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Optimizing for search engines (SEO)

How do you attract visitors to your web content? One of the best (and free) ways to increase traffic to your website is by focusing on search engine optimization. The better your SEO practices, the more likely it is that search engines such as Google will show your web content to users.

Best practices for SEO

Be strategic with your page title

Page titles appear in the browser tab, in the search results, and at the top of the page.

  • Keep it short: Aim for 50-60 characters.

  • Use your users’ keywords: No jargon.

  • Be descriptive: What will users find when they visit this page?

  • Make it task-focused

Add meta-descriptions to key pages

Also known as page summaries, meta-descriptions appear just below the page title on the search results page. They may also show in social media feeds.

  • Be clear and descriptive. Your page summary should answer the question, "What is this page about?"

  • Use keywords. Try to include the search phrases your users might use to find your content.

  • Aim for 50 to 160 characters, no more. Search engines will truncate page summaries that are longer than ~ 160 characters.

Harness the power of built-in headings

Your web editor will have built-in heading styles (h1, h2, h3, h4, and maybe h5, h6). Always use these to style your headings.

  • h1 is often reserved for page titles. On UFV websites, this is the case, so you should use h2 for your highest-level heading on a given page.

  • After h1, search engines interpret h2 as the next most important content on the page, then h3, and so on.

  • Always follow the h2, h3, he, etc. order without skipping a heading style.

  • Don’t use heading styles to make a random word or phrase stand out on a page.

Include the following web elements

Search engines will also scan for bold text, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and descriptive hyperlinks. Be sure to incorporate these when appropriate.

Choose your website address (URL) wisely

Website addresses (URLs) also factor into SEO. A well-chosen URL can be easily read by a search engine, and improves user experience because it is clear and helpful.

Tips for choosing URLs:

  • Use real words (not numbers)

  • Match the URL to the main topic of your page

  • Keep it short

  • Separate words with hyphens, not underscores, spaces

  • Avoid symbols

  • Skip little words (at, in, the, etc) if they don’t help the user 

  • Use lower case

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