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How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying Book Review

How to Suck at Business Marah Archer Book Review

How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying is, if it isn’t nakedly apparent from the title, a satirical text on breathtakingly bad business management.

Written in the style of a self-help business book, it’s designed to impart pearls of wisdom and innovative insights from a sociopathic entrepreneur who has grown their corporate empire from nothing.

These types of books, often penned by self-styled ‘LinkedIn Gurus,’ are ripe for parody and yet How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying falls flat. Amusing in parts, the book unfortunately leans into predictable satire that never truly evolves beyond the first joke.

How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying
Overview

From business strategy and HR policies (a particular highlight), to marketing and project management, Archer’s text features some of the most egregious, irresponsible, and morally bereft business advice, packaged as wisdom. That in itself has the potential to be hilarious.

It’s a social commentary on American workers’ rights, damning the power that unscrupulous bosses have over their employees.

This should be a fairly straightforward target for some sharp satire. And yet somehow How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying is to satire what a blunt instrument is to open-heart surgery, bludgeoning the same point over-and-over.

Even the title is problematic. The writer-character of the book is absolutely convinced he’s the world’s best boss, and yet How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying breaks immersion by implying that the ‘real’ author simply wants to vent at their experience of bad managers.

Still, it’s not an altogether bad book. There’s some solid social commentary and amusing remarks on business culture that, frustratingly, shows what this book could have been.

Like David Brent, but Without the Charm

Our main character, the self-proclaimed ‘world’s best boss’, reveals as much about his own life through his running commentary and actions, as the misery he piles upon his employees. He’s a seedy, tragically bad manager who has convinced himself that he’s an industry thought leader.

But he lacks any sort of charm to offset the lack of humanity. The boss of How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying is a straight-up terrible human being, without any vulnerabilities or complexities that would enable the reader to connect with him on any meaningful level. He’s insecure and hates his employees succeeding.

There’s a missed opportunity here to introduce doubt, or sincerity, like The Office’s (UK) David Brent. Brent is a pretty ethically and morally dubious boss, but he’s entirely sincere in his buffoonery.

How to Suck at Business David Brent
Like this guy, but not.

The boss in this book is only comparable with David Brent insofar that he possesses the same dated and misguided views, but lacks any corresponding charm whatsoever. The result is that the running joke quickly begins to grate.

Satire at its best works with a wink and a smile, straddling an uncomfortable gap of truth and exaggeration. The problem is that How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying keeps winking over and over, whilst holding up a sign daubed with “this is satire”.

Conclusion

Anyone who has worked for terrible (or hostile) management will find some relatability in this book. It runs the full gamut of areas in a business, with our main character naturally professing to be an expert in almost all areas.

However, the humour is very on the nose, and once you’ve read a couple of chapters, you’ve pretty much read them all.

A mildly humorous read, but not the most original.

2/5

Full disclaimer: A review copy was kindly provided by the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.

SEO Beginners Guide for Bloggers

SEO Beginners Guide Blog Header Blue
SEO Beginners Guide Blog Header Blue

Table of Contents

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of optimising your content to make it easier for search engines to index your blog in their search results.

This, in turn, means that other people are more likely to find your website of their own accord, boosting your views and helping you to find new readers.

The good news is that you don’t even need to be technically minded to do this. Whilst SEO can be complex, the core principles remain the same.

This Beginner’s Guide to SEO uses examples relating to the book blogging community, as they are my audience. However, these tips, tricks, and nuggets of guidance are perfectly applicable to any blogger or content writer.

So what exactly is SEO?

As you probably know, Google dominates the internet.

In fact, around 92% of search engine traffic goes through Google alone. Alternatives such as Bing and Yahoo (amongst others) make up the rest.

Therefore, what I want you to take away is this – Google is primarily where your potential readers go in order to find content.

It is therefore in your interest to get your blog to appear in Google search results. Especially when you consider that roughly 5.6 BILLION searches are made every single day!

