Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving web pages so that they are more easily found by search engines and provide quality search results. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and coding to increase its relevance for both search engines and what users might be searching for.

Content on the page

Good content is the most important method for effective SEO. Ensure that there is text on every web page (not only video or images), and that the content contains plenty of rich information, including relevant keywords that indicate the subject matter of your site. Most search engines scan the full content of a page, including image ALT tags. Consider what words and phrases your intended readers are searching for, and craft well-written copy based on this. Try to use the strongest keywords early in the text.

<META> tags

The <META> tag provides metadata about HTML documents. Metadata is not displayed on the page but can be read by search engine crawlers. The <META> tag always goes inside the <head></head> HTML element. NOTE: In Roxen, metadata can be accessed in edit mode by clicking on the Metadata tab at the top of each page.

Search engines reward web pages where the tags match up with the page's content. The most important <META> tags for SEO are the title, description and sometimes the keyword tags.

Title tag: Ensure that all of the web pages in your website include descriptive title tags. These should refer to the content of the page and be as specific as possible.

<title>UAF Catalog 2012-2013</title>

In some instances, search engines may truncate titles in their results, and your title or description may be abbreviated if it exceeds a particular search engine's limit. Keep this in mind when writing your tags, and make your title tag about five to 10 words in length, including the unit name and relevant keywords. Start with the most specific information about the given web page and then move toward general information.

eg.
Degrees & Programs: 2012-2013 Catalog: UAF
vs.
UAF Catalog 2012-2013

Description tag: This tag should provide a concise explanation/summary of the web page's content. Keep descriptions less than 200 characters of text, including spaces.

<meta name="description" content="The University of Alaska Fairbanks is Alaska's top teaching and research university and the state's leading Ph.D.-granting institution. UAF offers nearly 200 degrees and certificates in more than 120 disciplines.">

The description is often, but not always, displayed on search engine results pages, and it can impact click-through rates.

Keyword tag: This tag contains a list of simple and relevant words separated by commas. Keep this list within 10 - 20 keywords per page.

<meta name="keywords" content="university, Alaska, Fairbanks, UAF, college, higher education, research, degrees, certificates">

Many search engines have moved away from relying on keyword tags but some do still index them.

Reciprocal linking

Another way to manipulate your ranking is to exchange links with others. Reciprocal links should be relative and minimal. Any sites that are linked from (and linked back to) your site should be legitimate in their similarity or helpfulness to your audience. It is most effective if you focus on requesting links from those that are most helpful, rather than trying to get links from every imaginable site.

Search for your site

Once you have addressed content and added appropriate <META> tags, allow time for search engines to crawl your site (this varies by search engine but can take up to a month) and then try some searches to see where you land in the results. You can then consider adjusting your metadata and page text accordingly. Again, knowing what keywords your audience is using to search will assist you in this process.

Resources

There are many resources on SEO. A basic search on SEO will bring up many listings. Some include: