Let’s get SEOrious!

Our September #SYPpubskills workshop was dedicated to learning digital skills and understanding SEO and how it works in a publishing context. Our Marketing Officer Sonali Dutta attended the workshop and has summarised what she learned here:

The term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) may seem tech-y and a bit intimidating at first, but it’s something that increasingly impacts publishing processes across the industry. In our September workshop, Nellie Perrin, Senior Marketing Executive at Rising Stars, introduced us to the basic principles of SEO and why this is important for publishers.

How often do you put a basic search term or phrase into Google instead of typing out the full name of the website you want to access? This is where SEO comes into play. It involves achieving the highest position for a word or combination of words in search engine results. Nellie explained that while search engine algorithms used to be more keyword- and data-based, now they are focused on thinking like humans.

When searching for a particular keyword, most people tend to check only the links on the first few results pages. The first result that is brought up has the highest SEO for that particular keyword or set of keywords. It’s really important to appear on the first page of a search as most users won’t want to trawl through pages of results. Think about it - do you ever go to the eleventh page of a Google search? Having good SEO also suggests that your website is good and trustworthy. Additionally, SEO is free (snazzily named "organic"), which makes it a very helpful measure and a useful marketing tool for many industries, including publishing.

To improve SEO, it helps to think strategically and add keywords to the right places. This includes titles, the body text of an article and metadata. Keywords should also appear in the URL of a link, but it's important to avoid "keyword stuffing" which can seem spammy. It's important to remember that we are writing for human users. Nellie explained that websites track engagement metrics, such as what the user does, what pages they visit and how much time they spent on the website. It's also important for websites to have good mobile optimisation as so many of us use the internet on our mobiles these days. Linking, such as another company linking to your website in an article on their blog, is also important because this confirms relevancy and popularity. So it's not just about the keywords but the context they are used in which create good SEO. Writing high quality copy that engages users is important.

It was really interesting to learn so much about all the different aspects of SEO and get a glimpse “behind the scenes” of how each of us navigates the web. Thanks Nellie!