It is already December, and I am having a very hard time believing that the end of the semester is already here! What’s more, the end of the semester signifies the completion of my public relations M.A. program at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and provides another exciting opportunity to wear a cap (which, by the way, have not become any more fashionable since my graduation from Albion College in 2009, or even from my high school graduation in 2005) and gown. As I look back on my program, one of the most prominent memories is my wonderful experience in the New Media Drivers License (NMDL) course, taught by Derek Mehraban, CEO of Michigan Internet marketing firm Ingenex, at Michigan State University. This class, offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level, strives to teach and train students in digital marketing and new media. I easily deem it as one of the most beneficial classes of my graduate career, considering our lessons revolved around topics like social media monitoring, blogging for business, online video strategy, Google AdWords, blogger outreach and Google Tools, just to name a few. And while I honestly enjoyed each topic of discussion, one of my favorite lessons was about search engine optimization or SEO.
With search engine optimization, certain words on an organization’s website, blog, or other form of online presence are discovered by search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, (insert favorite search engine here). The premise behind SEO is making the most of a website by using links composed heavily of keywords, while constructing “search engine friendly” content on the page. The primary goal of search engine optimization is to attract more traffic to a website, while increasing the page rank of that site on search engine pages. David Meerman Scott provides a very worthwhile discussion about search engine optimization in his book (our class textbook) called The New Rules of Marketing and PR.
If I had to pick out one overarching lesson from our discussion of SEO in class and in the book, it would have to be that using really broad and general terms when developing “keywords” will never work to an organization’s advantage when it comes to search engine optimization. When we are thinking of “keyword rich links” for a site, it is important to remember that a lot of the time when conducting a search online, consumers typically look up information by phrases based on the information they are looking for (for example, “New Media Class at Michigan State University”). Having key words that are unique and special to the organization will provide more of a chance for consumers to find just what (or who) they are looking for in an effective and efficient search.
Classes coming to an end, especially the New Media Drivers License course, is bittersweet. But I can say with all confidence that I look forward to applying all of the very worthwhile concepts from NMDL into real life situations. If you are a student interested in public relations, marketing, advertising, etc. or you are an individual looking to become a master of all things social media and digital marketing from a personal or business standpoint, I highly recommend that you get your New Media Drivers License! You will not regret it!