Conclusion of Independent Study

Posted: November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

After months of researching SEO, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’m getting there. It’s more that just “Search Engine Optimization”. SEO is a vast dimension in a way. It’s consumer analysis, creativity and ingenuity.

Speaking with experts like Carlton Smith and Elizabeth Ann Lowder helped me greatly. In fact, here is an interview I conducted with Carlton Smith.

1. Basic background info: Carlton R. Smith, 44, Owner, Flagstone Search Marketing, Bachelor of Arts, University of Alabama (English/Journalism)
2. Define SEO in your own words. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process by which search engines match the most relevant content to search queries.
3. Can you give me a brief crash course in SEO lingo? What are the top five terms worth knowing? High DA Link Building or high domain authority link building. This is getting links from quality sites. A website with a high DA is something like Forbes, CNN, or Huffington Post. Obviously, these links are coveted, so companies must work hard to have a credible website and link-worthy content, otherwise they are not going to get them. CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization. Put simply: the process of getting people to take an action on your website such as a purchase for e-commerce or filling out a contact form for local businesses. This also includes many other metrics you’ll find in Google Analytics – bounce rate, time on site, page views per visitor – that Google already knows about your website, thus, it’s important to pay attention to them. If you have a high bounce rate and short time on site, your website has a conversion problem. CTR or Click-Through Rate. This is the rate at which your website appears in search results and how many times it’s clicked upon. A website with a low CTR is appearing but not being click on, therefore, rewriting its meta tags should be a top priority. PPC/SEM Pay Per Click or Search Engine Marketing. This represents paid search. It is a very important part of SEO as for just about all of my clients, I also run PPC campaigns. With Google constantly changing its algorithm, it’s important to also run a paid campaign for very important keywords. My company slogan is, “Plant your flag on Page 1.” The reason for that is that a company must be on page one of search results, and preferably closes to the top; that is where most of the traffic resides.
4. How has the landscape of SEO changed since you’ve been in the industry? Short answer – a significant amount! In the “old days” 1995-2003, it was possible to simply stuff the meta keywords field with keywords and your website would easily appear for those search terms, even if the website’s content was somewhat irrelevant. What we now call “black hat” techniques (strategies designed specifically to game search engines) also worked with ease. These included link building i.e. links from other websites. In those days, it was quantity over quality. One could easily and cheaply build hundreds, if not thousands, of links per month from any number of low-quality, “link farm” websites. Now, it’s quality over quality. I would rather spend two months obtaining one high DA link than obtain 50 low DA (or “toxic” links). About the only SEO tactic that remains relevant from the old days is on-site optimization. This is paying attention to meta contents such as title tags, meta descriptions, image tags, and of course, and heading tags.
5. What’s your favorite search engine and why? Google and it’s not even close. Google took over the search market for a few reasons, the top of them being : 1) speed, results are returned very quickly – this was a big deal a decade ago, not so much today as most the other engines are reasonably quick now. 2) simplicity – the results are displayed in an easily consumable fashion. 3) search algorithm. google basically pioneered a way to rank pages to return more relevant (and more accurately stated, prevalent) results than other engines. They did this by ranking pages based off other pages linking to that page and calculating a score based off that. I.e. if you have a lot of popular sites linking to your page, then your page is considered more relevant for that keyword or term.
6. How important is it for a journalist to be knowledgeable in SEO? Very important. Why? Because any journalist wants his/her content to be found and read.
7. What direction do you see SEO going in the future? Mobile devices and voice search have already changed SEO a great deal in the last few years. Probably the next cutting edge is AI or Artificial Intelligence. Google’s RankBrain is able to apply this knowledge of connections to decipher long-winded queries that it’s never seen before. Google Search receives lots of queries per day – 3 billion, in fact. 450 million of those are queries that no one has ever asked Google before. How is it going to give you accurate results? The first step is making a connection between that query and a simpler, related query. One example Google gave where machine learning is helping out is “what’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of the food chain.”
8. What are some things you’d warn people of in SEO? What do people get too caught up on? People can over complicate it in my opinion. Google’s mission is to connection users with the highest-quality content as quickly as possible. That is why I think it’s most important for websites and publications to focus on doing just that. SEO should be less about the search engines and more about the human audience driving it. A quality piece of content is going to clicked on, read, shared (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit) and be linked to by high DA websites like Forbes, CNN, or Huffington Post, thus satisfying all the quality metrics Google wants to see
— As you can see, Carlton provided me with the ins and outs of SEO, and it was greatly appreciated. Being such a busy individual, I was glad we were able to chat and he helped me better understand SEO as a I move forward in my graduate studies and professional future.
What about the future of SEO? As of now, brand building is incredibly important. Google’s knowledge graph is progressing, and it is attempting to organize global info and increase its accessibility. The goal for Google is to get a better grasp on semantics and overall user experience in the future. The future is bright for SEO, and I am glad that I was able to learn from some of the best in the business.

