- by Judd Lyon
- Jul 30, 2008
- Filed in: Book reviews
- 3 comments
There's not a large body of work out there when it comes to high-quality printed books on search engine optimization (although there's been a recent uptick). Most of the good stuff can be found online, and it makes sense why – there's a temporal aspect to SEO that makes it a challenge to nail-down in book form. When done right it encompasses many disciplines: programming, copywriting, and design, just to name a few. Author Aarron Walter admirably embraces this confluence in Building Findable Websites.
Aarron opens the book by putting forth his approach to creating websites, in which he dovetails on earlier work done by Peter Morville by focusing on the concept of “findability.” Simply put, findability is the ability of information to be located by users. It's a useful way to think about creating sites and it covers all the different aspects of web design.
While the underpinnings of the book are slightly theoretical, the book is packed with practical tips. Chapter two (Markup Strategies) is devoted entirely to markup and includes a primer on web standards, image replacement, meta elements, nofollow, and even microformats. Chapter three discusses the server-side of things. Again the author hits the mark, covering topics like canonicalization, performance issues, naming conventions, redirects, and error handling. If you were to ready only a portion of this book, I highly recommend chapters two and three, they are fantastic.
Building Findable Websites transitions from code to content beginning with chapter four. You can sum up this section of the book with a quote from the chapter opening: “As it turns out, your content is the best tool to generate traffic.” Chapter five goes through how to build a findable blog, which is slightly helpful but seemed geared more towards a non-technical audience. Adding Search to Your Site (Chapter 6) explores a few different options for handling the search functionality on your site.
Chapter eight is about email marketing and seems out of place. While it's an important topic, it didn't warrant its own chapter is this particular book and perhaps could have been folded into the content portion.
The last chapter of the book (Putting Findability Into Place) concludes by tying it all together. The website for the book includes some bonus chapters you can check out to get a feeler for what the book is like.
As other reviewers have noted, if there is one weakness of the book it's that it tries to cover a little too much ground in spots. I actually appreciate the attempt to be comprehensive, as most SEO-related books spend a couple hundred pages painfully rehashing basic concepts. On the whole, Building Findable Websites is an exceptional book and belongs on every web designer's shelf. I highly recommend it.
Aarron just recently posted a kick-ass findability checklist on his personal site.
Additional relevant info:
Building Findable Websites Chapter List
- Introducing Findability
- Markup Strategies
- Server-Side Strategies
- Creating Content that Drives Traffic
- Building a Findable Blog
- Adding Search to Your Site
- Preventing Findability Roadblocks
- Bring Traffic Back With a Mailing List
- Putting Findablity Into Practice
- Free Search Engine Tools and Services (bonus)
- Building Viral Marketing Tools (bonus)
- Places to Promote Your Site (bonus)
- Analyzing Your Traffic (bonus)
- Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid (bonus)
Other reviews of the book:
An article on findablity by A. Walter on A List Apart
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