Today in class we will look at ways to improve the search engine rankings of content in our original websites.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the practice of refining your Web site content so that it has better visibility in search engines, such as Google.
Search engines are the primary way that people discover Web content. In the U.S., Google accounts for a vast majority of search engine referrals. Thus, it is hugely important that your content be properly indexed so that new users can discover and explore your creations.
This three-minute video gives a great overview of what SEO is all about:
But, what about specifics? Here is a great "cheat sheet" on SEO from my colleague Rebecca Cooney, an assistant professor at WSU:
A key aspect of search engine optimization is the algorithm that drives the
decisions of how search engines "rank" and determine "relevancy" for each
website. Here are some resources that help explain more about the ever-changing
(and somewhat secretive!) algorithms...
The following information addresses some of the "best practices" in SEO for
websites. It is essentially divided into two areas: On-page elements and
Off-page elements. The on-page elements are things that you can control on your
site...they are located on the pages of your site. This includes the text/copy,
images, URL paths and even the design choices you make for your site. The
off-page elements are located elsewhere on the web. This includes third-party
websites, such as news sites, blogs and link aggregation services.
The following on-page elements should be reviewed for possible tweaking so that your content is better surfaced in search engines for referral.
The page title appears in the top bar of your browser
For critical areas of your Web site, does the page title in your browser contain the proper wording?
Does the Web site URL for key areas include text that would contribute to that page being indexed on critical keywords?
"Invisible" Page Content
Description Field text doesn't help rankings, but it does ultimately show up in the search listings
Keywords description fields
Less is more
No more than 5-10 keywords in your metatag
Off-Page Elements Inbound links
Increase number of Web pages that link to you
Seen as "vote of confidence" for relevance of your site
Text in link is also important ("link anchor text")
Increase Google's "Page Rank"
More links on prominent sites will also increase your page ranking
Does your blog post title contain keywords that concisely capture the blog topic and are known to be relevant to your site?
The very first words should be the most relevant, if possible
Good Example: Second Life Tutorial: Customize your Avatar
Bad Example: Want a New Look for your Avatar?
In the above example, the words "Second Life Tutorial" will match to keyword searches for people looking for second life tutorials. Further, the inclusion of "customize" and "avatar" will likely help this post show up higher in search results for people looking for help in avatar customization.
To see an example of this in action, do a Google Search on the words: Project Sansar
Notice how most of the top results have "Project Sansar" in the first few words of the title
Would your blog post title make sense if it were displayed "out of context" via a RSS feed or on a third-party Web site, such as Digg or Facebook?
Each post has the potential to be surfaced on third-party sites. Your headline should be constructed so that it compels someone to click on it.
Are there opportunities to mix in blog posts that are not time-sensitive?
Many blog posts will clearly be connected to a new and timely announcement or development. However, when appropriate, you might want to strategically develop topics that speak to "evergreen" topics that have a longer shelf life.
Consider organizing your narrative with sub-headers and integrating occasional use of bold text and lists.
These are believed to be minor factors in the algorithm that Google uses in determining relevance.
If appropriate, include links to previous related blog posts within the text of your new post.
Interlinking increases the odds that your posts will be indexed at a higher level, according to many SEO experts.
Share Links and Network Badges
According to many SEO experts, blogs can play a key role in helping one's overall search rankings. In the case of Google's algorithm, the "newness" and frequency of posts contribute to the perceived "relevance" of a site. However, the key is to get other blogs and sites to link directly to your blog. An increase in third party referral links results in an increased "relevance" for your site.
As expected, a new blog post typically gets a burst of traffic immediately after it is published. In most cases, the traffic declines dramatically after a day or two. However, in some cases, a blog post that is not timely might continue to drive traffic to your site long after its initial publication. This is particularly true if the post is not time-sensitive and becomes indexed and related to key terms by search engines.
Are you pro-actively encouraging other sites to link to your post? What third-party sites should you strategically target as significant potential recipients of your blog post?
Digg, Reddit and Facebook are among those social networking/aggregation sites that may help generate links to our site.
If you feel that the theme of your post has significance outside of our own site, then submit it! Common sense rules here, but some examples include:
Digg.com (submit URL here - requires registration)
Reddit.com (Submit URL here - requires registration)
Do you have a Facebook Like button on your post?
Make it easy for people to link to and share your info.
Facebook has code that allows you to add a "Like"button here
HubSpot has some great tips on getting the most of paid search listings:
Sources: For our reporting assignments, there are rules and guidelines on who you can/should interview. For this assignment, you are required to interview at least two human sources. Citing other publications and/or broadcasts is not considered a source. Also, please avoid anonymous sources and do not use friends, roommates or family for your interview subjects.
Technologies: To complete this assignment, students can use any consumer-grade camcorder or video-enabled smartphone. For editing, students can use any free or trial version of digital video editing software (including Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker and GoPro Studio).
To turn this assignment in, please upload your completed video to YouTube (or other video hosting service) then post a link and/or embed your final video production on your blog. You should also post a link in the Class Discussions so that other students can view your work. Don't forget to fill out the title field, description text and tag sections for your video on YouTube.