I've since realized that I probably should have begun with an introduction to Search Engine Optimization, instead of an introduction to a single SEO strategy. So, that being said, this post details a pretty good introduction to SEO.
Even if it won't make you an SEO specialist, by reading this post and browsing some of the resources here, you'll have a solid understanding of what exactly SEO specialists are talking about when they mention things like Deep Links and Link Back Campaigns and so forth. If you're a small to mid sized business owner looking to hire an SEO specialist, this post will give you enough of an understanding of SEO to know when the specialist know what they're talking about and when they don't.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization - Wikipedia
Wikipedia defines SEO as "the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results." It's a good definition, and it also comes from Wikipedia, a website who just happens to rank in the top results for a heck of a lot of search terms.
An Excellent Intro to SEO - Search Engine Watch
Search Engine Watch has a number of good articles on SEO you might want to check out. I like this intro because it breaks down the important aspects of SEO pretty well, and gives you the background you need. (For example, they don't go into link building before they get into "How Search Engines Work," as I did.)
SEO Terms and Definitions - Marketing Breakthroughs
This is an article from our parent website, Marketing Breakthroughs. Before moving on to the nitty gritty, I think it's always good to have a resource nearby that can give you a definition for any new SEO terms you come across.
Optimizing Your Website Navigation for Search Engines
Definition of a Web Crawler - Wikipedia
Again, this is from Wikipedia. The sections on search engines in the Search Engine Watch article is pretty good, but I think we can focus on web crawlers or "spiders" for now. Understanding how a web crawler works will help you to build more search engine friendly websites with site maps, deep linking, and intuitive navigation.
Ingredients of a Search Engine Friendly Website - Search Engine Guide
Pay special attention to the "Is Your Site Crawlable?" Section. It will help you make sure that your links are set up in a way that leads Search Engines to all of your content, and helps ensure that your website gets indexed (the process by which a search engine "remembers" and stores everything on your website).
Keywords and Keyword Density
Introduction to Choosing Keywords - SEO Zombie
This is a basic introduction that gives you a pretty good overview. What it could use more of is competitor research. It's always important to know what you're competitors are ranking well for, what they're going after, and where the SEO opportunities are.
Effective Keyword SEO Research Part 1 - Clickz.com
Effective Keyword SEO Research Part 2 - Clickz.com
This two part article gives a good background into finding and selecting keywords. There are several more tools and methods we use at Marketing Breakthroughs, but the background is all in the article above. I enjoy SEO keyword research and trimming because it's where the real fun and strategy is. Which keywords are you competitors ranking for? Which low-competition long-tail keywords are going to convert buyers? Which keywords by themselves will help out solidify my position with my long-tail selections?
Keyword Density Tool - KeywordDensity.com
This tool looks at all the scannable content on a web page and determins what the density is for a given keyword. I prefer to use Word, because generally I'm targetting a keyword density goal within the main copy or article, and not the whole page (navigation, any links in your footer, etc.).
The Next Step: SEO Courses and SEO Certifications
If you are looking for a really good understanding, I suggest enrolling in some SEO courses. The fact is, a lot of SEO secrets are withheld from the general public unless you flat out are willing to pay for them.
SEMPO offers the most in depth course I've found with the Advanced Search Engine Optimization course. They also have other internet marketing and an "Insider's Guide" to Search Engine Optimization. The courses are at your own pace, at your computer, and can be completed anywhere.
SEOBook.com Training - SEO Book
SEO Book offers a membership for $100 USD per month. With this, you get access to their tutorials, videos, and their forum. It's a pretty low cost investment if you think you can absorb most of it in a single month.
Link Building is the process by which you get links from other website to point to your own. It gives the impression that your website is more popular and that more people find it useful. As such, search engines will rank your website higher.
11 Awesome Link Building Resources. - The Daily Breakthrough
This is an earlier post of mine with links to some of the most popular link building resources on the net. Based on a comment on this post, I would also add:
The Link Building Cookbook - ColinLahay.com
Again, this was recommended by a commentor on this blog. The amount of link building resources on this site is phenomenal. At this point, it's up to 52 different link building techniques.
This is pretty much just a quick list I pulled from my RSS reader:
SEO Book - A lot of free training and SEO news. They are trying to convince you to go for the paid training, but it's not in any way obtrusive with the free SEO advice they do provide.
Ranked Hard SEO Comics - These SEO comics are good for a laugh. I admit that, uh, they won't teach you much about SEO.
Search Engine Journal - I regularly read this, and it's a good blog to go through the archives of because there's a lot of good stuff buried back there.
Occam's Razor - I don't read this as much as I should. It's a little more advanced, but the insights it provides are always top-notch. The author also wrote, "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day."
ProBlogger Blog Tips - This blog is not pure SEO. But it does have a few SEO tips in there, and reading it will give you a good idea of integrating your SEO with a larger web marketing strategy, which is always important. Nothing should be done in a vacuum.
I would also add that there is a bunch of SEO software out there available for building links. I'd check out Link Assistant (especially if you use a Mac! A lot of SEO software appears to be PC only). Search Optimization Marketing also has a pretty decent list of SEO software and SEO tools.