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Web Publishing - Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website or a web page from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) which may deal with paid inclusion.

Learn more at Google's website

Meta tags and keywords

Learn how to increase the relevancy ranking of your web pages for search engines using meta tags and keywords.

The <title> tag

The <title> tag is the text shown in the windows-bar of the browser window. Be sure to include your most important keyword phrases here. Many search engines use this line in their result listings, and you want people to click on that link. Do not put the name of the site first, unless the name contains the essential keyword phrase.

Keyword density

Keyword density is the relationship between the total number of words on a page and how many times the keyword phrase is included. To calculate the density, paste the viewable text of the webpage into Word or another word processor or editor and let the program count the total number of words. Then use the search (or find/replace) function to count the keyword phrase. Divide the occurrence of the keyword phrase with the total number of words to find the keyword density. The optimal keyword density is somewhere between 2-5%. However, search engines consider so many factors that the density alone will neither win or lose the race for you. The Pandia Search Engine Optimization Gateway includes a list of tools you may use when analyzing your use of keywords.

Headline tags

Do include the keyword phrases in headlines. If possible, use the standard headline tags (<h1>, <h2> etc.)_. By using cascading style sheets in combination with the headline tags, you will get even better control of the layout. Put your keyword phrase in the first top-level headline (whether this is <h1> or <h2>).

<alt> tags

Many search engines will register the image ALT tags, which you can use to describe pictures to people who are using non-graphic browsers (such as for the visually-impaired). These tags should include a description of the graphic element.

<A HREF=books/index.html"><IMG SRC="graphics/books.jpg" WIDTH="60" HEIGHT="72" HSPACE="4" VSPACE="4" BORDER="0" ALT="From Alfred’s collection of rare and used books, folios, paperbacks, hardbacks, manuscripts and publications. "></A>

Keywords in links and URLs

Include keyword phrases in links. These links improve the ranking of this page; it may also boost the relevancy of the page the link is pointing to. Hence <A HREF="file.html">Click here!</a> is a wasted opportunity. You can also name files after the keyword phrase, as well as directories, as some engines take the URL into consideration when calculating the ranking. If possible, get a domain name that includes your main keyword. See: Pandia SEM 101: Search engine friendly HTML code.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

January 09, 2013

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