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Facing the Firehose: An Intern's Summer in SEO

You are shopping online for a new sweatshirt. Seconds after typing a brand name into Google, you’re browsing through hundreds of hoodies. Do you consider how that content is created and organized for such easy access? I surely didn’t, until my Merkle internship.The average users of search engines, as with any seamless product or service, tend to be unaware of the complex systems occurring behindthescenes.

For ten weeks, I worked as a Merkle Search Engine Optimization (SEO) intern in my hometown of Bend, Oregon. I sought practical training in SEO, because exposure to this field is hard to come by in college. In just a few months, I went from a rudimentary understanding of how search engines work, to having completed an SEO audit for a local business.

My Merkle internship began with intensive SEO training. During the first three weeks, new hires and interns face a “fire hose of information,” as someone in my office accurately described it. I learned the core concepts and terminology necessary for a foundation in SEO. This training period was challenging, but the pieces of the puzzle quickly started to fit together.

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To share the most valuable aspects of my experience, I incorporated an SEO tool used on the job. Here are the top five opportunities this internship provided, SERP style (SERP=Search Engine Results Page):

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Of these opportunities, the most beneficial one was the Summer Project, which was an SEO site audit for a local business. Much of my time was dedicated to this project, which resulted in a 60-page document and supplemental spreadsheets. I did the majority of the audit work independently, with support from my mentors and account director.

I also had the responsibility of leading our meetings with the local client during the course of the summer, as well as giving the final presentation. As the youngest, least experienced person on the team, this posed a unique and challenging situation. But this opportunity pushed me to really understand the SEO process, the recommendations I was making, and to take ownership of my work. Fortunately, my local client was a pleasure to work with. Their staff was very receptive and appreciative of the feedback we provided on how to improve their website.

Merkle’s SEO internship provided the work experience I was looking for — made all the better by a great group of coworkers. I saw that a 9-to-5 job doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Social outings and spontaneous Nerf gun fights are regular occurrences in the Bend office. My time at Merkle has given me valuable skills that I look forward to building on in the future.