How to swim the ocean of SEO data and not drown: An SEO lore guide
This is an article about articles. A guide of guides. The most meta topic we ever wrote about, and it might also be the most valuable piece of lore you will read today. Basically, we will list the prime locations where you can check out solid and free SEO advice and news.
This article is especially great for beginners and webmasters that want to take a swing at doing their own SEO. And if not that, then at least get a better feel for the subject and understand your SEO expert’s moves and strategies better. But this is also a good general compilation to go over if you are already an accomplished expert, since maybe it’s been a while since you visited some of those sources.
There is an oversaturation of information about SEO on the internet, some paid and some free. Since our blog is also about SEO (although we attempt to focus on SERP tracking teaching in general), we certainly contribute our part to the sea of data. Very few articles out there truly discuss how to swim and how to choose the best sources of SEO information.
The main SEO info channels for beginners
Google’s official guides – This should be your first stop if you are just starting your SEO journey, before even going to any forums and blogs.
Google has a TON of tips and data about how to optimize websites according to their rules and guidelines. Some forget to check the most obvious sources and too quickly jump to a paid course by an SEO guru with a good sales pitch (we will also discuss SEO gurus shortly).
You might opt to follow Google’s guidelines only partially but learning what they are looking for is a must. You will have a baseline of data to compare any future data you read about.
- Google’s own SEO beginner’s guide – A beginner-friendly overview guide and general main pointers about making websites search friendly.
- Google’s search developer’s guide – A more detailed search optimization guide.
- Google’s official guidelines – covers webmaster, content and quality guidelines. Observing these guidelines will help you avoid penalties.
- Google’s structured data documentations – Structured data is a topic even a beginner must know about. You can also check out our article about it!
- Schema.org – official website for the source of structured data supported by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex.
- Search Quality Rating Guidelines (PDF) – If you are about to promote a website in a YMYL niche (“Your Money or Your Life” such as health, finance, law, etc.), you need to observe high EAT standards. Our article about EAT and YMYL.
Since Google seems to be winning the SEO arms race and black hat tactics are slowly declining, knowing the by-the-book approach by reading the “official book” is a good start.
You should also follow the Google Webmaster YouTube channel, which offers a wide range of Google search topics, many are beginner friendly. We even covered two of their videos here in our blog.
After you got the basics covered, you can start exploring general SEO news outlets such as Search Engine Land (SEL), Search Engine Journal (SEJ) and Search Engine Roundtable (SER).
Since they also feature promoted and paid content, you will find mostly general SEO advice but nothing too detailed. Many articles are teasers and give the same ideas repeated in different phrasing and angles (you will find most of them in our blog as well, with detailed reference to SERP tracking and our features).
SEO news outlets are mostly great for tracking important upcoming Google updates and seeing the various expert breakdown and opinions once the update rolls out.
One of the most interesting things to read are the comments to the main articles on SER. Following an update, you will find a slew of comments with anecdotes of rank drops and surges you can learn from.
Finally, Google’s own blog. You can consider this official news by Google on Google. The shortcoming – it will be 100% biased towards Google and SEO expert opinions can also be very critical towards Google’s approach and methods.
Forums remain some of the best sources of SEO information bar none if you apply an open mind with a dash of healthy criticism. If you search the archives, chances are you will find an answer to just about any SEM and SEO question. They are an amazing goldmine of information for beginners and experts alike.
The best part about forums is that new questions and discussions are constantly added and having an open discussion means you will get to see a variety of opinions and thoughts about any given subject, helping you come up with a more educated opinion.
You will have SEM and SEO experts from all niches and fields battling wits, giving advice and sharing case studies. You will often hear conflicting opinions, which might be confusing at first, but is ultimately a good trait and means the information isn’t heavily biased towards one side. Diverse opinions are also good because you will eventually begin to see the consensus principles which remain constant, such as backlinks being a very good ranking factor and Schema’s power to improve CTR.
The downside here is that it will require you to accurately search a topic you wish to learn about, and you might have to sift through many comments before you find your answer.
Two highly regarded SEO forums (and also the biggest) are Warrior Forum and OnlineGeniuses, together having hundreds of thousands of discussion threads about every aspect of internet marketing such as SEO, social media marketing, content writing, affiliate marketing and more.
A more controversial forum is BlackHatWorld which as the title implies favors the use of black-hat tactics that can get you penalized. They are also plagued with link selling offers and other promotional content, so use with a high level of criticism.
Luckily, they have a legit White-Hat section with straightedge useful information and tips you can learn from, once you get used to filtering any promotional noises.
Next, the two most active Reddit SEO discussion boards – r/SEO (105k members) and r/bigseo (36.6k members).
Finally we have Google’s official forum – Webmaster Help Community with a ton of technical Q&A about Google search topics. Sometimes Google’s official reps will drop seemingly unintended hints about how their algorithm works.
