Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips & Resources
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the act of increasing ways people can find your website via search engines.
The goal: Make emerson.edu more search-friendly so that potential and existing Emerson constituents can find information that is of interest. Ultimately, this will drive them to do more business with Emerson College, i.e. apply for admission, donate money, and engage with the college.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines list webpages based on an inquiry of a keyword or phrase. The goal in SEO is to optimize your website’s content so that search engines like Google and Yahoo! are listing your pages in search results appropriately, preferably at the top of the results page. The benefit is that a site will get more viewers and the searcher finds what they are looking for.
The challenge is that there are no guaranteed ways to increase SEO for a website. There are best practices, but SEO standards are always changing. Search engines like Google don't layout specifics on how their search engines work. This is good and bad: without knowledge of how search engines specifically work, others can't cheat the system but also Emerson doesn't have a surefire way to increase SEO.
“The main constant in SEO is that it is constantly evolving.”
Below is a succinct explanation from Yahoo! on how search engines work and the benefit of optimizing a website’s content:
“Search engines analyze the words on webpages, especially words that are repeated or otherwise called out: in boldface, in a headline, in a link, and so on. The engine records those important words and phrases—the page’s keywords—on its servers.
“When you type the words you’re looking for into a search box, the engine tries to match your words with the words from webpages it has analyzed, and it then delivers a list of matches. The engine organizes that list from best to worst, ranking the results according to a variety of criteria (such as how many other sites find a page valuable and link to it).
“People usually click the links on the first page of results, so sites at the top of the list are more likely to get visitors. And more visitors can mean more page views, more leads, more sales, more ad revenue, and other business benefits” (Yahoo!)
SEO in the website structure
These are tactics and principles that emerson.edu already utilizes:
- Write for the audience, not search engines
- Structure content in a hierarchy
- Search-friendly URLs
- Breadcrumb links
- Proper Titles
- Use Headings
- XML sitemap
- Google Analytics
SEO on individual pages
The following are tips that can and should be used on every page of emerson.edu.
Most important tip
Write new, fresh content that is important to the Emerson College audience.
For SEO friendly content:
- Web readers don’t read large blocks of text, they skim.
- Use proper grammar.
- Use short phrases or ideas.
- Write short titles.
- Use bullets and numbered lists.
- Freshen up content in sections that rarely get updated.
- Write compelling copy.
Use Headings for subtopics of a page
- Trim Long Titles
- Utilize Full Page Title to better illustrate the focus of the page.
- Add styles on important text—but don't overdo it, i.e. only use bold and italics on important keywords or phrases.
- Make sure content has keywords within the text.
- Find related keywords and make sure they are on the page.
- Make sure keywords are near titles and headings.
Links to related pages
- Optimize Link Text - Use action words, not unnecessary words. The link should overlay descriptive text, e.g.:
Link Titles - For every link on each page, the Advisory Title field (the 3rd tab on the Link pop-up box) should be filled out to add a Link Title. This is most likely the same copy as the link text or the page Title that you are linking to, e.g.:
- If a link is being created from the text “Housing Selection Process,” then the Advisory Title should be “Housing Selection Process.”
Right Promo Image Links - When linking to other pages from right promo images (usually video pages), link titles need to be provided, e.g.:
- Almost all right promo image links are to videos; for a promo about a video that shows the viewer a tour of the campus center the Link Title should be Campus Center Tour Video
Optimize Images For SEO - Search Engine spiders can only crawl text. It can’t crawl an image directly. All images should have:
- Descriptive filenames - Image file names need to be descriptive of what the picture is an image of.
- Alt text – Alternative text; describes the image.
- Advisory title text – The 3rd tab on the Link pop-up box. Should describe the image.
- Contextual relevance of an image - What does a specific image add to a page? Is it relevant? Images should be relevant to what is on the page. Without relevance there is no meaning to the viewer and no added benefit to SEO.
Google Page Rank
Google PageRank could be used as a quick way to determine if Google does not deem an essential page important.
Social Media sites are a great way to distribute links to fresh content, drive people to your pages, and organically increase exposure to your pages.