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Search Engine Optimization for Online Communication

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Are you interested in learning more about search engine optimization (SEO) as it relates to your technical writing? The following insightful lesson will discuss the subject matter, including audience-centered communication, keywords, and tags for your content. Updated: 03/08/2022

Online Communication

The term search engine optimization (SEO) can be defined as a methodology that seeks to increase a given website's chances of appearing higher in organic, or non-paid, search engine results. This is accomplished by optimizing web pages and bringing the maximum number of visitors to that particular website. Furthermore, this can be a valuable tool for a technical writer who is attempting to increase their online communicative footprint.

Why? The point of utilizing SEO is to increase the chances that a user will ''stumble upon'' your website while they are engaged in online searching. In other words, an individual who works on SEO is trying to get various search engines to notice a particular website. These search engines include:

  • Bing
  • Dogpile
  • Google
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Yahoo
  • Ecosia

Moreover, SEO can be divided up into three distinct main categories, which are:

  • Black Hat SEO - These techniques don't follow the Google rules
  • Grey Hat SEO - These techniques may or may not follow the Google rules
  • White Hat SEO - These techniques completely follow the Google rules

Additionally, SEO can be further broken down into five subcategories:

  • Local SEO - These involve regional search results
  • Mobile SEO - Involve mobile content mimicking desktop content
  • Off-page SEO - Results from indirect activities taken away from a given website
  • On-page SEO - Results taken from within a given website
  • Technical SEO - A comprehensive category for website improvements

For example, Mary opens a gluten-free cupcake shop called ''Mary's Treats'' in her small town of Sprinklesville, Virginia. She has her sister Martha, who is a tech wizard, start a companion website. Martha utilizes Local SEO techniques to ensure that when local customers type in ''cupcakes'', ''restaurants'', or ''coffee shops'', they see Mary's shop high up in the search engine results. Needless to say, the shop is a hit with the local residents, who are enjoying her gluten-free creations.

Audience-centered Communication

In contrast to writer-centered communication, audience-centered communication is a way of conveying information in which the writer scrutinizes their readers so as to ascertain their needs and then make accommodations for those readers. This form of audience analysis is designed to first narrow down a subject and then eventually select a particular subject.

A computer algorithm is a specific sequence of instructions for a computer to follow. Let's relate this concept to audience-centered communication. What is the sequence you will follow when doing audience-centered technical writing?

First, ask yourself if your audience is one or more of the following:

  • A general group of readers
  • A specific group of readers
  • Clients
  • Customers
  • Your employer

Second, evaluate your audience in terms of their:

  • Economic status
  • Educational level
  • Experience with your subject
  • Knowledge of your subject
  • Social upbringing

Third, ask yourself what specifically your audience needs, wants, and values the most. You may also want to ask yourself what they value the least as well.

Fourth, what is your instructional goal in writing this article, and what message are you trying to convey to your audience?

Moreover, in this audience-centered style of technical writing, it is helpful to utilize the word ''you'' instead of ''I'' or ''we'', which helps to put your reader at the focal point of your message.

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