The following article is a guest post by Alan Grainger.
When you’re first starting out on a career in SEO there is a plethora of information out there for those who are eager to learn the tips and tricks of the trade. Given the fast moving nature of the SEO world, many resources are available online that will give the budding search engine marketer a whole wealth of information that will steer them in the right direction. So given that the online world moves so quickly, is there still a place for instructional books in SEO?
Far from being out of date, books can be a vital starting point for those looking to delve into search engine optimization, and given the variety of paths that can lead to this career, they can offer the apprentice a vital starting place when sifting through the myriad of information that is available online.
People come into SEO from all walks of life. From computer scientists to conventional marketers, mathematicians to PR gurus, SEO crosses many boundaries making it a viable career choice for those from many backgrounds. That also means that while you may be an expert on algorithms and backlink analysis, there may well be a shortfall in your knowledge when it comes to writing press releases and composing article ideas, so whatever your background there will still be much to learn.
So why should you spend valuable money on buying books when you can dig into the mine of information that is available for free online? It’s all down to theory and structure.
By committing to a book it is like being mentored through the process by someone who knows what they are talking about. This will ensure that you start at the right place to soak up the right information in the right order. Sure, some of the resources that are mentioned in a book might be out of date, but many of the theories and procedures are timeless and are the key to unlocking the strategies that will be most effective in your niche.
It’s All About Theory
Going online might show you the best places to post your articles and how to use Twitter effectively, but why are you doing this in the first place? Blindly following what other people are doing without truly understanding the principals involved will never fully enable you to come up with the strategies you need to succeed in online marketing.
Using books to help get you started will explain why these are important and what it is you are trying to achieve through these practices. It will explain what a link is and why they are important to your rankings, as well as explaining how to drive relevant traffic. It will explain to you what terms such as anchor text actually mean and why this is seen as important by the search engines. It’s all very well doing something because somebody told you, but this is not teaching you why this is important or enabling you to come up with your own strategies to improve your rankings.
Apply What You Learn in Practice
It’s not all about books and reading though, and the only way to truly learn is to put things into practice. No matter what somebody has written, whether it’s in a book or on a blog, the only way you will truly learn is by going out there and doing it for yourself. Learn the theory from textbooks, get the latest industry practices from prominent blogs and then put them into practice to see what really works.
Monitor what you do, record your findings as you go and don’t be afraid to experiment (so long as you’re not risking your company’s website with dodgy practices of course). If in doubt, build your own test site and practice on that, because the biggest trick to SEO is that the only way to really learn what works and what doesn’t is to try it out for yourself.
Here are a few resources that will point you in the right direction:
Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies
The popular franchise gives a straight up tutorial that will point even the newest of newbies in the
Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day
Taking things up a notch, this will give you all the tools you need to hone your burgeoning skills.
The Art of SEO
A book that is repeatedly recommended by the industry experts, this guide will put the finishing touches to your knowledge of SEO theory.
Search Engine Land
Industry news coupled with instructional posts by SEO experts. A great resource for those looking to
keep on top of the latest industry practices.
Web Pro News
All the latest industry news with comments from those in the know.
These guys aren’t afraid of sharing their secrets and this is a great place to go for ideas that you can put into practice.
No matter how fast paced the SEO industry is, books are still a useful resource to learn the all-important theory that will establish your burgeoning skills. But the key takeaway from this is to put everything you learn into practice, as no matter what you read and where you read it, the best way to learn is by doing things yourself. Only then will you truly learn the subtle intricacies involved in successful SEO.
Alan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer and manages the SEO for The Corporate Gifts Company, a leading UK specialist in the business gifts sector. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department.