Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the practice of improving a website's position with search engines like Google. The purpose of SEO is to ensure that when a web user searches for a particular keyword or phrase that your web pages will be shown to those users. However, Google has implemented many changes to the way they index websites in recent years, impacting web and content managers and their search engine ranking.

The key point in all of these changes is relevancy. In this sense it refers to what is relevant to the person visiting a website.

It is best practice to always consider the user. Attempting to trick search engines like Google will most likely lead to poor results for your webpages.

There are a number of ways that web publishers can assist search engines to properly index your web pages. They are 'Page titles', 'Description meta tags' and the page 'URL'.

Here is an example of these three items

Page titles

This is the first thing a user sees when conducting a search. They also appear as tabs at the top of the web browser. Best practices for page titles include:

  • Create short but descriptive titles – no more than approximately 55 characters.
  • Relevant to the page content – Ensure the title reflects the content of the page
  • Each web page title should be unique – Avoid copying titles to save time

Description meta tag

The Description meta tag is only visible to users on the search engine results page.

Descriptions allow the web or content manager to control what a user sees on the results page. If you do not include a description meta tag, Google will display the first 150-160 lines of text.

  • Limited to 150-160 characters. Text will truncate after this limit.
  • Relevant descriptions – Ensure the description is relevant to the page content
  • Each description should be unique – Avoid copying descriptions to save time.

URL

The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the text under the title on the search engine results page.

When you create a page title the URL, or web address, is automatically created. When creating the URL consider:

  • Relevancy to titles descriptions and page content
  • URLs can contain 2083 characters, however it is better to keep shorter where possible.
  • Use hyphens to separate words like this: federation.edu.au/international/study-at-feduni. Our CMS does this automatically.

Content

Content includes text, images, videos, podcasts and more. For most web publishers it is the text that will be most important to get right.

  • Write content for the webpage users – Think about how you can best write and lay out the content for your users. You want them to easily navigate and find content on your site.
  • Remain on-topic – Once again relevancy is the key here. Does the content make sense to a user? Does the content match the page title, description and headings?
  • No dirty tricks (known as black hat SEO). This includes link building, peppering keywords and hiding text by making the colour the same as the background. These and many other poor web practices will likely lead to low rankings with search engines.

Headings

Headings enable you to lay out your content appropriately for users to easily read and navigate through your page content. <h> tags usually provide a hierarchy of headings that you can use on your webpage. Where possible you should:

  • Us the <h1> tag as the title of the page and not use it elsewhere.
  • You can use other heading tags such as <h2>, <h3> and so on as often as needed.
  • Ensure the text inside <h> tags is relevant and suggests what is to follow.

Anchor text

Anchor text, or link text, is the text used when creating a hyperlink on a webpage. Often you will want to create a link on your webpage to other content on your website or on another website. When creating links consider:

  • Relevancy of the text – it should make sense to a user
  • Use short and descriptive text - eg, Browse our Course Finder
  • Avoid using terms like 'click here', 'read more'.

To learn more about SEO view Google's SEO Starter Guide (pdf, 4.2mb)