David Meerman Scott is perhaps the most practical and innovative author with respect to public relations and marketing. My thoughts on search engine optimization that follow were inspired by chapter 22 of Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.
I particularly enjoyed this culmination chapter. Search engine optimization is a topic I certainly enjoy discussing. Scott’s writing in this chapter synthesized a lot of the information from previous chapters in the book in order to illustrate the importance of SEO. That, to me, is the takeaway from this chapter: SEO’s importance and the ease by which an organization can do it.
It is through the construction of my own professional website where I really learned about SEO. I knew when I began building my site using WordPress that, by the time I was done with it, I needed to be on the first page of Google. I wanted to be in control of what came up on the first page when someone searched my name. SEO is so important for practitioners-in-training because when you are trying to sell your personal brand to an employer, you want to be in control of the message online. In order to do that, everything you publish online has to be reflective of your brand and be optimized with key terms industry professionals to whom you have applied will be searching.
For me, my name, Casey Braun, was the most important key term. Your name, as you list it on your resume, will most likely be the first thing an employer will Google to learn about you. If they do not find satisfactory results that represent you on the first page, they will go digging. At that point, they may not find what they are looking for and get frustrated or they may find something less than favorable. My goal, was to get my website above the fold on the first page of Google. If I could do that and get employers to my website, my homepage would serve as a gateway to all of the other information they would need, as Scott also recommends.
I learned quickly the way to do this is precisely as Scott recommended: plentiful, strategically targeted content. Every time I made an update to my site, I would make sure my first and last name appeared together somewhere, whether it was in the author field, headline, page title, or even as the alternate text of an image. Search engines index every word. It is the multiplicity of the word or phrase on the page that helps to increase the position on Google, I have found. On my homepage alone, my first and last name appear together seven times visibly and three other times behind images. Further, key terms, like multimedia producer, instructor, manager, appear constantly on a myriad of pages. Also, any time I write a post or tweet, I make sure it is something that supports my personal brand or is, at the very least, defensible.
Scott could not have been more spot-on with his recommendations in this chapter. It was satisfying to read simply because it was a confirmation I have been approaching my professional site correctly, at least from an SEO standpoint. My professional website is not by any means done being developed, nor is it technically or creatively wonderful. However, it stands as a testament to the fact that people can get to the first page of Google without paying for SEO; I never spent a dime on it. If you Google me as of this writing, my Twitter is the first hit, my LinkedIn is the third hit, and my website homepage is the fourth hit.