What’s a better place to learn about Search Engine Optimization than

First off let me say this: The page has a periodic table for SEO “elements”, but if you’re like me and cringe at the thought of anything science related, don’t panic. It’s easy to navigate and very helpful.

Let’s break down the periodic table provides us with:

  1. According to searchengineland, there are three parts to focus on in their periodic table: on-the-page-SEO, off-the-page-SEO and violations… easy enough..right?
  2. These three parts contain subgroups, but it’s important to note that violations are universal and are found throughout the chart. My brain felt violated trying to understand this…Just kidding! It’s really simple.
  3. The elements are given their two-letter symbol through a simple equation. You add the letter of the sub-group, make that the the first letter and allow the second letter to be the individual factor (e.g. Cq = quality…q for quality a.k.a the factor… C is for the subgroup Content).

That’s about it really. The rest of the guide provided by kind of breaks down the subgroups and elements.

Here’s something that struck a chord with me: No matter how interesting an HTML may be, you need good content! Seems pretty obvious, but important.

Understanding SEO is a lot about self-responsibility when it comes to the “on-the-page” part. What do you want to put out? What’s your layout like? All your choices, but it doesn’t hurt to have helpful outside opinions. Off-the-page-issues are sometimes out of the control of publishers, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be aware of them. does a superb job at bridging the gap between experts in SEO and newbies, like myself. There goal was to cater to the newbies, but help refresh the vets. Bravo,

Now, let’s get to the exciting part in this week’s independent study lesson… an interview with Elizabeth Ann Lowder! Thanks to Prof. Brantley, I was able to get in touch with Elizabeth, who works as a social media specialist at Elizabeth was pretty cool. She worked for awhile at the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame as a social media specialist, and got to meet Coach K. I was jealous.

She told me everything and anything about SEO. We even created a definition, that basically stated that SEO is a way too better navigate search engines to find what you want, when you want.

At, Elizabeth specializes on sports. She told me this weekend she spent 18 hours working thanks to the Auburn fan who tried to light the tree on fire at Toomer’s Corner (those trees can never catch a break).

Elizabeth told me that SEO doesn’t always have to be about asking questions. Also, you don’t need SEO tools to create searchable content. She really focused on the “organic” side of SEO, and that was helpful for someone like me. I’m not trying to shell out money to help find keywords. She said that a lot of SEO is based off an understanding of your audience, and sometimes having a team that solely focuses on SEO. Some of the journalists Elizabeth deals with are focused mainly on writing, and that’s where the SEO team comes in. But, in this day in age, it’s best to be a multi-talented journalist and understand how to generate organic views and hits.

The only perplexing question for both of us was the idea of the changing landscape of SEO. Where will it be in the next ten years? For Elizabeth, the focus was more on the mobile end. But, we both left the interview pondering the question. Perhaps, it’s not predictable at the moment. We did agree that Google is the leader for all search engines.


Search Engine Optimization.


Whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty important you brush up on understanding SEO if you want a site, blog or story to thrive. My editors for the numerous sports media outlets I write for hound me about SEO development.

I decided to partake in an independent study to better get a grasp on SEO, it’s importance and how to create unique, interesting content. The first piece I read, Moz’s “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO”, was a nice starting point for a young journalist like myself.

