The Art of Search

Steve Whiting

Published by
Sub@omic Limited
ISBN 978-0993021701
RRP £15.99
Reviewed by George Williams MBCS CITP
Score

10 out of 10

** Health Warning **

Have a good night’s sleep before reading, and consume with a large cafetiere of your favourite coffee.

The Art of Search “urges you to consider what it’s like to rank #1 in the minds of your Customers, and to show you how to move closer to your Customer than you ever thought possible - so close, in fact, that you are able to hear them think”. A grandiose claim? I think not, once you’ve devoured the content.

With a somewhat overly-long yet powerful “Discussion” treatise spanning some 60 pages before arriving at Chapter 1, Steve Whiting’s book is an intensely enthralling read, probably best consumed over three separate readings - the natural breaks within the book (Discussion, Chapters and Appendix).

Reader’s Tip - If you want a quick impression, the Art of Search is compressed into a 10 minute read in section v) of the Discussion!

The thrust of the story is that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a strategic management strategy and not a black art practised only by the techies. You are encouraged to appoint a Search Commander who thinks like a customer, and thinks like a robot, to take control of your website, champion your brand, and put “Search” at heart of your organisation.

Using the legendary 2,500 year old Chinese text The Art of War, written by military general Sun Tzu, as its inspiration and foundation, this book explores and illustrates how a website can secure #1 search engine rankings when it is managed just as one would manage an army.

During your journey through the book you will happen upon two interesting exercises, which may seem banal in this review yet have a deeper significance when read in context.

Firstly, when encouraging you to think like a robot (and thereby deconstructing your search engine), search the word “website” in your preferred search engine BUT, before you press the search button, STOP. Take a few moments to firstly consider, and then predict, which results your search engine may return. Pour a cup of coffee from the cafetiere. Write down your predictions. When you have an empty cup and a list of a dozen websites that you predict will be returned, hit the search button and compare your list to the results. Did the search engine’s results match what you anticipated and predicted? It’s highly likely not.

Secondly, when considering the importance of getting into the mind of the Customer, Steve wanted to take his wife away for a weekend for their anniversary in Bath. When you’ve read the backstory, you then have to decide which search query he began searching with. [The answer is provided]

Along your reading journey you will encounter 13 short chapters spanning “Preparation” and then “Engagement”, liberally sprinkled with quotes by Sun Tzu and analogies to the art of search, each chapter ending with ”Calls to Hacktion”.

These lead to an information rich and technique-driven Appendix where YOU WILL learn to think like a Customer, and then YOU WILL learn to think like a Robot - both essential qualities for a Search Commander.

SEO is an in-house activity, you can and must control your own and, in doing so, will gain first-hand market intelligence and so come to learn what your Customers really want. If you are serious about this subject, then you need to encourage your MD/CEO or Board to read The Art of Search. Better still; employ Steve as your consultant.

You could then be your organisation’s Search Commander, the aide hired to champion and secure online business growth. What could be more exciting than that?

Further information: Sub@omic Limited

June 2018