Author: Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Rand Fishkin & Jessie C Stricchiola
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Website owners and developers
Pros: Brings knowledge of SEO together
Cons: SEO is still guesswork
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
The problem with SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - is that it has to be an art. It can't really be a science because the secrecy around the way search engines work mean that anyone claiming to know how to do SEO as an exact science has to be, at best, exaggerating. Hence you might well expect good things from a book that starts off with the premise that SEO really is an art.
The book opens with a consideration of how search engines work. which search engines are most important and how users actually user search engines. All fairly basic. From this point on the book goes into the usual material about keywords, meta tags, the importance of link building and so on.It emphasises the need to gather metrics and analyse them which is good advice.
What is missing is any discussion of how to implement any of the techniques. The entire book is platform neutral and there is no discussion of Apache, IIS or content management systems. This is fairly reasonable in that focusing on particular technologies would take the book well outside of its chosen area but readers should note that they will need more Internet knowledge than the book provides. On the other hand if they do have the level of Internet knowledge necessary to achieve some of the results then they very likely are up to the task of working out much of what the book has to say for themselves.
The book has the advantage of gathering much of what is known or believed to be good practice into one place but it suffers from being a bit on the long side and hence it lacks focus. You still have to work quite hard to get the main ideas from it. Of course none of the ideas are quantified in terms of their effectiveness and at the end of the day you have to assume that improving findability, in and out links, and so on have to be good for the ranking you receive on a search engine. But it is all a matter of guess work.
The final part of the book deals with "management" aspects - SEO research and study, building an SEO team and the future of SEO.
This is a fairly down to earth guide to the few basic ideas of SEO. It doesn't extoll dubious practices to gain higher rankings but neither does it present anything that rises to the level of "Art".