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Google Advertising Tools

Harold Travis
Published by O'Reilly Media
366 pages
£ 20.99
Published: February 3, 2006
reviewed by Greg Matthews
   in the June 2006 issue (pdf), (html)

I run an vacation apartment rental website and it is an extremely competitive market. You depend heavily on customers coming through your website, and consequently depend a lot on Google and their advertising tools. You have to get two things right; get your site listed in the first couple of search pages, and have excellent adverts placed around the web, neither of which are easy.

I read `Google Advertising Tools' in the hope that it would provide some insights into improving the traffic to my site, but I was quite disappointed. The book covers three main areas:

Of those areas, the Adsense section wasn't relevant to my website, but I'd still like to know more. Much of the work in improving your website search engine rankings (called SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation), involves regularly reading Internet forums to pick up tips or be aware of the latest Google updates, and frequently you come across people making lots of money through Google Adsense. I would love to try it, and have wondered how difficult it might be.

However, all three areas were ultimately disappointing. The format of the book was to repeat much of Google's help sections, with the occasional embedded text box giving tidbits of advice. These tidbits were rarely useful, being either obvious or even non-committal. For instance, in the section about the format of your Adsense adverts, the book goes to great lengths on what form fields to fill in on the Google site (all of which is explained by Google as you do this), with a final couple of lines suggesting what colours to choose. The author says ``Use the color palette to match your site'' (if you do this, it is speculated, some users may click on the ads because they think they are part of your site, not ads) and ``Make a color choice that starkly contrasts with your site'' (by doing this, the ads are made more noticeable, and thus it is more likely that they may be clicked). No sitting on the fence there then!

If we were to ignore the vast sections with the `point and click' mechanics of creating and placing Google adverts, then there is very little left to this book. It could be that those remnants are pure gold, but unfortunately this isn't the case. The advice covers the basics of SEO, which could be useful to the absolute beginner, but anyone who has worked on their site for a while will have already picked these up.

So, in conclusion, if you have just created your first ever website then this book could be a good introduction to quickly give you the basics. Be aware that SEO is difficult and slow, with no overnight successes, so don't let some of the examples of earnings given by the book carry you away. Personally I'd recommend you save your money and read an SEO forum every day such as the Web Workshop SEO forum

You'll learn a lot more. If you already know what SEO stands for, then this book isn't for you.

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