The Art of SEO, 2nd Edition, is an overwhelming 716 pages of information on search engine optimization ( SEO ). To read it all and understand everything is a huge accomplishment for SEO experts and web developers who have been developing SEO-Friendly Websites for years. It's packed with information on search engine basics, the first stages of SEO, creating link worthy content and link marketing, how social media impacts search results, tracking results, post-SEO website redesigns and more. Whether you are an SEO expert or website developer who just wants to optimize his/her websites for search engines, there is a little something for everyone in The Art of SEO, 2nd Edition.
Why I Read The Art of SEO
Before I jump into the book itself, I wanted to mention why I read The Art of SEO.
- It was free. I am a member of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program and enjoy reading new books all the time on a wide variety of subjects.
- The Art of SEO is 716 pages and the e-book is $40. In these days, 716 pages is a lot of pages and $40 is the most expensive e-book I have come across. I was very curious as to what could be written on search engine optimization that took 716 pages and was worth $40 in e-book form.
- My role this past year has recently evolved from custom ASP.NET MVC web application development to website development using Orchard CMS and Umbraco. Developing websites for clients using these content management systems has me doing a lot more search engine optimization from scratch as well as post-SEO redesigns as clients move their existing websites to Orchard and Umbraco.
Search Engine Optimization Basics
Most developers feel pretty "uncomfortable" talking about SEO. In the past, search engine optimization has been more about trickery and underhanded methods than about developing rich, useful content that can benefit website visitors. SEO experts in the past were also like snake-oil salesmen and just brought a bad name to the whole process of SEO. I don't think the web development industry will ever recover from those shady days even though SEO does have a legitimate role in the development of websites and brands.
What's nice about The Art of SEO is that it focuses on the facts and basics of search engine optimization and ranking for those that want a general understanding while also providing real depth for those who want to take SEO to an art level. My goal as a web developer is to provide my clients every possible advantage I can for SEO from a web design and development perpective, and if they want to go further, they can hire an SEO expert.
The Art of SEO covers the basics of search engines and their algorithms. You understand what influences search results by diving into crawling, indexing, and page ranking. You understand how keywords, inbound and outbound links, and trust influence ranking as well as how to best architect your websites and content to provide for optimal SEO ranking and indexing. A lot of this feels like common sense since I have been dealing with SEO for years, but if you are new to SEO, you will be very happy with the content and probably a bit overwhelmed at the large number of guidelines that exist.
SEO For New Websites and Re-Designs
If you are a web developer, you will be very happy to know The Art of SEO focuses both on SEO for new websites as well as re-designs. Although there is overlap in the processes, it is critical that a website not lose it's page ranking because it moves to a content managements system, for example, like Orchard CMS, Umbraco, Joomla, Drupal, Worpress, etc.
For new websites it teaches you to define your SEO objectives and audience, research keywords, and how to architect your website optimally to achieve good search engine optimization and ranking. Once a good SEO architecture is in place, the Art of SEO discusses how you measure and track results, and if really critical, how you develop an in-house SEO team to continually monitor, evolve, and improve the architecture and search engine results.
For existing websites going through a re-design, the book teaches you the details of how to move the data so that page ranking, linking, and trust is still in tact after changing the website's architecture and design.
SEO for Content Management Systems
The Art of SEO unexpectedly discussed SEO for content management systems, which is perfect for me as an Orchard Web Developer and soon-to-be Umbraco Web Developer. A CMS is optimized for managing content, but not often SEO, and the book discusses those challenges when trying to optimize search engine ranking for a website based on a CMS like Joomla or Drupal. I think most CMS developers will consider a lot of it common-sense, but if you are developing a website using a CMS and have not thought about SEO, these sections are quite useful. [ As an aside, at the very least Orchard SEO can be improved by using an Orchard Sitemap.xml Module and Adding Meta Tags like Keywords and Descriptions to Orchard Blog Post and Pages. ]
Evolution of Search and SEO
At the end, The Art of SEO looks at the evolution of search and how it is being influenced by personalization, social networks, localization, and user data. More and more search results are personalized for the user and based on preferences, habits, and your circle of influence on various social networks. It will be interesting to see how today's search engine basics will influence search enging traffic and search results. For now you don't want to ignore search engine basics, but it will be interesting to find out just how important these guidelines will continue to remain throughout the future.
If you are seriously interested in SEO and have very little knowledge of it, The Art of SEO is a good book and worth the $40 for the e-book. There is a lot of content and good information. It is well-organized and goes really in-depth. Whether you are just a business owner with a website looking for better SEO, a website developer or designer wanting to create more search engine optimized websites, or a wannabe SEO expert, you will find something new and interesting in the book.