Updated January 2023

Originally, this post was created as a result of what we wrote back in May of 2020:  

Recently, we were pitched by a content management tool saying it can help us generate content more efficiently.   It produced a piece on the most basic of questions and topics anyone should know in our field.   We thought we would publish their recommendations and see how it resonates with the SERPs and Google.   We’ll publish the results as soon as we get a moment as to how well it performs and give the vendor a review in the end.

Without further adieu:

However, 2+ years have already transpired and we haven’t been able to truly leverage it or analyze the results.   So, we’re updating this to just be an “all in one place” for all the many guides that try to explain to us “What is SEO”.

150 seo factors What is SEO (search engine optimization) by the Top Industry Sources

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization 2020  (moz.com)

New for 2023:Learning SEO by Aleyda Solis

Frankly, Aleyda’s name has popped up quite a bit in most places where you hear about SEOs speaking about SEO.  However, we didn’t want to automatically assume she knew what she was doing until we dove into her published pieces or listened to her speak in her YouTube videos.  We soon learned there’s a distinct reason why everyone thinks she’s a big deal in our industry.

The best resource on the web for free information focusing on SEO continues to pump out information daily.   At the same time, they have some of the best primers for the topic.   We thought it would be useful for today to simply link the following topics:

And beyond this, they provide many other “good reads” you should at least glance at, if you’re hoping to refine your understanding to help yourself, others or any website out there optimize the needed elements to show up higher in the SERPs.

Frankly, as we get close to 2023, the SERP (search engine results page) for the search “what is seo” has changed a bit and the following result outranks moz (at least for me).   However, we’ll continue to place Moz at the top because it simply is the de facto standard when it comes to publishing information about the topic.

2021 seo periodic table by search engine land

What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization? – Search Engine Land(searchengineland.com)

Get started learning all about SEO from one of the industry’s most trusted source, Search Engine Land. The site breaks out the success factors via a periodic table and look at search from various verticals:

The guide then explains the rest chapter by chapter.   You can start with chapter 1: types of search engine SEO factors. The rest follow:

and then SEL’s library highlights:

And even more niche (SEO) topics:

Again, this post’s genesis potentially was a result of the content management tool, but it also may have been leveraging the SERP.   Regardless, the following guide is definitely targeting folks who want a more basic primer.

Beginner’s Guide to SEO [Search Engine Optimization]  (moz.com)

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO has been read over 10 million times (supposedly by May ‘2020).   So, it may truly be even the starting point for many of us, but again, it’s for “beginners” regardless and deserves to be higher in this list.

And if you haven’t figured it out yet, we do place the link for all the guides in the primary domain in the parentheses. Sometimes, we’ll place it in the initial title, but if you don’t see the link by hovering over the left.   Do simply hover over the primary’s source’s domain and it should be there.    

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Explained  (ahrefs.com)

The SEO toolset company provides some of the best content on SEO.   Their guide is as comprehensive as anyone in the industry.   They know long form content does well with SEO on top of giving the logical value (as long as the content isn’t a lot of fluff).

New in 2022:  

When doing the search here in October 2022, a brand new guide by one of top email marketing companies shows up 3rd in the SERP.   They obviously know the value of SEO in their business:

What is SEO? (Mailchimp)

This is simply a brief guide by the email marketer.   However, it also shows if you do it properly, you don’t need to write tons and tons of content to have it show up higher.   It also may highlight some of the potential issues with the overall algorithm (within google) as well.

seo by neil patel

SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2020  (neilpatel.com)

Neil is a pioneer (or at least in the early wave) in SEO.   What I would say he’s even better at is outsourcing or investing in the resources that follow a playbook of generating tons and tons of content based on popular opinions that have been published since Google started to garner a stranglehold over search.    His “step by step” guide leverages the same “long form content” strategy as Ahrefs, but has unique enough content that it does him well:

Topics he (or his team) covers:

  • How Search Works: (briefly)

  • White hat vs. black hat

  • on-page SEO vs. off-page SEO

  • Keyword research

  • Meta tag optimization

  • Site Achitecture

  • Mobile  

  • Speed

  • Security

  • Engagement/CRO and much more

The rest, we’ll let the default suggestions play out and see if they end up being fine as strong additional resources.

seo by wikipedia

Search engine optimization  (en.wikipedia.org)

Wikipedia is great at truly defining concepts and providing as many legitimate sources supporting the definition.   So, let’s simply use what they say in defining the acronym:

Search engine optimization  (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of  website traffic  to a  website  or a  web page  from  search engines.[1]  SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as “natural” or “organic” results) rather than direct traffic or  paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate from different kinds of searches, including  image search,  video search,  academic search,[2]  news search, and industry-specific  vertical search  engines.

