5 Not-Overly-Long Resources That Will Make You Understand SEO

A sleek computer outline with an overlaying search magnifying glass

5 Not-Overly-Long Resources That Will Make You Understand SEO

The term Search Engine Optimization is intimidating to many website owners. Most know what it is, but have zero idea where to start and little time to learn. With this article, and these resources, my goal is to give newcomers a clear big picture view of the SEO landscape in a way that doesn’t require a ton of time or reading.

These resources all together total under 9,500 words and this article is under 900.

Let’s get started.

The Importance of External Links to Search Engine Optimization

697 Words

The most basic thing to understand about search engine optimization is that it’s a popularity contest. When somebody searches for something (the keyword), a search engine is going to do its best to return the most relevant and trusted pieces of information pertaining to your search. How does a search engine do this? It relies on external links. The amount of and the quality of external links tells search engines how trusted your website is, and the content on those external links help to define what you’re all about.

What this boils down to is you need to have either great content (articles, an interesting explainer video, an excellent product/service, be an influencer), and/or a good publicist in order to rank well for terms that you care about.

The Importance of External Links Put into Practice

2,619 Words

The header image for Backlinko's Viral Marketing articleThis is my favorite article on this list because it’s a real-life example of substantial SEO in action.

First we see how a great piece of content and a solid distribution strategy affect SEO- we get to look at traffic numbers and search engine results pages (SERPs). Then we see the step-by-step process that the content’s creator used to make said piece of content.

We learn about how prior research affects results (with hard numbers), how to target people who will care, and how all this affects search engine rankings.

Understanding the Nofollow External Link and How Authority & Trust Transfers from One Website to Another

533 Words

Understanding what a nofollow link is helps to understand how authority and trust is passed on from one website to another. SEOs analogize this as passing “Link Juice.” We can imagine a bucket with holes in it. Each hole is an external link that transfers the juice in the bucket to another bucket. Each bucket is a website and the juice is that site’s authority. What a nofollow link does is to cover the hole, while still allowing traffic to flow through.

Buckets spreading traffic and trust/link juice, meant to analogize the difference between nofollow links and a dofollow links
A very crude drawing illustrating how a dofollow hole (link) passes trust and traffic, while a nofollow hole only passes traffic.

Generally speaking, nofollow links are used to express that a website isn’t trustworthy, that the link was gotten in exchange for something other than good content (such as money), or that the link is mostly irrelevant to the topic of the website passing the juice.

Nofollow links pass traffic, but not trust- and websites with less trust have less authority and dominance on search engine results pages.

How Word-Of-Mouth Is a Necessary Component of SEO

2,175 Words

The header image from Moz's 'Hidden Power of Nofollow Links' article

This is the third resource here that expresses how important external links are to search engine optimization. This is because generating trustworthy external links is bar none the most important aspect of SEO and the one that should be understood best.

This article uses nofollow links as its theme in order to expound on the concept of SEO being a popularity and word-of-mouth contest. We see how, while a nofollow link won’t pass trust, the traffic from it can lead to more publicity, conversions, and dofollow links from other domains. In this way, while a nofollow link may not be directly beneficial to SEO, indirectly it can still have far reaching positive effects.

What This Popularity Contest Means to Your Website

3,211 Words

The header image from Moz's On-Site SEO article

Now that we understand how important publicity in the form of external links is to search engine optimization, it’s easy to understand how crucial it is that a website be made to ensure a good user experience. A good user experience keeps visitors on a website and increases the likelihood of that site’s content being shared (either with social media or external links).

This article goes into the nitty gritty of how to optimize your website for visitors and technically, for search engines. We see how various elements affect user experience which affects SEO and take a look at the cut and dry best practices for creating great web pages.


Search engine optimization is a complex landscape, but hopefully these resources shed light on it. This is meant to be a beginner’s guide with resources necessary for getting a big picture view.

Want to dive further? I’d suggest next learning about the Google Search Console, how to do keyword research, and the little nuances that bring all these lessons together.

Do you feel like there’s anything I’m leaving out? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below and we can start an awesome discussion!

Edward Sturm

Edward Sturm is an SEO and video and image producer.

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  • Author Comment Avatar
    James Reynolds /

    Thanks for including my 16 SEO Experiments post here. Truly appreciated!

    • Author Comment Avatar
      Edward Sturm /

      My pleasure James, thanks for writing such a thorough and revealing article!

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