Skills & Expertise

What Every Media Professional Needs to Know About SEO

Smart use of keywords, some professional help and constant vigilance are required

Nearly every media professional today touches digital in some aspect of their job. And that means every media professional needs to have some knowledge of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

Depending on your job duties, you may not need a hands-on understanding of technical SEO—the way your website is set up to allow search engines to crawl and easily index your website.

But you certainly need to understand how to optimize your on-page content so search engines will find it and display it prominently, and how it can help you both in your job and to improve the performance of your organization, client and your own personal brand.

Keywords Are Old School

If you have some previous SEO experience, you probably know it has—or once had—something to do with keywords. That’s still (sort of) true. Optimization, or preparing a digital asset for its “optimal” placement online, is about creating quality content that resonates not just around a specific keyword, but multiple terms within a given theme.

What does this mean for you? Actual application of this is nuanced, but if you see on-page copy with clunky “search terms” pushed unnaturally throughout, you’ll want to make an immediate fix—usually by re-writing the copy to make it more user friendly.

Look at the Technical, or Hire Someone to Do So

Media professionals aren’t expected to be tech experts—but they should know, as with anything else, when to bring in the pros.

There are many technical factors that can cause SEO efforts to go awry, and a few simple fixes—including slow site speed (try Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool) and issues within Google Search Console (the no-charge web service for webmasters that will send notifications when errors occur).

But trust your gut. If you think there’s a serious issue, bring it to a tech pro, stat. Not every web pro can handle SEO either—nearly every agency purports to offer “SEO” as a service, but you’ll want to do some detailed evaluations to find out if it’s actually a core competency.

There’s No Such Thing As “Set It and Forget It” in SEO

Ongoing content creation and optimization, social amplification and link building are daily efforts. You can’t just hire an agency or individual to “do the SEO” for your website and consider yourself done.

If your budget doesn’t permit a full time SEO professional, dedicate someone on your team (or yourself, if you’re self-employed) to continue updating your brand’s content, driving to obtain press from well-qualified third parties and continuing to ensure that your site looks and functions with best digital practices.

SEO is a field where it’s better to do some small things well if you don’t have the time and budget to do all, instead of doing nothing at all.

SEO Skills Are No Longer a “Nice to Have”

Whether you’re a freelancer or a digital media pro, SEO is no longer something best left to others. You’ll need at least a foundational expertise to succeed in any media job today. Consider taking specific SEO classes or just beefing up your experience by visiting top blogs—try adding Google’s Official Blog, Search Engine Land and Moz to your weekly reading.  

Instructor McLean Robbins is a content strategist, copywriter and digital consultant. Find her at

Want to learn more? Try McLean’s SEO Writing, a two-session on-demand course that covers the basics.

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