February 26, 2021

SEO: What You Need to Know

By NYU SPS Center for Publishing Staff

Pop quiz: what does SEO stand for?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become one of the most important tools in digital marketing and media. At the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, our students are lucky to learn about SEO from John Shehata, Global VP, Audience Development Strategy & CRM at Condé Nast and Founder of NewzDash.com News SEO Analytics.

In 2020, two of our NYU SPI grads got the opportunity to continue their SEO studies with John, learning the ins and outs of what it means to be an SEO editor. We caught up with these SEO experts to hear about what they’ve learned and their new jobs at Hennessey Digital as junior on-site SEO editors.

Headshot of Caroline Boden

Caroline Boden
SPI 2020

During my SPI program I had the opportunity to hear from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professional working in the media industry – John Shehata. Over the five months following SPI, we would meet weekly or bi-monthly to discuss how to optimize written content for search engines, like Google. We would go over presentations John had made for Condé Nast brands, discuss how SEO tools work (including SEMRush, ahrefs, Google Trends, and more) and how certain optimizing rules and tricks of the trade changed depending on the content. We concluded the mentorship with a research project.

I had written an extensive report on why SEO is an essential tool that journalists need to learn about. I found it to be very important especially because I do have a background in print journalism and never learned about SEO in regards to writing content.

The real-world application and examples John gave provided a foundation for what I would eventually be doing in my career. I am currently a Junior SEO Editor for a digital marketing agency. I write content for clients’ websites that is strategically optimized for Google and with intentions to rank within the first ten results. If content has been out and accessible to the public, via Google, but is not obtaining enough clicks or traffic, I then go back in and revamp the work. This means changing the meta description and title tag, running the content through programs like ahrefs to see which keywords or headings could be implemented more, and simply updating as I go. I work with individuals who have been in the industry for decades learning about something that I had only scratched the surface on in my undergrad career.

I am thankful for the connections NYU SPI has given me and look forward to what SEO can do for me in my future endeavors.

Read Caroline Boden’s article on SEO Tips for Journalists and Editors here.

Headshot of Hunter Hall

Hunter Hall
SPI 2020

When I enrolled in NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, I had essentially no idea what Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, even was. I knew that I was interested in digital media and loved to try new things. So when John Shehata, the Global Vice President of Audience Development Strategy at Condé Nast, explained SEO to us, I knew that this was a new thing that I had to try.

John graciously took another SPI student, Caroline Boden, and me on as mentees, hoping to enhance our publishing knowledge with some more advanced news SEO training. The goal was for us to each write an article about news SEO by the end of our mentorship, an article that incorporated all the SEO knowledge that we had learned through the mentorship. We would meet every other week or so. John would teach us a bit more about making sure a site ranks at the top of a Google search, and then he would check in on the progress of our article.

What I learned above all else is that SEO is an essential aspect of digital publishing. Any publication with an online presence utilizes it. As I learned more “insider” tips and tricks about optimizing web pages for search engines, I became more amazed that SEO wasn’t mentioned more. In 2020, 68% of web traffic came from search engines, and while SEO isn’t exactly a new or neglected field, I was surprised that I had never heard of it before I enrolled in SPI.

I’m so grateful to both NYU SPI and John Shehata for giving me the opportunity to learn something that I’ve never tried before, something which has changed the course of my career. I’m happy to say that I’ve been hired as a Junior On-Page SEO Editor at Hennessey Digital!

Read Hunter Hall’s article on Free SEO News Tools here.

Interested in being part of the NYU Summer Publishing Institute? Applications for NYU SPI 2021 Online are due March 22, 2021.

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