Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a touchy subject for me. When the industry itself first began to pick up to a noticeable level, I took some time to ensure that my practices weren’t interfering with it in any way. After a bit of research I found a simple answer to that question; standard and valid markup is good for SEO. With my interest level in SEO quickly diminishing after that point, I kept one eye on the industry and watched it flourish its way into the behemoth it is today. White hat, black hat, gray hat, keywords this, density that, marketing here, conversions there. I understand why an industry has formed around the study: everyone wants to be on top. The fact that there’s no hard facts, just continuous research (and trial and error) and literal rankings to prove an effective SEO strategy, caters to the longevity we’ve seen in the SEO business so far.
SEO has come up in nearly every client meeting I’ve had for the past five years or so. Everyone who at one point or another was involved in the building or population of a website has heard the term and wants to know your insight about it. I keep things simple and subscribe to the idea of whether or not your site is built well and facilitates good (not spammy, keyword packed) content that can be expanded upon will determine how optimized you are over time. Sure, I go to the level of making sure page titles and heading tags are appropriately used and populated, even images have a keyword or two in them, but beyond that I try to let the content do the work for me.
A big reason I’m able to do that is because of WordPress. WordPress lets me build client sites that cater to on page SEO. The fact that I don’t have to worry about the CMS messing about with what I’m trying to accomplish is a big deal, and something many developers have been burned on while trying to find their CMS of choice. WordPress (when combined with a choice plugin or two) facilitates SEO in a way that any client would be happy with; it’s a matter of how you take advantage of that as you’re building your themes.
WordPress 3 Search Engine Optimization
I’ve just finished reading WordPress 3 Search Engine Optimization by Michael David. It’s explained as:
WPSEO will show you the secrets that professional SEO companies use to take their websites to the top of search results and proliferate their business. You’ll be able to take your WordPress blog/site to the next level, as well as brush aside even the stiffest competition with this book in hand.
This book is written for anyone using WordPress, ranging from owners of business sites to website developers and blog owners. Any WordPress user who wants to sell products or services., or send out a message to the world will find that getting better rankings in the search engines will help them reach their goal faster.
Some prior knowledge of WordPress is expected but no prior knowledge of search engine optimization is needed for this book. Readers will get a deeper level of knowledge on how to make their website rank better and attract more visitors.
What originally struck me about WPSEO was that instead of this being a book for me at this point, it’d be a perfect reference for my clients. That said, I think this book still makes an extraordinary amount of sense for WordPress developers to read for the reason that it will help you present the effectiveness of WordPress and SEO to them.
WPSEO on SEO
The bulk of the content in this book is surrounding SEO, which in this case is a good thing. SEO isn’t directly tied to WordPress and the author isn’t trying to make it sound like it is. All of the SEO tips detailed in the book can be applied to any site powered by any CMS and the author does a great job of presenting his techniques. The usual formula is to give some background on a segment of SEO, show how it applies in the real world (sans CMS) and then show how it correlates with WordPress. After reading through the book, I really liked that approach and found it very effective and useful.
What’s more is that the author didn’t focus on the technicalities of SEO, and I really love that. SEO, in my opinion, is equally organic as it is technical, and Michael David talks a lot about content strategy and relating to your audience. I think those factors are going to become even more important as SEO becomes more ‘commonplace’ and the search engines need to adapt to the inevitable fact of spammers.
Every facet of SEO is covered in enough detail for me to be impressed. The book weighs in at over 300 pages of content, and there’s not much (if any at all) fluff doing little more than taking up space. I don’t mean to have a negative connotation when talking about SEO, but the low barrier to entry to the field in combination with the money involved over the past few years has saturated the industry to an abusive extent in my eyes. I like the fact that Michael David is straightforward and professional in his opinions throughout the book and backs up his explanations with fact and common sense. That’s when I like reading and talking about SEO.
Two whole chapters are devoted to avoiding black hat techniques and SEO mistakes. I think this is a worthy addition to the book because everyone who gets into SEO has ideas not covered by white hat articles and feels like it’d be a creative approach to solve a problem when in fact the results could be disasterous. Giving these poor techniques an appropriate amount of attention is well executed in WPSEO.
WPSEO on WordPress
As mentioned in the quote about the book, some WordPress background is required for the book, but not much. The author details that the only real experience in WordPress is that you’re able to work on a self hosted version (for plugin installation) and have at least seen the administration area a couple times. That’s a great thing, WordPress is an easy system to pick up and the UI itself facilitates exploration and the choice made to not cover using the admin in any sort of extraneous detail was very smart.
The fact of this book is, though, that there isn’t all that much WordPress specific information compared to SEO information. This is also very smart. Again, it’s not WordPress that’s performing the SEO, it’s just facilitating it. If I had to gauge at this point, I’d say that only about 20% of the book is tied to WordPress itself. The other 80% is all SEO all day.
Conclusion and giveaway details
I think WPSEO is a unique resource and it’s a topic that deserves the light a book can shed on the subject. WordPress has a number of built in SEO benefits that rarely get used, but can have a large effect on overall SEO. I think it’s a great resource for someone working with WordPress that’s trying to step up their professional game by being an asset to their client in a new way. There’s a ton of good information in the book about up-to-date SEO practices that don’t walk the gray hat line I so fervently dislike. There’s a lot for developers to learn about SEO in the book, and it’s nice to read about the strategies being directly tied to WordPress.
As has become nearly standard around MBN, I’m going to give away my copy of WPSEO to a reader. There are a couple of rules for entry, but not many. The contest will run for exactly one week, ending July 25 at 11:59am ET and the only way to enter is by leaving a comment below that outlines something you’ve become frustrated with when it comes to WordPress and SEO. Multiple comments will count as one entry, and due to shipping costs you must be in the continental US to enter. Good luck!