eBoot Camp Book Review: It Ain’t Pretty
Ian Lurie Aug 28 2009
In spite of my occasional tirade, I’m actually a fairly nice guy. If I read a book I don’t like, I just don’t write about it.
However, if I read a book that misinforms, is poorly researched and may harm the readers’ businesses, I get angry.
Unfortunately, eBoot Camp falls into the latter category. And I’m… disappointed.
eBoot Camp (By Corey Perlman, published by Wiley and Sons, 2009) is a good, super-high-level look at launching a web site.
Perlman touches on things like usability, opt-in e-mail marketing and PPC. That’s good.
But he barely touches on them. I mean barely. The chapter on video marketing, for example, is 6 pages, large type. Of those, only 2 purport to explain why you should do video marketing.
The usability chapter mentions things like keeping content above the fold (that’s good) and then goes off into a discussion of how much a web site should cost (that’s bad).
The editing is poor, as well. Wiley left in stuff like “as appose to” and “grasp on the importance”, which just doesn’t read right to me.
The Really Ugly
None of this would lead me to write a negative review. For some folks who want to learn the what without the how, the book might work. And editorial gaffes happen all the time.
Then there’s the stuff that’s just plain wrong. I don’t mean it’s-a-matter-of-opinion wrong. I mean graphically, horribly, ‘mission accomplished’ wrong.
We can start with his meta tags obsession:
I like to review the top Google results in my industry and take a look at their web site’s meta tags. If they are at the top, they most likely have an excellent set of meta tags. – pp. 7-8
I’m sorry, but this is utter crap. Meta tags? Seriously? But, I took a deep breath. He might mean the title tag. But he goes on:
Make sure your web designer has a firm grasp on the importance of making your web site search engine friendly. The litmus test question is “How important is it to create meta tags for my web site?” If they don’t say “very important,” then I’d consider finding another web designer. – pp. 11-12
What!? If I asked a designer what’s important about SEO, and they told me “meta tags”, I’d shovel them out the door so fast they’d get rug burn.
But it’s OK. Maybe he meant ‘title tag’ again.
In this chapter I’ll cover how to provide a specific list of keywords that are just meant for the search engines. This list of keywords resides in your source code [behind the scenes] and is not visible on your web site… Your keyword list is located in your web page’s source code, and usually starts with the header <meta name=”Keywords”> – p. 37
Great, except the keywords tag doesn’t affect search rankings. It. Doesn’t. Perlman’s statement is just plain wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG. And Wiley published it in a book?!
Perlman redeems himself in a solid chapter about title tags. Then he spins off into 1997 again:
Use keywords in your description tag because search engines like to review them when evaluating a site. – p. 59
Um. No they don’t. The description tag can affect clickthru, but it has little or no effect on rankings. No. Effect. At. All.
But wait, there’s more. In his chapter on blogging, Perlman recommends using blogger.com as your blog platform. His thinking is that Blogger is owned by Google, so you may have a better shot at ranking.
Assuming you follow his instructions and build a 6-9 page web site where SEO means keyword and description tags, you’re going to need all the help you can get. That includes putting your blog on your web site, not on a third-party site.
He also suggests adding AdSense to your blog. I’m sorry, what?! AdSense reads the content on your page and places relevant ads. Which will most likely include your competition. So don’t use AdSense on your company blog.
This book is 176 pages, large type, with only about 70 pages of in-depth content. The rest are exercises and stuff, which is fine. But at least 10% of what he’s saying in here, particularly about SEO, is just plain wrong. No wonder people hate SEOs.
This is about responsibility, both on Perlman and Wiley’s part.
I’m angry because Perlman is presenting these mistakes to small business owners – those who are most vulnerable to bad advice. It’s deceptive. It’s harmful. And it’s irresponsible.
I’m angry because Wiley, who provided me with fantastic technical resources when I co-authored the Web Marketing All-In-One, clearly provided Perlman with John McCain’s campaign staff.
I’m angry because I am sick – SICK – of having to explain to people why someone’s shiny, glossy hardback book is misinformation.
Finally, I’m angry because this is yet another instance of someone writing a very superficial look at a complex field (which is OK) and then trying to pass it off as your ticket to success (which is bad).
Before you say it
Someone’s going to post an angry comment about how they’ve used this book and gotten results. Here’s a quick story:
When I was about 11, my friends convinced me to jump off the roof of my house holding a sheet over my head as a parachute. I know. Stupid.
I spiraled into the ground, accelerating at 9.8 meters per second. I was uninjured, partly because God protects the stupid, and partly because I landed in some juniper bushes.
That does not mean my bed-sheet-as-parachute trick was successful. It means I happened to land in juniper bushes.
If you used this book and moved up in the rankings, good for you. You’ve done well.
You also got lucky.
Things you should read instead
- Read SEOMOZ’s 2009 Biennial Search Ranking Factors, where the meta keywords tag gets the lowest score of any on-page factor.
- 4 signs an SEO firm is a fraud.
- Google’s own SEO starter guide, which I don’t like, by the way. But it’s still better than this book. By the way, it doesn’t mention keyword tags. And it points out description tags are important only because they’re used as search snippets.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More