Authority Building & SEO: Considerations for Upcoming Grads
BY ANTHONY MASTERTON
What happens when someone searches your name? As you move towards graduation it’s a good idea to consider how you appear to potential employers or investors who look you up online.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of adjusting your online presence so you can show up higher in the search results when someone searches for you, your business, or something related to you or your business.
Let’s say for a moment that an employer searches for you via Google. What pops up first, is it your LinkedIn profile (you’ll want to have one of these prior to job hunting), a website you’ve made, an online portfolio of yours, a presentation you’ve created, an article you were mentioned in, or do you not show up at all?
Separately, let’s say that you want to apply for funding for a business, if potential investors search for your business entity, you should have a firm understanding of what shows up online.
Everyone needs SEO
Once upon a time, only tech or ecommerce companies really needed to worry about the internet. But in the modern world, every type of business — from the local auto repair shop to the local bakery — needs to have a web presence, and increasingly so do individuals.
That’s because, more than ever, people are starting their decision making processes online, from looking up what businesses exist (restaurants, car dealers, furniture stores) to narrowing down a pool of candidates for a role or position. More than two-thirds of Americans have a smartphone, and an even higher percentage of Americans have other kinds of internet-capable devices, such as desktop computers, laptop computers, or tablets.
The rise of mobile searches plays a big part in making SEO more important to small businesses, since mobile devices are less tab-friendly, users rely more heavily on the information they find in their initial search results, and only tend to check (click into) the first handful of results. From personal experience, I can also tell you the number of people who meet each other in a business setting a do a quick Google search is on the rise. How we appear online is rapidly becoming our prevailing reputation.
How SEO works
Let’s take Google for example, they want to surface the information and answers that their users are looking for with every search, however “for a typical query, there are thousands, even millions, of webpages with potentially relevant information.”
“So to help rank the best pages first, [Google] writes algorithms to evaluate how useful these webpages are.” These algorithms take into account things like how recently the content was updated, how many times words relevant or associated with the search appear in the content of the page, how many other sites that are relevant to the topic link to the page, and more.
The tricky thing about SEO is that nobody knows for sure exactly how the search engine algorithms actually work, except the folks who work on the search engines themselves, and that the algorithms are constantly changing as Google works to improve results. There are however many companies that can help you approximate how your content, or content about you is viewed by Google (ex: AHREFs, MOZ, etc).
Local SEO vs. International SEO
One of the things the Google algorithms can do is prioritize results close to a searcher. To check this out for yourself try searching “doctors office” or “restaurant” and take a look at the results. This can be useful because location-specific long-tailed keywords (or search terms) are usually easier to rank for with a few good SEO choices, because with a smaller market (specific location) you have less competition. However, in larger markets things can skew the other direction – for example ranking for local results in New York, Toronto, or Mexico City can sometimes be more challenging because of the number of businesses competing for attention in those population-dense areas.
With that knowledge in mind, we begin to see how targeting a non-local market can be a challenge. There are all sorts of small items that need to be changed to effectively reach a non-local market from image alt text to the differences in spelling and popular search terms from state to state and from country to country. According to experts on SEO in Brisbane at Bambrick Media in Australia: international SEO is its own struggle, from having to change URL structures (ccTLD domains, geo-targeting, etc), to specifying hreflangs and linking to local content.
Just Get Started
My advice to you is not to try to do everything at once, just get started. Whether it’s setting up your LinkedIn Profile, uploading a presentation associated with your name, or beginning to create a blog where you write about the field your interested in. If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur start thinking about picking up a domain name for your business, and look into setting up some initial content. Something you might not know is that domain age can even help you out when it comes to SEO. So try to get started, and work to make sure you’re getting something new out there online about you or your venture(s) on a regular basis. Future you will appreciate it.
Anthony Masterton is a young entrepreneur trying to break through in the tech world. When he’s not working on growing his young startup, he writes about everything from tech advancements to his own experiences as a young CEO. A self-starter, he likes to help others learn from his own successes and failures, as it’s always most impactful to learn from experience.