Career Advice

How to find reliable information about SEO

When starting out in SEO, it can be difficult to know where to go for reliable information especially as there is so much content out there. This article is for anyone who wants to know how to identify whether you can trust the information you are reading. 

As an SEO specialist, even a beginner, we should always use accurate and correct information. Yet, when we start working in SEO, we lack the vocabulary and concepts which make it difficult to understand and read content for more advanced SEOs. As a beginner, it is also difficult to identify where it is information that can be trusted.

It is hard to find information about complex topics written in an easy to understand way. It is not simply a matter of cutting out this “advanced” text so beginners can read it. 

On top of this, SEO strategies can vary depending on the industry. A successful tactic on one site or for one client does not inherently mean it will work on another. In the SEO world, everyone has an opinion.

Why am I writing this article?

I had the idea of this article after reading several tweets criticising a website and a person that has the reputation of oversimplifying information. In the SEO industry, there are two websites in particular that have a bad reputation among SEO specialists: Brian Dean and Neil Patel. These website generally have the reputation of overly simplifying information.

I got upset with several tweets which were not only criticising the creator of the content, but the people who were reading the content. It is one thing to criticise the work of someone and it is altogether another thing to say such sentences as ‘People who consume this dumb content are idiots’.  You are not an idiot if you are a beginner and you read this content! What you need is a friendly SEO who points you in the right direction to dig deeper and use resources that are vetted by the SEO community.

For the record, yes I did read Brian Dean and Neil Patel. If you start and you feel lost in the many resources, keep reading, I will help you navigate the SEO resources.

At the beginning of my SEO career, reading articles and watching webinars was difficult for me because there were so many words and concepts that I did not understand. I was constantly searching for definitions and explanations that a beginner in SEO could understand. As I am not a native English speaker, it was even harder for me to find the information that was easy to understand as many sites used SEO technical terms (that are not translatable). 

I was lucky to have a Senior SEO who would point me in the right direction in the resources to read/watch. He would say ‘No, don’t read this article, you should rather that article or that website’. What do you do if you do not have someone to help you this way? You need to learn to identify reliable information. This article is for everyone who is starting in SEO and who wants to find reliable sources they can refer to as they climb the SEO ladder.

🧵 This article was initially published as a Twitter thread, which you can read. 

Feel free to add your tips in the Twitter thread to help other SEOs find reliable information.

Thank you Sam Torres and Tory Gray for the insights and feedback on the Twitter thread. Thank you also for doing your best to create accessible content, one of my favorite being How to Do A JavaScript Audit for SEO.

Why search for information about SEO?

  • I have identified a gap in my knowledge and I want to learn about it,
  • I have a task to perform and I don’t know how to do it,
  • I see something for a client and I am not 100% sure how to interpret it,
  • I want to explain something to a development team and I want to add a ressources - for example when I deliver a technical audit.

Evaluating brands, website and people

Become a search engine and do your own E-A-T evaluation of people, brands and websites. 

First look for obvious red flags such as if there are a lot of ads and misspellings. 

Then look at the source by asking you several questions: How long has the author been in the industry? In what area do they specialize? Do they have the authority to write about this topic?

Finding basic information about how Google works

If you want to know the basics of SEO, for example about how search engines ( such as Google) works, everything on https://developers.google.com/search/ is generally reliable. 

Do not let the word ‘developers’ stop you. The name of the website is misleading. If you work in content - text or video - you will still find highly interesting content in the chapter Guidelines in particular the section Content Specific Guidelines.

The Google Developer website is for anyone building or working on a website. You don’t need to follow everything, it gives you a great place to start. I like going back to the basic Google information, before I start looking at more advanced SEO content.

Bonus: it is available in 19 languages

First steps performing SEO tasks

For your first steps on how to carry out SEO tasks, such as keyword research, competitor analysis, technical audits, visit blogs written by tools.

Ahrefs created an extensive library of videos and written tutorials. For exemple, A Beginner's Guide from Ahrefs is great to read when you start in SEO or if you're a writer who wants to learn about SEO. Personnally I am a big fan of Ahrefs Youtube Channel where I learnt how to perform basic SEO tasks. At the beginning of my SEO career, I relied heavily on Ahrefs videos by Sam Ho. I would press play and pause and play and pause and perform tasks step by step.. 

Screaming Frogs provides provides a lot of information on how to use the crawlers, and awesome 'How to' guides to perform tech SEO tasks. Search the guides on their SEO Spider User Guide.

Moz is another of my favorite, especially the SEO Beginners Guide, where information is easy to understand. Moz also provides a variety of 'How to' Guides ranging from technical to content.

For a step by step learning path

For a step by step learning path, I recommend learningseo.io, a website created and curated by Aleyda Solis where the articles and resources are free. Aleyda Solis also has written an extensive library of articles and shared tools and GoogleSheets which help many of us SEOs. Articles written or curated by Aleyda can be trusted. 

Reading journals accepted as trustworthy sources

In the SEO industry, there are online journals that are commonly accepted as trustworthy sources. My four favorites are

I highly recommend to follow each of these journals on Twitter too to be up to date with the latest news and articles.

Subscribing to newsletters accepted as trustworthy sources

Subscribe to newsletters that share resources written by those in the community such as #SEOFomo by Aleyda Solis, SEO MBA by Tom Critchlow, The Sitebulb Newsletter and the #WTSNewsletter by @techseowomen, 

Specifically for Google News, I recommend WTF is SEO by @jessiewillms & @shelbyblackley, SEO for Google News, by @badams

Searching for a specific questions within a website

If you have a specific question about a subject, search within a website that is reliable. 

Type for example: 

[keyword you’re looking for] search engine journal

[keyword you’re looking for] google developer

An alternative way of searching for a specific question on a reliable site is using the ‘insite’ method. 

Type for example: 

in site:https://developers.google.com/ [keyword you’re looking for]

In site [reliable URL] [keyword you’re looking for]

Searching for a specific questions with trustworthy specialists

An alternative method to find reliable information about a specific questions is to use the ‘commonly respected specialists’ method

Type for example for local SEO

[keyword you’re looking for] Claire Carlisle

[keyword you’re looking for] Greg Gifford

The caveat in the ‘commonly respected specialists’ method’ obviously is that you need to know if the expertise of the specialist is valued, plus it tends to bring only articles from people who are already famous. 

Our advice: cross reference the name or the information.

Asking SEO specialist’s opinion on Twitter

Feel free to ask questions on Twitter and tag some of the specialists. Most SEOs are nice. Obviously you need to be respectful and friendly too. Time is precious for everybody. ⏰💎

Asking SEO specialist’s opinion within a community

Join an SEO community: to name a few:

@techseowomen

@TTTSEOCommunity

@LatinasenSEO.

Ask questions and "see" discussions in progress. 

You can always share resources you think might be valuable, and ask for thoughts/feedback for more & better context from the community.