I've built a number of small websites for fun but have never bothered with SEO.
How did you learn and start doing it?
SEO was the first thing I learned when I started "doing stuff with websites", even before learning how to code or manage wordpress websites. It's still one of the things I constantly have to stay up-to-date on, because its changing and moving all the time.
The best way to learn & do it is to apply its principles on actual websites.
The most consistent quality resources in my eyes have been Moz's blog & Ahref's blog along with their YouTube channel. Another great resource is Backlinko.
Start with the basics: title tags, meta descriptions, headings, sitemap, internal linking, canonicals, hreflang if you have multiple languages, image optimization (alt, title, filename).
Doing this along with writing great content for the topics you need and some general performance optimizations and you will see improvements quickly, if you haven't done any of these.
These basics won't automatically give you great rankings, but provide the foundation great rankings are built on!
The most important part in my mind is content. Make sure you answer all potential questions somebody interested in the topic could have. You don't have to answer everything right away, there is nothing wrong with expanding content over time, adding more and more value.
If you don't have a strong website already, try to focus on smaller keywords (lower competition & most of the time lower searches) & long tail keywords (e.g. by providing answers to very specific problems).
In my experience:
The number one rule:
The best thing I learned this year was Chrome built-in tool Lighthouse. from there you can see what issues you get and start learning about them. Of course, there are other stuff it doesn't cover but I found it a great starting point
read as much as you can - so you don't have to learn everything from scratch again.
Started a blog based on content that my target audience was searching for. You can enter a topic into something like AnswerThePublic to get an idea of what people are asking about in your industry.
Also, what has worked for me and my clients is writing a long-form article (around 2000-3000 words) on a topic in my industry. The idea is to answer as many questions in the written piece as possible that people are asking. Then, you can use Google Seach Console to find other keywords and other content opportunities from that one long-form article.
If you're interested, I put what I learned together into a course, SEO Growth For SaaS. I run a SaaS product and SEO is what it's built on!
But like others have said here: focus entirely on providing value. The best angle (I think!) to take with this is to answer people's questions!
My website started to reach ~30k monthly sessions without me really thinking a ton about SEO. Then I realized that if I did it intentionally, I could scale it.
This got me to about ~130k monthly sessions until COVID hit (my website is in the travel sector).
The best thing is actually seeing patterns that work on your own website.
Google rewards different things for different queries, and there are many industry-specific tips and tricks you'll pick up as you're "in the field".
Agree with @scholz that Ahrefs and Backlinko are great resources.
Shameless plug, if you're a developer I run a free email course and newsletter that teaches some of this https://bloggingfordevs.com.
I'll check it out thanks
I have spent several months trying things I found on Google, like starting a blog (https://turingbotsoftware.com/blog/), but without much difference in the end. Recently I started asking for feedback here on Indie Hackers, and I have learned more in a week than in all those previous months.
I think that's the best way to learn, ask people who know what they are doing and are experienced for advice.