Climate Change, American University, Twitter, Facebook, Iran, Haiti, Kim Kardashian: A Lesson in Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the name of the game when writing for the web.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the way you file your article into the content management system that will maximize the amount of hits you’ll get on search engines. Whether your title is “The future of our earth” or “Climate Change and Global Warming” can make the difference between single digits or hundreds of viewers.

Same goes when using Twitter or Flickr. If I throw in a bunch of hashtags saying #climatechange, #global warming, #americanuniversity, #environmentalists, that will up my chances of my post getting re-tweeted.

At the American Forum on Monday, I added hastags and links to other Twitter feeds everywhere I could. It seemed a little much, but I’d argue it helped drive traffic to the event and the Twitter feed.

Last week, I got more hits than ever before on my post titled “Top 10 Facebook don’ts,” and something tells me it isn’t just because people were deeply interested in my list. I used a very SEO-friendly title that Facebook users around the world probably Google frequently. Plus, Facebook is a popular topic among my age group, and these types of lists are things they could see themselves writing or contributing to. Simply put, I chose a hot topic that a large demographic wants to read/weigh in on, I made it easy to search, and I used Facebook and Twitter to market the post. My friends in turn commented on it, retweeted it and posted it on their pages.

Can this kind of luck happen again? Absolutely.

It’s about creating posts that are

a) easy to find via SEO

b) easy to read and relate to

c) address a hot topic, even if it’s not a serious one

d) linkable, aka getting it out there to people who are internet savvy and spread your content

e) well written and aesthetically pleasing via photos/multimedia

f) updated frequently

I was hesitant at first to fully embrace the language of SEO because I figured it would make my headlines less creative. But I realized that I could simply make the subhead SEO friendly and keep the more creative leads and headlines. Including links and tags will also help spread your content.

My fellow classmates and I have analyzed The American Observer’s traffic via Google Analytics. We saw that we get a steady rate of traffic on the days we publish, but it plummets on the days we don’t and during breaks. To my surprise, my story has the most page views of the year (starting in August). Was it ground breaking journalism? Not really. I put a lot of work into it, but I’m guessing its success has everything to do with SEO.

The title: “U.S. Military Presences in foreign countries exceeds rest of world.”

So people, probably doing research projects or from the government, have been visiting this page. It continues to get hits even though it was published months ago, so that says it wasn’t from advertising it on Facebook and Twitter: it’s from search engines.  From this semester, my friends Kim and Coryn lead in the top story about sexting and modern dating. Not only is it a clever article, it came out right before Valentines Day, sexting is a hot topic, and the story had good SEO.

So how is this going to influence my blog and future writing?

a) I’m going to try to post every day or every other day to fulfill the “updated” factor

b) I’m going to add more links, tags, and references to other sources

c) I will make my articles cleaner to read with more SEO friendly titles

d) I will incorporate lists, photos, and any mulitmedia I can to enhance presentation

e) I will post them on Twitter and Facebook (already do that…but why not do it more?)

f) I won’t just write about things I feel will help with my career. I will dive into other topics that are popular, shorter, less formal posts, and talk about different subjects that others would be interested in.

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