Book Review: Teach yourself visually Search Engine Optimization

My experiences and point of view about SEO are that most of the stuff "experts" do are tricks that today might position your website better, but tomorrow might even penalize you. But lately I'm trying to get a better picture of things before taking sides (even if I've seen really bad and stupid techniques in action). Reading this book was an attempt to improve that picture... and I'll try with another book because this experience was not great, probably because the books is aiming at a very very basic entry level. At least I can now confirm that nobody should ever buy a book that says "teach yourself visually" ;)


Teach yourself visually Search Engine Optimization book cover

Title: Teach yourself visually Search Engine Optimization

Author: Rafiq Elmansy

The "visually" keyword in the name was strange, but I picked up this book anyway. The trick is that you include hundreds of pictures and then don't need to dig deep, so you still get a "big" book covering "lots" of topics but at a level that anyone with some web development and hosting experience will skip every single screenshot of the book. I've been always skeptical about SEO techniques, because the "white hat SEO" are good practices and browser-friendly meta tags and structures you can add to ease indexing, but then quite often you cross the line to the dirty land of keywords juggling and search engine trickings. This said, the book is halfway between both, as mentions choosing the right keywords, linkbuilding and link partners, paid guest posts... but also gives good (although generic) advices for good HTML markup and attributes, meta tags, sitemaps robots.txt...

Other topics that are touched briefly (in separate chapters, but as I say no chapter gets really in depth) are Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools from Google and Bing, "Social Media" SEO, AdWords, and as widely used as it is, we have one chapter about Wordpress plugins, some not directly related to SEO (although useful for every WP site, I guess there weren't enough about the topic so the author filled with caching ones). Last two chapters are how to monetize your site (because SEO is not about doing things right but getting rich, right? ;) and hiring SEO experts. There are some fun jokes inside, like mentioning "Excel CSVs", or having steps for logging in into Wordpress and other stupid content that if removed the book would be smaller but easier to read (instead of skipping more content than actually reading).

The problem that I see with this book is that if you already have experience building websites, you will probably already know most of them. Also the book is from 2013 and there is a "note" in the Wiley website warning about no longer using some techniques from chapter 6. This is the kind of "bad SEO" for me, so use common sense and avoid things that smell to tricky or harmful if a search engine would turn against them. There are some small advices here and there that can be of use, and some of the web tools that the book mentions are good to use, but reading this I felt like the author grabbed a bag of all possible topics, tools and techniques, mixed with lots of screenshots and splitted into chapters.& Another negative point is that many links mentioned in the book no longer exist.

Either for non-developer profiles or worth renting at a library instead of buying. Searching Google about SEO best practices and playing with your site you'll get way more improvements than with this book.

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