Occasionally you may wish to allow your computer screen to drift into soft focus and pick up a book. Of course, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely to be an SEO book. To give you an idea where to start, I’ve ranked my top 5 SEO books on the market at the moment. It’s very hard to say definitively that one is better than another, as they offer advice to different audiences, but each of these is highly recommended in its own way.
Enge, Stricchiola, Fishkin, Spencer
Any book with input from SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin and Stone Temple’s Eric Enge is bound to be an authority, so it’s not surprising that The Art of SEO features in this top 5.
As explained on The Art of SEO website, the premise behind the book is to:
- Explore the underlying theory behind SEO and how search engines work
- Learn the steps you need to prepare for, execute, and evaluate SEO initiatives
- Examine a number of advanced strategies and tactics
- Understand the intricacies involved in managing complex SEO projects
- Learn what’s necessary to build a competent SEO team with defined roles
- Glimpse the future of search and what lies ahead for the SEO industry
At this it succeeds, with a very detailed explanation (and several practical examples) of *most* current SEO factors. It also points out the dangers of implementing some quick wins.
It’s not pitched at complete web novices – it assumes at least a basic technical knowledge of websites (for example: html, how to implement 301 redirects), but explains SEO concepts from the ground up, starting with the basics. Since it gets into fine detail, it’s very good for anyone wanting to become an SEO ‘expert’, but probably not for you if you’re starting up a business and wanting to increase your traffic (if that’s the case, you’re probably better off with the next book on the list – Inbound Marketing).
It was first published October 2009, so at the moment, almost all the info is still fresh and current, with a view to the future keeping it relevant for some time to come.
A chapter summary:
Chapter 1 : The Search Engines: Reflecting Consciousness and Connecting Commerce
Chapter 2 : Search Engine Basics
Chapter 3 : Determining Your SEO Objectives and Defining Your Site’s Audience
Chapter 4 : First Stages of SEO
Chapter 5 : Keyword Research
Chapter 6 : Developing an SEO-Friendly Website
Chapter 7 : Creating Link-Worthy Content and Link Marketing
Chapter 8 : Optimizing for Vertical Search
Chapter 9 : Tracking Results and Measuring Success
Chapter 10 : Domain Changes, Post-SEO Redesigns, and Troubleshooting
Chapter 11 : Honing the Craft: SEO Research and Study
Chapter 12 : Build an In-House SEO Team, Outsource It, or Both?
Chapter 13 : An Evolving Art Form: The Future of SEO
No doubt this book will continue to sell well and will have enjoyed some additional publicity from Eric Enge’s recent marathon interview with Matt Cutts.
2) Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media)
Halligan, Shah, Scott
As the title suggests, a great deal of this book is devoted to social media and you’ll notice the absence of ‘SEO’. It summarises the current situation in terms of how the marketplace has changed. The book sets out to address the following issues:
- Improve your rankings in Google to get more traffic
- Build and promote a blog for your business
- Grow and nurture a community in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Measure what matters and do more of what works online
It’s a very different proposition from the Art of SEO and pitched at anyone (not just ‘web people’) wanting to get a better understanding of how to leverage the web to get more business. It does go into detail about a number of techniques, with examples of how to carry out techniques in practice, but it’s not a technical book per se.
A chapter summary:
Chapter 1. Shopping Has Changed…Has Your Marketing?
Chapter 2. Is Your Website a Marketing Hub?
Chapter 3. Are You Worthy?
Chapter 4. Create Remarkable Content.
Chapter 5. Get Found in the Blogosphere.
Chapter 6. Getting Found in Google.
Chapter 7. Get Found in Social Media.
Chapter 8. Convert Visitors into Leads.
Chapter 9. Convert Prospects into Leads.
Chapter 10. Convert Leads to Customers.
Chapter 11. Make Better Marketing Decisions.
Chapter 12. Picking and Measuring Your People.
Chapter 13. Picking and Measuring a PR Agency.
Chapter 14. Watching Your Competition.
Chapter 15. On Commitment, Patience and Learning.
Chapter 16. Why Now?
Kristopher B. Jones, CEO of PepperJam is well respected amongst the internet marketing industry and in this book features a number of well presented internet marketing principles. As the title mentions, the unique selling point of this book is the large number of diagrams visualising the process, making it quick and easy to understand concepts.
