Class blogs can mar students' Web history
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a useful technique for any journalist to learn. It helps users find your content through search engines such as Google or Bing, and visually with keywords they recognize when scanning a list of headlines.
The student's question centered on her contributions to blogs created for some classes at her college. The blogs are public and contain work that doesn't reflect the level of quality she will have in a few years; it's part of her learning process after all. How should she manage or acknowledge this content when a potential employer Googles it?
I've had students create or contribute to publicly available blogs before and despite my knowledge of SEO, I've never considered the impact of this content being found in search results.
This can be a real problem since blogs and their entries tend to rank incredibly high.
There are two ways for students to manage this:
- Politely ask the professor to make the blog not-public after the class ends. This option depends on the type of content published -- was the point to give students a means to publish acceptable work -- since you will want good work with your byline to remain available.
- Own the content. Post a link to both the blog and your contributions on your personal site (you do have one of these, right?) with a description of each. This lets you put them in context since your site will come up first in search results.
I favor the second option because it's a proven public relations tactic and keeps with the nature of the Web. It also shows employers you have a long history online, which is a benefit for any media position nowadays.
Professors and instructors should always consider how any publicly available Web site used in class will impact students a semester or even years later. A blog is a great teaching tool, but it can hamper students' success if not managed wisely.
Students: Have you contributed to a class blog? Is your work still findable through search? What are your thoughts on this?
Professors: Have you used blogs to help teach concepts or give students an option to publish their work? Are the blogs still active?
Post your responses in the comments, or feel free to contact me directly using my contact form.