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Oct 21

A non-IT guide to search engine optimization (SEO)

Posted by dbedell in YahooTechnologySEOsearch engine optimizationITGoogle


Many CFOs and other finance executives may feel that understanding such IT concepts as search engine optimization (SEO) are not in their remit.

However, particularly for smaller companies where job functions may be less-defined or input from senior management is desirable across the whole gamut of business functions, it makes sense to have a basic understanding of the importance of search engine optimization, and also to know how to implement it in any writing, posting, research, and so on that may end up online.

In fact, for companies where online presence is key to the company’s operational and growth strategies, it makes sense to ensure that all employees have some understanding of SEO, and are thinking in those terms in any work that they do that might end up on the company’s website.

First, a few key terms:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): the process of ensuring that web content (text, pictures, videos, tags, page layouts, etc) takes into consideration what search engines look for in ranking pages for searches.
  • Search engine “bots”—the automatic web page crawlers that trawl through new data as it is posted online to find keywords, etc, that are used in search engine algorithms to rank pages for searches.

In an online webinar on SEO techniques I attended yesterday through the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, the presenters provided a number of quite straightforward points on simple things that anyone can do to improve their likelihood of having search engines’ bots give weight to their content.

First, bots focus on certain items within the page: including titles; tags for text, videos, pictures, etc; and the first 250 words--or thereabouts—of text. The higher up and more prominently that keywords appear, the more likely that they will be picked up by the bots.

Second, keywords that appear more than once between the title, tags, and within the first 250 words are more likely to attract the attention of the bots.

However, there is a fine line in this, as the bots that trawl for data that is fed into algorithms used by search engines--such as Google and Yahoo!--also look for sites that are obviously trying to optimize their results. Meaning that if you overdo it on repeating keywords, you may be penalized from an SEO perspective.

So, according to the presenters, the best idea is to be concise, use simple language where it makes sense, describe in the first 250 words exactly what the text is focused on, and ensure that pictures and videos have tags that concisely describe what they are.  

It seems simple enough suggestions, but it implies that offering old-school clarity and uncomplicated, straightforward language should help build up traffic, which is something for anyone preparing content that will appear on the web to keep in mind.

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