When you want to learn SEO basics and the success factors for website optimization for search engines, finding a simple tutorial on search engine optimization can seem overwhelming.

In this post, I address this by providing links to resources that offer simple explanations to the somewhat-technical or person with some technical aptitude.

If you do not fall into one of these categories, don’t let the technical mumbo-jumbo stop you from reading and learning. You may find you know more than you realize about this technology — you do use it every day! Plus, we all have to start somewhere.

Learn SEO Basics from Google

The first resource you should skim to learn SEO basics is Google’s own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. You may download this free PDF to read or skim as you have time.

Google’s guidebook covers:

  • SEO Basics
  • Improving Site Structure
  • Optimizing Content
  • Dealing with Crawlers
  • SEO for Mobile Phones
  • Promotions and Analysis

The guide is aimed primarily at webmasters. However, web developers and web designers, including DIYs, should find the material provides a high-level overview of the factors involved in ranking a website well online.

If Google’s 32-page guidebook is too complicated or time-consuming for you now, and you want to learn SEO basics as simplified as it is possible to do, another option is Search Engine Land’s The Periodic Table of Search Engine Success Factors.

Learn SEO Basics from Search Engine Land

My advice is to ignore the science-looking “elements” in the center of the image below, and instead, read the keywords and questions in the left and right columns at the edges. These keywords and questions will give you an idea of what to aim for when you optimize your site for search engines.

search engine land period table of seo success factors

The table covers the following sections: on-page factors, such as content, architecture, and HTML. It covers off-page factors such as trust, links, personal, and social.

How can you use this table to learn SEO basics?

When you look at your own website, think through each question and make sure that you have answered it on the website you are optimizing.

Learn SEO Basics from ForegroundWeb

Last but not least, ForegroundWeb has one of my favorite resources for DIYs. I wish I had written this post, SEO for Photographers.

If you are not a photographer, do not let the title turn you away.

The resources he has put together are true and right for most small businesses. You may not take the photos you put online on your site, but it helps to understand how to optimize your featured and/or product photos and caption them for greater sales and find-ability online.

The post provides doable tips that anyone with a determined and persevering mindset, plus basic website know-how, can carry out to add SEO themselves.

This article covers 50 (yes, fifty) SEO actions to go through:

  • on-site & off-site SEO factors
  • getting backlinks
  • website performance & mobile-friendliness
  • image optimization best practices
  • free SEO tools
  • examples & graphics
  • links to other relevant articles & resources

The article is long, but take your time and skim/read over it. It is a wealth of useful SEO information compiled with insight and clarity of purpose.

Next, when I am studying the SEO for my site or for a client, then I look at what keywords bring people to the site, how long they stay, and what posts or pages they read. The SEO dashboard provides that information. (Although Google does not always let you know what keywords bring someone to your site, for privacy reasons.)

Learn SEO Basics via Google Analytics

If you would like to understand your data, and you feel overwhelmed by Google Analytics, there is a simpler way to check your data.

  1. Login to Google Analytics (this assumes you have an account and that Google Analytics is set up on your website).
  2. Go to your main Google Analytics dashboard (not the “admin” one), and click on Customization, then Dashboards.
  3. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to eConsultancy’s 10 Useful Google Analytics Custom Dashboards.
  4. Click on the link underneath the image for the type of data you want to check or know, then assign it to your website in Google Analytics.
  5. Click on the link in your custom dashboard to review the data. Yes, you may add more than one custom dashboard.

Here is the list of my favorite custom dashboards that I review for Impact Zone Consultancy. You can also use this image to understand where you need to be on Google Analytics to add the custom dashboard(s) via the instructions, above.

Google Analytics Custom Dashboard examples

I could scroll through Google Analytics, but I find I like to know different types of information at different times, and for different reasons. Sometimes, I want to know the site load time for a post, so I check the Site Performance Dashboard.

Another time, I may want to know a bit about a client’s website or my own website’s visitors, such as where they live, what posts they are reading, what devices they use, or how long they stay on a page. When I need that information, I review the 70 Facts About Visitors or Blogging dashboards.

Learn Basic and Advanced SEO Free

Finally, if you want to continue your SEO studies, then you can read Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO, The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building, or The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media. Yoast provides a variety of SEO-related articles and tutorials related to WordPress.

Learn SEO Basics with Impact Zone Consultancy

I have written a series of articles with which DIY, small-business, and solopreneurs can learn SEO basics. I also have some (free) SEO webinar videos you can review that actually teach you and are not a one-hour infomercial.

Last, but not least, are my weekly SEO Thursdays Periscopes, that I have archived online. The Periscopes tend to match a weekly blog post, so you may want to search my SEO articles. I have the videos either on the blog post or linked to in the article.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, or leave your questions and comments below so others can learn from you.

If you have decided you cannot stand the thought of learning SEO basics, or simply want to save yourself some time, then contact me online or email me about implementing SEO on your website. I offer one-on-one or small group SEO coaching and training. You can review the small business SEO services we offer, along with ballpark pricing.

Learn SEO Basics and Success Factors Free

Reader Interactions


    • Skyler,

      It can take up to 6 months for a full SEO implementation to take hold. I have seen websites bounce up as soon as 2 months. I usually give it about 6 months, though.

      Best Regards,


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