SEO Course January 2012 Week 1

Posted by EssexMax on 10 January 2012 under Course Notes | Be the First to Comment

Some notes on the first week of my “Search Engine Optimisation” course, in Southend-on-Sea.

This is now the third time that I have run the SEO Course in Southend as part of South Essex College’s Weekend and Evening team, and it was great to see so many people on the course this time around. Thanks to Helen, Nieves, Mark, Russ, Mark, Amanda, Paul and Peter for attending the first week, and showing such a strong interest in the subject.

Material covered

The first week of the course is an attempt to get everyone on the same page, and to understand the basic concepts of how to promote a website. This includes:

  • Understanding that people search in ways you don’t expect
  • That it’s important to understand what your site is for, and who your competition is
  • That the rules have changed – You need to have a site that is interesting for the audience, and is written for humans, not for search engines
  • That not everyone’s search results are the same, due to personalisation and filtering
  • That there are ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ SEO people out there, and more so than ever, it pays to play by the rules, and do the right thing, now that Google’s engines are smarter than ever, and in a post Panda world
  • That there are a lot of people out there making rash promises about optimising an existing website in return for money, and you need to be careful

Some interesting discussion points were raised, my favourite being what’s become known as the Internet Filter Bubble.

Living in a bubble

Websites such as Google and Facebook have a lot of information about us, and can use it to personalise and customise what we see when we’re online. It can make for more accurate searches, but there’s an associated risk. The YouTube clip that I referred to in my lesson, does a far better job of explaining how it works, and the risks. Here’s the clip of Eli Pariser, talking at about the Internet Filter Bubble:


Web Stats

We started to touch on the subject of web stats, and surprisingly few of the eight people in the class know how to access their own stats – something that I believe is key to understanding your audience, and working out how well your site is working.

Checking Your Site Web Stats

For a summary of web stat basics, see Web Stats: Understanding Your Audience

Other Topics

There was much discussion about “relevance” in respect to SEO – How to make sure your site is relevant to the audience, incoming links are relevant, and about keeping the site fresh and current.

Social Networking, in particular Facebook and Twitter, was other hot topic. I expect that “social signals” will be the theme of 2012 for SEO, and that it will become increasingly important to have Twitter and Facebook integrated into your site at some level – If real-world people like you, then the search engines can see that, and may decide to like you too (Plug: Follow us on Twitter please!)

Other topics included use of multiple domain names pointing at a single site (often a no-no), and site localisation.

All-in-all, an interesting evening – I’m looking forward to Week 2, and I’ll be adding more notes on the course progress shortly.


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