Book Review

Article Marketing: The Write Way to Build More Links – Karon Thackston – Book Review

Article marketing is now horribly popular, to the point that Google had updates to specially tame article directories and content farms. Of course, that happened because articles are an easy way to get links to your site, as well as get content to Adsense sites.

You have probably noticed that the average quality of those article is awful. WordTracker Masterclass: Article Marketing: The Write Way to Build More Links by Karon Thackston teaches how to write better articles, that get more results.

Chapter 1 begins by looking at your audience. Obviously, whatever is your topic different audiences will have different perspectives and interests, and the article will simply work better for them if it is tailored to them.

Chapter 2 looks at the various styles of article – such as interviews, cases studies, top N lists.  This covers a large part of the book, specially as it has a lot of articles demonstrating the style. Some are interesting and useful, and others just beg to be skipped over.

This list is useful for ideas on how to approach a topic. Some of this (and more) is covered on another of WordTracker's book, The Web Content Recipe Book.

Chapter 3 has some notes on planning content and getting topics.

Chapter 4 goes into optimizing articles for search engines. Being a WordTracker book, of course it mentions keyword research. Personally I like and recommend Market Samurai . Not that WordTracker isn't great (and it has the advantage of having its own huge database), but it is quite expensive in comparison.

Chapter 5 has useful tips on how make an article outline, as well as the right way to write your Bio/Author box.

Chapter 6 covers title and opening paragraphs. It is somewhat useful, but I have seen better copywriting suggestions in other books, such as Writing Kick-ass WebSite Sales Copy .

Chapter 7 and 8 talk about how to write articles that get reprinted and how to publish it. It list site names as well as ideas on how to select the best.

It also suggests that to get the best results, you should avoid article-blasters and getting your articles everywhere (the Pagerank you get from most sites is going to be minimal and there can be repercussions on Google's duplicate content filters) and what I felt is the best suggestion in the book – place the article on your site and wait till it is indexed before you distribute. I have no idea if this makes any real difference on Google ranking, but it does sound good.

So, is this book worth your time and money? Barely so, at the current launch price (US$29). It is acceptable, but doesn't cover a lot that is detailed in other books I mentioned throughout this review. I recommend you get one of those instead.








Book Review

Save the Pixel – Review

Save the Pixel is a web design book by Ben Hunt. I recently read and reviewed another book by him, Convert! .

Save the Pixel is all about minimalist web design, thus the name. One of the principles repeated over and over is that you should not waste screen space – and most importantly, the visitors attention – with elements that don't contribute for the message.

He also is a believer that the site should be designed with the content – instead of the traditional template/content separation. Seeing his examples, it is easy to see what he means, and it does looks like it makes sense.

There are several chapters about how to make your design work, with explanations on how to use white space, size, contrast and color to make sure that your content gets the attention of the visitor.

Overall, the book was good and I learned a few lessons, but I liked Convert! more. Maybe because the topic seemed more interesting and less design related.  It also very much feels like an expanded sequel in some of the aspects covered by Save the Pixel.

One thing that I'd like to have seen more is actual conversion data for the many case studies.  There were maybe 2 or 3 stats throughout the whole book, unlike Convert! where they were everywhere.

Ben Hunt also has a web design course . It is video based (with some spreadsheets and PDFs too) explaining design, marketing, SEO and the business. I finished the course, and learned a lot, and I have posted a review in Ben Hunt's Web Design Course Review. You also get the book for free when you join this course.

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Book Review

Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion – Review

I've just finished reading Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion – by Ben Hunt. The book covers many ways to improve your traffic – and most importantly – how to improve the conversion rate you get from that traffic.

The book is divided in two parts. The first part is Designing for traffic.

This part of the book is about his ideas on how to get better SEO and relevant traffic – multiplicity, good keyword targeting and appropriate use of the Awareness Ladder.

The Awareness Ladder allows your site to reach deeper markets by covering multiple stages of the same market, starting at Step 0 – where people have a problem but don't yet realize they have a need for the solution you are offering – and step 5 – Convinced of your solution and ready to buy. Pages should go and gradually convert the user till they reach Step 5, and – very important – be targeted to catch users from all steps.

That also cover the multiplicity – your pages should cover each a good keyword, to get good SEO positioning. And what is a good keyword?

A good keyword should have low competition (so that you can get in at a good position), enough visitors, and be targeted to your solution. The book explains various ways to get these keywords, and their suggestion is why I got Market Samurai , which is a great tool for finding useful keywords.

The second part is Designing for conversion.

