The Top 5 Books for SEO

Top SEO Books

Blogs are great to stay on top of your industry with the latest trends and insights. But sometimes blogs are too brief as a medium to fully communicate an idea. Sometimes you need a gold old-fashioned book to immerse yourself into a subject to fully comprehend the depth of the discipline.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is no different. In order to know the tricks of the trade, you have to know the trade first. What follows is a list of both intuitive and not-so-intuitive books that should be on any SEO’s bookshelf.

1.     The Art of SEO

The Art of SEO is a tome of SEO knowledge. It contains over 500 pages of SEO strategy, concepts and tactics from popular industry authors/business people Rand Fishkin, Eric Enge, Jessica Stricchiola and Stephan Spencer. Although specific tweaks in the search engines’ algorithms happen constantly, this is a solid foundation of SEO knowledge that won’t soon be outdated.

2.     Marketing in the Age of Google

Marketing in the Age of Google is a great executive-level explanation of SEO. Former Googler Vanessa Fox illustrates important concepts of search engines and SEO at a level that is easy to understand for clients who are new to SEO. Sometimes being able to clearly communicate concepts to your stakeholders can be as important as having the right strategy in the first place.

3.     Web Analytics 2.0

You can hardly call yourself an SEO if you don’t know your way around your web analytics platform. Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 2.0 is the definitive guide to understanding Google Analytics, Yahoo Analytics or just about any other tool you might be using. SEOs would be nothing without their web analytics packages. This book will help you become a web analytics ninja.

4.     Don’t Make Me Think

The best SEOs know that SEO and website usability go hand-in-hand. You’d never want to optimize for topics that aren’t relevant to your business. And you’d hate to lose the visitors you do get because your site is confusing or unresponsive. Don’t Make Me Think is a high level introduction to website usability from industry expert Steve Krug.

5.     Letting Go of the Words

Once again, the usability of your website is of critical importance. It’s tempting for SEOs to jam keywords into headlines, image captions and other places on the page. Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words shows you everything your visitors are expecting from you – in addition to your keywords – in the titles, headers and content of your site.

So there you have it. Have you read one of the books on our list? What did you think? Or am I missing a must-read? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Josh Braaten

Josh has written 1 articles.

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  • smart metering August 28, 2010, 1:12 am

    You have given the right sequance here for top seo books. The no.1 book of seo is “The Art of SEO” and i am just not saying because of this post but i have read some parts of this books and its really a vast book for gaining the knowledge of SEO.

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 8:31 am

      I agree with you about the Art of SEO. It’s pretty much a text book/manual in addition to being a riveting read for those that love SEO. As far as sequence goes, I actually wouldn’t read them in the order I posted them. Instead, I would read them in the order of: 4, 5, 3, 2, 1. Just my opinion. :)

      • Social Bookmarking Service August 31, 2010, 11:44 am

        After reading 4 5 and 3 I do not think that you will go for 2 and 1.

        • Josh Braaten August 31, 2010, 11:48 am

          Really? Why not? I think they represent the progression needed to tackle SEO. Is there a better order? Why stop before getting to the real meat and potatoes?

      • Ipod Touch 4 September 4, 2010, 2:39 pm

        with personal experience i would say . If you want to do a blog.
        First learn to write “a little” good english(or the lang u’ll be blogging in)
        2nd learn seo
        3rd learn wordpress
        4th learn how to interact with ppl
        5th learn web design
        6th keep fine tuning all the above

      • Alex Dumitru September 6, 2010, 10:12 am

        I haven’t read it but a lot of people are talking about it. I might get it someday.

  • ceramic balls August 28, 2010, 2:03 am

    That is really great and i think art of seo is really the best book.I have read this book and it deserves the top position.

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 8:35 am

      They are all excellent books in their own respect. I think we might tend to award The Art of SEO a higher sense of importance due to the amount of effort it took to read the whole thing. That said, I too think it is the best comprehensive SEO resource out there right now, plus or minus a few changes here and there since it was written.

  • ZK August 28, 2010, 4:49 am

    I would also recommend – SEO Secrets by Glenn Murray, I’ve been using all the SEO tips and strategies for all my websites from it.

    http://www.webtrafficroi.com/seo-secrets-seo-ebook/

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 8:37 am

      Whoa 213 pages… that’s a remarkable ebook! I’ll be sure to check that out. Thanks Z!