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is where this comes in. It’s exactly as the phrase suggests – optimising your blog content in a way that appeals to a search engine’s algorithms.

This might sound complicated, or even a little tedious, but it’s actually quite straightforward in principle.

How does Google rank content?

There are hundreds of ranking factors that could affect where your blog posts appear in Google, but it all returns to one thing – how valuable is your content?

Not in a monetary factor, but what value does your content bring to the user searching for it?

To address this, it’s important to recognise what Google Search actually is. It’s a commercial business that makes money by sending users to the right place, at the right time, at great speed. That’s why the first thing anybody ever does when they want to have a question answered, is to go straight to Google.

Google therefore ranks web pages based on their perceived value.

For example, perhaps you want to search for reviews of the novel Dune.

If you do a Google Search for ‘Dune’, you’ll get a variety of results back. Some for showtimes of the movie Dune, and even results for the high street store, Dune London. All this does is create confusion, frustration, and ultimately leave you disappointed.

SEO Beginners Guide Google Search Dune
Simply searching 'Dune' will give you results for shoes, movies, and books - not very relevant!

But you already know this, which is why – if you’re looking specifically for book reviews – you’ll search for something like ‘Dune Book Review’ or ‘Frank Herbert Dune Review’, or ’review of the novel Dune’.

So, when you’re writing your own Dune book review, you’ll want to try and include keywords like these, and a number of variations, so that your post is seen by Google to have intrinsic value to the topic the user is searching for.

SEO Beginners Guide Google Search Dune Book Review
Simply searching 'Dune' will give you results for shoes, movies, and books - not very relevant!

In brief, SEO is how you’ll find the novel, rather than the retail store.

How do I Improve my SEO?

There are loads of ways you can improve your SEO. Here are a few methods designed for beginners.

Download the Yoast WordPress Plugin

Presuming that your blog is based on WordPress, download and install the Yoast plugin. No need to pay for the premium version – the free version of Yoast is more than enough.

SEO Beginners Guide Yoast Logo
Yoast Plugin is a SEO Essential

This will give you an insight into how well-optimised your pages and blog posts are, according to the keyword you’re targeting on that page (more on this later).

It’ll also give you tips on how readable your content is, such as whether sentences are too long or short, or whether you’re using too much of the passive voice in your writing. 

Yoast is really cool, and a must-have for getting started with SEO.

Target One Keyword Per Page

Contrary to the name, a keyword is barely ever just a single word but a phrase that users search for.

Look at your search history. You’ll notice that you’ve probably not used full sentences, instead typing ‘best UK book bloggers’ vs ‘who are the best UK book bloggers’.

You’ll want to try and include these (relevant) keywords in every blog post or book review you write. You should begin by using the Yoast plugin to focus on one specific keyword that gets a lot of search volume.

SEO Beginners Guide People Also Asked

To refer back to the Dune example from earlier in this SEO Beginners Guide (see what I did there? Keyword!), your keyword might simply be ‘Dune Book Review’. However, there are plenty of other ways keywords you could use.  

To find new keywords, look for topics that users are searching for on Google. How do you find these? Well, check out the ‘people also ask’ section that pops up every time you do a search. These are hot topics people are asking, so you might want to include the question and your own answer in your blog post.

You can also use Google’s own free Keyword Planner. To use this properly, simply click ‘discover new keywords’. There’s a lot of information thrown at you on this screen, but to keep things simple, just pay attention to the Keyword Ideas and Avg. Monthly Searches columns.

You’ll notice that Dune book review is getting 480 searches per month (not bad), whereas Dune reviews is getting over 22,000. This might lead you to use ‘dune reviews’ as your keyword. 

SEO Beginners Guide Keyword Planner

The problem here is that people may come to your site expecting a review of the movie, and then leave immediately once they realise it isn’t relevant, which can impact your SEO.

You’re always best to target relevant keywords to avoid this happening.

Optimise One Page at a Time

It’s worth knowing that Google ranks your website based on your pages, not your domain.

