Book Review: SEO – An Hour A Day (2nd edition)

Filed in SEO by Matt McGee on October 27, 2008 6 Comments

book coverYou’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 The industry changes so fast that those books are outdated before they’re published.”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now, and having finally finished it last night, I can say for sure that the strategies and tactics it presents aren’t outdated.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 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!”

Purchase Search Engine Optimization: An Hour A Day on (aff) or non-aff link.

And don’t miss, the companion web site for the book.

Comments (6)

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  1. I agree with that to a point as well but some of the basics will always apply.

  2. Ali says:

    A book full of SEO tricks and knowledge. I love this book and i lean alot form it. I read 1st edition and now going to read 2nd edditon

  3. C.S. says:

    SEO: An Hour A Day is well organized, consistent in thought and style and filled with great information. In some cases they confirmed information I had read elsewhere (which can be very helpful in itself) … and in other cases taught me new things I did not know. The authors do a great job of making the subject fun and interesting. My sincere belief is that any business owner (large or small) who is interested in growing their business using the power of the internet should read this book. In fact, this is a great first book to pick up because it starts at the beginning and builds from there. It is also a great starter because the authors are gracious enough to direct you to additional sources they consider to be authoritative.

  4. Paul says:

    could be interesting, although its always best to learn from the big players who are good at the game! most blogs these days are very helpful way to learn.

  5. Chris Quinn says:

    Borders is going out of business so I stopped by my local Tampa store and found this SEO: An Hour a Day for sale for $15 plus a 30% discount. I decided to buy it just to see what kind of information they were giving and I have to say a lot of it is pretty basic. But if you don’t know anything about SEO or properly configuring meta tags, etc.. then this is the book for you. I think if you are a business owner looking to hire an SEO company than you should buy this book just so you can get an idea as to what actually goes into SEO, and then decide if you want to do it in house, or hire an SEO company. Anyway, just my 2 cents. Nice review BTW.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Did you get the 3rd edition, Chris? It’s the newest version and it just came out in the last month or so, I think. Haven’t had a chance to read through it yet.

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