While it may not seem like the most glamorous digital marketing skill, search engine optimization (SEO) is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after in the field. It is also one of the most rewarding to learn: SEO’s ability to generate web traffic and boost conversion rates has transformed it into a must-have skill. Think you might get a buzz from creating algorithm-driven traffic and organically increasing the number of people who can see your offering? Look no further!
In this article, we explore 7 free SEO courses for digital marketing beginners. We’ll cover:
Browse our list, see which course ticks your boxes, then dive in and have a go! It’s the best way to learn. But first up…
1. What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a digital marketing technique that involves optimizing websites to help them appear higher on the search engine results pages (or SERPs). The ultimate aim of an SEO strategy is to get to the top of the SERPs for a particular set of keywords and phrases that target a chosen user demographic.
Traditional SEO focuses on what’s known as ‘organic’ techniques. ‘Organic’ in this case simply means optimizing website content to meet the requirement of search engines’ inbuilt algorithms. Doing so ‘organically’ boosts a website’s rankings. When SEO includes paid search (such as advertising or pay-per-click techniques), this is not known as organic search but is usually called search engine marketing.
There are three types of organic SEO. These are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Hold on tight: here’s a quick whistle-stop tour!
On-page (or ‘on-site’) SEO involves optimizing a website’s content to boost website traffic in the eyes of search engine algorithms or crawlers. It includes conducting keyword research and amending body text, headings, image tags, HTML, CSS, and internal links to optimize them for relevant keywords and phrases.
Off-page (or ‘off-site’) SEO involves optimizing content beyond your own website. Doing so helps maximize engagement and builds your domain’s trust rating. Off-page SEO primarily utilizes link-building strategies, or integrates web pages with social media campaigns to boost traffic.
Technical SEO refers to optimizing the non-content aspects of your website. We’re talking about stuff like site speed, crawlability, and ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly. Whereas on-page and off-page SEO are both about content, you can think of technical SEO as the web development side of SEO.
If you’re specializing in SEO there’s more to it than this. However, this offers a good, quick definition! For some more SEO tips, check out this article.
2. Why should I take an SEO course?
SEO involves devising complex strategies, balancing creative content with technical know-how, conducting keyword research, and knowing how to optimize websites for both search engine and human consumption. Even if you aren’t personally involved in all these aspects of the process, a good SEO project manager needs to understand these different moving parts to oversee the delivery of their strategy. It’s not as straightforward as it seems!
For this reason, taking an SEO course—even just a beginner one—is vital for getting the basics down.
If you want to become an SEO specialist, it’s even more crucial. In reality, you’ll likely need a combination of on-the-job experience and a recognized SEO certification. While the former might require some time, you can begin with the latter in the next section.
3. Best free SEO courses
Without further ado, here are 7 free SEO courses for digital marketing beginners:
Starting with the basics is Ahrefs’ SEO Course for Beginners. Offering two hours of video tutorials, the course isn’t the most comprehensive or interactive on our list, but it’s well worth checking out if you want to summarize the basics without investing lots of time. Plus, Ahrefs provides an SEO software suite, so you can rest easy knowing they are experts on the topic!
You’ll learn about keyword research, on-page SEO, off-site SEO and link building, and the basics of technical SEO. The course is also available in five languages: English, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian. And you needn’t worry about dodgy subtitling here—they’ve fully translated and localized the course into each language. For total beginners, Ahrefs offers the perfect crash course for getting started.
For many, keyword research and content production are the most seductive aspects of SEO. However, this often comes at the expense of technical SEO, which should be the foundation of any strategy. Enter Semrush Academy’s technical SEO course. Another quick one—just an hour or so long—you won’t need to commit lots of time to get the basics down.
The course focuses on using Semrush tools to carry out technical SEO. While these tools are part of Semrush’s paid suite, the course allows you to try them out free. Plus, the principles are applicable regardless of the tools you’re using, so even if you don’t go on to become a paying customer it’s still a valuable introduction to the topic.
Through seven video tutorials, further reading, trials, and quizzes, you’ll learn all about the technical aspects of SEO. This includes how to conduct an SEO audit, solve common issues with HTTPS, crawlability, and log file analysis. And while these aren’t the only technical SEO problems you might meet, they are some of the most common. For good measure, you’ll also learn a bit about how to create SEO-friendly content and get rid of on-page errors that might impact your ranking. Bonus!
