What is Search Engine Optimization? (And Why Should I Care?)

Posted by Sami Smith
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Courtesy of findyoursearch.com

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the flash flood of journalism marketing. It snuck up on businesses, writers, and publications, leaving a cloud of confused journalists and professionals behind. I remember hearing the term for the first time a few years ago, assuming it was a tech-y term I wouldn’t actually need to understand. In the past year, however, I was proven oh so wrong. If you are a journalist, you need SEO.

Picture the process as a ranking system for Google. The most relevant, quality information gets put at the top of the search choices for any Google search. The search engine beast puts out a “spider,” or “crawler” over the whole WWW. It picks up on how each site is laid out, which terms they use to refer to specific items or topics, and then ranks them as compared to the most popular things the general public searches in Google. For instance, if you are a clothing blogger, Google Analytics will tell you that you want to use the term “women’s clothing” versus “clothes for women,” because more people are searching the former. By choosing the most popular terms, you climb up the ranking ladder. With each tip you check off of your SEO checklist, your site comes one step closer to becoming one people are more likely to see.

SEO may be digital and realistic in terms of marketing, but it also encompasses one of the most basic journalistic properties: quality over quantity. Using high-ranking search terms early on in the posts, in multiple places across the page, and without overkill are key to grabbing a Google search hotspot. By consistently following general SEO guidelines, small businesses are quickly coming head-to-head with big business brands.

So why do you need it as a student? Thinking of yourself as a brand, which hopefully you already are, you should understand the importance of making yourself known. Using SEO in blog posts, on your online portfolio, and in your work for digital publications means increased chances of becoming a journalism somebody—a name to be recognized (or at least associated with recognized work). So embrace the tech side of journalism, because without this, the flash flood of this often-misunderstood topic will swiftly take you under.

—What parts of SEO still confuse you? Do you think you could personally benefit from it, or does it sound a little out of your reach?— 

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3 responses to “What is Search Engine Optimization? (And Why Should I Care?)

  1. Sami, I think this is some incredibly valuable information. I’ve always known there was something called SEO and I’ve known there was something determining what I was seeing first when Googling. I think it’s interesting how Google Analytics tries to help bloggers and content posters by suggesting terms to tag their posts with. It would be beneficial in the long run for people who want to be known on the internet (especially those in our chosen field) to start using SEO now to optimize all posts and content we post to the web.

  2. When I first heard the term SEO I had absolutely no idea what it meant or the importance that it would have. By following SEO guidelines you are more likely to get hits on your post. As a student, it is so important to market yourself well and get your name out there. It is never to early to start thinking about how your blog posts and other content can benefit from SEO.

  3. Thank you for posting this. You did a great job clearly explaining it. I t really is something every future journalist should be aware of.

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