  • Online Property Lab August 28, 2010, 5:13 am

    I have the “Don’t Make Me Think” book and it is one of the best books that I bought. It really made me realise how important web usability is and I implemented several changes to my websites as a result.

    Will check out your other recommendations. I like anything from Vanessa Fox, she knows what she’s talking about.

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 8:40 am

      So true about Don’t Make Me Think. Krug has such a way with words, doesn’t he? I love how simply he puts things. I truly believe it is the first book anyone should read when building a website. How’s that for an endorsement?

      Vanessa Fox’s book, incidentally, is the first book I’d recommend for those new to SEO.

  • Property Marbella August 28, 2010, 6:00 am

    Hi Josh,
    It can be good for rookies in the SEO, to get the first and basic information with these books, but SEO changes all the time, so to get all the newest, latest trick and deeper information must you read SEO forums, SEO blogs and WebTrafficroi is one of the best SEO blogs.

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 8:47 am

      Again, I agree 100%. I’m so glad I found WebTrafficROI through MyBlogGuest.com, the best guest blogging community site evar. I also love places like SEOmoz (check out my August 22nd YOUmoz post!.). I also like to dabble in SEO posts on my blog. It’s great to have a constant flow of new and great SEO information.

      The one advantage with books is that you get to see the entire process laid out sequentially. The Art of SEO is 550 pages. Blogs are great, but they don’t quite have the continuity of a manual/guide.

      That said, you should be always reading a bit of everything, right?

      • Ann Smarty August 29, 2010, 1:09 am

        Josh, thanks so much for your kind words about MyBlogGuest!

        • Josh Braaten August 29, 2010, 9:45 am

          My pleasure, Ann. I’ve been a part of the community for about a month now and have made some great connections already.

  • Dan Lew August 28, 2010, 6:27 am

    Wow, the Art of SEO looks interesting, 500 pages!
    I recently launched my own SEO book for beginners, it is a 40 page ebook, is worth a read!

    You can check it out here http://webtrafficroi.seorevenge.hop.clickbank.net ( I have added the affiliate link in respect to Zubin’s Blog)

    Cheers!

  • Melvin August 28, 2010, 7:31 am

    If SEO Book has actually a hard bound physical book, then I’d go for it as well.

  • Colleen@Kennewick Homes August 28, 2010, 12:11 pm

    Sadly, I do not read much about technology any more Josh! There is so much information available on the internet, what use are books? I’ll look at technology and SEO books while in the bookstore with my kids, but often times I find the information out-dated. Especially SEO, where the strategies seem to change monthly.

    • Josh Braaten August 28, 2010, 3:13 pm

      It’s hard to find time to get it all in. I know, Colleen. The only problem with blogs is that often they try to eat the whole elephant at once. That said, you’re right. Many books seem to only have a 18-24 life cycle.

  • Geno Prussakov August 29, 2010, 1:36 am

    Good post. Great list. When it comes to SEO, another good book to add is Rebecca Lieb’s “The Truth About Search Engine Optimization”.

    • Josh Braaten August 29, 2010, 9:46 am

      I haven’t read that one yet. Thanks for the suggestion, Geno!

      • Geno Prussakov August 30, 2010, 1:51 am

        My pleasure, Josh.

        Those who are just getting into SEO will find Peter Kent’s “Search Engine Optimization For Dummies” of help too.

  • DRG August 29, 2010, 5:59 am

    All 5 are usefull

  • Seo Bever August 29, 2010, 8:36 am

    For me the best SEO book remain “Google Secrets” by Dan Sisson. Is a bit of outdated but still very informative for anyone who wants the basics of SEO.

    Congrats for the article!

    • Josh Braaten August 29, 2010, 9:48 am

      Hey thanks a lot SEO Bever! Glad you found it useful. Outdated posts aren’t terrible as long as you’re always looking for new sources of information (i.e., blogs/social media/testing) to understand what has changed since reading a book.

      • Seo Bever August 31, 2010, 11:55 am

        You’re welcomed Josh! That book is one of the most compacted SEO books I ever read. Have you read it?

        • Josh Braaten August 31, 2010, 1:12 pm

          I’ve haven’t had a chance to read Dan Sisson’s book. Maybe you’ll do a guest post for WebTrafficROI.com and share your thoughts about it?

