SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

When creating new pages, or revising existing ones, you want to make sure to set up some basic SEO – Search Engine Optimization.

90% of our traffic comes from search engines

For sites, we get approximately 90% of our traffic from search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) for most of our sites. For that reason, ensuring our pages are set up correctly so that the search engines can view and categorize them properly is very important.

Use the Search Engine Optimization Settings for more control

Setting up a handful of SEO options also allows us more granular control over how the pages are displayed within the search engines. By default, if the SEO fields below are NOT filled in, the search engines “scrape” our pages and use the title of the page and the first 300 (more or less) text characters on your page as the description when displaying search results. This may or may not be fine for your page, but filling out the SEO fields allows you a greater level of control so that you can display exactly how you want your pages to look when searched for.

How to setup the Search Engine Optimization settings

If you edit a page and scroll down toward the bottom of the page, you will see a section labeled Search Engine Optimization (see screenshot). If you do not see this section, it may be in a collapsed state or not installed on your site. Please contact the Web Services team if you cannot find it.

Set of Search Engine Optimization fields, including Title Tag, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords.
Example of the SEO – Search Engine Optimization – page section

Title Tag

Fill out the Title Tag section by using the example structure we’d use for this page – think smaller to larger. Page title, then the department and then Providence College. Please see the example below.

Search Engine Optimization Details | Web Services | Providence College

It’s important to try and keep your title tag to less than 170 characters- longer than that and it may be cropped by the Search Engines. The SEO section will track the number of characters for you as you insert it.

We set up Title tags with this structure for a reason- it shows the relationship of the page, to the department, to Providence College- linking them to each other and highlighting that relationship as it’s displayed on the various search engines. It’s important.

Meta Description

For the Meta Description, you want to write a concise description of what the page is about – what information a user might find here, it’s purpose etc. This Meta Description is what will be displayed below the page’s title in search engine results, for example, this page may be described as follows:

Provides new Web Editors with the basics of ensuring their pages are optimized for Search Engines, and to provide support for further optimization.

Keep your Meta Description shorter than 300 characters – the SEO section will track this number for you. If your description is longer than 300 characters, the search engine will likely crop the description displayed in the search results.

Some SEO Tips…

  1. Write Short Titles – Use a maximum title length of 170 characters. More characters and your title will get cut off when displayed in search results. Less and you aren’t taking advantage of the valuable display space in search results.
  2. Identify Your Description Keywords – You want to thoughtfully place as many keywords as possible in your description, yet still make sense and is readable by a human viewer. The key is to determine which keywords you want to place high for in search results without jamming a bunch of nonsensical words in your description- this is called “Keyword Stuffing”. Web Services can assist you in determining those keywords. When in doubt, keep it simple, descriptive and to the point.
  3. The Important Keywords Go First – Make sure to craft your description so that the important keywords fall first in order. You may have to put on your writing cap for this one.
  4. Be Descriptive – the more descriptive you can be in describing what the page is about, the better. It will not only make more sense to the user, it will get you more traffic and better search ranking.
  5. Create Unique On-Page Titles – This is VERY important. All page titles NEED to be unique. Google (and the other search engines) will actually penalize sites that have multiple, repetitive page titles.

Drop us a line at Web Services if you have questions or would like to go over the search engine visibility of your site.

Meta Keywords

Filling in this section is no longer necessary- the use of Meta Keywords by search engines is no longer used in ranking algorithms. It is fine to ignore this section and in future updates this section will be removed.

Some history- Meta keywords were a way that Search Engines used to categorize your pages. Putting a string of descriptive words in this field at one point in time made a huge difference in how pages were displayed and ranked. Some unscrupulous web content creators exploited this tool, including long strings of repetitive words in this field – “keyword stuffing”- and by doing so, tricked search engines into ranking their pages higher or to show their web pages within multiple – and sometimes inappropriate – categories.

Search engines caught on to this method of gaming their systems and as a result, Meta Keywords do not hold the significance that they once did, and are in the process of being phased out by the leading engines.