SEO is a bit of a weird field to navigate socially. On the one hand many want to land a helping hand, but on the other everyone is also competing against one another. But for the most part people are helpful and friendly on forums and the toxic, spammy and overly self-promotional users get banned.
Twitter is often a great go-to source to get updated on the latest news and rumors on search engines. This is the fastest and most instant source of news you will find, and the news outlets we mentioned above often cite twitter feeds. By following the main twitter accounts, you can get a chance to get fresh takes on Google and other search engines even before the news sites get them. Also, you can read comments by other feed followers which might be relevant and insightful.
The downside here is distinguishing between heresy and actual solid information plus you will not have the expert breakdown SEO blogs and news sites offer. So, here are our Top 3 picks for twitter feeds to follow:
Google SearchLiaison – Google’s official twitter feed that focuses on their search methods and system. Unlike Google’s main twitter feed, which is full of irrelevant subjects to SEO, this one is focused on search. They will often address various issues that webmasters encounter and most importantly – algorithm updates!
Barry Schwartz – Probably the most respected SEO generalist out there. You can learn a LOT about search and Google by following this man. Even if he shares tips that are common knowledge he will often include his take on the subject as well. If you’re a Search Engine Roundtable reader you will often see his articles featured there.
Jayson DeMers – Content marketing specialist with great insightful tips on how to create engaging content with a solid base. He has articles featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and NBC and chances are you encountered one of his pieces at least once. If you agree with the “content is king” saying in regards of SEO, you will want to follow him.
Blogs and SEO gurus
There are countless self-proclaimed SEO gurus and about every SEO tool and product has a general SEO blog. This one might be obvious, but a good caveat to follow is to try not to adhere to a single SEO guru or blog, no matter how convincing they are. Take everything with a grain of salt and healthy skepticism. Many SEO experts will probably never fully reveal their secrets since they will be adding to their competition directly and lowering their odds at success. Plus, often you will only read a teaser to make you sign up for a full paid SEO course or download a guide.
So, one of the most highly regarded SEO experts to follow is Brian Dean (twitter). There is very wide agreement among the SEO community about the value and knowledge he provides. His blog Backlinko is one of the most impressive single-author SEO blogs out there. His blog constantly scores high on any recommended read list for SEO.
Neil Patel on the other hand is a somewhat controversial SEO guru. Neil has made quite a name for himself as an SEO guru and is a master of self-promotion. Some criticize him for writing very basic and common advice found virtually everywhere and for not practicing what he preaches. But he is also a legit leader in many insanely competitive keywords and has some solid marketing advice on his blog (even if it’s widely available). So, make of it what you will.
One of the best qualities in both of these blogs is they allow free discussion and commentary on their posts, so you can get that extra value that comes with users providing their own insights and case studies.
Another good source of SEO lore and free discussion. Just a heads up, the two groups we will soon mention are relatively clean, but they are still being operated by people with an interest in selling SEO courses and guides, so they promote some paid content occasionally, but most discussions are on point and fairly neutral. Many users are legit SEO experts and any BS gets called out rather quickly.
SEO Signals Lab and White Hat SEO Network are two good groups to start exploring. You will find newbie questions as well as expert advice, and also amusing memes and interesting discussions.
The signal to noise ratio problem and the truth behind our blog
The main problem of today’s SEO content is that there is too much of it. Because the gist of it all is to post at least twice a week so that Google will notice your content. The trouble is finding unique and relevant topics to write about isn’t easy and most of it are rephrased iterations of the same things. Even the main SEO news outlets are very noisy because they feature a lot of sponsored content.
Unfortunately, many small blogs create posts with regurgitated content with little to no new information or insight added. Worse still, you will often encounter a lot of misinformation with uncited data that everyone keeps repeating. While researching articles for our blog, we’ve encountered this issue all too often!
But rest assured that every piece of data we present in our blog we make sure to trace back to a credible source.
If you noticed, unlike any other product related blog, we always try to provide some additional value to the widely discussed subjects, and if we plug our features we try our best to limit them to the end of each article and not add extra noise to the content. We also try as often as possible to connect the topics to practical usage of our SERP tracker to stay relevant for our readers and users.
Having said that, subscribe to our blog, if you haven’t already!
As most seasoned SEO experts are aware – SEO is always developing. You have to keep learning and understand you will never reach 100% mastery. Following credible sources of information and being up to date is a must. Google always evolves and changes and so are the other search engines. The best SEO agencies are well informed and researched and educated in the most updated news and topics.
Eventually you will settle for your favorite sources of information, but it’s a good practice to go over all the sources mentioned here at times.
If you are a newcomer to SEO, we hope that this guide will allow you to choose your own main sources to follow.
Theoretically, if you take time and familiarize yourself with all the sources listed above, you can virtually go from zero SEO knowledge and skill to being very knowledgeable and adept, practically for free.
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