Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of making your site more visible in search engines.
Google, for example, uses a very complicated algorithm to determine which sites appear where in their search results. Some factors are your location, site relevance, popularity, and how often the site is referenced from other sites.
So how can you get your website near the top of the page when someone searches your field or area?
UVic sites are fast to load, mobile friendly, and are hosted on a respected domain. Designing our template with best practices in mind means that a lot of work has already been done to optimize your site.
Google is constantly changing its algorithm, so methods that work one month might not work the next. There are, however, some general principles you can follow to make your site rank higher in search results.
Build a good website from day one
SEO is something you should consider before you start building your site. Keep these tips in mind while working on your website. Not only will you create a great website, you will also give your site a big bump in search results.
- Create a unique display name and page title for every page on your site.
- Use headings (H2) and sub-headings (H3) that use keywords and phrases.
- Write authentic and good quality content—don't try and stuff your sentences with keywords.
- Link to other pages on your site, other UVic pages, and good quality external sites. Avoid using "click here" for your link text; instead, describe the link destination.
- Caption your images and provide image alt text (the text that appears when you use a screen reader or mouse-over an image).
- Include call to actions (e.g. "Register now for a writing workshop").
Maintaining your site after launch
Okay, you've launched a great website with proper headings, image captions, authentic content and plenty of links. Now what?
- Keep your content fresh! It keeps your site relevant.
- Update and add new links as appropriate.
- Update your images regularly and add appropriate captions and alt text.
- Share your content through social media: Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, emails, etc. In addition to promoting through your own social media channels, try commenting on other departments' channels.
- Ask the Web Coordinator to set up a redirect if you move or rename the URL of a popular page. That way people (and Google) won't get a "page not found" error.
- Get your site added to UVic's A-Z list if it isn't already (contact the Web Coordinator).
How do people search?
Different people search differently, but generally speaking, you need to create pages for people, not robots.
It's becoming more common for people to search phrases instead of just keywords.
- Know your audience and create pages that address the questions they might ask. For example, a future student might search Google for something like "How do I apply to the University of Victoria" (or simply "applying to UVic"). So we need to create a page that includes these phrases and provides good information on how to apply to the university. Consider both phrases ("How do I apply") and keywords ("apply" and "UVic").
- Try thinking outside the box, and establish what it is that your department is good at. For example, UVic has some stiff competition when it comes to "best university in the world," but we are major players in the game when it comes to "best university in Canada for ocean research."
- Mobile devices are becoming more and more common. What kinds of searches would people perform if they spoke, rather than typed, the phrase into their voice-activated search engine?