          • Seo Bever September 2, 2010, 10:00 am

            Sure Josh, I’m having some thoughts about this book. I will let you know if I will go write a review about it. It deserves a good writing as it is, for me at least, #1 seo book so far.

            On the other hand the book contain so much info that will be impossible for anyone to give on writing the perfect overview.

            Thanks for suggestion, I will keep you posted :)

  • Best SEO Tools August 30, 2010, 11:00 am

    Your Post is very useful for me, Thanks for sharing.

  • Seo Bever August 31, 2010, 11:58 am

    Hey you, that a kicking ass website. Wow, really a lot of tools in there. Hopefully working :P

  • Josh Braaten August 31, 2010, 1:16 pm

    Keep the comments coming, everyone. It’s great to know that these books are a good resource for you. Has anyone read the books mentioned in the comments here that I didn’t write about?

    I’m so glad I got a chance to connect with you all by guest blogging here. It’s been such a rich conversation; I highly recommend you contact Zubin and become a guest author so I can comment on YOUR posts too.

    • ZK September 1, 2010, 9:20 am

      Thanks Josh for sharing your thoughts on the best SEO books with this post and comments

      I am sure the readers are looking forward for your next post :)

  • Software Development Company September 1, 2010, 4:54 am

    Thanks for suggest good seo books. I read only Aaron Wall’s seo book. I’ll read these books.

  • used tires September 1, 2010, 7:21 pm

    Humm The Art of SEO, believe it or not had not actually heard of this book, and after checking it out further per your recommendation, it does look like a tempting deal! May wind up picking myself up a copy of that!

    Till then,

    Jean

    • Josh Braaten September 2, 2010, 9:35 am

      It’s for hard-core SEOs or those that want to put in the time, effort and mental capacity to really get the full goose of SEO.

      • used tires September 3, 2010, 1:39 pm

        @Josh, yeah it does look pretty intense, looks like a good challenge and undertaking when I really have time to dedicate to it.

        Till then,

        Jean

  • Bidet September 1, 2010, 7:55 pm

    These all look like great books for learning more about SEO, Ill be sure to check them out. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Dany Event Planning September 2, 2010, 2:37 am

    A new book by Gary E. Haffer called Online Marketing terms exposed:Understanding the Lingo of the Search Expert. This book has tricks, tips, and guidelines to truly get high rankings and results. SEO is one method that talks about the on-page and off page solutions. Also, Social networks, pay-per-click, Google analytics, and press releases are discussioned and examples given.

    • Josh Braaten September 2, 2010, 9:36 am

      Sounds like there’s a lot going on in that book. I appreciate resources that treat SEO a little more broadly and pull in supporting/complementary tactics of web analytics and social media. You can’t run a business on traffic alone, right?

  • Seo Bever September 2, 2010, 10:14 am

    Hey Josh, but the Krug’s book is not about SEO but Web Usability. Anyway I’ve had a hell of a reading, read it in one weekend! Breathless! One of the books which definitely should be in any bookcase!

    • Josh Braaten September 2, 2010, 11:27 am

      You’re exactly right, SEO Bever. Krug’s book IS about usability. So many people in SEO only focus on traffic. But if the users don’t like what they see when they land, your efforts to get traffic are for naught. Good SEOs must have usability in mind when doing their work.

      IMO the first book people should read when working with sites.

      • Seo Bever September 2, 2010, 2:23 pm

        That’s perfectly right Josh! This is why my small business is focused on both, SEO and Web Usability ;) I know the drill, if the users don’t like what they get then they will go to another website.

  • Affiliit September 2, 2010, 9:35 pm

    I definitely agree with The Art of SEO as the best. I’ve read a lot of SEO Books over the years and have never read something so in-depth. Personally, I love every SEOMoz product out there thus far, although it’s not technically an ‘SEOMoz’ product… just one of the authors (Rand) lol

    • Josh Braaten September 5, 2010, 9:05 am

      I’m a bit of a SEOmoz fan boy myself. I subscribe to their blog and have posted to YOUmoz recently. We also use their PRO tool set at work. Great stuff from the land of Moz, that’s for sure.

  • Seo Bever September 2, 2010, 9:39 pm

    @Affilliit don’t tell me you liked “SEOmoz – The Beginners Guide To SEO!

    One of the worst books I ever (tried) to read. I couldn’t get done more that one quarter because of so many grammatically mistakes and other nasty things.

