Marketing professionals and business owners value search engine optimization – after all, it leads to over 300% more traffic to websites than does social media. It can be hard to find the time to learn more about SEO strategies, however; especially reading SEO books.
While it might seem quicker to scan articles on the topic, SEO books can pay greater dividends.
Why Should I Read SEO Books?
Books on SEO bring benefits that articles and blog posts just can’t:
- They are written by experts. Most SEO books are written by seasoned marketing professionals who have proven their results in the field. While anyone can publish a blog post on the internet, not everyone has the career experience to author a book.
- They offer peer input. Marketing is demanding work. Search engine optimization books written by experts in the field offer valuable feedback that can be hard to find locally.
- They are relevant. Even SEO books published a few years ago still contain valuable content. While algorithms change, the foundations of SEO are remarkably durable and can be learned from books.
- They are trustworthy. Books written about marketing have undergone extensive editing and you can read reviews of them online, so you know you’re getting quality content.
That said, here is our list of the 15 Best SEO Books for marketing leaders in 2021.
#1 – SEO Like I’m 5: The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization – The Best for Quick Action Tips
You’ve heard SEO is important, and you want to learn more and apply it to your business: that’s where Matthew Capala’s book comes in. Designed to prioritize actionable content, SEO Like I’m 5 is low on theory and heavy on workshop-style action plans.
This is a good choice for busy agency leaders who want something they can put into practice quickly. As the editors say, “our approach lets you focus on picking the fruit, not studying the tree.” In other words, tell me how to do it, not every nitty-gritty detail about why it works.
If you’re more interested in the technical aspects of how SEO functions, this might not be the book for you, but if implementing SEO best practices is high on your priority list, it’s well worth your time.
#2 - How To Get To The Top Of Google in 2021: The Plain English Guide to SEO – The Best Recent Publication
A re-release of an older publication, the authors of How to Get to the Top of Google have included more case studies from their own SEO agency as well as polished up some recommendations based on recent Google rankings.
Most of the book contains some foundational SEO best practices, like utilizing long-tail keywords and why competitor research is important for rankings. While the best SEO books include similar information, this book provides an extremely user-friendly guide for those struggling to create a cohesive SEO plan for their business.
The authors of this book have prioritized their highest-performing tips for SEO growth in this book. This is the benefit of investing your time in a book, which presents the most useful information all in one spot and can be referenced while putting the plan into practice.
#3- Link Building Mastery: How to Rank Higher, Grow Your SEO Traffic and Build Authority with Backlinks – The Best Book on SEO Backlinks
Link building is a critical piece of an SEO strategy, and this short book unpacks the basics of how they work and how to use them. The book is a quick read, and the easily scannable bullet points and bolded headings reminded us of reading online content.
This is a good complement to other SEO books you might have on your shelf, and serves as a handy reference work specifically on backlinks.
#4 – SEO for Dummies, 7th Edition – The Best Basic Book
The “Dummies” series is known for its layperson-friendly explanation of complex topics, and SEO for Dummies is no exception. This hefty volume contains a bit of everything, from how to build an optimized website from the beginning to how to implement SEO strategies on social media – an important topic often overlooked by other books in this niche.
The textbook-style presentation may be daunting for some, but overall we found this book accessible and coherent. At almost 500 pages long, we don’t recommend reading this book cover to cover, but rather focusing on the topics that are most actionable for your business and site. If you are coming to digital marketing from a different profession, SEO for Dummies is not a bad place to start reading.
#5 - The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd – The Best Multitasker
Also available as an Ebook, The 1-Page Marketing Plan focuses on helping people scale their business by teaching them to create a coherent business plan. While this book doesn’t feature as deep a dive into SEO best practices as some others we reviewed, it does integrate a solid SEO strategy into a basic marketing blueprint that’s easy to follow for beginners.
Overall, The 1-Page Marketing Plan is a good complement to other books on SEO by showing how search strategies fit in with your larger marketing plan.
#6 - SEO 2021: Learn Search Engine Optimization with Smart Internet Marketing Strategies – The Best Seller
While most SEO books target either a beginner or advanced audience, Adam Clarke combines that approach by re-releasing his book almost every year to include recent Google updates and algorithm changes.
If you have previous experience, this can serve as an SEO Ebook that can be easily scanned for new information and tips you may not have considered before.
For beginners, this book does a good job explaining what NOT to do – which in SEO, can be almost as important as what to do, since Google penalizes sites for so-called black hat SEO practices. Overall, this is a good, affordable addition to a marketing bookshelf.
# 7 - Keywords for SEO: Actionable Knowledge Bombs to Help you Rank on Google – Best for Keyword Research
Keyword research is probably one of the most important skills that any marketer must master. Ranking at the top of the Google search results isn't possible without knowing how to do proper keyword research.
In this book, you will learn proven steps and strategies on how to do keyword research so that you can rank any website at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Inside the covers of this book, you will learn how to create strategies that will boost your website's rankings. This book should be on the bookshelf of every person involved in SEO. Business owners, web developers, marketing managers, and marketing staff will find this book invaluable.
