This tells you something, in fact, a lot. There are many more help-wanted on Craigslist for those who know SEO - Search Engine Optimization - than for those who know Mandarin. And that high demand is global. Recently, I created a SEO proposal for real estate in Costa Rica, which was accepted.
SEO, says expert Rebecca Lieb in her 2009 book "Search Engine Optimization,"
"is the art and science of getting a website to appear prominently in organic search engine results when a search submits a query relevant to that website."
And search, says social media leader Paul Chaney in his 2009 book "The Digital Handshake,"
"is the default source for finding everything."
Therefore, it's not futuristic or hyperbolic to consider SEO the new language of commerce, the way English was. Want to sell/buy/influence - we do it according to the communications rules of SEO.
Here are some of the fundamentals:
- Find out the keywords important to your business, according to the users's perspectives. A banker talks about loans. Users talk about borrowing. Check the keywords competitors have in their sites. You can also do research at www.informit.com/title/9780789738318.
- As you learned in Freshman Composition, make references concrete. Don't say "my company." Say "Jones & Smith Inc." Don't say "shoes." Say "Open-toed, 6" heels." Don't say New England." Say "New Haven, Connecticut."
- Front load keywords in title and early in text, but do so gracefully. Keyword "stuffing" turns off users and search engines. Analyze successful competitors's sites.
- Text trumps graphics. Search engines "read" words, not cool designs.
- Interesting, topical content counts for a lot.
- Link to high-traffic sites such as WSJ.COM and NYT.COM. They in turn will link to your site. Links out and in attract search engines a la wisdom-of-crowds. To get a new site off and running fast, link it to your others sites. Search engines will note the family resemblance.
- Change content frequently. Search is not a static entity.
- Track or measure what's important to your business. That might be conversions not the number of visitors per se. If you're not getting what you need from your SEO approach, change it. You know the mantra: Change or Die.
- Don't pile-on the technology. That could confuse search engines.
Even for local businesses such as Casablanca Hair Design, North Haven, Connecticut, SEO is a necessary language. Increasingly, folks search for local vendors on the Internet, not the old print Yellow Pages. Indeed, SEO creates the digital Yellow Pages.
SEO is not hard to learn. With practice we get better. After all, it's also an art, not just a science. Soon enough, those pushed out of journalism, financial markets, and law practice can make a good living translating what an enterprise needs to communicate into the ever-mutating dialects of search engines.