How Important is Reading a BOOK to an SEO Firm?

I’m back! Yes, it’s been too long since I blogged at DSM, and I’m honest when I say “I’ve missed it…” I’m re-motivated to share ideas, ask questions, and even call people (and companies) out on their online business stupidity. I’ll start, though, with a sincere SEO question:
Is reading a BOOK really helpful to an SEO Firm (or freelancer or wanna be)?
To make sure I’ve clarified – a BOOK is just that: paper back, hard-bound, library issued or purchased on Amazon. I’m not referring to an eBook, a list of blog articles or your habitual RSS Reader. Books – you know – the things that Borders can’t seem to sell anymore. Do real books even exist these days?

Questions about Reading Books

  • What’s the last real book you read?
  • What real book(s) are you currently reading?
  • Was the book you read just for fun or to further your career as an online marketing “guru”?
  • Were you forced to read the book by your company as a PR or HR stunt?
  Last night I was going through my Stumbleupon routine and found a great article about reading books. It caused me to ask myself some questions about my habits, the use of my time, and ultimately whether or not reading books would or wouldn’t help further my online marketing career in one way or another. After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that YES, reading IS important for an SEO. YES, reading a real book WILL improve my online marketing skills. And YES, there are things I can do starting TODAY to get the “real-book-ball” rolling. I got a lot out of the article and suggest you read it in its entirety; here are some key points I think all SEO’s can use to improve their business situation via reading a real book:

4 Reading Secrets to Help SEO’s Form Good Reading Habits

  1. Speed Reading is the Secret Weapon: Have you ever tried this? I know most of us think TIME is the biggest issue when it comes to reading a book. We’re too busy online all day every day to make time to read – let alone learn how to “speed read”. However, the real idea behind speed reading is that you know how (and when) to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed. If you want to learn how to speed read start reading here: Double Your Reading Rate.
Summary tips for speed reading:
  • Use your forefinger to follow the line on the page. This focuses your vision onto a specific part of the text.
  • Practice reading books faster than you can comprehend. This isn’t actual reading but it will make you familiar with using your finger and slowly increase your maximum speed.
  • State your purpose before starting to read. This will allow you to focus on information you need and reject information you don’t.

2. Carry a Book Wherever You Go: I’ve started doing this, although I’m not addicted to reading yet and would rather “people watch” than stick my nose in a book. However, “…gaps of a few weeks without any reading material means several less books you can read each year. Worse, time spent without a book breaks down your reading habits so it can be harder to start again.” As SEO’s, we travel from time to time, we take mass-transit to appointments, and occasionally we go on vacation. If we have a book with us, this good habit can begin to form. Otherwise, we are simply wasting time between appointments. Some of the people I look up to most in the business world are those who are avid readers of all kinds of books (not just business books).


3. Stop Web-Surfing! For me, this basically means go on a “Facebook Fast” and stop checking ESPN MLB Standings 🙂 (By the way, did you all see that the Yankees are up 2.5 games in the AL East and have won 6 in a row?) If I were to add up all the time I “waste” dinking around on Facebook and reading articles about baseball and other sports on ESPN, I would have probably already read 25-30 books this year. How do you waste time? Can you use that wasted time to read a bit more?


4. Create a Book “To Read” List: Yes, there are great marketing books out there. Yes, there are even up-to-date SEO and Social Media Books out there. Search for them on Amazon and make a list. Create an “Online Marketing Book Club” and read books together and then meet to discuss them and share ideas (depending on who you’re with I guess). What are books you’d like to read but haven’t yet? Here are some of mine:


  What do you think about reading a real book? Do you think it’s good for SEO companies to be reading books about their industry (or about whatever else)? Why or why not? What books do YOU recommend? One thing that wasn’t discussed is audio books – have you ever tried those? I personally am too scatter-brained and haven’t seemed to get as much out of listening to a book while doing other things. Nate Moller works with businesses who want to improve their online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

27 thoughts on “How Important is Reading a BOOK to an SEO Firm?

  1. Dan Patterson says:

    I would agree that reading books is important for a couple of reasons:
    1- The quality of writing is usually better in a real book over an ebook
    2- For me, there is something to be said about reading something physical. For some reason I tend to take a real book more seriously (could be because of reason #1)

    It’s also good to expand your knowledge into other subjects with books. Web design, marketing, etc. are all things that SEOs or online marketers in general should go over.

    Honestly, it’s kinda funny that you wrote this post right now because I was just thinking the other day that I need to finish the books that I currently have on my to read list… Linchpin is one of them!

    One note about books though that I’m sure everyone already knows, but it’s still a good reminder: check the publishing date. Technical stuff gets out of date really fast so you have to supplement your book reading with online reading so you know what is still valid and what isn’t.

  2. Ryan says:

    So I’m not huge reader of Regular books or eBooks for that matter. However i am reading, at the request of just about everybody i know, The Hunger Games. Decent book, but i think I’d rather just watch the movie. As far as reading for SEO, i think anything that will help move your site up the Google charts is extremely important. If you’re not on the first page, you’re losing the battle.

  3. Nate Moller says:

    @Dan Patterson
    I couldn’t agree more with all your points:

    – CHECK THE PUB DATE – tech stuff can be out-dated by tomorrow (I think that’s why ebooks have become so popular – you can edit them a lot more cost-effectively)
    – Ebook writing quality generally just isn’t as good.

    One other point the article I referenced made was to read one book at a time. This is something I have a hard time with. I may start a book, get a bit bored with it, pick up another book, then go back to the original to finish it off.

    Thoughts on this?

    How’s Linchpin by the way?

    Thanks for the comment Dan!

  4. Nate Moller says:

    How do you like Hunger Games Ryan? I think my wife has read that book and talked about it quite a bit.

    Watching movies after reading a book can usually be a huge let down, don’t you think?

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. Ryan says:

    @Nate Moller
    The Hunger Games is okay. I don’t see what the hype is about it though. maybe its get better. we’ll see. I totally agree with the let down of watching movies after reading the books, but not for the reason most people say. Everybody always says that the book was way better so the movie was a let down. I just hate watching a movie where i already know everything that is going to happen.

  6. Ryan says:

    One of the best advice I ever got was from Paul Allen (, not Microsoft). He said to read as many books as possible. To paraphrase, he said, “Books are so rich with good information, more than magazines or blogs. There is more thought, more research that goes into a book and they also go through an editorial process which refines them even more.” Ever since then I have tried to always have a book.

    I have a brother-in-law that can read 500 pages in a day or two, I hate that he can do that. It would take me much longer and sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit down and read, so for me the best way to consume books has been through audiobooks. I signed up for Audible which gives you monthly credits towards books. I started with one a month and then moved to two a month because I was getting through them fast. I listen to them on my commute to and from work, which can a little less than 2 hours a day. I could just zone out and listen to music or use that time to improve myself.

  7. Nate Moller says:

    Great advice by Paul Allen. Thanks for sharing that.

    Do you take notes while driving? I need to take you up on that suggestion but have found it hard to concentrate. Or, I’ll be listening, like what’s said, and then it will cause me to start thinking about how to apply that info. By the time I’ve re-focused, I’ve missed what could have been the most important info of all.

    Do you find yourself listening to the same book multiple times or rewinding a lot?

    And 500 pages in a day or two, DANG!

  8. Josh Carr Superstar says:

    I love to read – lately I have found myself going in the opposite direction from the “infolust” that has always infected me. I took a speed reading course in College that was a game changer for me.

    It seems like the more experienced and confident I get the less I care about what some idiot is blogging about. – No Offense to Nate –

    The thing about a book is the discipline of focusing on one subject and training your brain to dive deep and stay under for a long time.

    I typically rotate every other one between “fun books” and “business books”

    So here is a top 3 list of what I have read recently that you should to:

    Fun Books First:
    1. Servant of a Dark God – John Brown – Fantasy

    2. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller – Funny

    3. Atlas Shrugged – Think about it EVERY DAY

    Business Books:

    1. Getting Things Done – Must Read
    2. Four Hour Workweek – Think about GTD in a new way
    3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Wow

    I READ in Freakonomics that parent who have books in the home even if they don’t read to their kids have much smarter children. So thats what I am betting on – I buy every book I read.

  9. Nate Moller says:

    @Josh Carr Superstar
    Thanks for the comment Josh! And no offense taken as I KNOW you weren’t talking about me 🙂

    Two words you used caught my attention and I feel they are the keys to success in ANY ENDEAVOR: “discipline” and “focus”.

    If people, including SEO experts, can master these two concepts, everything else falls into place.

    I’ve read “Getting Things Done” but consider it more a STUDY than a read. It’s a complex book that hasn’t completely sunk in with me yet.

    Thanks for the suggestions and comment.