The book covers the following areas (excerpt from the blurb):
- Analyzing your competition
- Researching and analyzing keywords
- Developing your link building skills
- Setting up blogs and communities
- Using Google Analytics
- Networking with Facebook and MySpace
- Boosting traffic with Digg and StumbleUpon
- Setting up pay-per-click campaigns
- Discovering ways to monetize Web traffic
- Installing valuable SEO plug-ins
It’s clear, well organised and current, with a good covering of many techniques, across the SEO board. Whilst covering a broad spectrum of internet marketing techniques from a layman’s (or at least a non-technical) viewpoint, it dives into a good level of detail.
A chapter summary is:
Chapter 1. Getting Started with Search-Engine Optimization
Chapter 2. Keyword Generation
Chapter 3. Creating Pages
Chapter 4. Basic Web Site Structure
Chapter 5. Advanced Web Site Structuring
Chapter 6. Creating Content
Chapter 7. Creating Communities
Chapter 8. Building Links
Chapter 9. Using Google Analytics
Chapter 10. Social Media Optimization
Chapter 11. Creating Pay-per-Click Campaigns
Chapter 12. Optimizing PPC Campaigns through Quality Score Optimization
Chapter 13. Optimizing for Other Search Engines
Chapter 14. Monetizing Traffic
Chapter 15. Installing SEO Plug-Ins
MarketingScoop.com’s Michael H. Fleischner has compiled this set of strategies, aimed primarily at SEO and internet marketing beginners, who are familiar with web development. Indeed it’s billed as
“Learn from a leading Webmaster the specific SEO techniques that deliver top rankings in less than 30 days…proven techniques for achieving the #1 position on Google.”
It’s written in a very readable way, making concepts easy to grasp. If you’re a relative novice and want to have a quick outline of a number of solid, white hat principles, this book is for you. Structurally, it divides SEO into on-page and off-page techniques, creating what is in effect a step by step guide to setting up your own website, then marketing it through ‘free’ SEO and social media techniques. This is not as in-depth as the Art of SEO, nor does it contain the breadth of marketing insight that Inbound Marketing does, so it’s really aimed at webmasters wanting a quick and effective primer.
This book doesn’t really have chapters as such, but sections – in summary:
What You Need to Know About Google
Section 1: On-Page Optimization
What Is On-Page Optimization?
Keyword Development and Placement
Section 2: Off-Page Optimization
What Is Off-Page Optimization?
Which Sites Should You Be Getting Links From?
How to Link
How to Get Links to Your Website
The SEO Made Simple Off-Page Techniques
Link Exchanges/Link Requests
Give People a Reason to Link
You can get a sample PDF to look through and make your own mind up.
Penned by 2 experienced SEO industry stalwarts, randomly both named Sean Odom (no relation), this is a no-nonsense beginners guide to SEO for the semi-technical. It’s not anywhere near as comprehensive (or baffling to the non-technical) as the Art of SEO, although it does focus on technical detail in a number of places.
To summarise the blurb on this book:
This is the first book to cover the Bing search engine in-depth. It tackles how to submit your website to the search engines, basic to advanced optimization techniques, learn how to determinetrophy keywords, keyword density, little known tricks and methods pros use, learn how to increase your rankings, and learn from those who started the entire SEO industry.
Indeed one of the interesting features is a focus on specific search engines, especially Bing, which is relatively uncharted territory. It also covers some useful SEO tools, general internet marketing principles and features a number of useful link building tips.
A chapter summary:
Chapter 1. Overview of Search Engine Optimization
Chapter 2. Keywords and Meta Tags
Chapter 3. Submitting your Website’s URL to Search Engines
Chapter 4. Local Business Listings
Chapter 5. Link Building
Chapter 6. Build your Website with SEO in Mind
Chapter 7. Optimizing for Major Search Engines
Chapter 8. PPC
Chapter 9. Social Media
Chapter 10. Setting SEO Goals and Making a Plan
Chapter 11. SEO Toolbars, Tools & Plugins
Chapter 12. What Not to Do
Chapter 13. Marketing Principles
Chapter 14. Professional SEO Services