    • Affiliit September 2, 2010, 9:41 pm

      I’ve never read that one, actually. I’m talking about their tools more than anything, although their DVD’s are pretty informative, just a little too boring lol

  • Seo Bever September 2, 2010, 9:46 pm

    In my opinion SEOMoz is just complicating a bit the things. SEO doesn’t have to be that complicated.

    With excellent content, good keywords and other on-page factors and a bit of a link building you can get a site ranking high in any search engine.

    I just stick all the time with basics.

    • Ipod Touch 4 September 4, 2010, 2:36 pm

      google’s algorithm to rank pages , change frequently , so its not a bd idea to keep track of SEOMOz. SEO in itself is tricky , you can always overdo it

      • Josh Braaten September 5, 2010, 9:08 am

        I think you’re both right. It does come down to great content but you also have to keep up on what is working and why. You owe it to yourself and your clients to be current on industry news and best practices.

  • Ipod Touch 4 September 4, 2010, 2:33 pm

    nice article Josh . SEO is the god of all things google … i have to bang my head to the wall for almost 2 yrs before i learnt proper seo , now making 1000’s of dollars each month doing good white hat interactive sites ..

    Sourish

    • Josh Braaten September 5, 2010, 9:10 am

      Sourish – that’s a great accomplishment, congratulations! SEO can definitely be frustrating but it certainly seems you’ve got it figured out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • Ipod Touch 4 September 5, 2010, 10:18 am

        :) Yes thats the right word , Atlast “I figured it out ….” … lol

  • evan schulte September 8, 2010, 10:31 am

    The art of SEO is a great one. I need to look into the others. I am alwasy looking to expand my reading list.

  • Cheap Voip Calls September 8, 2010, 12:46 pm

    I know in beginning of all I have read “SEO Made Easy” By Brad Fallen. It was great book for newbie SEO.

    • Josh Braaten September 8, 2010, 1:09 pm

      That’s a new one to me. Thanks for adding it to the list!

    • Ipod Touch 4 September 8, 2010, 1:12 pm

      books become outdated , its better to follow latest trends / google ranking algorithm by reading blogs . Books are good resource though , cant deny . I learned all SEO from blogs … though it took some time . MOre than a year

      • Josh Braaten September 8, 2010, 1:16 pm

        I’m actually going to disagree with you. I believe strongly that you need both. You need books to see the entire SEO process in a linear, coherent manner. And then you need blogs to stay up-to-date.

        I’ve read both and can say with certainty that there is value in both.

      • Cheap Voip Calls February 6, 2011, 3:55 am

        Well I think to begin learning anything you need an book. Afterwards you can the trends from other sources. So both are important. Me too start with SEO Books and then learnt all from blogs and subscribed mails.

  • Benin September 13, 2010, 6:20 pm

    Don’t make me think is classic. As a matter of fact Web Analytics 2.0 was also a ground breaker. Awesome, awesome article-JL.

    How about Tim Ash’s Landing Page Optimization, Aaron Walters Building Findable Websites, and Bryan Eisenberg’s Always Testing? I could probably talk about this forever.

    • Josh Braaten September 13, 2010, 8:27 pm

      Benin – You and I have the same taste in books! I’ve read both conversion optimization books but haven’t yet read Building Findable Websites. I’ll have to add that to my list.

      If you really want something that will blow your mind, read Buyology by Martin Lindstrom or Neuro Web Design by Dr. Susan Weinschenk. Between the two of them you’ll have enough testing fodder for a lifetime.

  • Benin September 13, 2010, 8:44 pm

    Hi Josh. LOL. Really? O’ve not heard of Buyology or Neuro Web Design. Will most certainly add to my list. Thanks for mentioning them to me. Hope to discuss with you more after I’ve had a chance to read them.

    • Josh Braaten September 24, 2010, 7:37 am

      I’d love to chat with you more, Benin, after you read those books. Make sure you hit me up on Twitter (@jlbraaten) when you’re done.

  • Seo Bever September 24, 2010, 7:46 pm

    Hey Josh,
    I am reading now “The Art of SEO” – so far one of the best Seo books I ever read.

    This one and that one I’ve mentioned before are now my favorites so far! Thanks for the suggestion Josh!

  • SEO Guy October 8, 2010, 9:46 pm

    Very well structured post. Do you think it’s more important to focus on Onpage SEO or Offpage SEO when promoting your site?

