Search engine optimization an hour a day - book review

Since I started this website it has been doing pretty well in the Dutch search engines... or let me just say in Google Netherlands, because in the Netherlands all we use is Google. 95 percent of searches are performed via Google and the other 5 percent I don't even know. Probably some local Dutch search engine, like

In recent months however the number of visitors has declined. I saw quite a big decrease in februari 2011 and another one in october 2011. I must admit I hadn't created new content for almost a year then, so punishment had to come some day and it did. Google decided to rank my pages lower and to take away 1 point of my Pagerank. So I started reading and investigating.

I learned that Google did a big update to their search alghoritm in februari which is called the Panda update. CNET did a nice article on the effects of the Google Panda update that should be interesting to people that like numbers. And there has been a lot of talk about Panda on webmasterworld.

So what was the conclusion of my search for Panda causes and solutions? My conclusion was that trying to figure out an algorithm that you can't see, but can only guess by testing or by trusting on other peoples' tests and experiences is nothing more than a wild goose chase with an uncertain outcome.

I learned this the hard way by investing a couple of days into reading an incredible amount of blog posts and forum discussions and still feeling quite empty handed when I finished. So I stopped the chase for the Google algorithm and picked up a copy of Search Engine Optimization and hour a day by Jennifer Grapone and Gradiva Couzin. One of the funniest things I learned from their book is that people that spend a lot of time trying to figure out Google's algorithm are called algoholics :).

Search engine optimization book review

But there is a lot more to their book than this funny word. Search Engine Optimization and hour a day is an excellent book on search engine optimization. It is divided into three parts. The first parts explains the fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO), the second part is about developing a SEO strategy that fits your site and organization and the third part is about creating a concrete plan.

One of the things I liked best about the book is that it advocates a holistic approach to SEO. Their adagium is that anything that is good for the user (good content, nice design, good navigation, usability) will ultimately help you get the most out of your site and that a focus on improving the real quality of your site is better than only chasing the Google algorithm. I am emphasizing 'only', because every SEO campaign involves some optimization for a particular (mostly Google) algorithm.

Search engine optimization an hour a day tries to aim at a broad audience and it does so very successfully. The writers aim is to create a SEO plan that fits the site and organisation of the reader and it discusses the differences in goals that these sites and organisations might have. For example, a non profit website for an animal care center may be interested in finding new owners for pets or findig new sponsors. Every new sponsor is a conversion for such a site. But a bank might have a completely different definition of a conversion. For them a conversion may be defined as a new customer opening an account. And for a content site like mine a new advertiser inquirinig for advertising possibilities might be a conversion.

The writers give the reader a hands-on approach to SEO by creating an effective SEO plan, by determining what the actual goals of the site are, by choosing keywords that support that goal, by explaining the methods that will make the site rank higher for those keywords and by tracking the success of the SEO plan along the way.

But they don't stop there. They also take into account the difficulties people encounter when trying to push a SEO strategy ion their organization by advising on how to talk to IT, how to talk to marketing, how to convince other departments of the need of SEO and how to get your team on board and how to get your plan funded.

The writers were clearly drawing on a lot of experience in SEO when writing this book. It is a valuable read to anyone interested in SEO, but also to people that want to understand the field of SEO without getting directly involved.

Meet the writers at


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