“Get to the top on Google” Book Review
By David Viney
Nicholas Brealey Publishing (2008)
Get to the top on Google is a search engine optimization (SEO for short) guide. SEO is the art of making your website easy to find for search engines and higher its position in their rankings. The importance of this for a website is explained with an analogy of the physical location of a traditional store. Having your site come up in the top of Google’s search results, is like having your store right on Main Street or near the entrance of the biggest shopping mall in human history.
David Viney the author of the book is a leading SEO expert and a graduate of the London school of Economics. He does a good job providing practical hands on information, while at the same time rationalizing these actions by explaining the internal dynamics of the Google search engine. The practical information finds the right balance between being understandable for people with little technical experience in building websites, whilst not being dull to the more experienced web builder. The more technical parts are made instantly visible for the reader, by the black borders that surrounds them. Making it possible for the non technical reader to skip these parts on sight, without harming the flow of the narration what so ever. As a media studies scholar with no technical background, I could easily understand most of these parts. Just a basic understanding of HTML will be enough to grasp what is being explained. The information dealing with the working of the google engine are insight full and thorough, without boring the reader with algorithms and other mathematical formulas. These two types of information are accompanied by a case study that is used throughout the whole book to help illustrate the described techniques and theories. This way the book pleasantly guides you through seven steps to built an search engine optimized site. From building your site up from scratch, till all the way to the faze where its about monitoring your traffic and tweaking the site based on the information you get out of it.
This figure gives a good overview of the content of the book and the logic of how it is divided:
(click on the image for full view.)
The book also addresses the morals of SEO. But it doesn’t go further then SEO technique’s that are desirable or accepted by Google (white hat SEO), versus techniques that will get you penalised by Google (black hat SEO). Google punishes black hat SEO activities by setting a website lower in their rankings or remove it entirely from their index, if they find out about it.
In my opinion this book is an excellent read for anybody interested in SEO and how Google’s search engine works, but probably not suited for the SEO expert looking for the latest cut of the edge technique’s. A negative note is that the links in the books, to get the free software needed for certain techniques, are outdated or not useful for everybody. For instance the Keywords SEO software Tool the book links to, you need to research how popular certain search queries are, doesn’t work well for analysing non English keywords. Google in the mean time decided to make the exact numbers of the search queries done on their site accesible for everyone, with an update of their Adwords keywords tool. So before using a piece of software the book suggests, its better to look around if something more usefull is available. An other thing is that the author leaves no chance pass by to promote his website through out the book. Readers can get free access (for 3 months) to an online SEO community site. This site has a forum, links to software and the possibility to ask questions to experts. It would be interesting to see if going there would work as a next step in expanding on the knowledge you got from the book by sharing your experiences with others. I like the idea of it, so I still have to go look what the site has to offer and add my finding to this review. Anyway, a good written and useful book for anybody interested in the subject.