Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices
If you are thinking of adding new pages to your website, revising your existing pages or creating a whole new website, you will want to check out the best practices listed below before you start.
Create Interesting Content for YOUR Audience
Creating interesting content that your audience (prospective students, etc.) will find compelling is the best thing you can do to
improve the chance of your Web page being found by the search engines. Each page you create on your site is another chance to rank high
on the search engines for a keyword that applies to your website. In addition, every Web page on your site can bring visits from other
sources like Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
Remember, the more pages you have on your site, the more chances you have to bring traffic to your Web pages for different keywords. If you have 30 pages on your website, you have three times more opportunity to bring traffic to your site than a 10-page site. It is important to remember that you will have to keep the pages you create updated. Here are some ideas of pages you can easily add:
- About—Create an overview page that explains the mission of your department.
- Programs/Services—Create a new page for each program or service that your department offers; don’t just lump them all into one page. This is a great opportunity to maximize your pages, always remembering that you will have to keep them updated.
- Outcomes—Create a new page for the different careers a degree from your department will deliver.
- Library—Create a page with links to downloadable content (white papers, e-books) that will help prospective students maximize their knowledge about the subject matter in your department.
- Student Testimonials—Create a page for student quotes or case studies. Nothing is more compelling to a prospective student than to read, or watch, a testimonial from a successful current student.
- Faculty—Create a separate Web page for each faculty member with a quality photo, a bio, research, as well as social media links so prospective students can connect with them.
- Contact—Create a form where prospective students can ask you a question.
How to Optimize Your Pages for the Search Engines
Step #1: Choose a main keyword for this page. Start by selecting a few multi-word keyword phrases (long-tailed keywords) that are relevant to the content of your page. Use the Google Keyword Tool to help you choose which phrases have the lowest difficulty/competition with highest monthly search volume. Your goal is to rank on the first page of the search engine for as many keyword phrases as possible. The lower the competition, the higher the likelihood your website will rank on the first page. Don’t worry if the keyword phrase has a low monthly search volume. Ranking on the first page is most important. If you have 10 or 20 or 30 pages that have keywords with a monthly volume of 100 and you rank on the first page for all of them, your overall website will receive 1,000–3,000 visitors a month.
Step #2: Write a minimum of 200 words of content. Search engines are looking to see that your website is an “authority” on the keyword phrase you are writing about. It is important that you have enough words on the page to show them you know what you’re talking about.
Step #3: Optimize the top search engine optimization (SEO) elements. To ensure the search engines will have no doubt what your page is about, you will need to follow the below guidelines for how to include your main keyword phrase. Your SEO efforts will be most effective if you consistently place the primary keyword you’ve chosen for this page in each of the following SEO elements:
- Page Title—This is the words that appear on the tab in your browser. Include your main keyword phrase at the beginning of the page title (i.e., Independent Technological University | Florida Institute of Technology).
- Page URL—Include the main keyword phrase you have chosen in the page URL, and separate each word in the keyword phrase using dashes (e.g., www.example.com/independent-technological-university). The design of the Florida Tech website doesn’t often allow for this. If not, it is not critical.
- Header (H1) Tag/Page Headline—Create a Headline/H1 tag at the top of the page that includes your main keyword phrase. You will need to add other words to make it sound conversational (i.e., Florida Tech is known as one of the best engineering colleges.).
- Image (ALT) Text—Because search engines are not able to see what is in a photo on your page, you will need to add “ALT Text” of your main keyword to the images on your page, again to emphasize to the search engines what your page is about.
Step #3: Optimize the meta description. The meta description is invisible to your site visitors, but visible on the search engines.
- Writing a meta description—The meta description is the exact words the search engines use as a description of your Web page. When writing the description, be sure to include your main keyword phrase and provide a compelling reason for why someone should visit your page. Character limit is 150. See example below.
- Meta keywords—Search engines don’t really use them anymore. However, if you have a list of general keywords for your site, we can put them in the code for you.
Step #4: Use the keyword phrase in your page content. Use your main keyword phrase about three times for every 200
words you write. Don’t forget to bold the keyword at least once.
Step #5: Create internal links. It is a good practice to create internal links (anchor text) from the content on one page of your website to another. What this means is you should mention the main keyword phrase from one page on a second page within your site. Then link that keyword phrase on the second page back to the first page. This is another way to ensure the search engines will understand exactly what your website is about.
Participate in the Florida Tech Blog
Adding a department column to the Florida Tech Blog is an easy way to add fresh content on a regular basis. Your blog is like an investment as it will continue to promote your department over time as it will continue generating traffic to your website for years to come. If you are interested, contact the Office of University Marketing at marketing.fit.edu.