The following guidance provides the basics for optimising your website, ensuring high-ranking search results which can drive a potentially huge audience towards your content.
Alongside these tips, keep in mind that the search engines are built and are continually updated to help meet users’ needs. Clear, well structured information for your audience is the basis for good search performance.
What are keywords?
Keywords are popular words or phrases which users submit to a search engine to find content. If your web content is relevant and concise, you may have already used a number of effective keywords which will help drive traffic to your pages.
You can identify keywords through applications such as Google Adwords. We recommend all website owners attend training in keyword research, which is provided as part of the Writing for the Web course and is available through OD&PL.
Keywords in content
Approximately 70% of page views are the result of long-tailed keywords. These are detailed search terms, such as:
- campus tour booklet
- gain qualified teacher status
- becoming a teacher.
Where possible, use high-ranking, low competition, long-tail keywords throughout your content.
Bear in mind that your content should also be inspired by the potential personas who will be reading your pages; utilise keywords which are consistent with the University’s tone of voice.
The University’s Jadu and WordPress content management systems help you to effectively apply keywords throughout your web page development:
H1 heading (page title)
This is the title of your page and will appear as the page title in your search results. Avoid generic titles such as: Welcome, Research Project or Home Page.
Imagine how the user will find your page in Google. Centre for Total Artificial Heart Implant Research or School of Law Alumni Networking Event are far more informative, descriptive keyword titles.
These are the subheadings of your page. Make subheadings relevant, using keywords where possible and allow them to clearly specify sections of your content.
Subheadings help readers to skim-read effectively. Search engines use these headings to assess the usefulness and readability of your content.
This is an overview of a page which should be a maximum of 158 characters. A 90-character description is considered to be minimal, with 120 characters optimal.
Your meta description should:
- use focus keywords
- be specific to your content
- be written in the active voice.
Each meta description will appear as a description in search engine results, for example:
We recommend between five and ten keywords/keyword phrases should be used in the meta keywords field. These phrases should be separated by a comma.
Exemplar meta keywords for a page about MA Social and Political Thought:
social theory, political theory, contemporary social thought, critical theory, liquid sociology, Bauman Institute, Zygmunt, social transformation, global societies, classical sociology
We encourage you to use engaging and relevant images to support your web writing. By optimising your images, you are ensuring your page loads efficiently and that your images are accessible for screen-reading software. This all combines to make your content more desirable for search engines.
When using images, ensure:
- the picture file is named with a relevant keyword title (whilst avoiding numbers) such as Law Alumni Networking Event.jpg
- the Alt Text field is completed with keywords to describe the image to someone who can’t see it (Alt Text is used by screen readers to assist visually impaired users)
- the image is captioned, where possible, with a specific description.
Images for the web should be:
- 72 dpi
- RGB format
- fully optimised in ‘save for web’ in Photoshop or Optimizilla.
Links or hyperlinks direct users to sections of a page or another site entirely.
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In modern browsers, it is often a bright colour and underlined, such as this link to the University homepage
When putting links into your content, ensure your keyword anchor is either:
- an exact match to the content it is linking to, eg Search Engine Optimisation for a page about search engine optimisation.
- a partial match, ie a variation on the keyword to the linked page, for example Search engine optimisation techniques.
- branded, eg University of Leeds linking to an article on the University of Leeds blog.
- a naked URL, such as www.leeds.ac.uk for The University of Leeds.
- an image, in which instance Google will use the description within the alt attribute as the anchor text.
Generic anchor text (such as click here, read more) should always be avoided.
Hyperlinks to expired content (ie broken links) have a negative impact on user experience and the University’s search engine ranking. Regular link testing should be conducted as part of routine website maintenance, ensuring linked content is live and appropriate.
Support and training
We recommend that all website owners undertake the Writing for the Web training session, which provides essential skills for effective website content management. This course is available to book through ODPL.