Online marketing is a young enough space that its pioneers are still actively shaping the industry. The actual term “digital marketing” only came about in the ‘90s, meaning it’s younger than Macaulay Culkin.
You won’t find many master’s degrees in digital marketing. And if you have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, the depth of your digital marketing coursework probably correlates to how recently you graduated.
Be that as it may, the web is overflowing with fantastic, free and up-to-date online resources for digital marketers (and those aspiring to the title).
If you’re looking for a more productive way to pass the time than rewatching “Parks and Rec,” and have a keen interest in digital marketing, then you’re in luck. We’ve put together some free digital resources that will have the greatest return on your investment of time.
Think of this as your very own digital marketing course curriculum.
1. “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” by MOZ
It’s a thorough treatise that covers everything from how search engines work, to key ranking factors, to keyword research, to key performance indicators and all the other “keys” you need to unlock a treasure trove of SEO knowledge.
Section 1 (“SEO 101”) alone will provide you with:
- A definition for SEO.
- An explanation of organic vs inorganic search results.
- Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- A primer on how to fulfill user intent.
- Much more.
Regardless of how much you know about SEO, you’ll know more by the time you finish reading this.
2. Everything else by MOZ
Moz has incredible, data-driven resources and tutorials that SEOs at all levels can learn from.
The content itself is well-written, highly actionable and always penned by practicing experts in the field (our very own SEO sage, Jeff Baker, is a frequent contributor).
Once you’ve gotten through “The Beginners Guide to SEO,” check out the following:
- Moz Academy: Instructor-led, online SEO courses (free until May 31, so don’t drag your feet!).
- Moz Blog: A running log of information, insights and tutorials from Moz experts and guest contributors alike.
- The SEO Learning Center: Exactly what it sounds like; get reference materials, learning guides, strategy manifestos and much, much more.
3. “Content Marketing – The Complete Guide” by yours truly
Moz may have written the book on SEO, but our comprehensive guide to content marketing is second to none.
It’s truly one of if not the most in-depth content marketing resources on the entire web.
It uses graphics, videos, text, examples, lists, metrics, links to additional resources and much more to tell you pretty much everything you need to know about content marketing.
Some of the main points we cover include but aren’t limited to:
- Content marketing strategy.
- Content distribution.
- Quality vs. quantity.
- Content marketing workflows.
- Dozens of the top content marketing tools.
- Understanding your target audience.
Check out our magnum opus to learn everything there is to know about content marketing and then some.
4. These free coding resources
Coding knowledge is to digital marketing as car-maintenance skills are to owning and operating a car. It’s not entirely necessary, but it sure helps.
When it comes to your website, there are 3 core languages:
- HTML: Used for site structure.
- CSS: Used for site appearance.
The more familiar you are with them, the easier time you’ll have with technical SEO, webpage publishing, form building, Google Analytics tracking and email marketing (anyone who’s dabbled in Marketo knows what I mean here).
Knowing markup and/or programming languages is also a highly coveted professional skill that will open many doors for you.
If you’re new to the world of coding, start with basic HTML. It’s a markup language that’s relatively intuitive, and it’s crucial to on-page SEO, meaning it’ll probably give you the most immediate value as far as coding skills go.
Some resources to check out:
- YouTube: There are so many tutorials on YouTube like the one we embedded above.
- Code Academy: The “basic” plan is free and comes with 25 courses.
- HTML Tutorials from W3School: This is more akin to a reference guide than a tutorial, but it covers just about everything and is super useful to have as you start applying your knowledge.
5. Anything by Avinash Kaushik
Avinash Kaushik, author of “Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity,” hasn’t produced much content in 2020. His latest blog posts, as far as we can tell, are all from 2019.
And the web design of his blog, Occam’s Razor, is reminiscent of how sites were built in the early 2000s.
Nevertheless, Kaushik’s contribution to modern web analytics is, to put it mildly, profound. His musings are equal part instructive and inspiring, and his content will fuel your imagination about what’s possible with web analytics.
That inspiration is, as much as anything, crucial to being a better digital marketer.
6. All of these free guides and tutorials
If you really want to be a well-rounded digital marketer, you’ll need to get set up on Google Analytics and Search Console, and make sure that you have a strong grasp on key digital channels such as email and social media.
And we’re not gonna lie. We’ve been at this for years, and there is always more to learn.
But you have to start somewhere. We recommend right here, with these resources:
- Google Analytics Academy: Who better to show you the ins and outs of Google Analytics than Google? Much of the coursework is free, but it will cost you if you want to get certified (not entirely necessary, in our opinion).
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Search Console in 2020: HubSpot has tons of great content on its blog, including a guide for how to get set up in Google Search Console and how to use it to inform your marketing strategy. (You can also get set up with Google’s help here.)
- The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing: What is it about HubSpot and the word “ultimate”? Anyway, in the case of this guide, the word is very much earned.
- WordPress.com Learn: Publishing content is an integral component of any digital marketing strategy. The more intimately you know WordPress (and the plugins that come along with it), the better.
- The complete guide to data-driven content development: This is basically a readymade content marketing strategy.
- How to build your social media marketing strategy for 2020: Sprout Social covers social media strategy, A through Z, in this thorough guide.
- The COVID-19 Resource Hub: A collection of blog articles that help you be an effective marketer in a time of crisis.
- Search Engine Land: Ok, this one isn’t actually a guide or a tutorial. But we would recommend checking it at least once every few days for the latest search engine news.
Now go and break stuff
The best way to learn about digital marketing is to do it.
And yes, reading materials and free online courses can help you get your bearings. But make sure you’re actually applying what you’re reading to your marketing practices.
If you have less space to experiment as part of your day job, then we would recommend picking a topic you’re passionate about and starting your own site. Buy a domain, get hosted, get your site indexed (Google and Moz have plenty of resources to help with this), create some content, track it on Google Analytics, set up a newsletter and a way to capture emails, launch your site, promote your content on social media and do marketing.