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Book Review

HTML 5 and CSS 3: Develop with Tomorrow’s Standards Today – Book Review

I've just finished reading HTML 5 and CSS 3: Develop with Tomorrow's Standards Today, by Brian P. Hogan.

The purpose of the book is showing how to use features on HTML 5 and CSS 3, today. Given how uneven adoption has been in various browsers (specially IE), a big part of this is providing fallbacks whenever possible – ways of keeping things working on older browsers. This is very important today, and I was pleased that in almost every situation there was a usable fallback.

There is a whole lot of new stuff on HTML 5, CSS 3 and on the other related future tech analyzed in the book.

Some of the things I liked:
– new content tags, for clearer markup
– improved CSS3, including gradients, rounding, shadows and transformations
– Local Storage and DBs on the browsers, and specially offline support for standalone webapps. Unfortunately the DB part varies a lot between browsers, because this is a very nice way to get over the fragmentation of apps between the desktop and the various smartphones.

The book also covers stuff such as the new canvas, embedding Audio and Video (which is much simpler than it used to be), accessibility, and many other things.

Well recommended if you are interested in the topic.

As a side note, I read it as an e-book on a Kindle. While I've read many fiction books on it, this was my first technical book.
It went pretty well. It's easy to highlight interesting sections (albeit VERY slow) and bookmarking pages. All diagrams were pretty readable, albeit black & white, of course. Delivery is also automatic from the Pragmatic Bookshelf, if you have a Wi-Fi Kindle and set its address with them, including updates.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 www.majesticseo.com, 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.

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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 –
newsletters:
– 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.
forums:
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

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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.

    Categories
    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).