Goodbye, #J360

Over the course of this semester, I’ve blown up my friends’ timelines on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve tweeted 330 times, posted on instagram 59 times, posted on Facebook 47 times and LinkedIn 46 times. The kicker? I’m not done yet.

Oh, yes. I still have to finished my social media posts for this week. I’m sorry to annoy you. But despite your irritation, integrating social media posts into my daily and professional lives have enhanced my skills as a public relations professional.

Before my #J360 class, I considered myself as a “watcher” on social media. Rarely would I post anything. On occasion, I would like a funny tweet or two. The accounts that I followed were just friends from college or high school, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, this class also forced me to step out of my comfort zone and connect with PR professionals on various platforms. Thus, increasing my available network.

It’s been a goal of mine for the past couple of years to establish a personal brand on social media, but I never found the time. This class acted as a catalyst for that. It built in time for me to achieve that goal. Now, I have a consistent personal brand across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

While improving my social media presence was a big benefit, it pales in comparison to what I learned through creating this website. WordPress fluency is a skill that many employers look for in potential candidates. It’s a skill that I had yet had a chance to delve into before this class. WordPress is relatively user friendly, but connecting pages and developing the homepage posed challenges for me. Those challenges were solved with a lot or trial and error (emphasis on a lot).

Not only did this blog teach me valuable website-building skills, but it helped me rediscover my love for writing. Writing is what led me to pursue PR. For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing, so much so that my friends and classmates come to me for editing and writing advice. Previous to this class, my passion for writing peaked my senior year of high school when I wrote bi-weekly sports columns. Being able to tell someone else’s story in a conversational tone was a passion.

However, my passion dwindled my first few semesters at college. I still wanted to tell stories, but each paper I wrote felt like a task rather than an opportunity. The blogs I’ve written for this class and on this blog I have put my heart and soul into. I will admit, some blogs mean a bit more to me than others. This site is titled, “Walking the Wire,” because I don’t ever want to shy away from hard to talk about topics, like those mentioned in “I’m fine.”

Many of the blog topics this semester were assigned, primarily the communications oriented topics. I will continue to post a mix of professional and personal blogs, but I’m excited to really make this site my own.

Article Review: VEO is coming

Hey Siri,  what’s search engine optimization?

“Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results- often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.”

But how does Siri find that information? Search engine optimization (SEO), like every other technology, has evolved. SEO used to be simple… Okay, simple might not be the best word for that, but the point is there’s so much more to it now.

Think about it. How do you search for information? On a computer? Tablet? Do you use your phone? Do you ask Siri or Alexa? Research suggests that between 30 and 50 percent of all searches will be conducted using voice by 2020. That means SEO just got a lot more complicated.

I recently ran across a guide to SEO in 2019. The guide is split into nine different chapters, each outlining how to cultivate successful SEO in the coming year. All of the content is useful, but chapter seven holds the secret to SEO’s future: Voice Engine Optimization.  The guide broke down voice engine optimization in three easy (or at least kind of easy) parts:

  1. High ranking content wins.
  2. Featured snippets are your friend.
  3. Q & A’s mean business.

High ranking content wins.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that all optimization, including voice, should be geared towards Google. When it comes to SEO, Google writes the rule book… literally. Google used to just analyze five sections of a website for keywords: Title Tag, URL, Image ALT text, description tag and H1 tag.

Not anymore, folks. Now Google analyzes content and context. Google’s highest ranking content covers topics in-depth. What does that mean? The SEO in 2019 guide suggests that content is at least 2000 words. The content needs to be authoritative, and share everything there is to know about the topic.

But the key to high ranking content? Keywords. Keywords need to be repeated all across the page. It should be in the metadata, the article, the caption of the picture. If there is content on your page, the keyword should be in it.

Combined, all of these suggestions should rank your content higher on Google. Voice searches typically only list the top one to five search results. That means if you don’t have a high ranking, you’re out of luck. The higher your content ranks, the more visible it will be in voice searches.

Featured snippets are your friend.

Google has all of these fancy algorithms to determine what the best content on the internet is. One of these algorithms determines what will appear as a featured snippet. Featured snippets appear at the top of a search, even before the first link. A study of 10,000 Google home devices revealed that 40.7 percent of voice search results come from a featured snippet.

But how can you get your content to appear in a featured snippet? Well, the guide to SEO in 2019 covers that too. To put it simply, you need “snippet bait.”

“Snippet bait is a 40-60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.”

If you look at the featured snippet, you’ll notice two things: its short and it gives you the answer to your question. The featured snippet section makes it easy for voice search engines to give you the answer you want without having to dig.

Q & A’s mean business.

Let’s pause for a minute, and think about how I started this article off. That’s right. I started it by asking Siri a question, as I assume most of you do when you conduct voice searches. Embedding questions and answers into your site makes it easier for voice engines to find your content.

The guide to SEO in 2019 suggest developing a FAQ page if you’re going to attempt to optimize your site for voice search. FAQ pages are typically easy to create, and it’s easier to find for your users. The questions on your FAQ page need to be simple and conversational. In other words, write it as someone would ask it. Don’t try to get fancy.

Answers should stay between 40 and 60 words, and capitalize on keywords. The answer shouldn’t be over-complicated. It should be easy for the voice engine to find. Wait… doesn’t that sound like something you just read about? Q & A’s are a great way to increase the odds of obtaining a featured snippet.

Voice search optimization is relatively simple, as long as you know a little bit about SEO. Keep in mind, between 30 and 50 percent of people will be using voice search by 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you should start optimizing for voice now.