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Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization ensures that your web pages are optimized for search engines (for example, Google). Most internet users use a search engine to find what they’re looking for. By paying attention to SEO while you create your pages, you’ll increase your page’s exposure to the world and receive more targeted traffic.

The most critical factor in search optimization is creating well-written and informative content broken up with logical headings. Everything else below is gravy.

Choose keywords

Keyword is a term that captures the essence of the topic of a document. It can consist of a word, phrase, or alphanumerical term. The term keyword in reference to Search Engine Optimization usually refers to a word or phrase used to find relevant and useful web pages.

Initial list of keywords

There are couple of ways to conduct keyword research.

  • Brainstorming: Put yourself in your customers’/potential visitors’ place. What are they most likely to type into search engines in an attempt to find the information/services your department offers?
  • Surveying customers: surveying past or potential customers is a great way to expand your keyword list to include as many terms and phrases as possible.
  • Check out competitor’s keywords/phrases.
  • Consider common misspellings as additions to the keyword list.

Keyword Usage

  • Use phrases rather than a single word.
  • Google and Bing do not use keywords for information retrieval, but BCIT internal search engine still uses keywords for search queries.
  • Sort keywords and phrases in descending order of their perceived importance.
  • If uncertain, leave keywords in the order used by the highest ranking competitor pages.
  • Each keyword in the meta tag MUST also appear within the content.
  • Discard potential keywords that are not likely to be used in a search, especially if they don’t contribute to the content. It will dilute the importance of each keyword.
  • Spelling, punctuation and capitalization provide additional information that the engines use to help retrieve the right pages and rank them.
  • Make sure that the keywords you want to rank for are prominently used in title, text, and metadata.
  • Be specific about keywords: e.g. instead of “book”, use the name of the book to narrow competition for search results.
  • Ignore keyword density. It’s no longer valid.

Put keywords in your page content

Write keyword-rich content

Whenever possible, include keywords

  • in the <h1> or <h2> headings
  • in the first 200 words of content
  • once prominently near the top of the page
  • at least two or three times, including variations, in the body copy of the page
  • at least once in alt attribute of an image
  • at least once in description of a video

Spread the keywords out through the entire page. For instance, don’t stuff them all in the first paragraph. Aim for an equal distribution throughout your page. Be cautious about using the same phrases too often. Search engines are more sophisticated and overusing keywords (sometimes called “keyword stuffing”) can be as detrimental as under using them.

Content is king

Use keywords as frequently as possible in your content but don’t stuff your pages with keywords. Write your content naturally because eventually your pages will be viewed by humans–not just search engines. Good content will attract and keep the users on your pages. Always provide the information the users need and make it easy for them to find.

Use a logical and organized structure for your content. The best practice is generally to follow a journalistic format: the document starts with a description of the content, then flows from a broad discussion of the subject to a narrow one. Use headings, where appropriate. This structure provides the most readable document with engaging information.

Make your links useful

Whenever possible, use keywords in the links. If possible, try to position the link near the top of the page.

User hyphen to create easy-to-read URLs.

Avoid using images for linking. It’s counter productive for optimization purposes. Ideally, make the anchor text match the target page (for example, a link with “recreational facility” as the anchor text which points to a page optimized for “recreational facility” is most attractive to search engines.) This practice also makes it much easier for your human audience, as well. Never use “click here” as your link text.

Links to your pages from other pages causes your search engine ranking to go up, so link to the important pages of your site from other pages. Multiple links are best.

Don’t duplicate content

Duplicating content from one page to another will cause your page to be excluded by the search engine crawler. Use unique content on each of your web pages.

More information about managing BCIT websites