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MKT 420 Search Engine Optimization: Syllabus

Extra Credit!

Extra Credit Assignment

For 5 points added to your final grade you will conduct a mini SEO audit of the following website:

Due: December 4 at Midnight; Email your mini audit to professor by due date.

Your mini-audit should be no more than 5 pages single spaced with visuals and charts.

Your audit should contain the following:

  • BRIEF overview of company and what they do as well as the role of search and discoverability and website traffic in their business strategy (brand awareness, ecommerce conversions, facilitate purchase, increase desire, encourage trial, etc.) (1/2 point)
  • SERP results page when searching branded (congregation ale and non branded (craft beer, beer, microbrew etc.) words (1/2 point)
  • Raw traffic and discoverability metrics as well as competitors’ (1/2 point)
  • Developer issues (robots.txt, sitemap.xml, canonical urls, optimized description and page title, meta description, h1 headers, html markup and metadata for visuals) (1/2 point)
  • Content  and keyword analysis (does content adequately support the required keywords and do keywords support the required strategic needs? Why or why not? You’ll have to do a keyword and content analysis and apply to strategic objective you arrived at in first section for this part!) (1½ points)
  • Link analysis (analyze quality and quantity of links and their role in discoverability)  (1/2 point)
  • List at least 5 things that need to be fixed on this webpage to ensure discoverability--there are actually about 14 so I am making this pretty easy ;) 1 point

Course Syllabus & Schedule

Salazar Hall Room c246      Tuesday 6:10-10:00

Professor: Michael Germano


Text: 769-287-1015

Phone:  323-343-3963

Office Location: Library North Room 1018A (Ask for me at reference desk)

Office Hours: Monday & Tuesday 3:00-6:00;  Wednesday & Thursday 3:00-4:00; Friday  by appointment


Required Course Materials

The Art of SEO. 2nd or 3rd Edition. Enge, Spencer and Stricchiola. O’Reilly Books.

@profmgermano (Twitter) (available at mycalstatela)


Course Description

MKT 420. Prerequisite:  Marketing 304 or consent of instructor.  Considers the tools, techniques and technology related to online search activities. Examines the role of search in e-marketing and e-commerce strategies and importance of analytical tools to gauge effectiveness.

Some Sections may be Technologically Mediated

Course Objectives

Businesses and non-profit organizations of all types and sizes have recognized the value of search marketing for its power to reach customers in order to meet diverse strategic objectives that range from building brands to facilitating sales. This course is an elective for the Marketing option and/or a course for completion of the Social Media Marketing certificate. 

 Search Engine Optimization examines the role of search in digital marketing strategies as well as its primary place in a firm’s inbound and content marketing efforts. The course will require students to envision the role of discoverability in all digital content created by a firm while understand the tools and techniques for allowing consumers to find that content more readily. The class will survey the landscape of search and search optimization tools and techniques. Students who successfully undertake MKT 420 will be develop a solid foundation in SEO tactics for planning and decision-making related to search engine marketing.


Student Learning Outcomes

Students that successfully complete MKT 420 will achieve the following:

  • Understand and contextualize the role of search in marketing efforts overall;
  • Understand the ways in which search engines function as well as how users interact with them with an eye towards predicting customer behaviors who search for goods and services;
  • Understand the technology and terminology related to search engine optimization (SEO);
  • Comprehend the different challenges represented by mobile search, local/geo-based search and vertical (image and video) search;
  • Communicate and discuss abstract concepts related to search optimization to managers and business leaders;
  • Evaluate websites for search optimization and effectiveness using common SEO, website key performance indicators and analytics;
  • Evaluate inbound marketing and content marketing efforts in relation to search marketing and SEO by applying the SEO analytics that measure them;
  • Engage in effective keyword research and analysis;
  • Create SEO plans for a website based on the SEO guides from the major search companies (Google, Bing, Yahoo!);
  • Create an SEO strategy (planning and implementation) for a business or product (new or existing) that depends upon web traffic and digital presence for viability;
  • Craft an AdWords campaign for a specific product and for a new business;
  • Collaborate with technology professionals during website design and content management in order to advocate on behalf of marketing concerns and needs.
  • Present an SEO strategy that tied into specfic business objectives (brand building, trial and/or revenue growth)


