You’ve heard this before: “Don’t bother with any of the SEO books in print. The industry changes so fast that those books are outdated before they’re published.” I know I’ve seen plenty of SEO experts say something like that, and I’m probably guilty of saying it, too.
But Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day (aff) proves all of us wrong. The second edition of the book has been out for months now, and having finally finished it last night, I can say for sure that the strategies and tactics it presents aren’t outdated.
The book’s authors, Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin, turn the process of learning SEO into a three-month series of tasks — each that should take about an hour a day. The tasks, and the reasoning behind them, are presented in easy-to-understand language. But they don’t oversimplify SEO in the process. “Good SEO takes work — lots of work,” they write in the Introduction.
Some of the standout sections of the book are a guide to tracking offline conversions (always an important task for small businesses) and what may be the best basic overview of how paid search works, and how to setup a starter-level PPC campaign that I’ve ever read. I also appreciated that the book doesn’t oversell the need for XML sitemaps:
“We tend to agree that a Sitemap shouldn’t be necessary for a small- or medium-sized website. The majority of these websites should be navigable by search engine spiders without any help. And, since Sitemaps don’t speed up indexing or improve ranks, their benefit is hard to identify.”
I should note that the authors cover their bases by providing a guide to creating and uploading XML sitemaps anyway, just in case some readers want to use them. (For reference, here are my thoughts on XML Sitemaps.)
Since SEO is as much art as it is science, there were a few details presented in the book that I’d take exception with — the idea that an inbound link from a high PageRank, but off-topic page isn’t helpful being one. (If I’m a small bakery, I’d be thrilled with a link from an ESPN.com article, even though sports and baking are worlds apart.)
But any quibbles like that are very minor, and few and far between. And they don’t diminish the book’s overall value in providing a systematic approach to SEO that any small business owner can understand.
I should add a brief disclaimer: I’m quoted in Search Engine Optimization: An Hour A Day, providing advice in a section titled “SEO With Flickr.” That has no bearing on my overall impressions of the book. The bottom line is this: If you’re a small business owner or webmaster wondering if you a) can learn SEO yourself, and b) have the time to follow-through and do SEO yourself, this book will answer your questions with a resounding “Yes!”
And don’t miss YourSEOPlan.com, the companion web site for the book.