We’ve written a lot about search engine optimization in the past. And with good reason.
In a world where both businesses and consumers turn to the internet for information and purchasing, finding a way to get your website into the first ten results on Google – or better yet, rank first – is essential. an entire industry now exists to help companies optimize their web presence, improve their performance on key search engines, and appear more prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs). Broadly known as search engine optimization and more commonly referred to by the acronym SEO, the strategies and tactics employed to lift rankings and performance on major search engines is a key arrow in the quiver of the modern web marketer.
In many ways SEO remains something more of an art than a science. Google and the other major search engines are notorious for keeping their proprietary search engine algorithms secret, and even experienced SEOs can find themselves relying on rumor and intuition to guide optimization decisions at times.
Yet while effective SEO is sometimes a matter of going with the gut feel of an experienced SEO, it is much more often the result of applying tried and true strategies that have proven effective in the past. Finding these strategies, tactics, and tips means browsing forums, exchanging ideas with others, testing and re-testing online, or diving into the deep literature that is emerging around SEO.
500 SEO Tips
Silvia O’Dwyer’s new book, 500 SEO Tips: Essential Strategies to Bulldoze Through Google’s Rankings, Increase Traffic and Go Viral, is a new entry in this growing collection of search optimization books. It’s a tightly packed, 200 page guide to SEO that is presented as a series of tips and tactics.
The book is broken down into 13 chapters with everything from keyword research to technical elements to off-site SEO strategies, too. The book attempts to offer a comprehensive guide to SEO success and, for the most part, it succeeds. Particularly with regards to the first half of the book the SEO tips offered are clear, practical, and applicable to new and existing sites.
Later in the book the approach seems to change as the author gives space to outside experts (disclosure: including DOZ) to offer their own tips. While it is admirable that O’Dwyer is able to bring in these other expert voices, it does mean that the tone and style of the writing changes with each additional tip.
Another criticism that might be made relates not to the content but to the layout, formatting, and style. At times the reader cannot help but be distracted by formatting errors and missteps that have titles and tip inconsistently bolded or italicized, inconsistent spacing and breaks, and inconsistent text wrapping in paragraphs. While these are easily corrected and don’t detract from the quality of the information presented, it does make that information more difficult to read and limits the usability of the text.
In fairness, it should be noted that this review is of a pre-publication copy of the book and O’Dwyer may have made changes in the final ebook. if so, this will improve the reading experience for the interested SEO.
O’Dwyer’s Added Value
One of the problems with buying a book of 500 tips is the creeping suspicion that most or all of them will be things that an experienced SEO will have come across before. After all, is it really possible for someone to come up with 500 things that no one has ever considered or heard of, especially in a competitive field such as SEO?
The answer to the question is, as expected, no, it is not possible. However that is not to say that the book does not offer some new tactics for the reader to deploy on their own site or the sites they optimize for their clients. There are more than a few tips that are either new or that are explained in more and better detail than what exists elsewhere online. O’Dwyer’s clear explanations and examples offer significant added value even when tips are things that might be fundamental or offered elsewhere online or in books.
That said, the book seems far more likely to appeal to a beginner SEO or a website owner not yet ready to invest in a freelance or external SEO. While experts and more experienced SEOs will probably find value in a few of the tips, beginners will have themselves a play-by-play guide to optimizing their site. While 500 SEO Tips won’t be the last place to turn in developing an online marketing strategy, it would be a good place to turn first.
Silvia O’Dwyer has collected some great tips and tactics into a single volume that will appeal to beginner SEOs and those seeking to optimize their own sites. Applied correctly, the tips that she outlines will do exactly what is promised on the cover: improve a site’s Google ranking, improve traffic, and help bring the site to the attention of a far larger audience.