Recent Readings on SEO, Search, and Rankings

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Search Engine Optimization with PHP
Web Dragons: Inside the Myths of Search Engine Technology
Google’s Pagerank and Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings

There are many very good books and ebooks on search engine optimization and search, and I’m always on the lookout for more.

A couple of months back, Jaimie Sirovich mentioned on his blog, SEO Egghead, that his publisher was providing some review copies of his new book for people who might write about them, and Jaimie asked anyone who might be interested in reviewing a copy to contact him. I sent him a note, letting him know that I would be interested, and I’m glad that I did.

Mike Grehan also mentioned a couple of books in his Clickz articles over the past few months that sounded pretty interesting, and I ordered them based upon his referrals. Once again, I’m happy that I followed his suggestions for search-related reading.

Search Engine Optimization with PHP
by Jaimie Sirovich and Cristian Darie

I am going to give my review copy of this book away. Not because I didn’t like it, but rather because I know a young programmer who is getting into search and has been pretty actively writing some programs in PHP, and I think that this will be a great introduction to the topic for him.

The book provides an intelligent and timely discussion of search engine optimization within the context of writing code for sites. It’s the book that I wish most people working on programming sites would take a break and read before they put too much more code out on the Web.

It begins with a basic primer on SEO and provides practical and hands-on advice on topics such as creating search engine friendly URLs, understanding HTTP status codes and redirection, anticipating duplicate content issues, and writing search engine friendly HTML.

It discusses timely topics such as link baiting, social bookmarking and RSS feeds, sitemaps, and cloaking.

It also presents a case study of an eCommerce site and discusses making a search engine optimized WordPress blog.

Web Dragons: Inside the Myths of Search Engine Technology
by Ian H. Witten, Marco Gori, and Teresa Numerico

An entertaining and thoughtful exploration of the philosophy, history, and technology behind the search landscape that we inhabit today. Web Dragons isn’t a hands-on book on performing SEO, but rather a history lesson and classroom styled guideline to search engines. There are exercises at the ends of chapters that you could follow to find some real online examples of the topics that they discuss.

This book is written more along the lines of Tracy Kidder’s Pulitzer prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine then it is the social studies or science books that you might have read in high school. It would make a great history channel or discovery channel series.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who wants to understand more about how the Web and search engines work. It’s not too technical for most folks working on the Web these days and may provide a good number of interesting insights into how search engines evolved in the way that they have.

Google’s Pagerank and Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings
by Amy N. Langville and Carl D. Meyer

If the thought of a book filled with a lot of math that may seem undecipherable scares you, then you might consider this book pretty spooky.

But, interestingly, even if the math might be beyond what you learned in school if you’ve been trying to make some sense of PageRank and other ranking methods that search engines use, many of the words surrounding the mathematical formulas and matrices in this book might just make some sense to you.

There is a lot of math in the book, and there’s no escaping that given the topic it covers. But, there’s also a lot of well written and presented prose that will help you understand how search engines come up with methods of ranking documents on the Web.

For a taste of what you might find in the book, you may want to take a look at one of the authors’ previous works: Deeper Inside PageRank

What books are you reading these days about Search and Internet Marketing?

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