As an  Internet marketing  strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer-programmed  algorithms  that dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or  keywords  typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. SEO is performed because a website will receive more visitors from a search engine when websites rank higher on the  search engine results page  (SERP). These visitors can then potentially be converted into customers.[3]

New in 2022:  

Interestingly, one of the biggest public companies (now) in SEO did not show up.   However, they definitely deserve mention and here’s SEMRush’s guide:

How SEO works What is SEO? The 2022 Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEMRush.com)  

Again, this company has one of the most popular SEO tools in the industry.   They and Ahrefs are neck and neck when vying for all in one solutions for use SEOs to use to help clients and many companies to do it on their own.   They definitely deserve mention and it’s almost confusing why they weren’t showing up in the original write up.

Frankly, from LyfeMarketing’s result to shopify, we’ll need to update and even add more which we’re finding by simply doing the search.   The Digital Marketing Institute, The Hoth and even Michigan Tech University are now showing up with proper online guides.   They’ve obviously been applying the concepts of the rest and are becoming quite good at it themselves.

More to be updated (ideally soon)!    

What is SEO and How It Works? [Here’s the Answer]  (lyfemarketing.com)

Find out what is SEO and how it works. Use this simple guide to develop and implement an SEO strategy that works for your business.

What is SEO? SEO for beginners – Yoast  (yoast.com)

What is SEO? SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in Google.

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization In 2020  (backlinko.com)

A simple answer to the question: “What Is SEO?”. Plus a complete guide and tutorial for people that are new to search engine optimization.

The Definition of SEO in 100 Words or Less [FAQs]  (blog.hubspot.com)

SEO is something marketers should continue to define, and redefine. Here’s what this popular acronym means and why it’s so critical to website traffic.

What Is SEO? A Quick Guide To Search Engine Optimisation  (screamingfrog.co.uk)

What Is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of increasing the number and quality of visitors to a website by improving rankings in the algorithmic search engine results.

SEO Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization(wordstream.com)

WordStream has come to be known mostly as a PPC destination. But we also know a thing or two about SEO, and people ask us all the time for a primer on SEO basics. So we’re…

New in 2022:  

While some of their content showed up initially, the search engine’s own development team didn’t have their “Starter Guide” show up in the SERPs (it seems).   Now it does:

how to get your website on google search SEO Starter Guide: The Basics | Google Search Central (developers.google.com)

but the following did show up & interestingly, their reference the starter guide did exist — just not necessarily in the SERPs.

Do you need an SEO?  (support.google.com)  – Check out our SEO Starter Guide

It’s almost befuddling why the giant doesn’t create the best guide in the world.   Their fear of us leveraging still exists, but frankly, even with a guide or documents like the Search Quality Guidelines (updated in July 2022), SEOs probably won’t be able to carry out what google fears anyway.

What is SEO? Here’s A Simple Plain English Answer, SEO in a Nutshell(redevolution.com)

Are you still confused about search engine optimisation or SEO? Are you still wondering what search engine optimisation is all about? Well here’s a si…

What is SEO and how can it help my website’s Google visibility?  (theguardian.com)

Learning how to improve your site’s SEO can significantly improve your business’ prominence in online search results

What is SEO? [And How it Works]  (serp.co)

SEO, an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”, is the science (and frankly ART) of bringing people to your website, from search engines, who are likely to be interested in the products and services you provide. SEO is quite literally how to optimize a website in such a way that a web crawler (aka…

SEO Optimization – Learn to Optimize for SEO  (wordstream.com)

Learn what SEO is, the basics of search engine optimization, and practical SEO strategies for making sure your site is optimized for organic search traffic.

What Is SEO Marketing?  (shopify.com)

In this seo tutorial we examine exactly what ecommerce SEO is and how it can help your business.

New in 2022:  

The 1st result on the second page of the search is quite impressive for the following result given who they are.

Search Engine Optimization (Optimizely.com)

Honestly, we’ve rarely heard of the site.   However, there are new companies every day who are producing decent content or honestly better “SEO’d” content.   So, they get exposure moving forward.

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