’s guide on SEO.
Is the guide any good? The guide is split into ten chapters. In each chapter, you learn about both how to conduct effective SEO and also about the basic jargon associated with it. From the start, the language is friendly and approachable, and the guide leads you through topics in a logical order, with each building on knowledge created from the previous.
The downside? The article can be hard to navigate. To get to chapter 10, you have to click through using a graphic on the first page. Once you get to chapter 10, you can’t then immediately go and check out chapter 3 to remind yourself of a concept. You have to click back to the navigation graphic and then select chapter 3 manually, which may annoy some users.
Search Engine Land - A Complete Guide To SEO: What You Need To Know In 2019
Search Engine Land knows a thing or two about how to rank well on Google. The site’s SEO guide is ranked second behind Moz in organic search for the keyword “SEO Guide”, and this probably has a lot to do with the fact that their article is updated for 2019 (the time of writing of this review).
Like Moz’s guide, Search Engine Land has produced a guide split into chapters to help people find the specific content that they need. And like Moz’s, offering, the navigation is a bit cumbersome. With that said, Search Engine Land has probably done a better job of providing users with detailed instructions and worked examples of how to conduct effective SEO than Moz. Not only does each chapter offer an in-depth analysis of a particular topic, but it also provides guides for how a web designer might implement some of the suggested changes.
Search Engine Land’s guide to SEO, however, is not particularly beginner-friendly: some parts assume prior knowledge. Thus, Search Engine Land’s information is for people who already know something about SEO and want to make sure that they are applying strategies correctly.
Google - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide
Google’s own SEO guide is ranked third in search results for the term “SEO guide,” showing just how useful and informative users find Moz’s and Search Engine Land’s offering.
There’s a reason Google’s offering perhaps doesn’t rank as well as the other two: presentation. For all the company’s innovation and user-friendliness, Google still hasn’t mastered the art of producing content that will appeal to a broad swath of people. The article is organised using a helpful content page, but it still looks like a Microsoft help document in style, with thick bodies of text and a compact bulleted format.
The good thing about the SEO guide is that the people who create the rules made it. Google decides how high your website ranks in Google search, so it’s worth reading through what they have to say.
Google’s guide is part help document, part advice for helping your site get noticed by users. Google provides technical information on things like how to get your pages crawled by its algorithms and how it understands the text on your site, and it also provides you with helpful information on how to create accurate page titles.
Neil Patel - SEO Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide
Neil Patel is the internet’s foremost independent digital marketing guru. He pops up all over the place and is a New York Times best-selling author, obsessed with how companies can use the internet to entice customers.
One of the nice things about Patel’s work is that you know that you’re going to get something approachable and readable. Unlike many writers, he rarely assumes prior knowledge and puts himself in the shoes of the person reading his content. The way Patel writes is very different from the way Google does. There’s plenty of white space, paragraphs are short, and he tries to educate you without you realising that that is what’s going on.
Granted, Patel’s SEO guide doesn’t have the ten chapters that Moz’s has, or the eighteen of Search Engine Land, but in his SEO guide, he provides all the basics that you might want to know, from the difference between on- and off-page SEO, to white and black hat techniques. Patel’s mission is to give you what you need so that you don’t fall foul of Google’s somewhat strict rules on what is acceptable SEO, and what isn’t.
Wordstream - SEO Basic: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
Wordstream used to specialise in PPC, but they also know a lot about SEO – the organic way to generate traffic.
Wordstream’s guide probably strikes the best balance between providing useful information while at the same time keeping the guide relatively short. While some businesses will want to spend hours reviewing SEO guides, others just want the basics (with a few actionable takeaways that they can use straight away).
Wordstream educates visitors on why SEO is important, how to build links, and, importantly, how to measure and track results.
Search Engine Journal - A Complete Guide to SEO: What You Need to Know in 2019
Search Engine Journal is a popular digital marketing publication. Along with various other topics, they provide an extensive guide to SEO. The also offer a newsletter for email updates that are hot of the press!
Hubspot The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2019
Hubspot have been experts at content marketing since the dawn of the internet. They provide digital marketing software covering a range of disciplines from CRM to website development, along with being experts at SEO. They also offer an extensive guide to SEO as part of their content marketing stragtegy.
Backlinko How to Learn SEO in 2019 (NEW Guide)
Backlinko is a newer SEO expert within the industry and is becoming well known for his comprehensive explanations of SEO. Backlinko produces lots their own content and is also an expert at content curation.
Learning SEO is about understanding and practising these extensive guides. Compare each guide to work out what is best source of information. (A shorter way might be to see which one has the most “real life” back links!, like Larry Page). Local SEO is less competitive than nationwide, or international SEO, however many of the same principles apply.
Content marketing is about writing quality content that attracts quality real life links organically, so being able to write a guide in your niche is a great way to attract back links, along with “earning” other SEO signals that Google use to rank websites.