Course Requirements

Students in MKT 420 can earn 100 points total over the course of the quarter. The total points earned will determine the final grade:























Grades are based upon the following requirements/deliverables:

  • Class Contributions/Participation 10%
  • Quizzes (5) 25%
  • Website SEO Analysis and Critique 20%
  • SEO Strategy for a Product 15%
  • SEO Strategy Report and Presentation 30%

Brief descriptions of each deliverable are listed below. Consult the course calendar at the end of this syllabus for all due dates and exam dates. Detailed instructions for each assignment will be given out and explained in class two weeks prior to the due date. They will also be placed on the course website at that time. Since your grade is highly dependent upon execution and deliverable of all assignment requirements, it is in your best interest to ask questions (during class, via email, text, or office hours) if you are unsure about anything. All written work except quizzes is due via email as a word document (so I can give feedback easily) as indicated on the class schedule at the end of this syllabus as well as in the brief descriptions. Missed deadlines will result in a grade of 0. If you want feedback prior to submitting your work for a grade you may do so by sending it to me no later than 72 hours before it is due.

Class Contributions: Attendance is strongly suggested since 10 points/10% of your grade is based upon active engagement and participation in class discussions and exercises. MKT 420 is highly participatory and interactive. Failure to attend the entire class meeting and failure to actively participate will adversely impact your final grade by up 1 points per absence/non-participation late arrival or early departure. Failure to participate in online discussions and activities will also impact your grade by up to 4 points. Attending class is really the best strategy since directions and advice for projects are oftentimes given during class times in response to questions. Students who do not attend my classes rarely excel in them.

Quizzes: There will be five quizzes. Each will be worth 5 points. The quizzes will be a combination of definition and essay. Quizzes will typically have 15 terms to identify and 1 short (1 page) essay. Quizzes are all open book and open resource and will last approximately 30 minutes. Success in quizzes will depend upon reading the assigned material and watching the required videos (consult course schedule for material you’ll need to cover as well as dates for quizzes.) Missed quizzes will result in a 0 regardless of reason. If you miss a quiz the extra credit assignment is your best option for recovering the lost points.

Website SEO Analysis and Critique:  This is an individual assignment worth 20%/20 points. You will craft a polished, professional written level report (maximum 7 pages (12 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins) including graphics and charts) analyzing a website and critiquing its effectiveness for search marketing. The report must reflect knowledge and application of the Lynda videos and book chapters preceding the due date. Detailed instructions for this assignment will be given out two weeks prior to the due date. Due via email ( Friday 10/30 at 6:00 PM. Email your paper to the professor by 10/27 at 6:00 PM if you would like feedback before submitting a final version for grading on the 30th.

SEO Strategy for a Product: This is a group project worth 15%/15 points. Working in pairs you will craft an organic SEO strategy for a new product in the form of a polished, professional level written report (maximum 7 pages (12 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins) including graphics and charts). The report must reflect knowledge and application of the Lynda videos and book chapters preceding the due date. Detailed instructions for this assignment will be given out two weeks prior to the due date. Due via email ( Friday 11/13 at 6:00 PM. Email your paper to the professor by 11/10 at 6:00 PM if you would like feedback before submitting a final version for grading on the 13th.

SEO Strategy for a Business: This is a group project worth 30%/30 points. Working in group you will craft an organic and paid SEO strategy for a business in the form of a polished, professional level written report (maximum 10 pages (12 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins) including graphics and charts) as well as present the report to the class. The report and presentation must reflect knowledge and application of the Lynda videos and book chapters preceding the due date. Detailed instructions for this assignment will be given out two weeks prior to the due date. Due via email ( Tuesday December 1 at 6:00 PM. One team member should send a copy of the reort and slide deck and cc all team members.

Extra Credit Opportunity: If you are concerned about your performance in an assignment or the course generally, please contact the professor for information about extra credit. Up to 5 points can be earned doing an extra credit assignment involving the analysis and critique of a specific company’s use of SEO. See the professor for more information.


