SEO: A Crash Course

Amanda Smyth Connor1148745_crashed_car

More often, you may see “knowledge of SEO” popping up on job descriptions and in your freelance positions. Having a working knowledge of SEO best practices, keyword usage, and proper linking strategies makes you that much more valuable and gives you an extra leg up over the other shlubs applying for the same projects.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of adding keywords that will make your copy “search-friendly,” adding links that will help the bots find your copy, and being able to make informed decisions regarding how to use the two to add power to the copy you create. What good is this great copy if it doesn’t get read/found? SEO helps Google (and other search engines) find and list your copy so that it appears in appropriate search results.

Let’s say you’ve been hired to write great web copy for a client. Perhaps the client provides you with a list of keywords they have scraped from Google Analytics that they want you to use in your copy. Do you know how to pepper these keywords throughout your copy? (They need to be used organically, mind you. No sense in stuffing them all in together. Search engines knows that trick.)

If a client asked you to add meta data about each piece of copy you create for a given project, would you know what they wanted? Meta data sounds scary, but it is simply a short summary of the copy that includes some of the keywords. Meta data is the summary that appears under each web listing that pops up in a search. Easy peasy.

Links can get tricky. Often, a client will do their own linking based on analytics and research. However, understanding best practices for linking is invaluable for any web copy, including blogs. Long story short, it is always better to add a link to your copy from an “authority site” or a site that is a leader in whatever you are discussing. Do NOT link to a site that looks spammy, is messy, doesn’t rank well in the search engines or looks questionable.

I haven’t even begun to scrape the surface regarding SEO practices, but I welcome you to read through some of the other great SEO blog sites out there and to consider taking an introductory course into SEO. SEMPO Institute offers a great intro course for around $360, and the 13-lesson online course is one that you can take in your own time. It’s well worth the investment.

Amanda Smyth Connor has managed online communities and nationwide marketing campaigns for several start-up and  Fortune 500 companies, and has been an editor for more years than she can remember.