By Mark Daoust
I am always amazÃ«d at the response I receive from people when they find out what I do. When I explain that I own Site-Reference which publishes articles on marketing, website development, and search engine optimization, invariably they get a little gleam in their eye at search engine optimization and ask – “So you could get my website to the top of Google, right?”
Yeah, something like that.
Now I would nevÃ«r call myself an SEO â€“ I simply do not have the patience for it. Besides, being a professional SEO is starting to take on a distinction that was once held primarily by lawyers (see StuntDubl’s SEO’s and Lawyers post). The problem with SEO’s is that there are far too many people who liberally take on the title, and few too many people who are actually real SEO’s. The further problem is that a bad SEO can do far more damage than if you were to do nothing at all.
I think this, and the pure cost of SEO, are the reasons that most website owners choose to take SEO in-house. Unfortunately, SEO is a field which is complicated, and there is a lot of information available â€“ much of which is not necessarily true. Cutting through the clutter is a daunting task, and the result is that many website owners will take bad advice and end up spinning their SEO wheels to no effect, or worse yet, end up hurting their business.
It is in the spirit of trying to offer website owners with a good starting point for learning the basics of SEO that we offer eight of the best resources. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the best resources, and there are probably some very good resources that did not make this list that deserve to be here. If you think that we missed a killer resource, feel free to let us know about it.
Also, this list does not try to rank any of these resources. It is hard enough choosing just eight quality resources, we are certainly not ambitious enough to try and rank them.
This should be of no surprise to anyone who spends any time in the SEO community. Search Engine Watch, and maybe more importantly, the Search Engine Watch blog is invariably on every professional SEO’s daily reading list. Danny Sullivan, the founder of Search Engine Watch, is often referred to as the person who formed the industry. Much of the SEO information that gets repeated from one SEO blog to another starts at SEW.
Whenever I hear the name Matt Cutts, I laugh. It has nothing to do with Matt himself (I’ve nevÃ«r actually met him, but have heard nothing but good things about him). It is more what the SEO community has done to him. To borrow a line from Gord Hotchkiss, “when Matt’s in a room, Paris Hilton could walk through in a thong and not get a second glance.” Then again, isn’t that what Paris Hilton normally wears?
Matt’s relative fame is rooted in the fact that he is one of the first 100 employees at Google, an engineer in the search sp@m department, and has become a conduit of information between Google and the SEO community. Matt Cutts’ blog often contains information about major updates (most of the Big Daddy update information came directly from Matt Cutts), examples of what not to do with your website, advice on how to rank well with Google, and also the normal day-to-day life of being a Googler.
Between Matt’s blog, the numerous interviews he does with bloggers, his freely giving of his time at search conferences, and the fact that he works for Google, Matt is easily the most identifiable, and authoritative, figure in the SEO industry.
3. Mike Grehan’s Blog
The site does not display correctly in Firefox â€“ you need to use IE6. Mike, if you end up reading this, PLEASE get the new template done!
As you find more and more places with information on SEO, you will find that a lot of the information is duplicated or repackaged in some way, but it is usually the same information. Mike Grehan’s blog tends to take a fresh look at SEO from a different angle.
To find out more about Mike, you can view his profile at Clickz where he is a writer. Mike has written some extremely good articles, including Goodbye, SEO Push. Hello, Pull SEO, A Grand Plan for SEO, and SEO Jargon, Real Beef or Just Baloney?. His blog is not limited to just SEO, but like many blogs also acts as a bit of an online diary (he does A LOT of traveling to conferences), but when he does post on SEO we have always found his approach to SEO to be very professional, precise, and backed with the confidence of real experience. Since he serves as an SEO consultant to some very large corporations, we should expect nothing less.
4. Webmaster World and Some Other Forums
Forums are tricky â€“ they are a great place to chÃ«ck the pulse on the SEO industry, a great place to learn, and a great place to network with some very good SEOs. But they are also breeding grounds for bad information. Bad information spreads faster than quality information in SEO and trying to distinguish on your own what is good and what is bad could lead to disaster. But forums offer what a blog cannot â€“ an interactive community.
Knowing that all information in forums is not the gospel truth, there are a few forums that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Probably the best known would be the Webmaster World forums. Webmaster World is a very well known community with some very prominent participants.
Other forums which rise to the top time and time again would be SEOChat, V7N forums, and the Digital Point forums. Search Engine Roundtable does a good job of keeping tabs on the pulse of search engine marketing forums.
If you want to get a good mix of links from a variety of resources offering some of the latest information on SEO news without being totally overwhelmed (or simply don’t have the time for a forum), then Search Engine Guide would be a good place to start. Search Engine Guide daily offers a nice mix of links and news from various forums, blogs, and SEO news websites. The site has grown steadily, and Robert Clough has done a good job of helping the site grow over the years.
The title of this is fairly self-explanatory. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the search blogs which often-times look at more advanced concepts and are just looking for a good basic guide to SEO, SEOMoz has put together a fantastic guide.
The guide is fairly comprehensive, nicely organized, and available in a variety of formats (very useful if you do not like reading online). Best of all, it is 100% free. There are a lot of books available for purchase, but the basics of SEO are all fairly well-covered in this online guide.
It is my opinion that all SEO Tools need to be taken with some caution. SEO tools, like forums, can be misleading. Most SEO tools will evaluate an aspect of your website according to what the tool’s creator believes to be important aspects of SEO. The problem with this is that no one, other than the engineers who put the search engines together, knows how the search engines work. SEO tools can be useful, but should be used knowing that no single tool will get you a top ranking.
That being said, SEO Chat has a nice section of tools which are freely available. These are pretty much the standard set of SEO tools that you can probably find at a variety of websites. Some of the more interesting and useful tools are the multiple datacenter checks, the URL Rewriting tools, and the Spider Simulator.
While we are on the subject of SEO Tools, if you are looking for a set of rather non-traditional SEO tools, Aaron Wall over at SEOBook.com has put together a very nice set of tools. These tools are not just your regular “chÃ«ck where you are in the rankings” tools â€“ these dig a bit deeper.
One of the very nice features of SEOBook’s tools is that most of them are open source code, which means you could put the code on your website and run the programs from there. Aaron is also the owner of Threadwatch.org which can offer some good information on SEO related issues.
SEO for the Practical Website Owner
Practically speaking, the average website owner is not going to spend a day pouring over the latest patent filings by Google. It simply is not reasonable for a website owner to concern themselves to this level of detail with the details of SEO.
The truth of the matter, however, is that most website owners can see moderate SEO success by simply keeping a pulse on the SEO industry, picking up the information that is freely flowing through the many, many resources for SEO, and applying them to their website. The science of SEO, trying to figure out to the finest detail of how search engines work, is complicated, but search engines have a very simple goal: to present searches with relevant, up to date, quality results.
While a website owner may not want to spend hours every day reading patents or testing various SEO theories on test accounts, knowing the basics of SEO, and keeping up with the trends of the industry by paying attention to some of its finest resources, can be all that a website owner needs.
About The Author
Mark Daoust is the owner of Site Reference.
This article may be reprinted as long as links are active and attribution is given. Please use the following link for attribution 8 Best Resources for SEO.