What this means is that pages are ranked according to their keyword, rather than your entire site. This means that if you work hard to optimise one really great piece of content, you can get that blog post to appear high in Google’s ranking.

SEO Beginners Guide Yoast
Assess optimisation with Yoast's SEO analysis

With this in mind, pick a blog post you would like to rank in Google (ideally start with one that already gets a good amount of views).

Once you’ve picked a page you want to optimise for Google, do some keyword research (as noted above) and pick one high quality keyword.

Once you’ve chosen this keyword, enter it into your Yoast plugin on the blog post you’ve chosen to optimise. Follow the instructions that the Yoast plugin gives you (readability is less important) until the icon at the top goes green.

For more information on how to use the plugin, check out Yoast’s Beginners Guide to SEO and pay particular attention to the section on Keyword Focus.

Good Site Structure

Is your content easy to find?

In an ideal world, you’ll be able to access every single page and blog post on your website within three clicks. This is much harder to achieve with a large corporate website, but with a blog, this should be perfectly doable.

You might start by having separate pages or categories for your blog posts/book reviews/author interviews, with links to these respective pages/filters in your navigation menu at the top of your website.

Take a look at how Tales from Absurdia is structured. There is always a nav bar at the top of each page, with links to each of my main types of posts, but on my homepage, I also include visual cues that link to each of these (blogs, book reviews, interviews).

SEO Beginners Guide Site Navigation

If it’s easy for humans to find all of your content, it’ll be much easier for Google’s web crawling bots to find your content – and therefore your website!

Try to avoid putting all of your unfiltered content as a stream on your homepage – it’s confusing, bad for SEO, and hard for readers to find your older articles.

Proper Image Filenames and Alt Tags

Don’t upload images named F222hf[dnfioff.jpg.

Filenames are a useful indicator to Google what exactly your article relates to (and don’t forget – Google Image Search is a thing!). Random letters and numbers will not appear in anybody’s image search.

Try and include your keyword in your filename, as long as it makes sense.

Also – please use alt tags. Not only are they signifiers for Google, they’re an essential accessibility for visually impaired internet users. Don’t leave them blank!

Good Blog Post Structure

As discussed before, proper structuring of your blog is good for users and it’s good for Google. This advice also applies to the way you present your blog posts.

Ever see those H1/H2/H3/e.t.c tags whilst writing your blogs?

Well, they have a function beyond making your text bigger or smaller. In fact, they’re an important means of structuring your blog posts for Google’s web crawler.

They stand for Heading 1, Heading 2 (and so on). 

Think of them in a pyramid structure, with H1 (your title) at the top, and the subsequent H2/H3s fanning out as additional topical subheadings.

Content King H1-H6 SEO Advice

In short, H-tags give your blog post a digital skeleton, functioning as lightning rods to Google, stating exactly what your page topic is about. You’ll want to include your keywords, and keyword variations, in these.

There are various opinions amongst SEO experts as to what difference H2/H3/H4 tags make, but one thing is certain – never have more than one H1 on your page.

A H1 should only ever be your title, and any additional H1s will have an actively negative impact on your blog’s visibility.

Get Links to your Website

When someone links to your website – especially another blogger with high domain authority – it’s a signal to Google that your content is a) trusted; and b) contains value. Therefore, it’s in your interest to get as many backlinks as possible.

Backlinks is simply the SEO shorthand for when another website links to your domain (blog/website).

Participating in social media-led ‘book tags’ is a great way for book bloggers to do this. If you aren’t familiar with book tags, they’re essentially chain blogs that work on a particular theme. The Create Your Own Fellowship Book Tag is a particularly cool one I took part in last year, whereby I picked a book to represent each member of the fellowship in The Lord of the Rings. 

At the end of a book tag, you tag an additional 5-10 bloggers by linking to their websites, and then ask them to produce a post of their own, tagging you in their response.

