SEO Resources to Learn More (Updated)

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SEO Resources: Books, Blog Posts, Maps, Articles, and Papers

To succeed at SEO, start by understanding the audience you have built a site for. What their informational needs are and the pain points they may be experiencing. The words they use to describe the goods and services you offer that they will search for and expect to see on your pages. And then learn about SEO and the Search Engines…

If you are new to SEO, you may want to learn more than on this blog. I put together this page of SEO Resources in the shape of links to papers, books, and articles online that I wanted to share. I’ve been adding links to pages about standards and testing tools as well.

Google: Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

A helpful introduction to SEO Resources from Google. If you are going to do SEO or have SEO done to your Website, you should learn as much about it as you can. Seeing what Google says about it is a good place to start.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Another SEO Resource, produced by SEO toolmaker Moz, with another helpful look at how Search Engine Optimization works.

A Standard for Robot Exclusion
by robots mailing list

In the earliest days of the Web, a mailing list was launched to help figure out how to deal with robots crawling all over each other’s servers. The members of the list came up with some solutions, now known as a robots.txt file.

By the W3C

If you have a presence on the Web, you should learn something about the language that it is written in. This introduction to HTML will tell you some of that and give you a little insight into the history of the technology behind the Web.

Dive into HTML5
by Mark Pigrim

Another guide to using HTML, by Mark Pilgrim. He worked at Google for many years and has written other helpful how-to guides about accessibility and Python. More than just a look at the rules of HTML; a guide to how those work.

As We May Think
by Vannevar Bush

In July of 1945, Vannevar Bush speculated what scientists who had worked on the war effort should turn their hands to next. They aimed to make the world a better place. His article urged scientists to make knowledge more accessible to everyone and came up with the idea that, in many ways, foreshadowed the emergence of the internet.

Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas
by Eugene Garfield

Published in Science on July 15, 1955, Eugene Garfield proposes a citation index to scientific articles. In many ways, this is like the legal Shepard’s Citation, which helps lawyers and legal scholars in US State and Federal Courts find publications and court cases that refer to other legal cases. In addition, Eugene Garfield’s work on citation analysis influenced how links are considered citations in algorithms such as PageRank.

Improved Text Searching in Hypertext Systems (pdf)
by Lawrence Page

One of the essential SEO Resources – the first PageRank patent, filed by Lawrence Page with the USPTO on January 10, 1997. A plain-language description of PageRank and the Backrub search engine in a provisional patent filing was never assigned or published in the patents database. It provides a comparison of Backrub with other search engines.

Hypersearching the Web
by Soumen Chakrabarti, Byron Dom, S. Ravi Kumar, Prabhakar Raghavan, Sridhar Rajagopalan, Andrew Tomkins, Jon M. Kleinberg, and David Gibson

IBM’s CLEVER Project explored how analyzing links between pages could be useful in indexing the Web. Simultaneously, Google was developing its PageRank approach. While the team never publicly released a search engine, many of the concepts they developed were used by Teoma/Ask Jeeves. This paper describes the concepts of “Authorities” and “Hubs” within a collection of pages for a query on a specific topic. It refers to how many other pages link to some pages, and other pages link to many other pages.

A Survey on PageRank Computing
by Pavel Berkhin

A search researcher from Yahoo has worked on alternative approaches to PageRank and put together this detailed overview of PageRank. It is a very thoughtful exploration of the topic.

Combating Web Spam with TrustRank
by Zoltan Gyongyi, Hector Garcia-Molina, and Jan Pedersen.

This is a joint project between Stanford University and Yahoo! It isn’t about ranking search results in response to a query as much as it is about filtering webspam from a search engines’ index of the Web. It includes “techniques to semi-automatically separate reputable, good pages from spam.”

Scientific Advertising

Claude Hopkins published this classic book on advertising in 1923. It’s still very relevant for today’s world of online marketing and advertising.

Hubs, Authorities, and Communities
By Jon Kleinberg

Kleinberg was someone who looked at the importance of links and what they might be able to tell about the value of pages on the Web. Understanding the difference between pages perceived as hubs and pages perceived as authorities had value and likely still does. Knowing the difference may still help today.

A Taxonomy of Web Search
by Andrei Broder

This is one of the most important papers about the intent behind searches. Knowing the difference between informational, transactional, and navigational searches influences many algorithms that play a role in search results people may see from search engines. The author wrote this when he was at Alta Vista, one of the earliest leading search engines, but it is good to know the difference between those types of searches today.

The Intention Behind Web Queries
by Ricardo A. Baeza-Yates, Liliana Calderón-Benavides, Cristina N. González-Caro

Another look at how the intent behind web searches may be categorized and why they might be. It spends some time looking at the Broder Paper above this one on the taxonomy of Web Search.

Introduction to Information Retrieval
by Christopher D. Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan and Hinrich Schatze

A thoughtful look at how search works from a computer science perspective. Highly recommended for those who like to delve into the science behind a search.

