Don't miss

Three Quick Ways to Learn Web Development Skills

By on April 23, 2013

Search engine optimization at its core is a blend of marketing and technical skills. The best SEOs that I’ve worked with are ones who are proficient in not just one area but both. Like a simple Venn diagram they are comfortable where these two fields intersect and seamlessly transition between the two fields in order to clearly communicate both the marketing and technical side of SEO. This is applicable to both in-house SEOs and those who work in an agency setting. As someone from a marketing background let me give you three quick ways that I’ve used to improve my technical knowledge.

Flash Card Sites

Ask anyone involved in learning and they’ll extol the importance of repetition. Hence, when learning a language flash cards are often advocated and heavily used. Since learning technical skills such as computer languages is so similar, a great way to learn them is through using flash cards. But rather than buy 3×5 note cards from Staples a great way to learn is to use free online flash card sites to master the new language. Creating a flash card set around HTML elements, CSS properties or even regular expression characters can help you memorize and internalize the foundational elements of these languages. My favorite flash card website is Quizlet which allows for easy creation of flash card sets, existing sets around a wide variety of topical disciplines and interactive games to practice.

Create Your Own Site

Once you have the foundational knowledge you need from studying your flashcard sets go ahead and set up a website so you can test your skills. Creating your own website, whether the goal is to monetize it or simply provide an outlet for your opinions, allows you to experiment and learn without fear of ruining the company or client website you work on during the day. Hosting, a domain name and a premium WordPress theme (if you’re taking the monetization route) should cost less than $200. Within a few hours you can have a live website and have your own little playground to learn how to actually write and understand your language of choice. Downloading and using the Firebug extension will allow you to continue to make changes to your website in a non-live environment so you can continue to improve your website after there are actual traffic to it.

Free Coding Websites

There are a myriad of websites that offer courses in web development and design disciplines. Some are free while others are extremely expensive. Here are my two of my favorite ones:


Tuts+ offers courses on everything from Photoshop and graphic design related courses to mobile design and other programming languages. Many courses offer a sampling of tutorials free of charge while restricting  the full course to premium members. Admittedly, I’ve only tried out some of the free materials but what I did try out I thought was well done and very helpful.


Similar to Tuts+, Codecademy offers a wide range of free and interactive courses to learn computer programming languages. Fairly new, Codecademy continues to add resources and courses and currently includes such courses as JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Ruby, Python, APIs etc. With each course consisting of different lessons that you must code correctly to proceed, Codecademy does a great job of forcing the learner to apply the theory and not just read it.

Undoubtedly these aren’t the only three ways to learn the technical skills needed to excel within the SEO profession but they are (mostly) free, easy and effective. Gaining these skills will not only make you more valuable in your current job but also provide transferrable skills that can be used in future jobs and personal business ventures.

About Dustin Heap

Dustin Heap is a digital marketer at Prior to joining Dustin worked in two different SEO agencies as well as in-house on the paid side of search in New York City.