Article Published: April 5, 2016
Article Published: April 5, 2016
The role search engines now play in our lives is awe-inspiring. Every day, we entrust Google with delivering answers for over 3.5 billion of our queries. And yet, most of us have very little insight into what makes search engines tick. That one-way relationship changed for 15 local students, who now appreciate how search engines became our closest advisor.
On the weekend of March 19 and 20, students and recent graduates from four local universities and representatives from three nonprofit organizations came to learn how to capture a relevant slice of that traffic through search engine optimization (SEO) at LunaMetrics’ third annual free SEO training for students and nonprofits.
Everyone took part in an interactive crash course in SEO fundamentals; specifically, how search engines work and how to create a website that search engines, and the humans using them, can easily access and understand. Then, students were partnered with a nonprofit and employed their new skills to make recommendations on how to improve the organization’s online presence.
Three years ago, LunaMetrics, a digital marketing and analytics consultancy in the South Side, began hosting the event as a way to give back to the Pittsburgh community. The idea was twofold: get students real-world, practical consulting experience, and give nonprofits a valuable service that is often unavailable to them due to time and resource constraints. Since the program’s inception, over 20 nonprofit organizations and 50 students have participated in the training.
“One of the most important things a student can have when looking for employment is real, hands-on experience,” observes Nick Eppinger, a search analyst at LunaMetrics and this year’s trainer. “My first professional project was actually consulting for a nonprofit and I wanted to give others the opportunity to gain that experience as well.”
Like several LunaMetrics consultants, many of the students did not come from a marketing or business background; among the mix were majors ranging from English writing to philosophy. Eppinger says of the diversity, “I studied history and anthropology, and have worked with people who come from backgrounds such as astrophysics and art conservation. Anyone can do this if they have a willingness to learn and get their hands dirty doing real client work.”
In addition to the students’ education, the nonprofits also benefitted from the workshop. “The training is one of our ways of giving back to the community, and Pittsburgh has such a rich nonprofit community,” says Eppinger.
The nonprofit representatives received the same SEO education as the students, in addition to actionable insights and strategies to take back with them. Training attendee Anup Aryal represented Rukmini Foundation, an organization that helps girls get access to education in Nepal. Afterwards, he remarked, “I really appreciate that our foundation was picked to participate. This is going to make a tangible difference on how we proceed with both content management and branding.”
Matt Ubinger, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, also left with a new outlook, stating, “Receiving the SEO training from LunaMetrics was a unique educational opportunity. I came out of the training with a lot of new skills and a much better understanding of how to develop a better online presence for organizations. On top of this, we got to work with a nonprofit to provide them with recommendations, which was a great way to help organizations that benefit our community."
The training has become a staple for LunaMetrics, who will host another training next year to continue fostering the relationship between the educational, nonprofit, and technology sectors in Pittsburgh. Contact the SEO team at LunaMetrics to learn more about upcoming search marketing events. Learn more at lunametrics.com.