The Best SEO Tools for Beginners

The number of SEO tools and resources available is overwhelming, especially if you’re brand new to the industry or just looking for a quick rundown of the basics so you can speak knowledgeably about the subject. It’s easy to get lost looking for the information you need, and it can frequently be difficult to determine just how reputable and trustworthy a tool or resource is. As more and more people become aware of what SEO is, even just a small amount of working knowledge about the subject will come in handy.

To make your quest for information on SEO basics a little easier, I’m sharing some of my go-to resources. I’ve actually recommended these to a few friends who have asked me where to turn for essential info on SEO. Before we jump into the list, it’s important to remember that these are resources you can use to learn SEO. While some of them can be used as part of an SEO campaign, these are not, generally speaking, tools that you use to monitor rankings and traffic or site optimization.

Okay, here are my picks:

  • Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Moz is chock-full of handy SEO resources, but their Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a great place to start. The guide covers everything from how search engines work and how people use them to the importance of keyword research and user experience. Moz is an industry standard resource, and it’s known for its expansive community, belief in sharing knowledge, and reliable paid tools. If you’re a paid Moz subscriber, you can access additional educational resources, including Moz Academy videos that cover SEO and related topics like link building and content. One of the best things about Moz is that they’re continually expanding their offerings, as evidenced by their recently launched Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.
  • Distilled U – Distilled is another widely recognized authority on SEO. To help teach search engine optimization, they have created Distilled U, a paid video course divided into two sections, SEO 101 and Further SEO, that also offers access to conference videos and webinars. The fee is $40/month, but you can sign up for a free trial and access a few of the 101-level videos. With subjects running the gamut from basic on-page optimization and technical SEO to analytics and consulting skills, Distilled U is a good investment for anyone who’s serious about learning the ins and outs of the industry. The training page on the website also contains some comprehensive guides on such topics as creating mobile-friendly sites and using Excel as an SEO. You can read snippets of each with out a login, but you’ll need to sign up to access them in full.
  • Google’s SEO Starter Guide – It’s not surprising that this search giant is one of the best places to get information on SEO. This handy little PDF provides beginners with best practices for building a search engine friendly website, including properly utilizing meta data and improving URL structure and navigation. There’s even a convenient glossary that defines important terms at the bottom of each page.
  • Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines – Both Google and Bing provide webmaster guidelines to inform people about what they’re looking for in a quality website and the actions that could result in a penalty or removal from their search results. I’d recommend that anyone interested in SEO give both sets of guidelines a read-through. There is a lot of overlap, but there are also some important distinctions, and it’s wise to know how to get your site to rank well with both engines. As for Yahoo, nine times out of ten, it defers to the Bing guidelines.
  • The Art of SEO – If you’re looking for a book on SEO, this is my pick. It might take you a while to read it cover-to-cover, but you’ll come away with a comprehensive understanding of all things SEO. Chapters are clearly laid out, though, so looking for specific information on the spot is easy. Co-written by major players in the industry, including Rand Fishkin of Moz and Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, the book covers a variety of topics, including how search engine algorithms work, how to conduct keyword research, how to create link-worthy content, and how to measure SEO success.
  • These are just a few of my favorite resources, and I hope they come in handy for the beginners out there. If you’re an experienced SEO, feel free to add your favorites in the comments!