Book tags are a great way to share book recommendations, engage in fandoms, and – of course – get those backlinks. 

Next time you’re on social media, see if anyone is currently working on a book tag and ask to get involved. Or even better – start one of your own. If it goes viral, every single book tag blog post will include a link back to your blog!

But Don’t Neglect Internal Linking!

Internal linking, i.e. linking to other pages and blog posts on your website is also crucial. After all, it makes navigation easier for both humans and Google’s web crawling bots.

For example, if you’re writing up a monthly ‘in review’ blog post about everything you read and reviewed this month, include links to each and every review you posted. This will help readers find your original review, but it’ll also create a skeleton of your website for Google to crawl more easily.

Always use internal links.

Two BIG SEO No-Nos (never do these)

Never do any of the following two things. Your site will get penalised, and in the case of the latter, you may even get struck off of Google.

1) Don’t Over-Optimise Keywords

So, you’ve found some amazing keywords and can’t wait to optimise your article. Do not use them more often than what Yoast recommends – this is called keyword stuffing and is considered to be spam.

Keyword stuffing makes content read in an unnatural way, and is therefore terrible for the user experience. But Google’s algorithm will also spot this and knock you down the rankings, harming your reputation.

2) Never buy backlinks

This is something that, if you’re a hobby blogger, you’d never even consider doing.

Still, don’t buy backlinks, or trade with others en masse, under any circumstances. This is known as black hat SEO and will get you delisted from Google if you get caught out.

Book tags are not counted as trading backlinks as far as I am aware, as they have a role in the sharing of creative work. 

In short, don’t do trade-for-trade backlinks and don’t buy them – it’s a rubbish thing to do, especially when doing it for free is so simple, and will only cause harm.

Does SEO cost anything?

No. Absolutely nothing. 

Part of the reason businesses hire SEO experts is because, beyond wages, search engine optimisation can be done for comparatively cheap. It is, however, a highly skilled role.

Obviously, there are some amazing paid tools out there to help track search engine visibility, make suggestions, and monitor your keywords, but these are for more commercial purposes.

If you’re running a hobby blog, simply stick to the tips in this article – all free – and you’ll be on your way to ranking on Google!

Is SEO Worth it?

Absolutely – if you’re willing to put the time in.

If you’re a book blogger, the majority of your traffic probably comes from social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or more. The same applies if you’re a blogger in any other niche.

But these views are reliant on you posting every day – and it’s easy to get burnt out on social media quite quickly. 

In any case, if you’re a blogger, you’re likely doing it for free and (hopefully) for enjoyment and social media burnout is not fun.

So, ideally you’d like to get more blog views without having to do a thing?* This is where SEO comes in.

It’s worth bearing in mind that SEO isn’t an overnight ‘one-and-done’ sort of job. It’s not something you do, and then the views roll in. It must be a part of your weekly blogging routine. Every post you write should be written with it in mind.

*SEO is not a substitute for social media and your SEO can actually improve with increased use of social. It’s just another tool to drive traffic to your website.

SEO Beginners Guide FAQ

Search Engine Optimisation is the formatting of content in a manner that appeals to a search engine’s algorithm.

Increased organic traffic from Google, without having to rely on social media, or pay for ads.

Hard to say. If you’re running an established website that fluctuates in rankings, then minor changes can lead to increased rankings in only a couple of weeks.

As a new blog, Tales from Absurdia took about 10 months to start achieving regular organic traffic. Your experience, and the time you have to dedicate to SEO, will bring this forward or push it back.

Evergreen topics are perfect. These are blog posts that are not time-sensitive and therefore don’t age.

An example of this might be a ‘How to’ guide or tutorial.

Adding to evergreen topics over time and updating them can lead to some really impressive SEO results – if it’s a piece that provides value to the reader.

Listicles (‘7 amazing ways….’) always perform well on social media too – and they typically only require minor tweaks over the years. BuzzFeed does listicles very successfully, so check some of their articles out.

