The question isn’t so much can you get a decent SEO education for free, online, but will you get a decent SEO education for free, online? There’s a fascinating story in the April 2010 issue of Vanity Fair about a 32-year-old investor who learned how to trade credit default swaps as the real estate bubble inflated and got out right before it burst. How did he do it? Basically, he got his hands on all the information out there, namely the prospectuses that investment companies pump out every quarter, and actually read them. By taking the time to learn the definitions, the risks, and the market cues, he made a fortune. Though you might not make a fortune, there’s just as good a case for availing yourself to all the readily available SEO information out there. You can always sign up for paid classes later. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there.
Searchengineland.com makes a strong case for in-house SEO education for every sector of website production and maintenance. Effective website design is the rock bottom basic of good SEO. Your website designers should learn how good design influences SEO, your content writers should learn how good content with appropriate keyword use and anchor text influences SEO, and your IT gurus need to know how to do migration and development tasks without compromising the site’s SERP ranking. Programmers and coders should be well-versed in canonicalization and other code-related SEO issues, and marketing staff should learn the importance of good, relevant back links to your website. The philosophy is a “no colleague left behind” approach to SEO. Sharing of SEO wisdom among staff of every stripe is encouraged, as is an internal blog outfitted with SEO references and keyword lists. All staffers need to know what the bottom line results are, such as “Last month we saw an 80% increase in traffic to this page, which translated into $10,000 in revenue.”
SEOmoz.org is great for stepping SEO beginners through the process of optimization with handy checklists and other articles. One very helpful article is a sort of master checklist for learning SEO. You get lots of information on the basics: how to design a search engine-friendly site, how to find good html and CSS tutorials, how to choose the best keywords (hint: it involves “Googling” your brand), and how to find good website hosting. SEOmoz highly recommends using the free tools offered by Google since, after all, they’re the top search engine, and they have tools like a rank tracker to help you make the most accurate possible assessment of where your site ranks and why. SEOmoz also points out that with SEO there is a certain amount of hurrying up and waiting, since the big engines index sites on their own timetables rather than yours. There are enough free tools and tutorials to keep an eager SEO student busy for a long time.
A free account on SEObook.com gets you plenty of training tools and access to very valuable forums on SEO in the trenches. There are paid accounts too, that let you access even more training, but you can go along for a good while learning from the free tutorials and articles available. The screen shot shows one such page, on learning to track results so you can figure out what is going right and what is not. Some of the modules are free, and some only come with paid memberships, but you can learn an awful lot by exhausting the free tools and tutorials first. SEObook takes a “snowflake” approach to SEO, based on no two business or websites being alike. The site is limited to 1,000 members so that everyone has a chance to be heard and partake of all the information on offer.