Tag Archives: SEO

BOOK REVIEW: SEO Warrior

seo-warrior

SEO Warrior has one of the more militant titles of most industry books I’ve reviewed, with a stern Eleonora’s falcon on the cover. The title and image foreshadows the rigorous material between the covers, for SEO Warrior is a book for advanced users wanting to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO). I’ve reviewed several books on the topic, and some that I would consider for advanced users only, and SEO Warrior stands out for some very advanced techniques that will be found in it.

There are some drawbacks to the book, however. Despite its 2010 publication date, a few new search engines such as Bing.com are mentioned but not really looked at in depth due to unfortunate timing. This is not normally a big deal—every book in our industry misses something due to ever-changing technology—but other books published in the same year did get Bing.com explained more fully. SEO Warrior is also quite technical and can be tough for beginners and intermediate users to digest. This book really is for experienced SEO professionals.

SEO Warrior does distinguish itself for its thoroughness and also its big-picture overview of the general SEO techniques. My review of The Art of SEO pointed out that that book didn’t have much focus on the basic tenets of SEO, but SEO Warrior doesn’t fall into that trap. I think there could be more, because I think basic things such as writing good content constitute the majority of a website’s SEO success, but the book is well-balanced as is.

SEO Warrior
John I. Jerkovic
Published by O’Reilly
US$44.99
Rating: 8/10

BOOK REVIEW: The Art of SEO and The Art of Community

O’Reilly’s two books The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization and The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation tackle two important aspects of web design that have been heavily researched and written about in the past couple years. There are a lot of books on the market about social media, online communities and search engine optimization, and these two books offer thorough surveys of their respective topics.

The Art of SEO

art-of-seo

The Art of SEO is written by four authors, which generally worries me because such books often feel like compilations of diverse voices rather than a unified piece of writing. The authors mostly avoided this, making The Art of SEO a good read. It seems like an advanced book with a lot of technical information that SEO intermediates and experts will appreciate but novices and readers in other professions—such as marketing and design—might find dry and hard to slog through. I’d expect some IT professionals who are in charge of corporate websites will also find the book helpful.

The other thing about The Art of SEO that impresses me is it has some cutting-edge information, such as coverage of Bing.com and other new search engine technologies. One thing I would have liked more of in the book is general tactics and emphasis on strong content, and less emphasis on all the little tools and technologies out there. A commenter on Amazon.com used the old phrase “not seeing the forest for the trees,” and I think this is close to the truth.

The Art of Community

art-of-community

I think The Art of Community is really interesting because it’s the only book I know of that focuses on online communities—social media circles, news sites, mailing lists and so on. Jono Bacon used to manage the Ubuntu Linux community, so he has a strong pedigree working with online communities and I thought his insight was very remarkable. He has some good anecdotes and also has contacts who moderate other online communities and have been quoted in this book.

Being about human behavior and online participation, The Art of Community is not too technical and is often more about psychology than technology. I was really surprised at the level of planning and thought that goes into creating and conducting an online community, but there really is more to it than setting up a list server and letting users go at it. Given that the subject matter really is human behavior and emotions, sometimes I wished The Art of Community had more compelling stories and didn’t read so much like a textbook, but I suppose it wouldn’t be right for Jono to reveal some major flame wars in these pages.

The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Rand Fishkin and Jessie C. Stricchiola
Published by O’Reilly
US$44.99
Rating: 8/10

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation
Jono Bacon
Published by O’Reilly
US$39.99
Rating: 9/10

BOOK REVIEW: Search Engine Optimization for Flash

seo-flash

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Flash was the red-hot new technology for the Web. Designers were building user-unfriendly splash screens and sometimes building complete websites all in Flash. Eventually a counter-movement developed that steered designers back toward semantic HTML markup, web standards and other lean, user-friendly web design methods.

One of the claims made against 100% Flash websites was that they are not indexed by search engines, since they cannot read text set in Flash. This never made sense to me because my own website at jeremyschultz.com is 100% Flash and it is indexed very well—some of the work in my client portfolio actually scores higher than my clients’ websites or names. One can only conclude that Flash can co-exist with a well-optimized website, and Todd Perkins‘ book Search Engine Optimization for Flash explains why.

Working with Flash

SEO for Flash had a lot of great information I didn’t know about—for example, Adobe has given Google and Yahoo! a special version of Flash Player that allows those search engines to index Flash text and links with no problem. Flash applications and movies can be optimized for search engines just like a regular HTML page—it’s just done differently, and it gets more complicated with JavaScript, AJAX and dynamic content are thrown into the equation. SEO for Flash details all the techniques needed to maximize search engine optimization for a variety of Flash projects. It goes even farther by including a chapter on optimizing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) built with Flex, an application development program that uses the same ActionScript as Flash. This was an unexpected inclusion.

What brings the book together is the final chapter on optimizing a Flash website. Over 40 pages were devoted to this chapter and it tackles real-world examples, so it may be the most useful segment of the whole book. Some books make the mistake of teaching guidelines and techniques without applying them—which then requires the reader to practice and figure out how it’s done. SEO for Flash gives the reader more insight into this critical step of the process, such as focusing optimization efforts on searchable text, deep links and shared data sources.

Where’s the files?

I really love this book—it debunks several myths, does a great job teaching its readers and focuses on a neglected segment of web design. However, there is one glaring flaw: there are several exercises throughout the book that refer to Flash, HTML and XML files. Unfortunately, these files are quite hard to find. The book does not come with a disk and the online version (available at safari.oreilly.com) does not link to them. The files are actually found on the book’s page in O’Reilly’s online catalog under the term “Examples.” The download is a large ZIP file, which makes me wonder why the publisher doesn’t break the exercises down into smaller packets for easy access and hyperlinking.

Despite this, Search Engine Optimization for Flash is a great resource for Flash designers building projects for the Web. Todd does a fine job explaining all the important techniques for optimizing Flash content for search engines, and given Flash’s evolution from a cool animation tool to a content delivery application I think it’s important for all Flash designers to understand how to maximize search engine optimization for their projects.

Search Engine Optimization for Flash
Todd Perkins
Published by O’Reilly
US$29.99
Rating: 9/10