2 years ago, NOBODY was a bigger dummy than I was when I first began fiddling with Google AdWords. For me, it was an overwhelming mix of internet articles here, a free eBook there, some trial and error and a pinch of “how hard can it be” that got me started (if you’re one of my clients, please stop crying. This is long before I worked here). My first Adwords recipe wasn’t a complete disaster, but it certainly wasn’t anything delicious either. It was like pulling the dish out of the oven, waving off the smoke, and then scrambling to read every cookbook I could find to figure out what went wrong. Times have changed, and I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the words WARNING: Read the instructions first!

So, I just finished reading Adwords for Dummies by Howie Jacobson. First things first, congratulations to Mr. Jacobson. This is the first “For Dummies” book that I finished, cover-to-cover, every single word (except the index). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the other Dummy books, but I typically treat them more like dictionaries than books. Yes, it’s a reference book. But regardless, I read it straight through and it still kept my interest. That’s certainly no small feat.

Howie explains things very well, evenly balancing casual tones with occasional (and necessary) tech talk. His steady use of examples, analogies, humor, tips, pictures and additional resources will no doubt engage readers, whether they seek the “techy” stuff or just a casual read on Adwords. With so many best practices, business blessings, warnings, and parables, one could rightfully call this the Bible of Adwords and feel somewhat justified. There’s even a Revelation-esque chapter at the end called “The Ten Most Serious Adwords Beginner’s Mistakes,” crammed with stories of woe and all manner of marketing budget destruction. Regardless, there is still a happy ending.

Like most “For Dummies” books, those helpful little margin icons create an ideal reference book for skimming, should you need to later on. I whipped out an orange highlighter when I first sat down to read it, but never used it. Not just because it wasn’t my copy of the book either. It was mainly because it’s well organized and labeled. Tips, warnings, resources, items to remember and technical explanations are clearly labeled with icons, which made it super-easy to separate the most important material. It was like having a pre-marked book (but not in a used-college-textbook kinda way).

As any online marketer knows, Adwords is only the beginning of the customer building process. Seeing and clicking the ad is only the start. Adwords for Dummies tackles online marketing in general, as opposed to strictly Adwords. Yes, of course the majority of the book is Adwords, but understanding landing pages, website navigation, lead generation, conversions, tracking, email marketing, analytics, and market research makes Adwords campaigns far more successful and profitable. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the book positions Adwords in the entire scope of marketing, and gives even experienced Adwords users an arsenal of ideas and strategies to take their marketing even farther.

So what didn’t I like about the book? Some of Howie’s best jokes required me to reread the paragraph to get back on topic. Still, better some humor than none. Also, there’s not an ounce of color once you flip the retina-melting neon yellow and purple cover. I’m still waiting for a “For Dummies” book that doesn’t feel like I’m reading a newspaper. After staring at a nice color monitor all day, the tiny grayscale images of the interface were tough to study. Other than that, there really isn’t much else that I didn’t like about the book. And I was certainly looking for things to dislike.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone working in Adwords, regardless of experience. The information is up-to-date and reflects many of Google’s most recent additions. It’s a great addition to any marketer’s library, whether you use Adwords or not. You will soon enough if you crack the cover and read the inspiring intro. Even as an advanced user, I found a plethora of inspiration and fresh ideas. Adwords for Dummies is not just for beginners!

PS – I was excited to find that our very own Analytics experts here at ROI Revolution Michael Harrison and Shawn Purtell were made superstars in the book, due to lending significant help to Howie in the Analytics chapter. I was hoping that a nice mug shot would be in there to really embarrass them, but oh well. Their names will suffice. If any of you would like to send them fan mail, request autographs or recommend them to Oprah, you know where to find ’em.