This weeks assignment for our New Media Drivers License Class at MSU was on SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Until doing some reading by David Meerman Scott, along with some additional articles posted on the NMDL site on The Digital Bus, I thought this was simply a typo for CEO. Once I realized what it stood for I was encouraged though, as I actually did know what a search engine was. This was a big step for me, as virtually every piece of information I have been exposed to in this class has been brand spankin new to me.
The first piece I read was aptly titled SEO Guide Basics. This article was brief, but also sited a few other pieces that were helpful in understanding the basic premise of SEO, which is to very simply, make your words work for you.
In order for you to be successful in your online endeavors, regardless of what they may be, people must be able to find you or your product. By carefully selecting the words you use in your headline, your sub-title, in the beginning of your pages and at the end of your pages, you can significantly increase the number of “hits” (the number of times various searches pull up your pages), or virtually bury you. By using words that are too familiar or common, you almost guarantee getting lost in the shuffle. By using more unique words, and more importantly, unique combinations of words, you are reducing the competition and increasing your odds of coming up in the searches. Additionally, the words in your headline should tie int, and be related to the words used throughout your pages – this too will increase your position on the “hit list”.
One of the most useful places to turn for advice and tips on SEO would probably be a search engine, so following is some information provided by Google in their “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide”.
One good point they make is the fact that while you want your page to have a high enough rank to be found, your first priority should be to your users, as they will find you if you keep your headline, sub heads and content true to what you do and what your customers want. While keeping SEO in mind, you should not forsake the content of your page simply to increase your page rank with the search engine.
Another suggestion that I thought made a good deal of sense, even for the beginner webmaster, was simply to keep your headline or title simple, and keep it unique. By using words that are too common or overused, you run the real risk of not appearing at all in online searches. Also, by using unique relevant words, you insure that people searching for you actually want what you have to offer, making both their search and your ad more productive.
Overall, I learned a good deal about SEO, especailly given that a week ago I had no idea what it meant. Keep in mind that this only applies to “organic” searchs, which are unpaid searches. Google Adwords and others of the like do not apply here, and have an entirly different set of rules.