  10. Mariah Overlock says:

    I’m a huge advocate for everybody reading, no matter your profession. SEO’s can take just as much away from reading an actual book than anyone else. You’ll always be a better person for it. What have you got to lose? Plus, you’ll have something to talk about with the book-world audience you’re trying to reach with your marketing.

    I also absolutely agree that reading a hard-copy, physical book COVER TO COVER will increase your discipline and focus skills. Like anything else worthwhile, it takes practice.

  11. Monty says:

    To Answer Your question How Important is Reading a BOOK to an SEO Firm? It is the up most importance, Why I can actually remember back in my young management days books, tapes and seminars was how we got the newest and most up to date information. As for which books still are timeless gems?

    When ever I work with a existing business client they usually have more then just the average internet marketing questions so i recommend
    E-Myth by Michael Gerber, you know the working on your business and not in your business guy

    Anything from Tom Peters Teaches us how and why to spend time with your most ticked off clients and learn from it, among other things

    anything Ken Blanchard especially Raving Fans of which I have three copies from three different companies none of which have achieved the coveted “Raving Fan Status” or Culture

    and of Course David Meermon Scott on PR and social media these all can help us understand, assist, and solve more then just keyword ranking and shopping cart abandonment issues.

    Sorry for being so long winded thanks for the great article
    ciao or chow what ever the time of day 🙂

  12. Nate Moller says:

    Great advice Monty! Thanks for the recommendations too. I find it interesting that companies want employees to read specific books but then those same books come back to bite them when they don’t APPLY what they’ve had their employees read.

    I wonder what the “secret sauce” is to actually apply reading material to a business culture.

    Thoughts anyone?

    By the way, the E-Myth is a book I’ve read multiple times and reference it often. Thanks again for the comment.

  13. Leanne Hoagland-Smith says:

    Reading is still very important especially with keeping brain cells active. There are gems even in non-tech books that can be infused into Web content. As to what I recommend, here are my latest 3 (I read a book a week).

    1 – From Values to Action by Harry Kraemer – Probably the best book on leadership I have read and I have read many, many books.
    2 – Pitch Anything
    3 – A seat at the Table

    Books #2 and #3 work together to help create exceptional clarity as to value creation. Agree with everyone else, a great and necessary post,

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith
    Author of Be the Red Jacket

  14. Toronto Freelance Copywriter says:

    I have really neglected the SEO for my own site over the past couple of years but recently got a client through Google. I figured I better get back into the swing of things and start optimizing again. I picked up Outsmarting Google for my Kindle to see what’s been happening, especially since some of the techniques I used to use are outdated. It’s been very helpful and I have already seen my rankings improve.

    I agree with one of the other posters in that I basically checked publication date and then looked at some of the customer reviews which were quite positive.

    I would still be interested in taking a top SEO course but for now the book has been just what the doctor ordered.



  15. Brian says:

    Hi Nate,

    Well I know with the recent Google update they really reduced the influence of article directories and self-publishing sites like Squidoo etc.

    As a copywriter, I have no problem developing valuable content and can offer real expertise in quite a few areas of marketing. I suppose my question is, do you have any suggestions where I can publish my work and still get solid SEO benefits?

    Thanks in advance!



  16. Nate Moller says:

    Thanks again for the comment Brian. A few questions:

    How often do you write for other relevant sites? If you do write for other relevant sites, do you use internal text links that focus on phrases you’d like to be found for?

    What current rankings do you have now for your top 5 keyword phrases?

    Who’s ahead of you and why?

    Have you ever tested infographics in your industry? (this is something we specialize in at DSM and would love to talk to you about their benefits from an SEO and Social Media standpoint)

    What connections do you have to .edu links that relate to your market segment?

    I like article directories but haven’t ever spent tons of time with them nor have I ever used Squidoo surprisingly.

    Look forward to ongoing conversation.

  17. Gladys B. Hanlon says:

    Though not many people these days have time to read a book, but, we can’t deny the fact that most of the time, books provide quality and reliable information.However, the things that we learned from a book need to be checked through the internet if the same information is still applicable.

  18. Dale Green says:

    I didnot read a real book for a long time.I think I should do it now.We are used to web-surfing.Thanks for the advice.It’s good

  19. Bibi says:

    Reading is important, at least that is what my mom always use to say to me. I do so much reading daily on the net and i feel like i have so much stuff to do, so reading a book seams like a real treat or a luxury today for me. There must be something else i’ll have to ditch something to get the time to read a book.

    But this is just me, congrats to all that manage to do all they have to do and find the time to read.

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