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 good 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. 

SEO checklist

Use this checklist to help ensure the content of your webpages is optimized for search.

  • Keyword research

    Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

    Consult Google Analytics and Google Search Console for the keywords that users search to find your webpages. Contact OIT for access to your website's Google Analytics account. OIT or University Relations can assist with setting up Google Search Console for your website.

  • Keyword density

    Once you've researched the keywords for your website, work relevant keywords into each page's URL, title, meta description, image alt-tags, headings, and body text. Best practice suggests that a page's keyword density, or the number of times a keyword or keyword phrase appears on a page relative to the rest of the page content, should be about 1-2%. A higher keyword density percentage could be considered "keyword stuffing" and result in penalization to your SEO.

  • Adequate word count

    Aim to have a count of at least 300 words on your webpage. Anything less is considered "thin" and will not rank very high in a search.

  • Avoid duplication

    Avoid duplicating blocks of text across pages of your website as it may result in penalization to your SEO. If you must repeat content, change a few minor words so that the content isn't identical.

  • Engaging copy

    Use active voice and include clear calls to action for each webpage. Calls to action may also serve as Google Analytics goals, which can help measure the performance success of a page. Contact OIT or University Relations if you need help setting up goals in Google Analytics.

  • Mobile friendy

    Search engines prioritize pages that are mobile-friendly. UAF's OU Campus templates are mobile friendly by default, however Google Search Console may send you alerts if added content is not mobile-friendly. Contact OIT or University Relations if you need help resolving these types of errors.

  • Cross-links

    The more links to your page there are, the greater weight it will be given by search engines. Make sure your pages are cross-linked from other pages, not just on your own website, but others' websites, whenever possible.

  • Redirects

    Changing the URL of a page risks losing any accumulated SEO equity that the old page URL built. Setting up a 301 redirect not only maintains existing links to your page, but it also informs search engines that the page has moved and to transfer the previous SEO equity to the new page. Contact OIT or University Relations if you need help setting up redirects.

 


Definitions

Title

The
<title>
tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is. In OU Campus, the title is populated by the "Title" field at the top of the Properties tab while in Edit mode. See figure 1 for an example.

All web pages in your website should include descriptive titles. These should refer to the content of the page and be as specific as possible. 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 and make your title about 60 characters (including spaces) in length, including relevant keywords. The department name is automatically appended to the end of the title by OU Campus. For example:

<title>Program or Service | Department Name</title>

Description

The
<meta name="description">
tag contains up to 320 characters that summarizes a page's content. However, to ensure that your description is not truncated, you should try to limit your description to about 160 characters (including spaces) in length. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the queried phrase is contained in the description, so relevant keywords should be included. In OU Campus, the meta description is populated by the "Description" field, just below the "Title" field, of the Properties tab while in Edit mode. See figure 1 for an example.

Image alt-tags

An alt-tag is an attribute applied to an image that provides text alternative to search engines and screen readers. Alt tags have a limit of about 16 words, or about 125 characters (including spaces). In OU Campus, when inserting and image on a page, the alt-tag is populated by the "Alternative description" field. See figure 2 for an example.

Screenshot of Title and Description fields in OU CampusFigure 1.

 

Screenshot of alt-tag field for images in OU Campus
Figure 2.


Resources

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