Another free SEO course from HubSpot Academy comes in at about 2.5 hours. Plus, you get a free certification. And while some practical exercises require paid features to complete, you can still gain a good amount of practice without them. The course includes 26 short video tutorials across six lessons, with five end-of-module quizzes to test your knowledge. Start with the SEO basics before moving on to on-page and technical SEO, keyword research, backlink strategy, content optimization, and SEO reporting.
Like the first two courses on our list, this one doesn’t dive deep into the topic, but it does cover all your bases, allowing you to figure out which aspects of SEO you might like to explore in more depth.
Join the highly enthusiastic Marieke from Yoast, whose passion for SEO won’t fail to bring you along for the ride! Yoast’s SEO for Beginners course includes four short video modules covering all the basics. Start with what SEO is and how search engines rank content before progressing to optimizing content via keyword research, copywriting, and site structure. Once again, you’ll cover technical topics like crawlability and practical site speed tips. One of the modules also explores the Yoast SEO plug-in and what it can do for your site, but it’s easy to skip over this if it’s not of interest.
Perhaps most interesting, however, and something that none of the other courses on our list offers: Yoast’s SEO news. Including monthly hour-long recordings of webinars with experts discussing the latest SEO trends, there’s plenty in here to geek out on if you’re interested! Also check out Yoast’s full course list, which includes some other free online courses (and some subscription-only content)—great if you want to dive deeper.
Google’s Digital Garage offers a wide selection of free digital training courses. Ideal if you want to progress from the high-level basics of SEO towards more practical techniques and real-world applications, their SEO Fundamentals course in partnership with Coursera covers the topic in detail. With around 30 hours of beginner content, you won’t just learn the different techniques used in SEO. You’ll also pick up how to devise an effective SEO strategy and enjoy an introduction to consumer psychology and search behavior. This additional learning aims to equip the core knowledge you need, yes, but also the skills necessary to identify unique SEO opportunities and think critically. Pretty solid stuff.
Coursera offers a free 7-day trial in which you can feasibly complete the course. But here’s a tip: enroll in ‘audit-only’ mode and you can access the lectures for free beyond this period. Of course, if you like the training, you may prefer to subscribe. The course is also part of a wider SEO specialization. This means you can further expand your knowledge into related digital marketing topics such as advanced content and social media tactics. There’s also a Google SEO Capstone Project that applies the knowledge and skills you’ve obtained to a real project: optimizing a site of your choosing from the ground up. For a free SEO course, you can’t ask for much more!
At this point, we’ve covered some solid video tutorials and other courses to get you started with SEO. But in the real world, it can be preferable to have access to an SEO toolkit that helps you master skills at the point of need. And as free resources go, there are few better options than the Moz SEO Learning Center, where you can drill down by SEO topic to find exactly the information you need.
A heads up: a lot of the toolkit’s content is article-based, so it may not be ideal if you prefer learning through videos. However, there are some visual tutorials available, too. And on the plus side, it’s much, much more detailed than many free SEO courses. Whether you want to learn about analytics and reporting, competitive research, or local vs. international SEO, there are tons of resources available. What’s more, some topics allow you to drill down into granular skills. For instance, starting with local SEO you can progress to local marketing and location data management.
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, fear not—you can also select the difficulty level between beginner and advanced, allowing you to progress at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. As you develop your SEO skills over time, the Moz Learning Center is a rigorous knowledge base that, if you’re anything like us, is worth bookmarking in your browser!
OK, so we know this post is about free SEO courses for beginners, but why not stretch yourself? Once you’ve covered the basics, consider signing up for a more advanced course. For this, we recommend looking at Simplilearn’s Advanced SEO Program. One of the most comprehensive free SEO courses out there, the program builds your skills toward becoming a full-stack SEO expert. Through 36 hours of self-paced video from industry leaders with experience in the field, you’ll learn about topics ranging from data analytics to HTML, as well as content marketing, link building, and website management.
You can access the content for 90 days (more than enough time to cover the full course) and will get a completion certificate as evidence of prior learning (helpful when you’re looking to land that all-important first job). And despite being more advanced, there are no prerequisites here, meaning you can get started no matter what level you are. Learn more by checking out the full course curriculum.
As we’ve seen, there are many free SEO courses for beginners available. The main thing is to find one that’s right for your needs. From suitable content to certified courses and resources you can dip into, you’ll soon have the fundamentals you need to get started with SEO, one of the most in-demand and highly employable digital marketing skills out there.
To learn more about a career in digital marketing, enroll in this free, 5-day Digital Marketing short course. Alternatively, you can also browse the following introductory guides: