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SEO

A brief toolkit on how to optimise your website to appear in related search engine results
by john burnett on 15 March 2013

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Transcript of SEO

Search Engine Optimisation Writing for search engines Link building How do search engines work? Search engines use "spiders" to look at and understand the content of your page, particularly titles, headings, links, alt text and other metadata. SILVA Corporate ID template is well optimised for this.

If your titles or text are in graphics then the search engine cannot read it. If you can highlight the text with your mouse then search engines can read it.

Search engines generally do not like Flash, PDF, Word, Excel files, JavaScript, redirection (301 redirects) or too many keyword duplicates.

They read the page source code from top to bottom, left to right and place more importance on content they read first.

They look at which websites link to your website and who you link to. This is very important! How do I know how well my website is performing? Download one of the many SEO add ons in Firefox, Chrome or IE. In Firefox these can be added by going to tools and selecting Add-ons. SeoQuake is a good choice. Use these tools to check data about your site. In particular the Google Page Rank gives a crude rating of what Google thinks about your site. A score of between 3-5 is reasonable for an academic department website. www.PRchecker.info

Use Google Analytics or similar to monitor how well your website is performing, what content is popular and how people access the site (referral, search engine, direct).

Check search engine results for keywords and keyphrases where you would expect to appear. Do the same for competitors to benchmark your websites performance. NB Make sure you are logged out of Google first, otherwise your results will be skewed by your history. What are the right keywords / keyphrases for my site? Identifying the right keywords and keyphrases is essential to help your target audience to find your site
Firstly any keywords / keyphrases that you have should accurately reflect the content of your site
Check your analytics package to see what the most common keywords are for people who access your site via search engines.
Use Google Trends to compare which keywords get the most traffic in certain markets i.e. study Physics v.s read Physics http://www.google.com/trends Single keywords are likely to face a lot of competition in search engine results. Google places importance on combinations of keywords caled keyphrases.

Over 50% of searches use three words or more so anticipating likely keyphrases and including them on your site can greatly increase your chances of appearing in search results. Keyword / keyphrase positioning Search engines use algorythms to work out the content of your page
They give greatest importance to the Page Title and Header tags (H1, H2 etc.) So where appropriate you should include your keywords and keyphrases in these elements.
There should only be one H1 tag per page
Search engines also look at Alt text and links to understand the content of your page. These should be made descriptive for accesibility reasons as well as search engine optimisation. BBC News is, of course, good at this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21766971
Classic mistakes include using "click here" or "more info" for links
Having a keyword density of around 4-5% for your main 3 keywords ensures that these terms are repeated fairly frequently and thus enables search engines to understand that your site is associated with these keywords Page Title
This is the most important section to include descriptive keywords and keyphrases to help people to find your site.
The page title is also the default of what appears in search engine results so you should make sure it describes your page. Classic mistakes include page titles such as "home page" or "index". Such titles do not help search engines to work out the content of your page!
Search engines read left to right and place more emphasis on words at the beginning of your page title.
If you place keywords in the page title which are not also included in the page content then search engines will give them less relevance.
The page title should not be longer than 66 charecters but you should use as much of this allocation as you can to make the title descriptive and include appropriate keywords
For example City University Seattle have their homepage title as:
<title>City University of Seattle - Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees Online and in Class</title> The Basics Search engines work out how important your site is by looking at who links to you.
Search engines pay more attention to links from high value sites (i.e. with a high page rank)
Increase links to and from other pages to boost your relevance score.
Internal links are also valuable (i.e. from other UCL pages)
Make links descriptive to help search engines understand the context
To get some ideas of who links to you put 'link:' followed by your URL (i.e. link:www.ucl.ac.uk) into google search. This is not an exhaustive list!
Google may give some slight bias to certain websites. For instance it appears to like sites with an .ac.uk suffix as well as YouTube and Wikipedia.
Deep linking means getting links to as many of your pages as you can not just the homepage. This tells search engines that you have a lot of interesting content.
Link baiting is the practice of creating content that will drive people to your site. Examples include social media, reports, videos, calculators and games. Resources Site maintanence and metadata Make sure your folder and page structure are tidy and clear to help search engine spiders understand your content. For instance: www.puppyfun.co.uk/puppyhealth/vitamins
Update your site regularly. One way to do this with lower overheads is to include a "news" and or "events" RSS feed, a blog or a twitter feed.
Your page source code should be written cleanly, externalising CSS and where possible putting coding below copy.
Update the keyword and description metadata. Not all search engines use this in their algorythms but it effects the UCL internal search. The description also usually appears in search engine results pages, and can effect whether people click on you.
New developments in this area include adding 'rich snippets' or microdata: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=176035 Social bookmarking Adding social bookmarking buttons helps your audience share your content with their peer group.
This attracts people to your site and increases your relevance.
SILVA has a social bookmarking widget in External Source options The bible of SEO
http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo

Google's advice
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

Writing for the web
http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/

Useful resources for digital marketing
http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/

How to boost SEO with a YouTube channel:
http://mashable.com/2010/04/16/boost-seo-youtube/

Help people find your video content on YouTube
http://www.skeletonproductions.com/blog/video-marketing-tips/youtube-ranking-101-want-to-be-number-1/
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