Search engine optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it is commonly referred is the process of making a website highly indexable and appealing to a search engine; such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. There are SEO components relating to how a website is coded which make the website more navigatable and prominent to a search engine, but the most important part of SEO is the content on the site.
"Content is King"
Website content is what users go to the site for. It is what attracts them there, keeps them there and ensures they come back again. The business model of all search engines is to make sure users get the most relevant and up-to-date results for their searches. To do this they crawl websites frequently using software called 'bots'. The bots read content and follow links in order to index a website and add it to the search engine's database. The more often your site updates and the more links coming to your site from other sites, the more often the bots will crawl it and update the search engine database.
The UQ website templates are already designed with SEO in mind and cover the main things search engines look for on a site beside the content. To improve the SEO of your website you just need to focus on the content.
How to Optimise Content for Search Engines
Content primarily means text as search engines can't view an image the same way people do. Copy on the web needs to be easy to read for the end user, but also filled with the kinds of terms that people would search for to find your information. When writing copy for the web put yourself in the shoes of the visitor to your site. Terms that make sense to you might not make sense to an external user or student. A good technique is to go to a search engine and type in the terms you would use to find your website (but not the name of your site because as a user you won't know it until you find it). Then work those terms into the copy on your page. Work in some variations as well.
For instance if you had heard about SEO and you were wondering how you actually go about implementing it, you might search for something along the lines of "How to optimise my content for search engines".
Use links in your copy. Don't rely on menus to get people around the site, people will read text that interests them and click links within that text that go to information they think is relevant. These are called contextual links. See the above example where the words "writing copy for the web" are linked to a page with a guide about how to write copy for the web.
Things NOT to do:
- Waste copy with redundant pleasantries such as "Welcome to the School of X homepage". People won't search for that and they don't want to read it when they get to your site.
- Don't use acronyms only you know. Or if you do, put the full version on the page with it.
- Don't put important textual information in an image. Search engines don't read text that is part of an image. Neither do users with a visual disability who use a screen reader, so if the name, date and location of your big event is only mentioned in the banner image there is a good chance not many people will find out about it.
Linking with Other Websites
Search engines follow links in order to index web pages. The more links coming to a page, especially from other websites, will increase that page's ranking in the search engine. It's great to have others link to your content, but you also have to link to other sites as well to show that your site is relevant to other things aswell.