By Mihaela Lica

Top SEO Books for the SEO Newbie

By Mihaela Lica

What is SEO?Two weeks ago, a commenter asked me whether I had some SEO book recommendations for newbies. Sure I do, and I would like to start this list with a book you can find right here, at SitePoint:

Online Marketing Inside Out by Brandon Eley & Shayne Tilley is a book that will lead you through all the elements of an effective online marketing strategy including SEO and social media optimization. The book deals with some important aspects of PR and new media as well and it teaches you how to develop your own marketing plan to achieve the most from the search engines and other online venues. If you have a website, want to promote it, but you don’t know where to start, this is the book for you. The price $29.95 also includes a free copy of Darren Rowse’s 31 Days To A Better Blog.

Another excellent book is Peter Kent’s Search Engine Optimization For Dummies available at Amazon. The book will teach you how to plan a search engine optimization strategy, how to choose the right keywords, how to use social networking to improve your search rankings, how to track and measure your results and more.

Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day by Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin is another popular book that explains why SEO is important and teaches how to create appealing marketing websites. In addition the authors try to teach how to design human-usable websites, a very important aspect of site optimization. Many SEO tips in this book are timeless: they will work regardless of algorithmic changes.

When it comes to SEO you should probably take into consideration that optimizing for the search engines is pointless if the site is not appealing for the users. It is important to optimize sites visually as much as you optimize the textual content that helps you rank well in the SERPS. To understand the basics of web design that sells, I would recommend that you purchase SitePoint’s Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks that will guide you through the entire process of creating a gorgeous, usable web site by applying the timeless principles of user-centric design.

Talking about page optimization, another great resource is Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions by Tim Ash. The book teaches you how to “know” your visitors and how to develop an action plan that gets buy-in from all key players. Basically, the book answers to a question not many website owners dare to ask: How much money are you losing because of poor landing page design? SEO is pointless for sites with poor design: the rankings will be there, but your site is not going to “sell.”

Related to the user-centric design books in the list, Steven Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a must have for any website owner and for anybody who wants to build a website in the future. Usability and SEO should never be separated as a matter of fact.

Another SEO book you want to have is Building Findable Websites: Web Standards SEO and Beyond by Aarron Walter. The book covers more than just some SEO tips and tricks – it shows how to build sites that respect the web standards and have more compelling content. The main idea of the book is that you don’t have to compromise the user experience to create search engine friendly, findable websites.

Last but not least, as we all know that the secret to good SEO is good content, I’d like to recommend Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. This is a The New York Times bestseller, and it was also featured on Oprah, The Wall Street Journal and other prominent publications.

Of course, some newbies would prefer free SEO books to start with. There are of course some very good publications online:

  1. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
  2. The Bing’s SEO Guide for Wembasters
  3. The SEO Fast Start Book by Dan Thies
  4. A free SEO book from iBusinessPromoter
  5. The Free SEO Book by SEO Elite

So, as a starting point for those who are interested, which anyone with a website should be of course, I hope this information is helpful. In trying to answer sometimes complex questions, reaching every reader with the right tone and level of knowledge is often difficult. However, doing some surface or preliminary research into these publications should avail new site owners, and those interested in Search Engine Optimization much. Let me know what you think, as always, and if you know of a good SEO book for beginners I haven’t listed here, please mention it in your comments.

Author’s note: none of the links in this entry are affiliate links.

What is SEO? image courtesy SEOMoz.

  • edwardbeckettx

    Great Post Mihaela … :)

    You KNOW I Love Your Stuff Though …

    Ha .. First Comment too … :)

  • Anonymous

    Did I miss Aaron Wall’s SEO book ?

  • @ Eduard – thank you. :) I am glad you liked this post too, although just listing some SEO books is not that big a deal. Reading them is more challenging.

    @ Anonymous – I haven’t mentioned it because I do not know how to get it anymore. I personally have a copy dated 2006, but as far as I know Aaron discontinued it. If you have the link to download please let us know. His should definitely be at the top of the list.

  • I still think Chris Beasley’s SEO guide is the best starting point:


    This guy was once the most respected member on SitePoint’s SEO forums and a SitePoint blogger. He spent years dispelling myths through actual testing and spreading good, useful, *proven to work* white hat SEO techniques.

  • Excellent addition to the list, Dan, thank you very much.

  • Billye

    My company sells draperies, but only to commercial customers including hospitals, office buildings, and military facilities. Much of the advice I see seems to tailored to “retail” sites. Any advice for how to SEO our website to reach our target commercial market? Any hints or help much appreciated.

  • biswa

    I will suggest also read Bruce clays’s new book ‘http://www.bruceclay.com/seo/seofordummies.htm’

  • Though SEOBOOK is not a free resource, I really like it.

  • FunkyDUde

    I’m sure all these books are great, I’ll tell you another one I have that is really good, Search Engine Optimization by the Visual Blueprint series (Wiley Publishing)

  • Very good additions to the list, guys. Thank you very much for your contributions. :)

  • SEOcat

    How about the SEO in Practice book? This one is particularly good for beginners, especially when you don’t really have time for much reading.

  • Mark Paris

    Another book that should be on your list is a new book on SEO and Online Marketing called Online Marketing Terms Exposed-Learn the lingo of the Online Serach Expert.
    This book featured on Amazon.com comes in paperback and on the Kindle. It is an easy to follow guide to the online world with definitions and tips to make any website perform better. It was written by an SEO expert – Gary E. Haffer, the Co Director of the Apple User Group a part of the Boston Computer Society and one that has helped hundreds of business over the years get maximum performance from their websites using SEO and Social media efforts.

  • شات الشله
  • uli

    I found the following book to be quite useful as it does not go down the usual path you find in many of the other books of onsite and offsite optimisation. Instead it also looks at Adwords, backlinking strategies, optimizing for other search engines such as bing and yahoo, blackhat SEO and a lot more.

    Outsmarting Google: SEO Secrets to Winning New Business


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