Here’s what I thought…

Ch. 1

First and foremost, I learned that search engines have two functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they’ve determined are the most relevant.

Always good to have a starting point.

The concept of imagining the internet as a city subway system was relevant to me, due to the fact I grew up about 20 minutes outside of New York City (the internet can also stink like any alleyway in the Big Apple).

Basically, when trying to use a “marketer’s mindset”, one needs to also be a bit savvy with search engines and their inner workings. Good to know.

Ch. 2

Empathy for your audience?

I asked myself, “What the hell does that mean?”

I understood it more as I read the second chapter. Basically, build the information for the user, not the search engine! Easy enough, right?

Think top of the page, and possibly organic vs paid. I’m kind of getting this….kind of.

Ch. 3, 4, 5

I started browsing through, and found a common thread: make things easy. Whether it’s for robots or humans, make it easy. I like the sound of that, but how do we do this?

Search engines have limitations. Isn’t technology great? I thought it was supposed to be perfect! Damn you search engines! But, really one needs to understand the limitations a search engine has. This whole SEO thing is kind of like one big competition of websites competing to be seen by consumers.

In Chapter 4, I learned that search engines see sites differently than we do. Kinda neat. I also learned about the dreaded scrapers, and sites who like to re-use content. It’s a dog eat dog world.

Chapter 5 was very valuable. Keyword research… I hate research…but keyword research is essential. Moz has a cool keyword explorer.

Ch. 6,7,8

Usability is key amongst site goers. Easy to navigate sites get the best hits. Pretty clear concept.

Word of mouth! Sally likes my site, she tells Mike, he tells his friends, they tell their friends and BOOM!

Social sharing is a game changer, and I’m pretty glad that I am active and have a great social network of educated, informed and interactive users.

I learned a lot about SEO tools, and sitemaps to be specific. I like how they “help you understand how search engines crawl through your site.”

Ch.9, 10

Chapter 9 was your basic myths and misconceptions page, but it’s always good to know what’s real and what’s not. I am now informed on keyword density, meta tags and other key pieces of SEO that have myths surrounding them.

Perhaps my most favorite chapter, chapter 10, opened my eyes to actually tracking success. One must keep track of direct navigation, referral traffic and search traffic. It takes a lot of work to run a site. Moz has a paid analytics site, but Yahoo! offers a free one.







Sports Media has confronted social issues in the past few years. Athletes are constantly taking on roles in the social networking world and feeding fans with information in seconds. The issue is that sports media is being watered down and traditional journalists are competing against social media outlets (Facebook, twitter, etc.) to present news. Social media has bolstered sports and created brand powering with teams.

The following is a list of the ten most popular sports entities globally in the media: 1. FC Barcelona 2. NBA 3. Real Madrid 4. Manchester United 5. ESPN 6. Lakers 7. Chelsea 8. AC Milan 9. Arsenal 10. WWE (courtesy of These teams and professional sports leagues have become popular in the media for their marketing appeal. FC Barcelona has gained 8.5 million twitter followers and 41,609,365 Facebook fans.Image


(courtesy of:

FC Barcelona has used their media power to promote their sponsors (e.g.Unicef, Qatar Foundation, etc.) and gain fans internationally. Players like Lionel Messi have become global superstars thanks to networking on sites like Facebook and twitter. The message is spread in different languages and forms to all present the same idea… “Support our team.”

What fans most enjoy is the personal feel of social networking and media with sports they feel like they are on the same playing field with athletes and their opinions can be heard through social media tools. Fans love seeing athletes post pictures to twitter of their everyday excursions



(courtesy of Johnny Manziel twitter)

Athletes seem more “real” through the use of social media outlets and sites. They show a side that fans can appreciate and relate with.

            However, there is a downside to Social Media and it’s relationship with sports. Athletes reveal news and the surprise factor seems non-existent. Houston Texans running back Arian Foster was scolded for tweeting photos of his MRI. Some team officials fear that team policies and secrets will be revealed on social networking sites. Brooklyn Nets point guard Derron Williams infamously broke the news of his contract via twitter.

