The Golden Key to SEO

Last night, Gregory Markel from InfuseCreative revealed to our class the myth of SEO. Enjoying a dual rock-star status in both the SEO industry and the “real” world, Gregory has been working on SEO since the pre-Google days. With his frank speaking style, Gregory jokingly pointed out that at that nascent stage of technology, SEO was as primitive and simple as “a bunch of geeks trying to fool search engines.”

Looking back at his d
ecade-plus work in the SEO field, Gregory has witnessed how times have changed since then, and how SEO has evolved alongside the growth of search engines and their search algorithms. From the early days’ emphasis on keywords, to today’s focus on inbound links and site structural aspects, there are so many factors nowadays that determine whether a site will be optimized to be picked up in search engine results. Search engines like Google have become more omniscient and sophisticated in assessing if a site is worth being presented to its users. As we all know, Google’s goal is helping its users find quality websites which provide relevant content, and providing its users with a good web experience. As a result, a site that does provide a good user experience will always succeed and find for itself a favorable place in Google’s world. This is also the golden key to SEO passed onto us by Gregory through his speech: after he touched base with us on numerous useful SEO technical skills, all these skills ultimately pointed towards the same direction: building a well-structured, content-relevant website that can provide a better web experience for its users. Yes, as simple as it is, it’s the core of SEO. SEO is not just about making friends with search engines, but at its core is about how to better serve your users, as they are the real bosses of search engines.

Given this, it is unarguable that SEO is really something that should be built into the genetic code of a website. It should be taken into consideration from the very first phase of planning the construction of a website: is your site well structured? Keep in mind that an error occurring on your site during your user’s visit is more likely to reduce your site’s ranking in Google’s search results, as it indicates the poor web experience you provide for your users. Are your title, content, and descriptions relevant to what you want to convey? What can you do to design a better landing page for your users? Also, is there any other way to creatively build keyword-relevant content? What can you learn about your competitors? All these questions were raised in class, and made for a fascinating discussion on the topic of SEO.

As I have become very engaged in the SEO topic, I am glad that I will get a chance to do a presentation on this topic for one of my classes in two weeks. This way, I can explore SEO more deeply, and then share my findings with all my classmates and the readers of my blog!


SEO, here we go!

Ever since I started to try to looking beyond a website’s surface appearance and dig deeper, I have consistently run into the mysterious word “SEO” (search engine optimization). Now I am very excited that my APOC class has provided us a chance to learn this concept systematically, as I truly believe that in a world of immense information, the search engine, which provides the road map for people to find your content online, is critical for successfully delivering your content to people that would find it of interest. According to many social media expert like Chris Anderson, content is not the king anymore. Context is, and search engines match things in the right context and help people find it.

Here are five tactics I came up with, at the threshold of the big SEO universe, to improve my blog “Social Media Is Great”. 2 months after it has launched, I am very happy to see the site’s has been indexed by Google for 49 times and by Yahoo for 3 times. I still have a long way to go, but at least the site is searchable through these two popular search engines now.

The first tactic is to sort the meta elements of my blog and add a meta description for my website, basically, talking to the search engine’s robot head directly, hoho. If I can more clearly describe what my blog is about, the search engine can better categorize it and search for it.

The second one would be sorting the content of my blog and taking careful note of the words I put in my article content and titles to make it easier for the search engines to recognize. I should think more carefully about what specific words I choose, because certain words may be more “hot” than others, and come up more in search results.

Third, I add tags to my article. I currently have used labels to tag and categorize my blog posts, but have not done it systematically. I think much more effort could be put here to browse through my posts and see what tags may frequently come up. That way I can have a deeper library of tags within my own blog.

Also, trying to exchange links with other sites and getting my name out there. Thanks to my APOC peers, our blog links have been exchanged a lot, but let’s keep it up! We can all help each other by linking and creating more “buzz” for everyone!

Besides that, I have been using many pictures in my blog, so remembering to add ALT tags to these images is another great way to directly talk to the search engines and let them know what my blog is posting about.

SEO, there is still so much to learn, and I am really looking forward to it!


