PBJ Marketing’s SEO Team Presents to John Hopkins on SEO Basics

image of cartoon peanut butter and jelly sandwich above image of PBJ Marketing SEO team

At the beginning of this month, our team had the pleasure of presenting to the John Hopkins Interactive Marketing and Advertising class. SEO Manager Nicki Betterbid and SEO Specialist Marisa Casella led the presentations, covering the four pillars of SEO and answering student questions about the future of digital marketing.

John Hopkins Presentation: SEO 101

SEO is a complicated subject, even for those who have been working in it for years. This is partially due to the ever changing nature of digital marketing and SEO best practices. With regular algorithm updates and the rise of social media and AI, what makes for a good SEO strategy can be tricky. However, there are four pillars of SEO that we know make a difference in a client’s rankings: content, technical SEO, backlinks, and local directories.

Content: the cornerstone of SEO

We’ve heard the phrase “content is king” for years and it still holds true today. There is more content out there than ever before, making it harder for users to decide what to click on. There are some steadfast best practices you can follow though. Content needs to be four things:

  • Engaging
  • High-quality
  • Timely
  • Optimized

What does this mean? All content types, including blogs and landing pages, should serve a purpose to the reader, whether that’s answering a question or providing more information on a subject or service. Landing pages tend to focus on a product or service the company provides while blogs address current events, user interests, or questions. Both should catch the attention of a potential customer and keep them engaged. The content should also be high-quality, meaning it is well written and illustrates expertise. With the ever-changing nature of information, content should also be regularly updated so it’s accurate and updated with the most current information. Lastly, it should be optimized for SEO and the keywords you want your piece to rank for. Keywords are search queries that potential customers look up to find your site. For instance, a pet grooming service may target the terms “pet groomer near me” or “small dog groomer.” However, the best terms to target should have a high monthly volume, be relevant to the content, and a difficulty rating below 70. This data can be viewed on Moz or Semrush while conducting keyword research.

screenshot of two different keyword research results

Keywords should be sprinkled throughout the content, as well as added to the meta title and internal links.

On Page & Technical

We have all attempted to go to a site that takes too long to load and ultimately clicked away. This is where technical SEO comes in. For the purpose of SEO, technical fixes may include metadata updates, fixing broken links and other crawl errors, addressing site speed and Core Vitals issues, optimizing URL structure, adding Schema markup, including alternative text on images, and more. The goal with technical SEO is to make the site user friendly and improve the user experience. This means the site should load quickly, the links and buttons should all work, and the images should be clear. Technical SEO can appear very overwhelming, but it is really front-heavy. After you have gone in and cleaned up any technical errors that exist on your site, you simply have to maintain it. Routine checkups and fixes can keep a site functional and efficient.


Also referred to as off-site SEO, backlinks are links that appear on other websites that link back to a client’s site. Backlinks signal to Google that a site can be trusted because authoritative or high-quality sites are linking to it. These are important for a number of reasons. Backlinks share what is known as “link juice,” meaning it shares some of its value with the site they are linking to. This can be helpful in improving a site’s Domain Authority, but it can also be damaging if the site has too many spammy or low-value backlinks. It is important to provide a relevant keyword that can be linked, also known as “anchor text.” This helps the targeted page and keyword rank higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).

Local Directories

PBJ Marketing Google Business directory with red squares highlighting important elements

Local directories are particularly important for companies that have a physical location. It is essential that all business information is accurate and consistent across the board. The most essential directories that should be updated first include:

  • Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business or GMB for short)
  • Bing Places
  • Apple Maps
  • Yelp
  • Facebook

At the very least, all directory profiles should include the company’s website, images of the interior and exterior, reviews, address, and hours.

PBJ Thanks Johns Hopkins

We would like to thank John Hopkins for the opportunity to speak with your students about SEO and digital marketing. If you would like to learn more about PBJ Marketing and the services we offer, please contact us today.