This part covers how to design, set and optimize your funnels – the path from your landing page to your goals. It also covers the specific design of pages, how to keep a visitor's attention and setting up your calls to action.

The book finishes with a coverage of how to optimize your site with Google Web Optimizer.

Overall, I really liked the book – to the point that after reading it I entered his Pro Design and Marketing course.

There is clearly a lot to be learned from this book. I've started adding simple extra landing pages to my site, with some promising results. I also have much more in the copious notes I took that I plan to apply over time to my sites.

Very much recommended – Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion.

Book Review

Pragmatic Programmer’s Automatic Kindle e-book delivery

I've bought many e-books over the years at the Pragmatic Bookshelf.

One neat feature I haven't noticed till today is that now they can deliver your e-books to your Kindle with wi-fi.

It's a small touch, but downloading the e-book (not only the first time, but on every update), getting your Kindle, connecting it, finding the file and moving it to the proper folder and ejecting it from the computer is a lot more work than you have when buying from Amazon (i.e.: click on the link and wait a few seconds for the download).

With this, it's exactly the same process after the purchase (it's still much easier to buy in Amazon).

Given their great selection, it's well worth checking them out!

Book Review

The Link Publicity Book – Review

I've just finished reading another WordTracker book – The Link Publicity Book.

The purpose of the book is teaching you ways that can help you get featured by media – newspapers, magazines, big sites, etc. Getting featured on such places gets you direct traffic – plus traffic from blogger comments of those stories, PR from Google and increased trust from customers.

The core of the book is a number of stories of press coverage of a site. Each story is followed by ideas that you might be able to apply to your own site. It has interesting suggestions, such as setting Google Alerts with your main keywords, so that you can react to those stories by commenting on them with your insight, a blog post or plugging your product. It also adds up to many ideas on how you can get an interesting press release from your business.

Chapter 4 focus on techniques on preparing your press release. Chapter 5 follows up by showing how to build a list of journalists who will want to hear your news, which also includes several simple ways to publicize your press releases.

Overall, an interesting book. If you are interested in getting publicity, you'd do well checking it out.

Book Review

Google AdWords PPC Advertising

I've just finished another of WordTracker's books – Google AdWords PPC Advertising . I got it at a US$20 discount from one of their e-mails.

I have been using PPC since before Google AdWords (Overture!), and I did read a few books along the way. So I thought I'd read this one, and if it was too weak, I'd just use their return policy and get my money back (which I actually did on another AdWords book).

I was pleasantly surprised. While the book covers all the basics to a level that I think most people starting with AdWords and PPC would find acceptable, if not comfortable, it also had many things I was not aware of:

  • bid stacks: they sugggest using the suggested bids for exact keywords only, and 75% for phrase and 25% for broad match. I have just started trying it, but seems right to me. They do have a rather involved process using a spreadsheet. I can't help but think it'd be better to just write a small program for this. I guess I'll have to see how much time it actually takes.
  • using the Search Term Report to add interesting broad matches as phrase or exact matches, and removing negative keywords.
  • many other small concepts on how to optimize your campaign
  • the differences between the AdWords Search and Content network. From various colleagues, I got the impression that the content network had lousy ROI, so I never bothered much with it. The book recommends completely separating the campaigns and using 10-15 keywords Ad Groups.

Overall, I really liked the book and already started taking small actions on my own AdWords campaigns. Recommended.

Book Review

Link Building Review

I've just finished another Wordtracker book, this time it was Link Building:How to build links for your site for SEO, Traffic and Response by Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney.

On a funny note, I was quite pleased with the purchase of the book, as I had tried to purchase it for full price before. Wordtracker's system was broken for hours, so I couldn't order and let it go. Then a few days later, they sent me a US$20 discount, at which point I bought it, with a smile on my face 🙂 .

The book cover many ways to get links. Having read several other somewhat related books, many parts seem similar.

For example, I've seen most of Chapter 1 – Content, on Blogging for Business and Web Content Recipe Book (I recommend both).

There are a couple of details I don't remember seeing covered. Clicking when you link to someone, so that you make sure it gets on the referrer log. There were also a few references to, which I've had a quick look at and seems very cool.

Chapter 2 – Getting to know your online community. A very interesting view on how to classify link prospects, also a reminder that the easiest way to get links (and PR) is finding your 404 errors and converting to 301 redirects.

Chapter 3 – Make your site a linking magnet. All about the best content to get links – pretty much what was covered in Blogging for Business. One interesting reminder is that core articles can often be used for more than a target group.

Chapter 5 – Online Public Relations has some interesting insights about how to write a PR release.

