Week 4: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Clark Benson of Ranker.com

By UCLA X425 Student Kirby Verceles

Kirby Verceles

Savvy marketers understand the importance of maximizing their presence on the Internet, and they’re increasingly turning to social media to help with search engine optimization (SEO). Clark Benson is founder and CEO of Ranker.com, a website designed for crowd-sourced rankings of everything from the tastiest gluten free crackers to the most attractive celebrities. Benson brought his experience as a serial entrepreneur to chat with our social media class about the ins and outs of SEO.

According to Benson, SEO has become a “war” in this day and age as companies fight to win the consumer’s full attention. There are tactics to buy a company’s way to the top of search engine rankings, and the fight doesn’t stop there. There is a constant battle against spam links to the point that an html solution was created called, “follow” and “no follow” links. The “no follow” links were created to penalize and discourage spammers by making sure their spam links aren’t counted towards the search engine rankings. This in turn paves the way for high quality web pages that carry a higher value in the rankings.

Benson recommended an understanding of SERP (the search engine results page), as it is the most important step to maximizing your SEO. When it comes to Google, the SERP consists of a list of title tags and meta descriptions of websites that are most applicable to the keyword(s) entered in a search. The title tag holds 70 characters and is clickable. The meta description of the webpage holds 140 characters, and is part of the source code. It’s also clickable, and the description can be customized.

According to studies, 35% of people using a search engine will click links on the 1st page of search results, 20% will continue to the 2nd page of results, and only 12-13% will reach the 3rd page of the SERP. Google’s goal is to help people find what they are looking for, while a company’s goal is to get its webpage on that 1st page, more importantly, at the top of the 1st page of a consumer’s keyword search.

SEO has become more of an art than a science. Once companies begin to hone in on the variables that factor in the rankings on Google and master the art of producing sensational, relevant content, they will begin to climb the rankings on the SERP.

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