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.

Titles

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.

Ensure that all of the web pages in your website 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 five to 10 words in length, including relevant keywords and the department name. Start with the most specific information about the given web page and then move toward general information. For example:

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

Descriptions

The 
<meta name="description">
 tag contains a snippet of up to 320 characters that summarizes a page's content. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched for 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.

Screenshot of Title and Description fields in OU Campus

Content on the page

Good content is the most important method for effective SEO. Ensure 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 headings and 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 and often in the text.

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 title and description, 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 title, meta description 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: