Before Your SEO Strategy: 6 Tutorials You Want to Read

Do you own a small business? Are you interested in SEO and want to use online channels to drive sales and revenue for your business?

While many business owners want search engine traffic they don’t understand the fundamentals that enable websites to “work” online.

The danger in that the lack of knowledge is that it can lead to a very uninformed decision when selecting SEO services or working on an SEO strategy.

Here is a list resources small business owners interested in search engine marketing should read first, before engaging in an SEO strategy or hiring an SEO consultant. I would bet the bulk of this material could be read and worked through in less than a week’s time.

An HTML Tutorial
HTML is the foundation for how web pages are built. While it’s true that most sites incorporate more advanced programming than HTML, there are always core properties of a web page, rooted in traditional HTML.

How Web Servers Work
Being able to build a web page is one skill, but actually publishing and managing a website is another. We (those writing about SEO) often forget many business owners don’t have much familiarity with an HTTP response, FTP transfers or the DNS settings of a domain. This tutorial will give a business owner the high level overview with enough detail to answer some of the common web administration questions that arise.

Choosing a Web Host
Taking the time to research hosting packages may seem trivial, since there is a variety of low-cost providers competing for a company’s business. However, the wrong web hosting package may impact the ability for you – or an SEO specialist – to build an SEO friendly website.

I’d like to write a post on how SEO can be impacted by the selection of a web hosting package shortly, but here are 2 articles on selecting the right hosting service from a business perspective.

Search Engine & Search Engine Optimization Tutorials
Before getting absorbed in top 10 SEO tips posts and “SEO success in 10 seconds”, invest in learning how search engines work and how the technology has evolved to what it is today. It’s important to understand why specific variables – on the web page and connected to the web page – impact a website’s visibility in search engine results and how these variables have changed over time.

These 2 resources are old (by Internet standards) and somewhat dated but will give the new user an understanding of the evolution of the SEO industry. At the least, it should initiate better questions and discussion when evaluating a proposed SEO strategy.

The Long Term Investment in SEO
Small business owners do not need to master these tutorials to be successful with SEO but they should familiarize themselves with the information. Even if the decision has already been made to hire a consultant to handle the SEO strategy, understanding the core fundamentals of web design, web administration and search engine technology will allow for better decision-making in the hiring & evaluation process.

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3 Responses to “Before Your SEO Strategy: 6 Tutorials You Want to Read”

  1. Rebecca Haden on October 18th, 2008 10:28 am

    The question of client education is a thorny one. Some already have a lot of background, some have a lot of misconceptions, some don’t want to know. I’m not sure that I’d entirely agree with your “syllabus” here, nor am I sure that a neophyte could work through this in a week while also continuing to conduct his or her business.
    But I love the idea of having such a list, and I plan to read some those tutorials myself.

  2. Derek Edmond on October 19th, 2008 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the comment Rebecca and it certainly can be a tough call. Also – feedback on time to do this is great; I’ve been at it for quite a while so you never know. I’d recommend these tutorials for small businesses that are not already SEO clients, but are considering their options.

    The tough decision for small businesses is whether they want to budget SEO as a part of an outsourcing strategy or whether they can integrate SEO into their own business practices.

    I almost always recommend the latter but if someone chooses the consulting option, at the least they should get their arms around (some of) the fundamentals before making the decision.

  3. Rebecca on October 19th, 2008 9:59 pm

    I started out doing in-house SEO for a small business, and I was quite successful at it. I think it’s easier to learn it now than it used to be, but it is probably still cheaper to bring someone in to develop a strategy than to devote all those hours to trial and error. If there had been someone like me (or you) around to learn from when we started, it would have been far more efficient and less stressful.
    However, having some knowledge to start with helps businesses make informed decisions about consultants. Check out my blog at for a chart that’ll give you a laugh — a prospective client brought the company’s marketing materials in to show me. It’s an example of how smooth operators can prey on people who don’t have the basic knowledge you’re recommending.