Chapter 6- The definitive link building campaign – covers a lot of various ways to get your link campaign running.

Chapter 7 is a checklist of the various actions mentioned in the rest of the book.

Overall, I found the book interesting, but not great. The coverage on Blogging for Business and the Web Content Recipe book were overall much better.

On a interesting note, Wordtracker now has a Link Builder tool for US$59 a month. From what little I've seen, it doesn't look like a good investment.

You can get Link Assistant for US$99.75. I've used it myself, and it's pretty good. Do keep in mind that they do charge for updates (and it's hard to see when you buy!), but the most expensive plan will only cost US$6.95 a month, while the cheapest is US$3.05. They also have discounts for updates if you use more than one of their tools.

Book Review

Blogging for Business – Book Review

Blogging for Business, by Chris Garret, is the latest book I've read from WordTracker. It proposes to be a How-to for business blogging, and I'd say it covers that pretty well.

Chapter 1 – Why Blog? One interesting part in the beginning is the comparison with various others vehicles for communication –
– Blogs can have a wider audience, and permanence (of course, it's easy to archive your newsletter too).
– They also suggest tying your blog to your E-mail Service Provider to get automatic newsletters. I've been looking into various ones lately, and several can do this.
Your discussions are already started (articles)

Chapter 2 – Prepare to Blog – covers a number of preparations, such as analyzing the competition, choosing a site extension, subdomain or new domain, and software and hosting options. The Action section has a step by step guide on how to setup your blog with WordPress.

Chapter 4 – What to Write. Since I just read The Web Content Recipe Book, it felt similar in the basic ideas. Interesting additions are the idea of a editorial calendar, and in the Action section, suggestions on how to create a survey form in Google Docs, and the kind of questions you can use to get ideas for content.

Chapter 5 – Attracting Visitors. Various ideas for SEO, PPC, social sites and links.

Chapter 6 – Retaining visitors. Various techniques on how get users to subscribe, and stay. In the action section, how to set up a e-mail newsletter with Aweber, and detailed ideas on how to a serial

WPMU DEV - The WordPress Experts

Book Review

Writing Kick-ass Website Sales Copy – Review

After reading the excelent Web Site Recipes, I bought another Wordtracker book, Writing Kick-ass Website Sales Copy. My sales copy is a bit weak, so I thought it could help. It was somewhat helpful, but if it had recipe on the name too, I´d have to say it was a bit bland.

The book is divided in several sections:

1)How to power up your sales messages – various techniques to improve headlines. It has several classics, such as

  • adding a sense of urgency or scarcity (some the MLM people really love, albeit their is quite often fake)
  • give something free – bonuses, trials, etc
  • save – discounts
  • new – using NEW to get attention
  • reducing the risk – testimonials, case studies. 30-days no questions asked returns, and trust logos
  • 2)How to make a home page sell

    3)How to maximize conversion rates

    For me, this was the most useful section of the book. There are many tips on the best way to structure your sales page, your headlines, and the rest. One concept I thought was interesting was that the headline sells the lead, and the lead sells the rest of the copy.

    4)Landing Pages

    This is a short section. The main concept presented here is that a landing page should be just as the regular sales page, but with less distractions and extranous links to the site than a regular landing page. It also suggest (as I've read everywhere) that it's important to reflect the Ad message on the headline.

    If all this seems familiar to you, you might want to skip this book. Otherwise, it was ok, just not particularly iluminating to me.

    Book Review

    The Web Content Recipe Book – review

    I've recently read The Web Content Recipe book, by Rachelle Money, Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney. I expected a good book, from the excerpts available on PDF, but found it was even better than that.

    The book proposes to improve your ability to create good web content. Web content is important for several reasons, depending on your site, but in any case, fresh web content with well-tuned SEO content is a great way to bring in new readers and potential clients from search engines.

    The first section deals with several principles, such as how to apply marketing to your content, how to write and structure an article, how to optimize them for SEO, and others.

    The second session has ideas for what kind of content you could add – FAQs, tips and tricks, case studies, reviews and much more. In most cases, they have long, useful discussions on how to best write that kind of article.

    The SEO concepts are throughout all the book, which isn't surprising since it's from Wordtracker.

    The book was enjoyable as well as instructive, and certainly covers the topics well. I found many useful suggestions on how to improve my writing – including book reviews – and it was after reading it that I decided to add a blog to my site, something I've been postponing for a while. I usually take notes while reading, and in this case they added up to several pages, because there was so much to take from the text.

    I can really recommend this one to anyone who have a site, and wants extra clients and search engine referrals (i.e.: everyone with a site).