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and as I’ve become a better writer, is that you don’t need to choose between writing fluid, 

well-written content and writing SEO articles for Google.

There’s a happy middle-ground where it reads well AND hits all the right notes for a successful ranking on Google!

Got any questions? Find my SEO Beginners Guide helpful? Drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you 👇

How to Pick the Perfect Blog Name

How to Pick the Perfect Blog Name Blog Header

Table of Contents

How do you pick the perfect blog name? Deciding on your name is the first major challenge for any budding blogger.

And it’s a pretty big deal.

Then again, I’m the kind of person who sits in character creator screens in role-playing games for hours upon hours so…

But really, how do you pick the perfect blog name?

It’s complicated, and there are a fair few more aspects to it than you might have first thought.

Pick something unique to you

This is super important. There are over 600 million blogs on the internet, so you want to differentiate yourself from everyone else. 

It doesn’t mean you need to come up with something entirely unique – largely because you’ll be there for weeks trying to do so – however, your blog name will require something that makes it uniquely yours.

Do you have a favourite novel you could pick a motif from? For example, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston uses a machine called a ‘speakwrite’ – in which case your writing, news, or current affairs blog could be called ‘The Speakwrite’ – or a variation on that.

To further differentiate your blog, you could use keywords from your niche as a prefix or suffix. Take a look at booksnest.co.uk for example. 

Pick a Unique Blog Name Blog Image

Beth is a book blogger, so she simply stuck books at the beginning of next  to create ‘booksnest’. It’s a simple name that just works.

Alex at Spells & Spaceships is an excellent science fiction & fantasy book blogger. He picked one motif from each of his genres – spells from fantasy, spaceships from sci-fi, and created Spells & Spaceships which, again, is simple and works well.

These are both fine examples of simplicity and originality done well, which is important because of the next tip…

Check if the domain is available

A domain is simply your website address. 

What may happen (multiple times) is that you come up with a killer name, but the website domain is already taken. This happened a fair few times with the creation of Tales from Absurdia, which required me to think outside the box.

How to Pick a Blog Name Domain Checker
Check out https://wordpress.com/domains/

Ideally, come up with a handful of unique names (including variations on those names) and run them through a domain checker. There are loads out there, but let’s use WordPress for this example. Type in your desired domain (e.g. talesfromabsurdia.com) to see whether it’s available.

In this case, talesfromabsurdia.com is taken (well, you are here!) but other alternatives may be available such as .net, .co.uk, or .org. You may also see some alternative root domain suggestions such as ‘Tales of Absurdia’ or ‘The Absurdia Tales’, to continue with the example of this blog.

How to Pick a Blog Name Domain Taken
You can also purchase a domin with your chosen hosting provider (I use Dreamhost)

There’s a lot of debate over the pros and cons of .com, .co.uk, and .net domains – but in an ideal world, you’ll want a .com domain. .com is the most widely known internet domain, with more people globally using that address. 

So, if you’re looking to attract an audience outside of your own country, people are simply more likely to type in .com domains than your own country-specific one. It is admittedly slightly more complicated than this, but if you’re able to get a .com domain, go for that.

If you’re faced with a situation where your domain is already taken, you have two choices:

  1. Pick a variation on the taken domain
  2. Just choose a new name

The dangers of picking minor variations on an existing domain is that you may end up losing traffic to that other website (or vice versa) due to readers becoming confused and going to the wrong site. 

Upon realising they’re on the wrong site, the user will leave which will increase your bounce rate (where users leave your site after visiting only one page). This tells Google’s ranking algorithm that your site is not as credible, and will make it harder for people to find your site.

I’d always recommend going back to the start and choosing a new name, over picking minor variations. It’ll only harm your blog in the long run.

Once you’ve chosen a domain, you can either purchase it to guarantee it’s yours, or wait until you’ve chosen a hosting provider (GoDaddy, IONOS, Dreamhost, etc.). 

Incidentally, if you’re not sure which domain provider to choose, Digital.com has put together a brilliant hosting guide, with price and feature breakdowns.

