Search Engine Optimization

How to Choose the Best Books for SEO

best books for seo

Updated on May 7, 2021

When you want to learn something new, books are a great place to start. Does this apply to SEO as well? Can I learn SEO from a book, and, if so, which book? Here’s how to choose the best books for SEO.

Look at the Date of Publication

SEO is always changing. Before you read a book about SEO, make sure you know when it was released. Just because it was published several years ago doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Just make sure you’re aware of how old it is. With that in mind, you can take the specific tactics with a grain of salt. It’s important to realize that some tips and strategies may be outdated. Nevertheless, you should still be able to get some value from it by understanding the underlying principles and getting better acquainted with the terminology.

Focus on Usability and Marketing Principles for Long-Term Benefits

Instead of concentrating on just learning SEO, read books that provide broader marketing information. Look for books about usability and digital marketing. Instead of learning specific tips and tactics, try to learn strategies and principles of psychology that can be applied to any SEO stratagem. Search engines are always changing in order to provide the optimal user experience. So, you should not only learn SEO strategies that work today, but you should also aim at getting a better understanding of how to create an ideal user experience. With this know-how in your tool box, it will always be easier for you to align your site with the ultimate goal of the search engines.

Learn SEO from Material That Can Be Easily Updated

I’m a huge fan of books and love reading about digital marketing. However, the time it takes to publish a book is too long of a process to be able to ensure that everything you’re reading is accurate and still valid today. I like to use books to get a deeper understanding of marketing strategies. To learn specific tactics and be guided through exactly what to do, I prefer to take an online SEO course. Since it’s easier to update content in an online course than in a book, the online material is up-to-date and relevant to how search algorithms currently work.

My Favorite Books to Learn SEO and Digital Marketing

Instead of SEO-specific books, my list covers broader marketing topics.

#1: This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

This is a great book to get an overview about what matters when it comes to digital marketing. It helps outline some basic principles to fine-tune your audience, optimize your site, and determine strategies to grow. This is a great place to start.

#2: Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

This book provides a framework you can follow to create a story around your brand. This helps solidify what you do and who you serve. If you ever struggle explaining to other people what your company does, this will solve that problem. I enjoy it when a book lets you take action right away like this one certainly does. It’s a simple and fun way to clarify your brand. It makes it easier for you to explain your brand, and it also helps fans explain it to others and increase your word-of-mouth exposure.

#3: Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common-Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

This book will help you optimize your website to improve the user experience. It is older: The screenshots and references in it are a bit outdated. However, the content is still valuable. Every single page in this book is filled with advice that is so obvious that you’ll read it and say, “Yes, of course. That’s how it should be.” Yet, I still found it useful. I’m a big fan of common-sense books because sometimes the simplest, most obvious things can get easily overlooked. This book helps you notice the obvious things you should do to improve website usability so vital information doesn’t get missed. Although this advice may seem obvious, it’s helpful to be able to consciously look and identify where you could make some small improvements that make a big difference.

#4: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

This book lists six principles to persuade people to say, “Yes.” These principles can be helpful in many different marketing aspects, especially with copywriting. They will help you improve the content on your site so you have a better chance of converting people.

#5: Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Successful Business by Pat Flynn

This is a great book to learn about building a community. It explains how catering to one person is more important than trying to capture the attention of many. This book is a valuable SEO resource: It points out how to strengthen your brand, better understand your audience and create a fanbase of loyal followers.

In Summary

Reading a book and learning SEO are two great ideas that steer you in the right direction. But before you start reading a book specifically about SEO, just understand things may be different today than they were yesterday, and you always need to pay more attention to the overarching strategy than the specific tactics.


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About the Author

Jennifer Rogina is the Co-Founder & Lead Marketer of ClearPath Online, a DIY SEO tool for entrepreneurs to grow their own website traffic. Jennifer has been a digital marketing specialist since 2008. In that time she has focused on search engine optimization, digital analytics, and conversion optimization.

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