I’ve just finished reading Internet Marketing with WordPress by David Mercer. The book, like a number of Packt books I’ve read lately, takes a more abstract approach to its title. The majority of the information is useful aside from the niche (in this case, WordPress) and only becomes restricted to it periodically.
I’ve read a few books that follow this line, and I can see the reasoning for it. We say all the time that the tools don’t really matter, it all comes down to what works for you. The core principals are what matter, the philosophy behind what you’re doing, the premise of good and bad when it comes to something specific. That said, I really like when authors choose to write books in this fashion, but on the flip-side it could be a detriment when a potential reader doesn’t fit the mold of the niche.
That criticism aside, this book might not seem appropriate for my library, but I try to read as much about our industry as I can. My company provides a client service, and our client service directly applies to this industry, so to help my company become a better asset, a better partner to our clients, I do my best to keep up to date not only with the technical aspects of Web development and design, but also the areas in which my clients will focus once our project has been completed.
Building a website is going to become easier for our potential clients as time goes on. Eventually the tools are going to become so powerfully easy the lower hanging fruit in our industry is going to fall to the ground. It’s important to be well rounded in your approach to client work to remain relevant, and researching beyond your comfort zone comes with that.
This book is for the people who want to get their website out there. In particular, it’s for those website owners that have a site powered by WordPress and would like some advice on how to market it to the world. It’s meant to help people expose their site without requiring a large ad budget.
The book opens by talking about the importance of finding a niche. The Web is supersaturated with a lot of noise, and the hardest part of your job is getting a signal through. The author gives a brief introduction to the world of Internet marketing and covers the circular, reiterative process necessary to become successful.
Preparation and business objective research are important topics early in the book. From there, target audience dissection is discussed and then David moves into a large discussion on content creation. He explains that essentially content creation is marketing, and it’s very important to have a plan in place that produces effective, valuable content.
SEO in WordPress
It wouldn’t be much of an Internet marketing book if Search Engine Optimization wasn’t covered, and all of Chapter 3 discusses the implications of SEO in your marketing plan. Here’s where some more WordPress-specific context comes into play. David explains the purpose of SEO in relation to searching on the Internet, and illustrates how much of the work WordPress takes off your plate.
David speaks about site and page (URL) structure in WordPress, and explains what effect it may have on SEO for your site. He goes so far as to explain how you should be constructing your content by using appropriate headings and taking advantage of the SEO-rich content insertion of an image can provide.
David appropriately picks right up with the fact that simply having lots of optimized content won’t necessarily get you a successful marketing campaign, it takes more work than that. After beginning with a light overview of the current status of social networking on the Web, we’re guided into a number of ways you can directly integrate your WordPress site with any number of existing social networks you’re likely to take advantage of.
While this isn’t my favorite practice in the world, knowing how to appropriately take advantage of the ease of integration can be beneficial when used properly.
Being social yourself
The remainder of the book talks about ways of organically promoting your website as part of your marketing plan. What I like about David’s explanation is that he speaks about natural, grassroots, white hat approaches to socializing yourself. Making the most of your RSS feeds, asking other authors to collaborate on content generation in the form of an article or review, and forum participation to name a few.
The book then moves into actual traffic conversion. This is where marketing does what it can to prove itself: metrics. When it comes to marketing, many people want to see results, but that’s not the most straightforward thing to slap a number on and call it a success.
The book covers conversions both in the concept of ‘followers’ (your readership) as well as converting customers (e.g. you’re making money through readers). Advertising, landing pages, calls to action, visual appeal, and copywriting are all discussed as methods of increasing these conversions.
The job is never done
One of the most important sections of this book is the final chapter titled “Analyze, Refine, and Repeat”. David explains that a marketing plan is never complete, it needs constant attention and revision and your job as a marketer is never finished. Assessment of performance is an essential part of the process, so that you can make changes to hopefully help the next round go that much smoother and be that much more effective.
Here’s where analytics come in. Metrics are a great way to compare and contrast moves in marketing over time, and having an established plan for analysis and review is essential to a plan’s longevity. Both Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are discussed in the book, and David touches on how they can be directly integrated with your WordPress install.
Overall, I think Internet Marketing with WordPress by David Mercer is a great book to potentially recommend to clients should they be interested in becoming more serious about their marketing plan for a project. It’s well read, up to date, and quite comprehensive. As with everything, it’s not the single resource that should be used on a particular subject, but I see it as great overview material that goes into just enough detail without being overbearing. It incorporates WordPress to an appropriate extent as well which makes it not only useful on that level, but valuable to someone looking to refine their Internet marketing skill as a whole.