A Conversation with Ryan Born, CEO of AudioMicro
By UCLA X425 Student Pamela Dean
Ryan Born enlightened the UCLAx425 class on the mysteries and complexities of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Just how do you use SEO to drive traffic to your website? Born told the class there are three primary ways to get your website to appear at or near the top of the list in a Google search.
1. Pay for it – With Google Adwords, companies can pay to have their website appear as one of the first three sites listed in a Google search. Because Google charges every time someone clicks on the link to your site, using adwords can become very expensive. The amount Google charges varies depending on the demand for your keywords. For instance, keywords coveted by credit card companies, which are numerous and highly competitive, cost more than keywords related to underwater basket weaving supplies. Born doesn’t suggest buying keyword ads because it’s typically cost effective only if the product you sell is very expensive. Keyword ads tend to generate a lot of “lookie-loos” – which means you get charged when these visitors click on your site but aren’t really interested in buying anything.
2. Go Organic – According to Born, driving people to your site “organically” is the optimal way to raise a website’s profile. This is done by embedding certain keywords into your site’s html code, especially the description and title tags. The Google algorithm uses these keywords to determine your site’s relevance.
Beyond keywords, social media activity can also influence organic search engine results. Google mines Twitter, Google+, and other platforms to determine the relevance of your website’s keywords and links. For instance, Google uses Twitter’s “fire hose” – literally the stream of tweets – to determine what people are talking about. Make sure your html code, website title and description have plenty of relevant keywords. Inbound links from other websites are also important, but make sure not to include too many outbound links. “The more fingers pointing to your website, and the less you point to other websites, the better,” said Born.
3. Viral Traffic – Viral traffic is generated by material, often humorous or sophomoric, that people want to share because we all like a good laugh. Such content can be very hard to pull off and isn’t necessarily appropriate for every company or product. Born doesn’t recommend this approach unless you are skilled at it.
Additionally, Born discussed ways to cheat the system, called “black hat” techniques, including automated bots and link farms. He contrasted such methods with “white hat” techniques or ways to make the system work to your advantage while staying in the bounds of moral correctness. He doesn’t suggest using black hat techniques. If Google notices, they can ban your site from their search engine.
Born also advises running your website through PageRank analysis, which grades your site’s “authority” in a Google search. Does your site have what it takes for the Google gods to deem it supreme amongst the myriad websites clamoring for our attention? Sharpen up your social media skills and let the competition begin.