If you’re not self-hosting your website, and instead opt to do it for free through WordPress/Wix/your website builder of choice, then simply select your desired domain name. Keep in mind the following point, however…

Are the social media handles available?

If you’re simply going to share your blog via your personal social channels, then this isn’t much of an issue. However, if you want to gain the widest possible reach, you’ll want blog-specific social accounts so that your audience can follow your content without the noise of personal posts.

You’ll want to base your social handles on your website’s name to make it easier for people to find you. Again, you’ll need to run your name through a name checker. The aptly named namechekr.com is a perfect place to do this.

Simply enter your name into namecheckr.com and it’ll show all of the social networks (and websites!) where your domain is available – and highlight the ones that are not.

namecheckr.com/ shows whether your social handle is available or not

If you see ‘error! in your search, then go to the social media website in question to double-check whether your name is available.

As you can see, I don’t use most of these social networks. This is largely because I don’t have time for more than a couple of social media accounts at one time. 

And that’s the next point – social media (done properly) is time consuming. If you use too many, you won’t actually have time to blog! 

You could arguably sign up to all of the networks you reckon you’ll use – just in case – but that’s up to you.

Say your blog name out loud

This might sound like odd advice, but there are a few good reasons to say your name out loud.

For a start, does it sound as good being verbalised as it does on the page? Is it simple to say?

Are you proud of that name, or does it secretly make you wince?

Remember – this is your identity on the internet. If you’re not able to say it out loud, with confidence, then it’s probably not the name for you.

Will my blog name impact SEO?

This is probably worth a whole series of blog posts itself, but I’ll try to condense things down.

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of tailoring your content so that it appears higher in Google’s search results (you can read more about SEO at Backlinko.com).

In a nutshell, Google ranks a website based on its perceived value. Value is determined by a range of factors. 

Good SEO practices, such as keyword-focused blog posts (don’t forget those alt descriptions) will result in your blog posts appearing near the top of the page on Google. This will significantly increase your organic traffic in the process.

But back to blog names. 

A more unique name will be more likely to get a spot near the top of Google’s search rankings due to there being less competition.

However, there’s a trade-off here. A more unique name is less likely to be searched for. This isn’t a huge problem, as provided that your blog name is related to your blogging niche..

A more derivative name, picked with SEO in mind, may rank better for general keywords. However, if it doesn’t stand out, it’s inherently less appealing, and people are less likely to click and visit your site.

Despite this section, try not to obsess over SEO. 

It’s very complicated, mostly a long game, and your blog name is not the most important factor in determining whether you gain organic web traffic or not. It’s far more important to ensure that the blog posts you write are SEO-friendly. But, I’ve included this section because it’s worth keeping in mind at an early stage.

For example:

John’s Bookish Book Blog will have high search volume because it contains general keywords relating to book blogging – people typically search for ‘book blogs’ or ‘bookish blogs’. However… this blog will be directly competing for web traffic with loads of other book blogs, and even newspaper book blogs.

Tales from Absurdia, however, is far more niche. Sure, it’s less likely to drive direct searches – however, using a keyword strategy targeting book-related phrases, I am able to drive a decent amount of monthly organic Google traffic.

Despite this section, try not to obsess over SEO. 

It’s very complicated, mostly a long game, and your blog name is not the most important factor in determining whether you gain organic web traffic or not. It’s far more important to ensure that the blog posts you write are SEO-friendly. But, I’ve included this section because it’s worth keeping in mind at an early stage.

Finally... Once you’ve Picked the perfect blog name... stick with it!

Once you’ve managed to pick the perfect blog name, try not to chop and change it. This will only confuse your audience and worse – it will severely impact your SEO gains.

It’s best to go through this process one time, so take a steady approach in your quest to pick the perfect blog name. It isn’t easy, but you will get there eventually.

How did you pick your blog name? Was this guide helpful? Leave me a comment below and let me know!