How can your content be social if it’s downright unavailable or even difficult to find?
By content, I’m referring to anything you post on the web — from press releases to blog posts and podcasts as well as marketing materials, polls, opt-in forms, newsletters, ebooks, whitepapers etc.
Individual social networks are bound to have a life cycle, which includes an eventual death, as behavior and relationships on the web continue to grow and evolve, but the web itself is here to stay. For me, 2008 was all about engagement and participation in social media, but I feel it’s time to take my understanding to the next level.
My goal for 2009 is to learn the underlying fundamentals of how the Internet works — how information travels, how and where money changes hands through content and traffic on the web. SEO (search engine optimization) is just one of the things I plan to continue to study this year and of course I plan to share what I learn with you here.
The way brands/companies/marketers/PR pros communicate with people on behalf of their companies needs to change and a lot of people already get that part. It’s not rocket science. It’s difficult to teach, but that doesn’t mean that authentic two-way communication cannot be learned by those who are already engaged in the commerce side of the web.
Even if you don’t want to specialize in search marketing or SEO, developing a solid B.S. meter is definitely a good idea especially since some SEO consultants are overly concerned with numbers and/or have a limited understanding of social media. Basic SEO strategies just help to ensure that your company or clients’ content can be found by those who are already searching for the stuff they provide. P.S. Learning a bit about user experience won’t hurt either.
In short, SEO is a way to make the content on your site friendly to search engines so when people search for relevant keywords in, your site will show up at the top of the search results — or at least on the first page.
If Google is an ocean of content, good SEO makes your content more bouyant which helps get relevant hits to your website. This means more interested eyeballs and more money if you’re ultimately creating content to boost business. Knowing a bit about SEO can really help that ROI discussion a lot more than breaking out the old ad-equivalency charts.
Here are some resources to help get the learning under way:
- Google has a really great Webmaster Help Center with a lot of great tools that explain how to optimize your site for search. They have even posted their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide for download. Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web is also a great place to start if you never really contemplated how Google retrieves information.
- SEOmoz is a great resource for all things SEO, but also has a Beginner’s Guide to SEO that is extremely detailed and provides the basic arguments that detail why SEO is important for doing business on the web — just in case you have to have that conversation with a client or boss. Another great read: Why Companies are Investing in SEO During the Economic Downturn.
- Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog is also a great resource for communications professionals looking to learn more about SEO, but he also posted a list of the top SEO blogs ranked according to the number of subscribers. He also has a BigList of Search Marketing Blogs. Click on the OPML file and add them to your reader in one fell swoop.
- Search Engine Land has a great list of subscription-based and free SEO tools to help get the job done.
Even though people are still in the habit of proclaiming that content is king, bad content can get just as much play on Google as good content, especially when plural search terms or common mispellings are entered into search queries. This post by Wil Reynolds explains how search engines still don’t understand the difference between good and bad content in many instances. Another post by Laura Callow explains why many big brands downplay the importance of SEO.
Hat tip to Tamar Weinberg for her comprehensive list of the Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2008. This list was a great resource for putting this post together and for helping to inspire me to dig deeper this year. I’ll be referencing this for months to come.
I’m interested to hear from communicators as well as those who work in SEO: how can we bridge the gap to make our content rise to the top of the web? How can we work together to make sure our messages are not only crafted well, but reach the intended audience? For communicators, how are you adapting your content to get better traction online?
Photo by Petulant_Seraph