What Are the Best Resources for Learning Search Engine Optimization?

Imagine you were interested in finding a cooking seminar, comedy show, or (ahem) marketing course in New York. Assuming you hadn't been to one before and didn't have a referral from a friend, you'd probably start with Google. You'd type a query into the search bar and then you'd scan the results for a promising option. Which would you select? Would you scour the search results through to page 5 or 20? Probably not. Most likely, you'd choose from the first page of search results.

According to a 2013 study by Chitika, the top ranking search result gets 33 percent of clicks. The second gets 18 percent of clicks, and chances that a website will win traffic continues to drop from there. Page 1 of results got 92 percent of all traffic, with clicks dropping off by 95 percent at page 2.

Digital marketing is about getting your users to engage with your message or products in meaningful ways online, and the first step to success is to make sure that your website captures their attention on the first page of search engine results—ideally in the top ranking position. To achieve this goal, marketers use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to build links, improve website traffic and much more. These organic search strategies are meant to affirm the website's credibility, relevance, and value, thereby winning it a higher ranking.

It doesn't matter if you are new to SEO, just getting into marketing or seasoned in the marketing field—the rules of the SEO game are constantly changing alongside Google's evolving algorithm, so digital marketers need to keep learning to keep up. These five resources for learning search engine optimization are ideal for anyone looking to build SEO best practices and improve their search rankings:

1. Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide If you want to improve your Google SEO ranking, why not turn to Google for advice? While this 32-page guide won't divulge little-known hidden secrets about how to rank well, it will teach you the basics of SEO, such as how to improve your site's structure, optimize your content and much more. You'll gain insight into numerous SEO best practices, from making use of the "description" meta tag to formatting links so that they are easier to spot. Make this guide your first stop to becoming an expert in SEO.

2. Moz's The Beginner's Guide to SEO Whether you haven't ever heard of SEO before or are looking to expand your existing knowledge base, this beginner's guide is the right choice for you. Since Moz started as a SEO consulting company in 2004, it has evolved over the years, positioning itself as a leader in the marketing industry. This 10-chapter guide to SEO is in-depth, easy to navigate, and perfect for anyone looking to learn SEO and it's many facets. As this guide been read over 3 million times, it should be one of your first resource choices for improving your company's SEO rankings.

3. Google's AdWords Keyword Planner Once you've gained some insight into the basics of SEO, you might turn to Google's Keyword Planner. As carefully chosen keywords are essential to any successful SEO effort, this resource will help you select phrases that your consumers or users are most likely to search for online. With this tool, you can obtain historical statistics, see how your keywords might perform, and get a sense for your competition in winning that traffic. While it's not a how-to guide, there are plenty of support pages on Google's website to get you started with AdWords.

4. Quick Sprout's Advanced Guide to SEO If you've already got a handle on best practices, check out Quick Spout's Advanced Guide to SEO to take your SEO techniques to a more innovative, growth-hacking level. As the guide says, this is not for those who know nothing about SEO, it's for anyone who has learned the basics and wants to continue gaining more knowledge. This guide goes beyond the basics of link building or writing title tags — it will give you the advanced insight that will take your website to the next level.

5. Search Engine Land (and Marketing Land) One of the most easily recognizable presences in the SEO world is Danny Sullivan. Danny has been a highly regarded source of marketing and SEO thought-leadership since the late 1990s and is the Founding Editor of both Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. These websites are ideal for digital marketers who already know the basics of SEO practices but want to gain additional insight into the field.

The websites are complete with engaging topics, such as "How to quickly find and export all subdomains indexed by Google" and "Are you optimizing your off-site content?" to get your SEO strategy off the ground. These articles are not only relevant but they are also well-written by experts in the marketing field. I suggest adding these websites to your subscription list.

This is by no means an exhaustive collection of every good SEO resource available online. Instead, these resources will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to feel confident creating a strategic organic search program that will drive engagement and lead generation for your company.