Written by Carl Rosenberg; copy edited by Rebecca A. Coates
On Saturday, September 30, Editors BC presents Lisa Manfield’s seminar on the principles and practice of search engine optimization—SEO.
SEO encompasses a variety of tactics to improve a website’s ranking in search results—one of the best ways to attract potential customers to a website. This six-hour seminar, consisting of both individual and group activity, will provide an overview of SEO fundamentals, including strategies to improve search engine rankings, effective use of keywords, and the role of online marketing in boosting visibility. The seminar will help web editors with both their own websites and client web-based projects.
Lisa Manfield is a writer, editor, and content strategist. She has developed print and web content for tech companies, small businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. She has also been the editor of BCLiving and marketing manager at The Tyee. She has taught Writing and Editing for the Web at SFU for several years and presented a seminar based on that course for Editors BC in September 2015. (Lynn Slobogian interviewed her for West Coast Editor at that time.)
Carl Rosenberg, a volunteer on Editors BC’s communications and social media committee, spoke to Lisa about her advice on SEO.
Hello, Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to chat with our readers. How did you come to your career as a writer, editor, and content strategist, especially regarding your work in the area of SEO?
I started working in magazine publishing straight out of university. Actually, I started while still in university, as part of the co-op work-experience program, and then ended up getting hired, which made me feel very lucky at the time! I worked for a non-profit with an in-house publishing department creating publications about careers and employment for youth. We launched a national magazine and developed a website just as websites were becoming a thing. And we had a lot of room to experiment and be creative, so it was a great introduction to digital publishing.
I later got my foundation in SEO with a local web publishing company called Suite101. It’s no longer around, but before its demise it was running general interest websites around the world, populated with content from thousands of writers. As a section editor, I was responsible for ensuring the content was of high quality and optimized to be found at the top of the search rankings. It was a fascinating case study, which I will discuss further in our session! I’ve used that foundation in SEO in every job I’ve had since then.
How can web editors benefit from SEO?
The traditional role of content distribution often now falls to the content creator in a digital setting. That means it’s the content creator’s role to ensure that content is found online—which is not an easy job, considering how much content you’re competing with across the Web. Search traffic can account for a large percentage of visits to your website. But if your content doesn’t rank on the first page of search results, it’s unlikely to be found that way. (Most people don’t click through to the second page of results.) Understanding SEO can help you position your content for a higher search ranking.
How is SEO related to other aspects of online marketing?
SEO is one aspect of online marketing—a very important aspect. But it’s not a guarantee as search engines maintain control over their ranking algorithms and change them regularly. If you wanted guaranteed search results, you would use other online marketing strategies, such as paid ads. Additional strategies include link building, influencer marketing, and guest blogging, to name a few.
On a lighter note, what are a few of your favourite books and publications, web-related or otherwise?
Well, to be honest, as a mom to an almost-two-year-old, I barely have time to read for pleasure these days, which saddens me (but I know it’s not forever). When I do have time, it’s usually parenting books or social media websites, where I tend to pick up all my news these days. For digital publishing and online marketing, there are a few blogs I try to keep up with regularly, including Copyblogger and the HubSpot blog, but in keeping with the theme of this presentation, I often rely on Google to direct me to the information I need, when I need it. Ah, the power of SEO!
Lisa, thank you very much for sharing your experience and expertise. We’re looking forward to your seminar on September 30.
Carl Rosenberg edited “Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine” from 1998 to 2016. He has a diploma in Latin American studies from Vancouver Community College and a bachelor of arts in Spanish language and literature from UBC. He has recently begun volunteering with the communications and social media and committee of Editors BC.
Rebecca A. Coates is a freelance writer and copy editor who dies a little inside every time she sees “all right” spelled as one word. She has lived in Ontario, California, and Oregon, but Vancouver is her home, mostly because too much sunshine makes her burst into flames. She blogs about grammar—as well as aliens, werewolves, and pirates—at grammarlandia.com.
Photo provided by Lisa Manfield.