This article was originally written as a blog post on 31 August 2017 for the Web Team Blog by Eli Voigt and Megan Otis.
Recently, we announced that Albers School of Business and Economics will be changing the URLs of their websites from www.seattleu.edu/albers to www.seattleu.edu/business in order to increase their search engine optimization (SEO).
Many of you may be wondering about your website's SEO and what changes you can make in TerminalFour to increase your SEO, especially those who are actively seeking to reach more prospective students and increase your enrollment.
So the MarCom Web Team has put together this blog post to help you get started.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), simply put, is a set of factors and techniques to make your websites more visible to search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Search results are shown and ranked based on what the search engines consider most relevant to the user.
The more visible your website is to search engines, the more highly ranked your site will appear in the search engine results, and the more likely you are to connect with more new users.
"Keywords" are a very important concept in SEO; they are the main ideas or topics that define or encapsulate all of the content on your website. They are the words or phrases your current and prospective users are (or might be) entering into a search engine in order to find your website.
The more you use those good keywords in meaningful ways on your pages, the higher your SEO will be. If you're not certain what the best keywords are for your website's content, do some research.
Once you know what keywords are the most important and useful for your website, then you can put them to work increasing your SEO.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining your website's SEO, but some especially significant things that impact your page's SEO include:
The URL, or web address, for your website should be descriptive but short and "human-friendly." It's better to include keywords rather than acronyms. Try to get the primary keyword for the page in your page's URL.
By default in TerminalFour, your web page's URL is generated by the name you give your section (or page). T4 takes the section name, replaces the spaces with dashes (-), and that becomes your URL; for example, if the name of your section is 'Campus Ministry' then your page's URL be www.seattleu.edu/campus-ministry/.
You are able to override the automatic generation of the name by specifying a different URL in the Output URI field; for example, with the College of Nursing, the name of their section in TerminalFour is "College of Nursing" but the default www.seattleu.edu/college-of-nursing/ is a little long, so in the output URI field they have written in "nursing" and thus, their URL is www.seattleu.edu/nursing.
One way to increase your webpage's SEO is to write a descriptive yet concise page title.
Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a page title so be mindful of length. Make sure page titles have your most important keywords at the beginning.
Page titles are automatically generated by TerminalFour based on the section name, so it is important to make sure that the name accurately reflects the page content.
But now, for SEO purposes, you can override the automated generation of a page title by adding your new, custom page title in the Custom Title field.
When taking advantage of this tool, be mindful of using suitable keywords because you can potentially hurt your SEO, instead of help. MarCom is happy to offer guidance on appropriate keywords and page titles.
It is not necessary to include "Seattle University" in the page title because it is automatically added to every page title.
Metadata is information that is sent to the search engine but is not actually displayed on your page yet incredibly important.
In addition to a descriptive URL and page title, we recommend adding full meta values to all fields except the "Page Last Modified" field as this is the only one generated automatically.
Metadata should be keyword laden and compelling. Think of it as the copy that draws users to your website from the search results shown. Try to keep this short and concise as search engines will cut snippets after 160 characters. In absence of meta descriptions, search engines can only guess.
Full meta is important in today’s SEO as search engines have advanced beyond counting links to your site. Search engines prioritize context more than anything else, both context from their user and context from your page. To help search engines put your page into context you want to give them as many metadata points as possible that describe and define your site and how it aligns with the institution. We have built back-end defaults that help align your page within the context of the university and we need you to complete the last step by giving your page engaging, brief meta values that will define your context.
In all there are 10 meta fields to fill out for each section and a some of them are duplicate values that need to be filled in by hand.
URL meta is important in a variety of ways, not just social. By explicitly defining your URL, you make it easier for search engines to find you and when a user references your page, they generate another of your URLs globally, adding to the total links that point to your page. Numbers still matter with SEO and total links pointing to your pages is the original ranking method of SEO. Although we know SEO has evolved, total links pointing to your page is still a heavily weighted metric in determining your rank in search engines.
URLs: For existing pages, just copy the full URL from your browser and copy/paste it into the two fields. If your page is new, you can wait until it’s published and then go to the live page and copy the URL from your browser.
Images: If a picture is worth a thousand words then we don’t want to miss the most valuable part of our meta. Ideally each page will have a unique image. However, for internal pages using a default stock image from the media library is fine. For your Homepages and Program Landing Pages, you’ll want to ensure that your image is connected to the program and your branch.
All images must be in the Media Library and must be published on a live webpage for the link to work. Creating a URL to an image in the Media Library is the same as creating a link to a PDF.
Don’t forget about "keywords" as they are still the foundation of your site’s context and should be included in your webpage's metadata.
In TerminalFour, you can complete your meta values by clicking on your section in the site structure, clicking over to the "More" tab, and selecting the "Metadata" menu.
Then, in the Metadata values menu, you can add the keywords, descriptions, titles, URLs and images necessary to maximize SEO and content engagement. Please leave the "Page Last Modified" field blank.
Above all, the best thing for your page's SEO is good content.
Please take time to review our Web Content Guidelines and our recommendations on Writing for the Web as these will give you lots of important ideas on how to make your content skimmable and as user-friendly as possible.