April 25, 2017

Book Review – “SEO HELP 20 Semantic Search Steps” by David Amerland (Updated)

A Simple a Easy to Follow “Guide” to Getting Started Optimizing for Semantic Search


The Book

SEO HELP, 20 Semantic Search Steps by David Amerland, New Line Publishing, 2015. 190 Pages. Reviewed by Vincent Messina 

The Book’s Purpose

David Amerland’s “SEO HELP, 20 Semantic Search Steps” was written, according to David, from the way he starts the book, to help you understand that “It’s still all about getting found.”

The purpose of the book is to give you 20 things you can do to help improve the chances of you getting found, but more importantly, getting found by the right people, the presumption being that doing so will help your business grow.

The Author’s Promise

As the books cover implies, the contents contained in the book, if you read it, and follow the steps as outlined by the author, will help your business grow.

David suggests that if you follow the 20 steps as he has laid them out, you see two things happen:

  1. Your website ranking will improve
  2. You will start to attract the right people to your business at the time they are most likely ready to take action.

Additionally, David suggests in the opening remarks that the book is by no means an exhaustive list of action items to help you optimize for search.

At the end of the book, David suggests however, that even though the book as it is written is not meant to be an exhausted thesis on SEO, if you follow the 20 steps as he outlines, you will put yourself in a better position to compete against bigger companies.


Who is it written for?

If I go by David’s promises, both explicity and implied, I would say the book is written for any person or business who wants to improve their abilty to get found online.

If I go by my experience with the book, I would suggest the book is written for people and/or businesses who haven’t had much luck marketing a business online, or, have never really tried. It is more or less a great sequence of prescribed steps, but is truly a step by step guide for beginners looking to build a better presence on the internet.

Some Key/Useful Insights

When I read a business book, I am looking for things that I didn’t know before, or that I never considered as being important. Here are a few things that David mentions as having an impact on Semantic Search results, that also make the book worth reading.

  • The importance of identity, whether it be personal or brand
  • Marketing in the semantic web revolves around Trust, Authority and Reputation ( which in my view is really what businesses who do well, have done well since the beginning of time)
  • Data profiles matter as they allow Google to connect your identiy across the web
  • Some decent advice on how to approach writing a blog
  • What it means to be authentically you, and why it matters (risky business is this notion of being authentic, and David does a nice job of defining what it means from his perspective.)
  • The importance of hashtags, and how to use them effectively
  • Definition of and need for Ontologies in your web presence
  • Ditch the Macromedia Flash, and why (I like this one because I still see WAY too many websites with useless graphics designed using technology that makes your web site invisible to search engines)
  • Structuring your data


This book has a purpose, and a promise that fits the needs of a particular audience including:

  • I think David did keep his some of his promises in that it is a very accessible list of actionable insights to help you get found online. 
  • It is simple enough for even the SEO novice to follow, and in my opinion does indeed include the most important things you need to consider, and do, in order to start developing your internet presence.
  • There are lot’s of simple and easy to follow action items that David uses to help you get past the concepts, and start taking steps to having a better web presence.
  • You dont have to read the chapters in order to gain a benefit. Each chapter can be read stand alone.
  • David provides some useful links to resources that help you test and measure the effectiveness of many components of your web presence.
  • There is a nice FAQ section where David answers some commonly asked questions, clearing up many myths and misconceptions.


Every book has it’s strong points, and a few points of concern. While I think David gaves us some useful insights, there were a few things that left me asking questions.

  • The stated promise that by reading the book you will grow your business is a risky one because there is far more involved in actually growing a business than search alone.
  • It doesn’t do enough to talk about why certain Google related “tools” like Youtube and Hang Outs on Air matter for search. From that perspective, it comes across more as a book about Google and their tools than it is a book about helping you grow your business.
  • If your business cant be found on the web, it cannot do business. This is not entirely true.
  • Says that Non technical SEO has risen in prominence, but doesn’t offer much evidence or data as to why.
  • Even though David says it is not meant to be an exhaustive guide, you should be cautioned that many topics are not developed fully. One that stood out to me was Step 5 Content.
  • David didn’t really give enough attention to the semantic value of Podcasting


I like when authors tell you up front what the book is supposed to do. It sets the stage for reading, and allows you to track whether the book is delivering on its promise. From that regard, and aside from the implied promise of helping your grow your business, I think the book is a good read.

I also think, no matter what type of busines you are in, your efforts to grow your business can not be hurt but getting online and having the basics of search engine optimization in place.

This book at a minimum gives you cause to explore more resources to solidify your web marketing efforts both with and without regard to semantic search. 

The price is a bit high, but for those just getting started, it is a small price to pay for getting off on the right foot.

Vin’s Star Rating


Update – Feb 10 2015

The 4 Star rating above is primarily geared towards a web marketing beginner. I think the book offers a beginner much food for thought, and a starting point to pursue some topics in greater detail. 


More Resources

Most business books provide food for thought, and all the reasons you should take action. In this case, and because SEO is such a complex subject, I am listing a few of the SEO’s that I personally think you should follow, because I personally think they are the best in the world. When you decide you want to take action, and think you would rather have a professional SEO help, these folks are some of the best.

Ammon Johns

Bill Slawski

Mike Bayes – Local SEO

Mike Blumenthal – Local SEO

Matthew Barby

Mark Traphagen

Eric Enge

AJ Kohn

Here are a few SEO websites you should be following.

SEO by the Sea


MOZ Local

Search Engine Land

Stone Temple Consulting

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