Mstation Book Reviews
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Tue, 28 Oct 2008

Website Optimization

Andrew B. King, Website Optimization, O'Reilly

Yes, you guessed, this is a guide to optimizing websites both in terms of the physical performance in a browser and also in terms of search engines.

An aside here is how quickly we seem to accept a situation as normal. Take search engines - One would expect that search engines would semantically parse pages and be able to provide some sort of useful overview. Also, we might expect that algorithims scanning links would immediately be able discount the most obvious cheaters. This is far from the case and woe be it to anyone who thinks they can hide the crux of a page in paragraph three and still be usefully indexed.

... which tidily leads us back to the book while we wait for improvements in the search world. The present reality is that you do need to do something and this book will guide you through excactly what.

It starts by looking at search engine optimization and gives examples of how to deal with the appropriate Meta tags, "content" and "keywords". Keywords is a huge area by itself with all sorts of tools available for sussing out their potential - not much point is using a keyword that generates one search a week if you can honestly use one that generates a thousand. "Honestly" is quite a big word here but at least in this area there are some signs that body text is checked to see if it's true.

The keyword thing also leads into the Adwords side of things and there's a fair bit to be said that people who purchase ads on Google will find interesting. The whole keyword thing, of course, just underlines the failure (so far) of semantic parsing ... quite conveniently for Google, perhaps.

There's a lot more to the book including quite a large section on optimizing the site itself in terms of loading times and code. There's also a fair sized section on web analytics and if you never quite grasped what a bounce rate was, this book will help you. All in all, if you have a website, then this book will be of interest.

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