Search User Interfaces
by Marti Hearst

A readable and informative book that approaches how search engines work not from the algorithms behind the scenes but rather the interfaces you see when you search. If you want to learn a lot about how search engines work quickly, this is a great place to start.

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine (pdf)
by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page

One of the very first white papers that provided a glimpse into how a commercial search engine works. The search engine in question is Google. Even though this paper was written more than a decade ago and provides some great historical perspective on Google and search, there are hints about things to come from the search engine.

The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web
by Lawrence Page, Sergey Brin, Rajeev Motwani, and Terry Winograd

If you’ve heard of Google, chances are you’ve also heard about PageRank. It is a method that the search engine has used to rank how important pages are on the Web. It has also been combined with other ranking signals to determine the order of pages you see when you search. It’s very likely that the PageRank of 1998, as described in this paper, has evolved over the last decade. It’s worth reading about how it was intended to work in the early days.

Shaping the Web: Why the politics of search engines matters (pdf)
by Lucas D. Introna and Helen Nissenbaum

Published in 2000, this paper looks at the potential biases in which search engines may engage. Those arise not so much from technical issues but rather political ones. For example, why might some sites be excluded from search results while others might be favored? Thoughtful criticism of popularity-based search algorithms and the purchasing of prominence in search results.

The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface
by Marcia J. Bates

This paper, published in 1989, discusses a different search interface than what often gets discussed in Information Retrieval circles. It is where a single search is often part of multiple pages and multiple query inquiries for information—a thoughtful paper that might have you thinking about designing web pages a little differently.

Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines

In addition to SEO Resources, it can be helpful to look at some related concepts such as usability. This set of usability guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services are helpful, creative, and smart. If you design websites, and you haven’t seen them, you should take a look. You might get some ideas on how to make your sites more usable for visitors.

Introduction to Information Retrieval
by Christopher D. Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan and Hinrich Schatze.

Published in 2009, this online version of the book provides a great first look at the computer science behind how search engines work.

A Guide to The Biggest SEO Myths on The Web
By Bill Slawski

A look at critical thinking approaches to identify fallacies, arguments unsupported by evidence, and common SEO myths. I wrote this to try to help make it easier to separate SEO Resources from SEO Myths. There is a lot of great information on the Web. and there is a lot of misinformation on the Web as well.

Design Resources

Helpful Government Sites

Standards Sites

SEO Resources from the Search Engines

  • Google Webmaster Guidelines– Google has shared quality guidelines for being included in the Google search engine for site owners. These are worth spending time with, if you would like to have a site listed at the Mountain View Search engine, and want to avoid being penalized by the Search Engine.
  • Google Webmaster Central – Google has provided a number of informational and support pages, where you can learn more about the search engine, and some of the features that it offers, and connect to some of the other features that it makes available.
  • Google Webmaster Central Help Forums – Google provides this forum where webmasters can bring questions about websites that they may own, and contributors to the help forums and Google Employees will often answer questions brought to these forums. If something happens to your site that you may have a question about, this may be a place to get answers that may be helpful.
  • Google Developers – These are pages from Google for Web Designers and Developers, and are often a good place to learn about features that Google offers, including information about Structured Data.
  • Google Trends – Where you can learn about Searcher’s interest over time in different terms and phrases
  • Google Rich Results Testing Tool– A resource to use to test Schema Markup that you add to a page.
  • Google Mobile Friendly Testing Tool – You should test your pages to see how well they work on mobile devices.
  • Google My Business – Google’s Business Directory, and where you submit your site to have it listed in Google Maps.
  • Yahoo Search Help – If you have any questions about the Search Engine at Yahoo, this is a place where you might be able to find answers.
  • Webmaster Central – Bing – Bing’s Answer to Googles Webmaster Tools (which become Google Search Console), and these do seem similar to the older Webmaster Tools from Google.
  • Bing Places for Business – Bings version of Google My Business; a business directory
  • Apple Maps Connect-Where you submit your business for it to be listed in Apple Maps
  • – Information about XML sitemaps from Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which describes a machine-readable approach that can be used to help pages of sites get indexed by search engines as an alternative approach to a search engine crawler going through a site link-by-link. A whitepaper from Google, titled Sitemaps: Above and Beyond the Crawl of Duty discusses some of the benefits of using an XML sitemap, and some different strategies for setting an XML sitemap up on larger sites that use XML sitemap indexes, and is worth reading if you would like to have a good sense of how XML sitemaps can be helpful.

SEO Resources – Publications and Blogs from Google

The Keyword Google’s blog where they focus upon new features at the search engine.
The Official Google Blog – this one seems dedicated to search at Google.
Google AI Blog – This seems to have been the Google Inside Search Blog, and the Google Research Publications.
Deepmind Publications – The AI Subsidary owned by, and controlled by Google.
Google Calico Publications – Google’s Health research branch publications.

SEO Resources – Publications and Blogs from Bing

Bing Webmaster Blog – This one seems dedicated to site owners who might be listed in Bing.
Bing Blogs – This one is supposedly all about Bing (and may include the Webmaster blog, too.)

Last Updated August 12, 2021

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