Search Engine Optimization for Dummies (and Everyone Else)

Search Engine Optimization for DummiesThe thing about SEO is that it changes. Tactics I used for my clients five years ago don’t necessarily get the same results anymore. And with the rise of content marketing? Well, seems everyone’s in the search engine optimization game these days.

I was sent a review copy of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies by Bruce Clay and Susan Esparza, and let me tell you: it’s full of SEO goodies. It’s actually 10 books in one, each reaching a slightly higher level of understanding and technical know-how. But it’s also written in the same language all the Dummies books are, which makes it easy to follow.

The Search Engine Experts

Everyone claims to be an expert in one thing or another, but Bruce Clay and Susan Esparza actually are. Clay (@bruceclay) owns Bruce Clay Inc., an Internet marketing company that has been ranked in the 10 most reliable SEO firms by independent research firm Goldline Research. He’s been in the business of helping companies use SEO ethically since 1996. Clay has lent his expertise to articles for, among others: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, PC Week, Wired Magazine,  and Smart Money.

Susan Esparza (@SusanEsparza) works alongside Clay as Managing Editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

How to Use This Book

Because this book is more a reference book than anything else, I recommend starting with whichever “book” you need more help with. I read it straight through, but the early chapters provided less insight than later ones for my level of SEO understanding.

For example, if you’re looking to beat your competitors for search engine ranking results, try Book III: Competitive Positioning. You’ll learn how to research the keywords your competitors are using to rank and find ways to incorporate these words (and others) into your own website. The authors give details on how to create a spreadsheet to analyze your competitors’ Meta Titles, Descriptions, Keywords, Headings and more.

Or if you’re looking for techniques to include better SEO in your content, check out Book V: Creating Content. Here are some of the tips Esparza and Clay provided for using content from other sites, with my own summaries of the explanations:

  • Read the site: Make sure there are no copyright issues that prevent you from using a portion of content on your own website (attributed of course).
  • Get permission: When in doubt, ask for permission to use a snippet of content with a link to the original site and credit to the author.
  • Do not use the whole thing: It’s best to take part of an article or page and link to the original so your readers can read the entire thing.
  • Excerpt or summarize it: This gives you a unique perspective on another blog post or site.
  • Set the other source’s content apart by using quotation marks or a block quote: This separates it from your own content.

What I Liked Best

Honestly, I liked the index of this book best! I say that because I have so many questions about SEO, and it was easy to find the topic through the index. It’s definitely a book I’ll keep on hand to find those answers in the future.

Who Should Read This Book?

If you’re a small business owner or marketing employee who handles the content for your website, this book is for you. Without being too technical, it will help you improve your search engine rankings just by tweaking the wording on your site, as well as adding a few enhancements behind the scenes. If you have questions about inbound and outbound links, keywords, pay-per-click and page ranking, this book will provide you with valuable answers.

Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.