Search Engine Optimized, Thanks to Your English Teacher!

Who knew you could master the hyper competitive world of online marketing by doing everything your English teacher told you to do?

I made this discovery at a Cincinnati workshop about Search Engine Optimization. As the presenter spoke about the importance of key words in Google searches, the English teacher in me was having an aha moment. I was struck by the similarities between the skills he was describing and all the activities I was using with students in the classroom.

Many exercises revolve around a student’s ability to summarize the main idea of a passage. In writing, students practice how to state their main idea in a thesis statement. During test prep we underline the key words in the questions; many of the questions themselves ask students to identify the author’s purpose for writing. The skills that had so often been at the heart of my English classes—narrowing a passage down to the big ideas—were closely related to how Google was set up.

Google wants users to find what they’re looking for quickly. The algorithms filter for key words, so it behooves people who create businesses to choose their names very carefully. For instance, if you sell pet carriers on the Internet, it’s better to be called Cozy Carriers than Pet Pied-a-Terre, and it’s even better to be called Cozy Carriers for Pets. The best name would be Cozy Pet Carriers because it turns out the proximity of the key words is just as important as the key words themselves. All perfectly logical.

Even a website’s blog will fail if the language in it does not align with search word intent. I’m in trouble with this post because I haven’t mentioned the ACT or test preparation. On the other hand, as a business owner, I realize now how lucky we were to choose a name for our business that contains our key words: ACT Prep. It was tempting to choose an alliterative name like Pinnacle Prep, but this is one case when being clear was way more important than being clever.

And now we come full circle: one of the most heavily tested areas on the ACT English is concision. We’re living in the Information Age and we’re drowning in content, so you must have the ability to filter. That’s what is meant by critical thinking skills. It’s exactly what a person is doing when she tries to zero in on the key ideas in a piece of writing. Just like Google focuses on key words. Thank goodness everything your English teacher has been teaching you was right!





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