            The pressure to provide more to fans and the masses has been magnified thanks to social media. Many of the sports stories are watered down and it is hard to filter online news/speculations. Journalism has been under fire for its validity and honesty, mostly due to the influx of false news appearing on social sites.

            Athletes have been under fire for misusing social media and abusing it. Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson tweeted about his discontent for their coach and was released for doing so. Free Agent wide receiver Chad Johnson was fined for tweeting during an NFL preseason game. Running back Rashard Mendenhall was criticized for his controversial 9/11 tweets.

            The issues of social media are not limited to professional athletes. Even collegiate and high school athletes have been affected by social networking. Former high school football player Yuri Wright faced scrutiny for a twitter issue. The Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ) cornerback tweeted provocative and derogatory tweets during his senior year. Wright was expelled from Don Bosco Prep and lost scholarships from Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Michigan. Wright currently plays at Colorado, but lost out on an opportunity to play at a national powerhouse program due to the misuse of social networking.



(courtesy of

A positive aspect is the ability for coaches to scout out players through sites like YouTube. Athletes can upload their high light tapes and add commentary/music for a modern appeal. Certain highlight tapes gain followers and are spread across media networking sites, helping boost a player’s chance of getting recruited.

            Social Media has become a crucial part of sports. Over 80% of people monitor social media while watching sports at home… nearly 60% monitor social media at live sports games. Doing so creates social media “outbursts”. For instance, Tim Tebow threw a touchdown pass to beat the Steelers in the playoffs…he broke a record for tweets gaining 9,000 a second pertaining the incident. Current Houston Rockets Point Guard Jeremy Lin gained 550,000 twitter followers during the “Linsanity” craze.

            The issues of social media and sports are diverse and plentiful. There are positive aspects of social media and there are sides that seem detrimental to professional athletics. A balance seems necessary; however obtaining such equilibrium is not easy.



Works Cited

  • “How Social Media Has Changed The Sports World.” Social Media Coach For Athletes RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
  • MarketShare. “The Lines Between Social Media And Sports Continue To Blur.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

“Socialympics: How Social Media and Blogging Has Boosted Sports Media.” Convince and Convert Social Media Strategy and Content Marketing Strategy

Extended Weekend Playlist

Posted: January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

The weekend is basically here and that calls for a playlist. Some bangers to get you going and ready for some good times. A little bit of everything to get the good times rolling. Enjoy.











I have been looking for a new artist that I could just jam too on replay all day. It’s been a long time since someone’s hit me like that, but I really dig this kid Chuck Da Ruckus (CDR). CDR, who’s real name is William Twyman, is a 6’2” 230lb linebacker who plays for Brown (pretty smart guy). Chuck balances school, football, and music dropping bangers like “Friday Night Fade” (Check it out here CDR switches it up with the serious track “Most Consistent”. He displays a smooth lyrical attack that is paired with a clean beat. CDR is a fresh face with huge potential. Once his songs get a little more hype he’ll blow up. Check out Chuck’s facebook page here

T.G.I.F Playlist and News

Posted: November 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s Friday and time for a weekend playlist to get you going. I have some throwbacks and new jams mixed in. The playlist is as followed: “Guap” by Big Sean, “Do My Dance” Tyga ft. 2 Chainz, “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey, “Die Young Reidiculous Remix”, “Tipsy (Candyland OG Remix), “I’m Not Your Hero” Tegan and Sara, “Swimming Pools Bird Peterson Remix” Kendrick Lamar, “Burn It All” The Dean’s List, “Ride” Lana Del Rey, “National Anthem Remix” Lana Del Rey ft. Tensnake, “Raging Silhouettes” Kap Slap ft Avicii, Ralvero, “Action” Terror Fabulous ft Nadine Sutherland. A good mix to get you pumped for the weekend. In other news, I am disappointed Big Sean pushed back his debut for Hall of Fame. He is aiming for a release sometime in early 2013. In sporting news, Miguel Cabrera took home the AL MVP… congrats bud. Sad news that Hostess has gone out of business… Twinkies can survive nuclear bombs, but they fell victim to a bakers fall out.