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Making Your Website Search Friendly

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Search Engine Optimization - Presentation given to the Texas A&M System Tech Summit, February 2016.

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Making Your Website Search Friendly

  1. 1. Search Engine Optimization Erick Beck Director of Web Development Division of Marketing & Communications Joe Prather Web Developer Department of IT, Division of Student Affairs
  2. 2. Perception of SEO • SEO is, in some ways, for the insane. It’s an absurd collection of technical tweaks, content thinking, link building and other little tactics that may or may not work. – Ian Lurie (Internet marketing consultant)
  3. 3. Why is SEO Important? • Search accounts for over half of inbound traffic, making this the most visible platform for marketing our sites. • Over 70% of traffic from search engines comes from results on the first page • Up to 20% comes from the first link on the first page. • What good is a website that nobody can find?
  4. 4. SEO Methods • On Site SEO – what we can do to optimize our own sites. • Outside Influences – elements beyond our own page which affect returns. Some of which we can influence.
  5. 5. Page Content • Page content is the single most important factor in analyzing and ranking web pages. • Write good content. Google tries to understand “what the page is about” so write for your users and Google will get it. • Include key words. Search engines still can’t read our minds – include key terms in the text.
  6. 6. Title Tags • After content, the <title> tag is the most important factor that we can control. • It not only adds to rankings, but is also displayed on the results page. A good title can catch the reader’s eye even if it is further down on the page.
  7. 7. Title Tags
  8. 8. Meta Description • Not heavily weighted, but important in enticing users to click your entry. • These also get shown on the results page, so can entice users to click your link. • Developers see writing this as drudgery, but this content is as important as your page content.
  9. 9. Meta Description • Be sure to limit yourself to about 150 characters so it doesn’t get cut off.
  10. 10. Meta Keywords • This is what many people think of in terms of adding meta information. • These tags have been abused for so long that they no longer provide any weight in search results. • They may still be useful for things that you want indexed but not shown, such as common misspellings.
  11. 11. Headings • Heading tags - <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. give structure to your page and show increased levels of importance. • As such they are given increased weight. Use heading tags rather than relying on bold or other CSS modifications.
  12. 12. Page URLs • The URL of your site matters. • Words in the URL path indicate organization and importance. • Use dashes (-) to separate words rather than underscores (_) or encoded spaces (%20)
  13. 13. Links • Links are an indicator of a word’s importance, and so get increased weight. • Link bleeding – the more links you have on a site the more each gets devalued. Consider a no-follow wrapper around things like tag clouds. • Broken links can indicate stale content and subtract from the page’s rank.
  14. 14. Domain • This is less of a concern to us because we all have a .edu domain. • This is actually a good thing. A .edu domain is considered inherently trusted and so gets higher ranking. • This is why we also get so much spam asking us to link to outside sites.
  15. 15. Mobile Friendly • In April 2015 Google began penalizing sites within mobile search which were not themselves mobile friendly. • Responsive design is no longer just a good idea, it is vital to your site’s search results rankings.
  16. 16. Page Rank • Page Rank, a calculated score of a web page’s importance based largely on weighted values of incoming links. • A Google specific score named for Larry Page. • Not page rank, as in the position of your page on the returns page.
  17. 17. Incoming Links • Modifications of Page Rank continue to be a central part of Google’s weighting process. • Incoming links are used as a way of determining how popular a site is, and popularity implies trust and importance. • All links are not equal – links from other respected sites add more than others.
  18. 18. Knowledge Graph • What is the Knowledge Graph and why is it there? (to allow faster access to data) • You have influence but not control over what gets posted here. • Google regularly changes the information that gets posted here, so keep up with their changes so you know what to emphasize or leverage.
  19. 19. Knowledge Graph
  20. 20. Keeping Content Current • One of the leading signals in Google’s algorithm is freshness of content. This means sites that regularly update content tend to have higher rankings. • These types of sites also tend to have more regular users, which in turn leads to more interest, more incoming links, and higher Page Rank.
  21. 21. YouTube • YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google itself, with more searches than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined. • YouTube videos are displayed in Google returns. • Make YouTube a part of your overall content strategy.
  22. 22. Techniques to Avoid • Keyword Cramming - repeating a key word many times in hopes of making it seem more important. • Using CSS to create text hidden from users, meant for the search engine to see and index • Using link farms to increase the number of incoming links
  23. 23. Outside Factors If NOT US then WHO?
  24. 24. Centralize Claimed accounts Google, Yelp, Apple, ect google.com/business/ Apple Maps Now Use mapsconnect.apple.com Correct information Promote Reviews Add photos
  25. 25. Find Your Market Niche
  26. 26. Give Users What They Want
  27. 27. Finding Trends
  28. 28. “The Gap of Disappointment” You have a ton of effort early on that comes with a lack of results, but, eventually, things start to click. Your strategy reaches maturity and the wins arrive.
  29. 29. Outside Factors • Document the outside accounts and resources being utilized. Friendly websites, social media, listings, analytics, insight, trends, web tools, all both GOOD and BAD. • Space out updates of info, pictures, reviews over time. • DO NOT make a large scale changes in a short period of time. • DO NOT use personal email accounts when managing outside resources.
  30. 30. Outside Factors • Find what your USERS are looking for!! • Research how potential users could find you! • Outside factors take persistence over time. FWD email with time stamp, Re: FWD email with time stamp, ect • Make scheduled checkups on goals, page rank, position changes, user website trends. Along with following up on outstanding wrong or bad info.
  31. 31. Resources • Google’s SEO Starter Guide - http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.googl e.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf • Webmaster Academy - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6023933?ref_topic=600117 1&rd=1 • Webmaster Tools - https://support.google.com/webmasters/?hl=en#topic=4558844 • Google Webmaster Central Blog - http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/ • YouTube – Matt Cutts • Structured Data – http://www.schema.org/
  32. 32. Erick Beck Director of Web Development Division of Marketing & Communications Texas A&M University ebeck@tamu.edu Joe Prather Web Developer Department of IT, Division of Student Affairs joep@doit.tamu.edu Download slides at slideshare.net

Search Engine Optimization - Presentation given to the Texas A&M System Tech Summit, February 2016.

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