    • Josh Braaten October 9, 2010, 9:04 am

      Hey thanks, Guy. Regarding Onpage vs. Offpage, you really need both. I suppose if a keyword has very little competition then offpage factors would decrease in importance a bit. But if you’re talking about overall SEO efforts, I wouldn’t put up a site without a bit of both.

  • Zarko@Practical SEO October 17, 2010, 9:30 am

    Checking out the Art of SEO :) Funny that you didn’t mention the latest release of SEO Bible, it is quite good and very derailed. It has over 300 pages of quality content and no fluff.

    • Josh Braaten October 17, 2010, 9:37 am

      I read some of the pages from the SEO Bible on Amazon. Looked kind of fluffy to me, but that’s just me.

  • Nikunj November 5, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Need to get my hands on this book for sure

  • webtechnepal December 4, 2010, 11:37 pm

    Google’s algorithm to rank pages , change frequently , so its not a bad idea to keep track of SEOMOz. SEO in itself is tricky , you can always overdo it

  • claire bright January 17, 2011, 1:04 pm

    The Art of SEO really helps any website owner with the tools they provide. The other books are also awesome. Many thanks!

    • Dodge Neon SRT4 February 6, 2011, 7:59 am

      I agree with you. The More, i Love is “Marketing the Age of Google”.

      I love this one much prettier. You have done a good work Josh. Keep it Up.

  • Leaflet Printing February 3, 2011, 12:11 am

    if you’re talking about overall SEO efforts, I wouldn’t put up a site without a bit of both.

  • Global internet marketing company February 3, 2011, 4:00 am

    Very nice post :SEO is a very very important part of internet marketing. Today Internet marketing has become part and the parcel of every business and no one can deny the importance of this new era and good Articles like this are adding a lot in the importance of internet marketing.

  • Kevin Serwatowski February 21, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Thank you for this post. It helped me choose the proper book to market my boat carpet replacement website. GREAT suggestions.

  • Kirsty March 6, 2011, 8:34 pm

    I think I would go to “The Art of SEO” because this are the basic of SEO that is always applicable and good for beginners too. This will help more on understanding the basic SEO concept that is more important to understand.

  • SEO Forum March 25, 2011, 11:24 am

    What ever you start first time complete information about that thing is necessary to get some good results. The above mentioned books have all that you want to know about SEO, informative post for any one how wants to learn SEO.

  • Gerri April 23, 2011, 11:00 pm

    One book that I think should be added to the list is:
    Search Engine Optimization: Your visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing:
    http://www.ninetynineways.net/2011/01/search-engine-optimization-your-visual-blueprint-for-effective-internet-marketing-review.html

    I was lucky enough to get sent a copy by the author and I found it invaluable because it went through a number of SEO concepts in an easy to understand way. I would recommend it as a good start for anyone who wants to learn about SEO.

    • ZK April 24, 2011, 8:13 am

      Awesome book on SEO ..highly recommended, thanks for sharing it with us, Gerri.

      It’s authored by Kris Jones the founder of one of the top affiliate networks – Papperjam Network…Pick it up today :)

  • HideLocation.info April 24, 2011, 12:12 am

    The SEO Book by Aaron Wall is THE book for search engine optimization. I just love it.

  • vlad May 2, 2011, 2:31 pm

    I was looking for the books about SEO, thanks for posting the short reviews as it helps to find the needed book faster. and thanks to everyone here for comments on books!

  • Lisa July 11, 2011, 11:58 am

    I clicked on the “Art of SEO” link but it’s not working. It says “The website is currently unavailable”.

    • ZK July 20, 2011, 9:12 am

      Works fine :)

  • ecommerce website development July 28, 2011, 2:57 am

    The Art of SEO is very much authentic to read and implement the strategy that has been discussed there because it is highly authority website. thanks for sharing

  • hcg August 24, 2011, 1:36 am

    This book is by far one of the most thought out and easy to use books.Sean Odom’s book is the only one that really allowed me to understand it and put it in to perspective.

  • Dale Green September 13, 2011, 10:01 pm

    I think these are great books for learning more about SEO. I will read them.Thanks for sharing .

  • Flex Development September 15, 2011, 1:26 am

    There is lots of book available for SEO. We can get online tutorial also for seo. I personally like Search Engine Optimization Secrets. Its really good book for beginners.