Crossing the line between content and marketing is the growing field of search-engine optimization (S.E.O.). It is a growing focus of many businesses and applicants alike. Even down at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, I regularly heard mass-communication and English majors qualify some sort of S.E.O. knowledge despite the college not offering any classes on the subject (yet). And after keeping an eye on the job boards for the past few years, I can say that I see more and more positions that center around or are associated with digital marketing in the greater Tampa Bay–St. Petersburg area.
At the basic level, search-engine optimization makes Google and other search engines aware of what your site has to offer. In its most genuine form, it spurs great content and user-friendly web sites. And, in its most deceptive form, it draws misleading tactics in order to gain high rankings. The difference between what is right and wrong is not always defined, yet strong lines have been drawn, grouping tactics or even the technicians themselves into two camps: white hats and black hats.
Testing the waters in the greater Tampa Bay area, I see many institutions—even S.E.O. companies—that are too focused on Google and not the user. Some are obsessed with unnatural link building. Others are too focused on one channel. For instance, writing great blog posts but not having e-mail or social media properly promote it. Others use such a strict format for their content that it stifles the writer and the reader by awkwardly adhering to a firm configuration of words. Some even delete key phrases from one page because they are being targeted by another page. How counterproductive is that?
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg in 2007, I began my career at duPont Publishing. I started as a writer but was given the freedom and platform to explore search-engine optimization to the benefit of its web sites. For four and a half years, I worked as its S.E.O. and online editor and through diligent content marketing, I helped duPont Publishing make large strides in its total online presence. I captured great links through great content and got ahead of the 2012 Panda update by directing Google's attention away from thin landing pages to relevant search results' pages. I helped increase the number of unique visitor page views in its main news area by more than 750 percent, and my search-engine optimization tactics and consistent content production helped dupontregistry.com continually break its own unique-visitors record year after year. In fewer than three years, I boosted the average number of monthly visitors via search engines by 100 percent and average number of monthly visits by 75 percent.
At eCentral Stores, I oversaw the search-engine marketing efforts of a group of small e-commerce stores. I was able to boost the rank on a variety of its products in Google SERPs and captured key phrases that were a focus of business leaders. I also worked towards boosting their social media presence, optimizing their e-mail blasts, and creating new, intriguing content for its weblogs.
Opportunity then led me to Nicopure Labs llc., where my role as a S.E.O. specialist had me digging into the more technical aspects of optimization and the diverse universe of S.E.M. while continuing to bolster my core strength in content marketing. I oversaw the search profile of multiple web sites including an international e-commerce site. My duties included working with managers and developers to administer best S.E.O. practices in the redesigns of current sites and the building of new sites. I also managed a team of writers as part of content marketing efforts and coordinate publication with our social and e-mail marketing channels. I conducted site audits; analyzed key words and phrases; developed big-picture strategies; prepared monthly reports; monitored our linking profile; optimized on-page content and internal linking; wrote .htaccess, Apache, and Nginx redirects; and conducted page-speed optimization and A/B testing, among other things.