A Roundup Of 2009′s Best Search Advertising Books

The world of paid search has evolved from “all you need is five minutes and a credit card” to a complex ecosystem with lots of moving parts that and obstacles that can cause serious damage for the unwary. Here’s a look at some of the best paid search books published in the past year.

A roundup of 2009′s best search advertising books

search engine advertising cover Search Engine Advertising: Buying Your Way to the Top to Increase Sales (2nd edition)
by Kevin Lee, with Catherine Seda
New Riders, $34.99
ISBN-10: 0-321-49599-3

This was one of the first books about search advertising ever published, making its debut way back in 2004. The first edition was entirely the brainchild of Cat Seda, one of the most experienced search marketing veterans around (here’s my review of the first edition). The recently published second edition is a complete remake and update, primarily the work of Kevin Lee, “with the guidance and blessing of Cat Seda” according to the book’s companion web site.

It’s an excellent overview and introduction to search advertising with the three major players: Google, Microsoft and Yahoo (still relevant until and when Microsoft takes over the search ad function for Yahoo). There’s also a chapter on additional traffic sources, but for most search marketers, a focus on the big three is usually sufficient.

The book is structured to provide a step-by-step approach to getting started with search advertising. The second edition offers a lot of new information not found in the first due to the rapid evolution of search advertising over the past five years. You’ll find excellent discussions of issues like campaign management, how to effectively use technology to support your campaigns, the advantages of working with agencies vs. doing the work in-house and more.

Throughout the book, there’s always a sharp focus on competition. It’s simply not possible to ignore your competitors in a paid search campaign, though many new advertisers scarcely give this a thought—until they are blindsided by competitors who know exactly what they’re doing.

Search Engine Advertising: Buying Your Way to the Top to Increase Sales (2nd edition) is a worthwhile read for just about anyone interested in search advertising, whether you’re just getting started with a pay-per-click campaign, or a seasoned advertiser looking for some fresh tactical thinking on the subject.

the truth about pay per click ads cover The Truth About Pay-Per-Click Search Advertising
by Kevin Lee
FT Press, $18.99
ISBN-10: 0-7897-3832-5

The Truth About Pay-Per-Click Search Advertising is another in the Financial Times series of “truth about” books. Like Rebecca Lieb’s The Truth About Search Engine Optimization that I reviewed in my Roundup Of 2009’s Best SEO Books, Kevin Lee has structured this book around the idea of 55 “truths” about paid search advertising.

In this case, though, the structure is a bit forced, because in reality you’ll find hundreds of valuable truths in the book. Lee has been writing about paid search virtually since it was invented more than a decade ago, and has also led the way in developing strategies and tactics to maximize returns for his clients. And he shares many of the insights he’s gained from years of experience designing and running search advertising campaigns. The book is packed with useful, practical nuggets of information—including many advanced approaches to different parts of paid search campaigns.

This makes the book more appropriate for search marketers who’ve run their own campaigns and can realize the full benefit of Lee’s observations. Lee’s style is accessible and conversational, but if you’re looking for an introduction to search advertising, Search Engine Advertising (reviewed above) is probably a better choice.

clickable gurus guide cover The Clickable Guru’s Guide To Better Search Engine Marketing
by Andrew Bernero, Ehren Reilly, Hanny Hindi, Tony Soric and Trace Johnson
Lulu.com On Demand, $10.98
ISBN-10: 0-557-08040-3

Most search marketing agencies, tool vendors and service providers have blogs that they use as marketing vehicles. The best of these go far beyond simple pitches for products or services—they seek to educate and engage the search marketing community. Clickable is a company that offers a suite of search marketing tools, and its blog is maintained by a group of employees called the Clickable gurus, who’ve assembled a collection of “best of” posts into a short book.

It’s extremely rare for me to review something like this, which is fundamentally a marketing tool. I’m making an exception because this book virtually never mentions Clickable or its tool suite. Rather, it’s a collection of expert tips that are platform-neutral and can be put to work by any search advertiser. In many cases, these tips are responses to pain-points expressed in the Clickable gurus forums, helping resolve tricky or difficult paid search issues.

You don’t need to buy the physical on-demand book—The Clickable Guru’s Guide To Better Search Engine Marketing is also available as a free 167 page PDF (this is a direct download link—no need to register for access).

advertising 2.0 cover Advertising 2.0 – Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World
by Tracy L. Tuten
Praeger Publishers, $24.95
ISBN-10: 0-313-35296-8

Social media marketing has become one of the key avenues that search marketers use to extend and complement their organic or paid search campaigns. Even though social media isn’t “pure” search, it belongs in any discussion of online marketing.

Advertising 2.0 – Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World looks at social media in a much broader sense than most search marketers typically consider. In addition to familiar names like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, Tuten includes a wide array of other online social gathering spots. You’ll find chapters on engaging with customers in virtual worlds, games, on opinion and social fiction sites and others.

Tuten is associate professor of marketing at Longwood University, and while this book is strongly supported by research, it’s also loaded with practical tips about how to market effectively using social media. There are a lot of really useful insights into the psychology of people who engage with social media, examining their needs and motivations, and what it takes for marketers to successfully connect with these people without alienating them.

This is a great overview of social media marketing if you’re new to the field. It’s also thought-provoking and informative if you’re an experienced social media denizen.

honest seduction cover Honest Seduction
by Scott Brinker, Anna Talerico and Justin Talerico
BookSurge Publishing, $17.99
ISBN-10: 1-4392-2185-5

Honest Seduction is an extended compilation of blog posts and articles from the folks at i-on interactive. The focus here is on what happens after people click on a search ad. Research from Enquiro and others has shown that searchers literally decide in seconds after reaching a landing page whether to continue reading (and eventually, converting) or to click back to search results and look for something else.

This makes the design of landing pages absolutely crucial to paid search success. Yet many advertisers do little or no testing to determine whether their campaigns are as effective and compelling as they can be.

Other books, such as Tim Ash’s excellent Landing Page Optimization, focus largely on the mechanics of designing tests, running and interpreting the results. Honest Seduction takes a different approach that’s simultaneously intriguing and a tad aggravating: As collection of blog posts it pulls together some really intriguing thinking about what’s going on post-click in the mind of the searcher. But it also lacks the coherent structure of a more formal book (even though the posts are loosely organized into “chapters”).

Nonetheless, it’s still a provocative look at how to maximize the effectiveness of any search advertising campaign, and well worth the time spent reading.

For more search marketing book reviews, see A Roundup Of 2009′s Best SEO Books.

FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: The publishers of most of the books reviewed here provided Search Engine Land with complimentary review copies, but had no editorial influence and did not provide any compensation to be included in this roundup.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Features: Book Reviews | How To: PPC


About The Author: (@CJSherman) is a Founding Editor of SearchEngineLand.com and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo - SMX conference series.

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  • http://www.beginnerblogger.com/ Sarge

    Great list of books. I’m just starting to get into PPC so I will look further into this list of books and may just purchase one or two ;)


    Sarge | BeginnerBlogger.com

  • http://www.razorlightmedia.com John Crenshaw

    Excellent roundup. I’ve been looking for some more recent seo/sem books so I can spend even more of my day working ;-)

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