Thanks to our APOC alumnus Jeremiah Abraham, many APOCers including myself got a chance to volunteer at one of the biggest technology industry events, Twiistup, this past Thursday. This event aims to provide a platform for many entrepreneurs in the industry to showcase their innovation and ventures. It seemed to me that everybody in the social media industry came, start-ups, social media gurus, investors, and also many media groups that report on the Technology industry like ReadWriteWeb. It was also a pleasant surprise for me to run into Vince and Jordan there.

I had a good time running around and taking a peek into the core of this technology community which I have committed myself to; I also enjoyed hanging out with my APOC peers and getting to know them more, and I have to say I really like this group! Also as someone new to the technology industry, I definitely feel the industry has its own characteristics, and people in this industry walk fast, talk fast, and think fast too. It is a world full of passion and momentum.

APOC and Kung Fu

Today, the long awaited APOC program finally started! When I arrived at the class building atSanta Monica in the afternoon, I could not help but peek at the busy people passing by on the street, wondering: is he or she another APOCer? When I entered the classroom, a group of APOCers were already sitting there and revealed themselves to me. This is a very interesting group formed from people from different backgrounds and also with a variety of life experiences, but I am sure we all have something in common, and that is that we are all intrigued by the digital world that is changing at every moment, and that we can picture ourselves as a part of it in the future. I am really looking forward to the dazzling sparks that will emerge when we work with each other in the upcoming year at APOC and hope we can all bond as a tight group just like former APOC groups have. At the same time, it was also great to see Dr. North again and to meet our “very charismatic” lecturer Clinton Schaff. I look forward to getting to know them more in the future.

In our first lecture, we were very lucky to catch Dr. Cole before he left the country. He depicted for us a vibrant picture about traditional media and digital media, and their interactions through a historical perspective. He also passionately shared with us the trends he observed about digital media through tracking the evolution of digital media in the past ten years. He mentioned the consolidation of the newspaper industry and the shrinking of the numbers of newspapers due to the declining spending from advertisers. Dr. Cole also mentioned how media brands are going to be more and more important in the future media world because when people face so many media consumption choices, the trust carried by brand names will be proven to be even more valuable.

Since I entered journalism school in 2004, I have been hearing similar predictions about the fate of newspaper industry and I personally have no doubts about it. But I feel as the overall global audience is more and more attracted to fewer and fewer one-stop sources for news media like the New York Times, and as sources where people get their news become more and more concentrated, there is going to much less variety in news; I wonder how should we prevent these powerful news sources from becoming monopolies that may abuse their influence? Can we still count on them as being the watchdog for our society? Even though social media may have brought a high degree of democracy to the average netizen, and there are more and more citizen-journalist reports online through blogs or other means, they are mostly “parasite-ing” first-hand news reported from professional news agencies. In some cases, citizen journalists will get a piece of the information about the event from the surface, but they usually do not have the resource or energy to spend on producing systematic and investigative news content. So as the journalism as a profession keeps losing their grounds? Who will take their place to be the content provider? Will these genres of content, quality content disappear forever? Will the long tail rules apply to the news content in the digital age? Unfortunately I can not articulate myself well enough in the presence of so many questions, but I eagerly anticipate exploring these issues in further depth in the future..

(Updates: I finally found an outlet for these questions in tonight’s Social Dynamics of Communication Technologies class taught by professor Dmitri Williams, a very interesting video shared by Professor Williams has spurred a lively discussion from the APOC group, and many hypothesis were raised and I tend to agree with the one that there should be room in the future for the co-existence of professional journalism and citizen journalism, and professional journalism should find their fundings through other resource besides advertisement. Hopefully this will happen, we will see.)

After class, I wandered a little bit around the area where we had class, and guess what I found? An exclusive Kung-Fu studio in the black ally one block away from the lecturing building: WingChunKung-FuChineseMartialArtsAcademy. I went inside and was told by the staff there that their Kung-Fu master trained Robert Downey Jr. for his action sequences on IRON MAN, and also worked with him for his new movie Sherlock Holmes. I loved Iron Man, but I only remember seeing the big, blocky iron flying around, and can not remember seeing any fist-fights or martial arts action, maybe it is time to watch it again to refresh my memory now.:)