Course Policies

A student that succeeds in MKT 420 must demonstrate the following traits and characteristics:

  • Reads all  assigned readings and watches all assigned videos'
  • Observes all university policies related to academic honesty and adheres to them at all times;
  • Shows up on time and prepared for class each week and stays focused for the entire period;
  • Actively engages professor and classmates during discussions and class activities;
  • Adopts disciplined study/work habits that allocate at least 4-6 hours per week on average for outside preparation and completion of requirements;
  • Is fully aware of all due dates, exam dates, course requirements and asks professor (via email or office hours) if they do not;
  • Checks email regularly and communicates with professor in a timely way when needed;
  • Does not make excuses for missed deadlines or failed work and instead offers solutions to the problem of not meeting course requirements;
  • Works effectively with colleagues on three group projects/presentations;
  • Acts like an adult who accepts full responsibility for their choices and actions whether they result in success or failure;
  • Commits fully to their professional success as a student while achieving balance in their personal life so it does not impinge upon that commitment.


Students with Disabilities

The university provides reasonable accommodations to students with documented physical and learning disabilities.  The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), located in Student Affairs Room 115 coordinates all documentation of disabilities (323-343-3140)


If you have any questions at any point during the quarter please contact the professor via email or during office hours as soon as possible.

Class Schedule


Topics Covered

Required Reading/Video

Due Dates & Deadlines



  • Introduction to course and syllabus
  • Overview of Search Engine Marketing
      • Business needs met by search
      • Search as marketing strategy
      • Consumers as searchers
  • Search engines as connectors of commerce
    • Search engines and their monetization
    • Searcher intent
    • Ecommerce dependence upon search
  • How search engines work (Google, Yahoo!, Bing)
  • Search engine web standards and discoverability

Art of SEO 1, 2





  • SEO strategic objectives:
    • Visibility/Branding
    • Traffic/Call to Action
    • ROI/Sales
  •  SEO planning
    • Keyword analysis
    • Competitor analysis
    • Indexing status
    • Digital content auditing

Art of SEO 3, 4

Quiz #1



  • ONLINE CLASS (No class meeting)
  • Overview of SEO Fundamentals

SEO Fundamentals with David Booth (Lynda)




  • Developing SEO-friendly websites
    • Redirects, metadata, semantic HTML, Tags, CMS Issues, Content Optimization, Linguistic/language barriers, domains and subdomains, sitemaps, indexing
    • Search engine guidelines applied

Art of SEO 5, 6

Quiz #2



  • ONLINE CLASS (No class meeting)
  • SEO-centric website analysis

Analyzing your Website to Improve SEO with Peter Kent (LYNDA)

Website SEO Audit Due



  • Content marketing and SEO
  • Link marketing
  • Types of content that get discovered
  • Viralness and SEO

Art of SEO 7

Quiz #3



  • ONLINE CLASS (No class meeting)
  • Digital content marketing
  • Link marketing

SEO Link Building In-depth with Peter Kent (LYNDA)

Product SEO Strategy Due




  • The role of social media in search marketing
  • Mobile search consideration
  • Local search
  • Vertical search

Art of SEO 8, 9

Quiz #4



  • ONLINE CLASS (No class meeting)
  • Google AdWords
  • Planning and executing AdWords campaigns

SEO Keyword Strategy In-Depth with Matt Bailey (Lynda)


Google AdWords Essential Training with Brad Batesole (Lynda)

Company SEO Strategy Due



  • SEO tools
  • SEO tracking and measurement

SEO Tools Fundamental with Brate Batesole (Lynda)


Art of SEO 10

Quiz #5




  • AdWords Campaign Presentations

ADWords Campaign Projects Due 12/8 6:00 PM

This class schedule can and will chainge! Keep in touch with your professor via class attendance, office hours, email, text and Twitter in order to stay up to date!

Print Version of Syllabus

Download a printable version of the syllabus here.


The textbook is available in a number of places including on library reserve as well as an e-book through the library's access to Safari Books. You can use or buy the 2nd or 3rd edition. Either is fine. The differences are slight and I will alert you to them during class as they arise.


John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300