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Basic SEO Every Graduate Should Know (and Why Employers Will Love You for It)

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Employers at most major companies want to see that their candidates have a basic understanding of SEO. Why? Because almost every industry has a need for people who understand SEO, and the more people who do, the better.

If you haven’t yet added SEO to your skill set, this post is for you—especially if you’re a job seeker.

Why SEO knowledge looks good on every employee

For those who are unfamiliar, SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” There are quite a few different factors that go into SEO: researching different keywords, using these keywords in optimal places, gathering and using analytics, linking, on-page and off-page optimization, etc.

For this reason, SEO has become a full-time position at some organizations. Larger companies now often have an SEO department, which is usually a branch of the marketing department. Under the SEO umbrella, you will also find content management and social media management.

Here are a few reasons companies like to see graduates who have a basic understanding of SEO:

  • Departments are connected. The SEO department needs to help optimize a product page so people find that product page and can be funneled down to sales. An IT department may need to understand why one page suddenly has priority over another. It’s all about the pages that are ranking and bringing in the most clicks. This would be hard for people to understand if they didn’t have a basic knowledge of how Google and SEO worked.
  • Social media is crucial. Social media falls under the SEO umbrella. Understanding how to use social media to share content can help a company grow and gain visibility. For example, Google+ is becoming important when it comes to search results. Tech-savvy new employees will be able to help if they understand this aspect of social media.
  • The big picture. SEO is vital to the big picture of a company because it drives so many leads. Unfortunately, graduates are walking into businesses that are missing this key piece of information, so things can get confusing for them.

The name of the game here is visibility. The more people working with some of the basic SEO principles, the higher the visibility for a company and the more success that company will see.

SEO basics for business-position hopefuls

While a lot goes into SEO, the basics are really quite simple to understand. A few of those basics you may need to know include the following:

  • Linking. There are two major different kinds of links: internal and external. Internal links, or links on your webpage going to other webpages on your company website, are important because they help users navigate around your website. External links, or links on other websites pointing back to your website, show Google that your website is high quality and other websites are interested in sharing your information with their readers.
  • Algorithms. Google has hundreds of algorithms that they use to rank sites on search engine results pages (SERPs). Algorithms take many different factors into account, and these are the factors that SEO professionals work to achieve. Google bots will crawl a site and rank it according to an algorithm. The algorithms change quite frequently and are often named Panda and Penguin.
  • Google+. This social network is becoming important when it comes search results. It’s not just a place to share information with your connections; it’s also a place to +1 posts that catch your interest and to connect with people you trust. What you +1 and whom you connect with could change the search results pages that you and your connections see (not to mention the importance of authorship).
  • Keywords. A lot goes into keyword research, but all you need to know is that Google bots use keywords to determine what a webpage is about. This means that keywords you hope to rank in should be used in the content and in the back end of your website.
  • PageRank. Employers want to see knowledge of this because it shows that you know how to research—and research effectively. PageRank isn’t everything, but it will tell you that you’re using reputable information. You can download the plugin here. Just remember: the higher the number, the better.

How to learn the SEO basics

The best way to learn and prove to employers that you understand SEO is to create your own website. Research different SEO blogs, read about how to make your website successful and give it a try. This is the perfect place to test different keywords and obtain backlinks, potentially from guest posting opportunities.

If this seems like too much work, consider offering some guest posts to sites in your field of study and linking back to your school website, or read articles like this one and make sure you memorize and understand the concepts and terminology.

Once you have these basics under control, it will be appropriate to put “SEO” as a skill on your resume. You may want to specify that you have basic SEO knowledge because there are many more advanced SEO tactics, but any employer will still see that favorably.

Has an employer asked about your SEO background? Are you an employer who likes to see applicants with an understanding of basic SEO? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at the HigherVisibility SEO Company, a leading Ecommerce SEO firm.

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