#8 - Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day – The Best for Busy Agency Founders
Small business owners – including marketing agency leaders – are notorious multitaskers. This SEO book is designed for marketing agencies with a lean staff who probably don’t have a full-time SEO expert on staff.
The strength of this book is that it is partially a time-management strategy along with a search engine optimization strategy. The authors acknowledge that reading books on SEO is only beneficial if those tips are put into practice, so they include a manageable to-do list that lets readers immediately begin applying the strategy.
Overall, Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day is a hidden gem among SEO books.
#9 -Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing – Best for Social SEO
Good SEO strategy is ultimately intertwined with your content strategy, and social media affects them both. The authors weave this interconnectivity through Optimize, unifying their marketing strategy. We appreciated the level of attention given to social strategy here, which was glossed over a bit in some of the other titles.
Available in either a hardcover or Ebook version, Optimize is a good pick for those who are hoping to use social media and SEO to boost growth.
#10 - SEO - The Sassy Way to Ranking #1 in Google - when you have NO CLUE! – Best for Basic WordPress Users
The content in SEO – The Sassy Way is directed exclusively towards WordPress, so it contains a lot of helpful advice for those trying to optimize their blogs and websites. You may want to look elsewhere for SEO for Ecommerce sites, however.
Part of a larger series on internet marketing, this SEO book is an inexpensive beginners guide to SEO available in both paperback and Kindle versions. We appreciated the conversational, encouraging style, especially for those who are overwhelmed by SEO at the beginning of their marketing journey.
The pink branding might be a bit much for some, but it doesn’t ultimately interfere with the quality of the advice inside.
#11 - Search Engine Optimization - SEO 101: Learn the Basics of Google SEO in One Day – Best Blog-Style SEO Book
The benefit of reading SEO blogs is the skimmable, easy-to-digest format. The downside is trying to find “that helpful SEO tip from that one blog” months later when it could actually be useful.
This title contains the SEO basics in an easy-to-read format. With short sections – often only two pages long per topic- it’s doable to read this book in an afternoon and have a grasp of the basics. Those who already know their way around keyword research may want to turn to something a bit more in-depth, but this is a good place to start if you want to devote a couple of hours to learning SEO. Available as an affordable paperback or Kindle edition, this is far less expensive than an SEO class, too.
#12 - Ecommerce SEO: An Advanced Guide to On-Page Search Engine Optimization For Ecommerce – Best SEO Book for Ecommerce
Surprisingly, the SEO books designed specifically for Ecommerce are scarce. The best books on SEO for Ecommerce will acknowledge that running a site on, say, Shopify versus a blog on WordPress will greatly affect your SEO strategy.
Ecommerce SEO is certainly a more technical take on search engine optimization. If you have the confidence to wade into topics like pagination or crawl traps, this book offers a coherent explanation of how to maximize SEO for your Ecommerce site.
#13 - Digital Analytics for Marketing – Best Textbook
Though pricier than the other SEO books we reviewed, a recent release of an ETextbook version makes Digital Analytics for Marketing a bit more accessible. While this is primarily a book about analytics, SEO topics and best practices are woven throughout the text.
With a heavy focus on analytics, this is a more in-depth choice for those wanting to deepen their SEO knowledge. Like other search engine optimization books, there is a heavy focus on strategy: while a business can do many things with SEO, it can’t do everything, so prioritization is key.
Overall, this is a good pick for those wanting more theory over a plug-and-play handbook.
#14 - Local SEO Secrets: 20 Local SEO Strategies You Should be Using NOW – Best for Local SEO
Written by top thought leaders in the local SEO industry, this book contains tips and strategies for ranking fast and increasing organic traffic to your site. Roger Bryan, an investor, bestselling author, and enterprise SEO consultant, shares insights on local SEO that he gathered from working with over 1,000 different companies.
Top local SEO experts featured in this book include Mark Luckenbaugh, Allison Lee, and Richard Lorenzen. In this book, you will learn 20 local SEO strategies including how to optimize your Google My Business listing to outrank your competitors, methods in which PR can help your SEO campaign, how to create Google Local Service Ads that convert, and plenty more.
#15 - SEO for Small Business Part 1: SEO and Keyword Research – Best for Small Business SEO
Our final pick is an SEO book designed specifically for small business owners. This short book is available in a paperback version, with no EBook version yet. Despite this, it’s a great introduction to SEO for small business owners who are experts in their niche but may feel out to sea in the new tech-driven marketplace.
Many reviewers appreciated the case studies included in the book, because they make the text more approachable and show how SEO makes a real-world difference in results. In terms of marketing content, expect to see a primer on the basics, like long- and short-tail keywords and white hat versus black hat SEO.
Up Your Game: Read More
Busy marketing professionals tend to scan articles quickly, but there’s a lot to be gained by investing your time in SEO books.