Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your website for SEO makes your website more visible to your intended audience. Increased find-ability, means that your website will get more traffic. Here are some tips and resources to help you optimize your website! 

What is SEO? 



SEO, otherwise know as search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your website and your content to have a higher rankingtooltip when site visitors search for specific terms in a search engine, i.e. Google. 

How do search engines work? 



Before we get into how to optimize your content, it's important to know how search engines work so that you can better understand what they are looking for when ranking a website. 

Search engines, like Google, Bing, and others, can be complex when it comes to the algorithms used to determine ranking order. There are many factors taken into consideration when ranking a website; we are talking hundreds! Obviously, this can be overwhelming so we just suggest that you focus on the top factors. These factors can be broken down into  categories: 

  • User Experience
  • Content
  • Authority

The following sections will go over ways you can enhance these elements of your website.

User Experience



User experience refers to how your audience interacts with your website. It is important to understand what they are coming to your site for and how they feel when navigating through your website both on desktop and mobile. There are many different factors that affect the user experience. When optimized, these factors also translate into better SEO. 

Navigation 

Website navigation is one of the main ways a search engine crawls your website in order to find content. Furthermore, your navigation choices can dictate your URL structure, which gives a high level overview about the contents of the page. For this reason, it is important that your navigation is simple, consistent and easy to follow by both site visitors and search engines. If you have a navigation, that is too complex or incomplete, search engines may not be able to find some of your content. More information about navigation can be found here.

Accessibility

Web accessibility gives every user the ability to access the content of a webpage. Site visitors, with any permanent or temporary disability or impairment, should be able to navigate, interact with, and understand your content. Accessible websites are required. An added bonus is that websites that are accessible for users, are inherently more accessible for search engines, which increases your SEO.

Search engine crawlers, utilize some of the same information as assistive technologiestooltip, such as a screen reader. Things to keep in mind for accessibility as it relates to SEO are: 

  • Alt-text and descriptive titles on all images - search engines cannot crawl images but they can read the alternative text attached to an image which allows them to weigh relevance to a search and rank them. 
  • H1 tags/page titles on every page - this tells the search engine about the content of the page.
  • Proper use of H2-H6 tags - these should be used to title and define the structure of your page content. Be sure that the titles are relevant to the content below them. Search engines crawl your website in this order.  
  • Descriptive anchor text provides content information for on-page hyperlinks. The goal of descriptive hyperlink text is to give context related to the destination of the link. Avoid "click here" text and instead use text that is simple and relevant to the page you are sending them to.  

To learn more about web accessibility, visit this AtWeb page.


Responsive web design 

Responsive Web Design is the approach that suggests that websites should respond to the user's behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. Because a good portion of web searches are completed on mobile devices, optimizing your website for mobile is imperative. Sitefinity automatically makes our websites responsive and is optimized for use on desktop computers and mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. Additionally, there are some things you can do to make your sites more mobile-friendly. 

  • Preview and test your pages in mobile view. Look for any inconsistencies that may not have existed in the desktop view, for example, spacing issues or pixelated images. 
  • Use the inherited font size or larger. It's easier for people to see.  
  • Space out your content. White space is your friend and a really good way to break up content. It also helps spacing out links so users do not accidentally click on ones that are too close together. 
  • Button size and placement should be easily clickable on a mobile device.
  • Faster load times will greatly benefit your mobile users so use small file sizes as much as possible. More about this below!


Website speed

When a page takes a long time to load, site visitors tend to leave and go to another website. With this in mind, you should make sure you are not hosting large files of any kind on your website. You should always optimize your documents, images and videos before uploading them into Sitefinity and displaying them on your page. If they still seem too big, you should host them on a third party site. 

Content



You might wonder, what is considered content on a website and how does that relate to SEO. Content is any information that is published on your website. Think: text, images, videos, and other website content published using widgets. More specifically related to SEO, this is information that is indexed by search engines. 

With that said, you can create specific content geared toward increasing your ranking in search engines and bringing more traffic to your website.  

  • Proper use of headings - this was discussed previously but is worth mentioning again as it is related to content.
  • Keywords - use keyword within the content of your page in a natural way. Be sure not to over do it or force it; you may get dinged by Google. 
  • Link to other content on your site - this can help users find more information they may find useful and increase traffic to additional pages on your website. Be sure the hyperlinks describe the page destination. 

Authority



This plays a key factor in ranking so it worth mentioning. Authority is when other trustworthy sites link back your site as a referral. While you can't control what other sites link to, you can do a couple of things to help. 

The first and most obvious option is to create valuable and useful content in your area of expertise. This can naturally encourage others to use your site as a resource. At the same time, you can enhance your site visitors' experience. 

The other option you have is creating relationship with other websites in similar fields. In hopes, they may find your content helpful. It also doesn't hurt to get your name out there to potentially increase traffic to your website.  

Sitefinity Properties 



In additional to the topics above, there are additional page properties in Sitefinity that can help increase your SEO. Be sure that when creating a page, you fill out the sections below. 

  • Title for search engines: This is the first thing a search engine reads off and should be 70 characters of less. It should list the keyword naturally followed by a dash and then the brand. Do not duplicate title tags, search engines can penalize you. 
  • Campus: This is metadata that can help search engines find relevant content related to a campus location. It is also used for filtering in internal search.  
  • Description: This indirectly affects ranking due to click through rates so make sure that your description attracts your attention of audience. You can do this by effectively describing the page content using 150 characters or less. Do not duplicate descriptions on other pages. 
  • Keywords: Insert any keywords or keyword phrases relevant to the content of the page here. Be sure that you are thinking of keywords that your audience would use. You should avoid using internal jargon that your site visitors might not be familiar with and this area should be 450 characters or less.  

SEO Checklist


 

1. Use keywords

Use a keyword generator to find trending terms relevant to the content of your page. Use a variety of short and long keywords. Do not use keywords that are not relevant for more traffic; site visitors will not stay on a page that doesn't have the content they need. 

Once you have your keywords, use them in the page properties area listed above along with using them within the content of your page and your URL when you can. Be sure that the use of these keywords is not forced or repetitive as you risk Google penalizing that page. If you need to use a word but you think you may have used it too often, try to use synonyms related to your keywords.

2. Focus on accessibility 

Many SEO requirements overlap with accessibility. Be sure to follow accessibility guidelines for every page on your website.

3. Title tags

Be sure the title for search engine speaks to the overarching relevance of the page. Use your brand name and up to 70 characters.

4. Optimize your media

Keep loads times as fast a possible. Users are more likely to stay on a faster website and longer load time negatively affect your ranking in search results. 

5. Write enticing descriptions

Summarize you webpage’s content in an appealing way and use keywords to capture the attention of your intended audience. Use 150 characters or less. 

6. Link to other websites 

Linking to authoritative websites as references can help search engines determine relevancy of your content. Be sure use descriptive text for hyperlink and to routinely check for broken links on your web pages. 

7. Link to your own content

Link to previous content or site pages using descriptive anchor text. This can encourage site visitors to go to older pages and generate new interest, which can potentially increase in their rankings.

8. Optimize for mobile

We provide a responsive design so inherently your sites are mobile-friendly. Focus on faster load times and accessible content on your end. Google will penalizes sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. 


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