I read Search Engine Visibility by Steve Rubel and others at Edleman Digital and found it very informative. Google has become vital to internet users all over the world. For me, it is my homepage on my web browser and the beginning of every internet activity. According to Rubel, companies are now using two ways to ensure they will be high-ranking results when consumers search for information. These two tactics are: Paid search and Optimize search. Rubel defines each:

“Paid Search – More widely known as search engine marketing (SEM), Paid Search is an advertising paradigm in which marketers purchase small text ads that are triggered when certain keywords are searched (for example, an ad for Toyota Prius might show up on searches for “hybrid cars”)”

“Optimized Search – Often referred to as SEO, Optimized Search is a technical process in which webmasters make adjustments to their sites in an effort to rank well organically on high-value keywords (e.g. Toyota.com becomes a top result for “hybrid cars”)”

Technologist and Marketers usually are in charge of these operations. PR professionals are responsible for:

“Reputational Search – The premise and promise of Reputational Search is that any company, NGO or brand can apply a search mindset to tried-and-true PR tactics and, in the process, influence the search results around certain keywords.”

Social Search – With Google and competitors increasingly prioritizing social content from Flickr, blogs, Twitter and others in result pages, it is imperative that brands build out “embassies” in all relevant networks – places where employees work to serve the interests of the community, as well as their company. This will ensure optimum visibility, and help them prepare for the next great revolution: the convergence of search and social networking. “

According to Rubel, “For many years, SEM and SEO were the only tools needed to build a visible presence in search engines. Recently, however, things have changed. ” Companies websites are no longer the go-to source for information about them. Now, there is information all over the web to be found about companies, from twitter to Facebook to blogs.

This information, for a PR student, is not new. But, what I did learn is the technical aspects and logistics of it all. Google is looking for sites that are more up-to-date than others. Sites that are not publishing frequently will not be indexed as fast. Google’s algorithm’s show a mix of brands, media companies, and ordinary individuals. Links also influence your rank. If pages with high rankings link to a page that has not climbed the popularity latter, the higher ranking page helps give them that notoriety. Rubel explains, “For example, if a corporate blog post generates a lot of genuine discussion on Twitter and then, later, a CNN.com link, it’s more likely to see that post rank highly on related searches.”

I learned the parts of a succesful Reputation Search program. There are three componenets including: research/planning, content development and meaurement. But, what surprised me is the avoidance of generic search terms. These words will face a lot of competition. So, a Reputational Search program uses highly targeted keywords.

I recently did a Search Engine Optimization project in which I used such tools as wordtracker and Google Insight. This helped my gain an understanding of how people search. Searching blogs, twitter, and Facebook helped me gain an understanding of how people naturally talk about topics. The keywords were then incorporated into a press release.

Rubel reminds PR people, “The end game here is to compile a list of keyword phrases (the more the better) that: a) accurately reflect how people talk and search, b) don’t have a tremendous amount of competition and c) generate enough search volume to be worth your while.”

Another key piece of advice offered by Rubel was, “As a general rule of thumb, aim for the “magic middle” – keywords that are searched but aren’t too generic and therefore don’t face a lot of competition. And use them often in a meaningful ways, like headlines.”

I was surprised to read about social media networks challenging Google’s prominence. That is a huge statement, considering the importance of Google in most internet users lives. I have been studying social media networks and have been on Twitter just barely before it took off. I am proud to see the people taking control of information that is out there.

This was a great article and very helpful in my Search Engine Optimization project. Perfect of newbies (like myself) starting to use SEO’s and other tactics. I would like to learn more about the effects and reach of SEO with and without using key search terms.