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Building Findable Websites: Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond [Paperback]

Aarron Walter

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Book Description

Feb. 13 2008 9780321526281 978-0321526281 1
This is not another SEO book written for marketing professionals.  Between these covers you’ll find practical advice and examples for people who build websites aiming to reach their target audience. Each chapter will introduce you to best practices and fresh perspectives on how to accomplish these simple, yet indispensable goals:
  • Help more people find your site
  • Help users find content within your site
  • Encourage return visits
The path this book travels through the villages of Web standards, accessibility, and contemporary technologies like Ajax, APIs, Flash, and microformats. You’ll find the big ideas behind these technologies and real world examples, illustrating that you don’t have to compromise the user experience to create search engine friendly, findable websites.

Although this book illuminates a broad range of findability strategies, one common theme pervades:
Web standards + compelling content = improved findability = more successful sites

You’ll find even more findability guidance on the book’s companion website (http://buildingfindablewebsites.com) including 5 bonus chapters.

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Product Description

About the Author

Aarron Walter is a faculty member in the Interactive Media Design department at The Art Institute of Atlanta, teaching courses on a variety of topics including Findability, Dynamic Web Applications, and User-Centered Interface Design. When not teaching, Aarron also runs a one man design/development consultancy in Athens, GA, and writes articles for online publications such as SitePoint.com and DMXZone.com. He blogs, builds and shares things at http://aarronwalter.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Content is still king April 22 2008
By Allen Stenger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This well-written and informative book on getting your web site noticed by users boils the advice down to one sentence: "Your content should always be written for humans first, and search engines second!" It emphasizes building attractive content first, then removing any roadblocks that would prevent search engines from finding it.

The book is an interesting blend of high-level strategy and low-level techie tools and techniques. The mostly likely audience is actually webmasters more than web designers or marketers, although all would benefit from it. The most valuable part for me was the review of the many management tools, most of them free, available for studying your web site.

The web standards part doesn't really get a lot of attention in this book. No one today is going to seriously argue against following web standards. The advice in this book is limited to "use HTML elements for what they were designed for," with a promise that that will improve your search rankings. For example, it recommends using the various header levels to structure your document instead of just using boldface and bigger type, and it recommends using tables only for tabular date and using CSS for precise placement of a mosaic of elements.

A lot of what's here is not really about findability but about making your site worth finding, and about how to hold on to your audience once they've found the site. It covers techniques such as mailing lists (old technology but still very valuable), RSS feeds, user-generated content (such as product reviews), and blogs. The book makes the interesting point that authoring for search engines is very similar to authoring for the visually impaired. If you are careful to make your site accessible to humans, it will automatically be more accessible to search engines. There is specific advice on handling blogs, JavaScript menu systems, Shockwave Flash, and Ajax.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another SEO book July 9 2008
By K. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I went to the book store looking for a book on blogging and spotted this unusual title 'Building Findable Websites'. Within the first few moments of thumbing through the book, I knew I was going to get it. I already had several search engine optimization books, but this one talked about SEO and so much more. It even had a chapter on blogging.

What strikes me most about this book is that literally every page has website resources or bits of code. The second most striking this is the author does not fill page after page of why to do something. The whys are kept to the point and jump right into the hows. This book is not filled with dozens of interviews or inspirational stories though it does have real world examples which the author provides links to so the reader can get more detail. I really liked the example of BMW Germany getting blacklisted from Google for blackhat SEO tactics.

The author also has a great companion website to the book which includes 5 bonus chapters, the table of contents for the book, website tools and code used in the book. Since Amazon doesn't have a 'Search Inside' on this book, you can read the bonus chapters to get a feel for the book and the author. Also be sure and check out his blog at [...] where you can see samples of his work and a list of books he uses as references two of which I've decided to get as well.

After reading this book, I appreciate the difference between findability versus SEO. This book focuses on best practices and web standards of which SEO is only a part of.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SEO the right way March 20 2008
By Brian Artka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The big buzz phrase for the past few years has been Search Engine Optimization(SEO). Companies are paying other companies millions of dollars to get, and keep their websites in the front of different keyword searches on the larger search engine sites. Is it worth it? In most cases... probably not. Anyone thinking about paying money to have someone make their site "SEO" friendly should read Building Findable Websites.

Being a web standards practitioner, I had great theories of how building a website the right way can take care of most of your SEO woes. After reading Aarron's book on the topic, my theories were solidified. having a website that is built semantically using XHTML, CSS and javascript will drastically make your web presence findable for your users and for the search engines.

Is your website still wrangling a table based layout with messy unreadable code? Before spending thousands on SEO enhancements, read this book. See what the buzz of Web Standards is about(if you have not already) and go from there; you will not be disappointed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Title Is Very Fitting May 16 2008
By Brandon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book because I'm a web developer by trade, working on the back-end (mostly PHP) and a lot of front-end. This book helped illuminate a lot about the "black art" that is SEO. It dispelled some myths, confirmed some thoughts of mine and all in all was a good book, especially if you're techincal.

That's the "building" part of the title. The author also covers basic and advanced SEO strategies that don't require knowledge of any kind of programming language. That's the "SEO" part of the title. The last bit is the "beyond" and covers a lot about driving and maintaining traffic to your site. I didn't pick up this book for that reason, but I read most of these sections anyway and I'm glad I did because I learned a lot more than I thought I would.

If you're a developer of any kind working on web sites, or are a project manager dealing with clients, this book will help you sound smart and have some ammo to back it up. I'm already under water with a project that is implementing a ton of these tips - I'm curious to see how much the traffic increases.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Web Design and Marketing Read! Aug. 28 2008
By Jeffrey Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mr. Walter has done an outstanding job giving the reader not only a solid overview of many different aspects of SEO, but also delving into actual code and its various details. He discusses optimizing one's code for the search engines, giving numerous examples for the reader. He discusses the importance of separating content from presentation (CSS) and behavior (JavaScript). Mr. Walter sprinkles some PHP code throughout the book, too; however, he does an excellent job telling the reader what he's doing - where - and why, with plenty of comments to support his coding.

Additionally, he discusses the importance of blogging and adding local search to one's Web site(s). Blogging is clearly important to SEO due to the consistent blog posts as well as the linking strategy (to and from the Web site) that complements any blog.

He finishes his fine tome with a chapter on preventing Findability roadblocks - such as using too much Flash and avoiding JavaScript & AJAX issues - as well as a discussion on integrating an email newsletter service (e.g. MailChimp) into your Web site. All quite helpful to any Web designer.

Mr. Walter provides numerous illustrations throughout the text and explains them thoroughly. He is clearly an exceptional teacher, very practical in both his design and his prose; It's probably fair to guess that his teaching style matches his writing style.

This is an enjoyable and enlightened book for both Web designers and Web marketers. I highly recommend 'Building Findable Websites.'

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