Search Engine Optimization

SEO Best Practices

Google and other search engines scan all of the pages on your website, in a practice called “indexing.” During this process, each page is read, and the main focus or “keywords” written in your content are ascertained. From there, an index of your pages’ keywords are stored and a score for your website is generated from the results. When users access a search engine, sites are served up by their relevance to the keywords in the query. Having a strong site score based on the keywords of your site is important for getting higher rankings in the search engine results page (SERP). Below are a few suggestions on how to improve your site’s content for search engine optimization.


Define Page Keyword

What is the central focus of the page? The content for this page should be primarily written to support this keyword. If your page is about ‘tuition,’ then a keyword would be “tuition,” “cost,” or “fee.” When you write your content with a keyword focus, Google pick ups on derivations (e.g. the keyword “cost” will also allow for “costs” to count towards the overall usage.)

For Example:

Page Keyword: Orange

Content on this page should consider how you want to describe “Orange,” as well as the context. Is it a color? Is it the fruit? Is it the mascot? Simply adding the keyword ‘orange’ throughout the page without context does not give Google enough information to provide a quality index of the page.


Write for How People Search

Write your content to answer questions, not to present facts. Users visit search engines to ask questions–not just to use a few keywords to find relevant content. Your content should answer the questions your audience is asking.

For Example:

Why The Color Orange?

It is more likely that users will search “Why is Syracuse University the color orange?,” than searching “Orange.” Think about what words you can use to supplement the main focus/keyword of the page. This will help further refine search results and provide the user with a better experience.


Write for Length

You should provide Google with enough content to index each page, as well as additional information to support keywords. Ideally, pages should range from 300 to 800 words in length. This length should allow you to provide enough detail to index the page without adding too much filler copy


Use Headings

Headings are important, not only for SEO, but also for directing the user to key sections of your page. Typically, users scan a page first, so keyword headings help users quickly find content that is relevant to them.

Headings help indicate overall content structure, which means search engines tend to weigh keywords within heading tags higher those in paragraphs. The end result is a stronger page index and higher site score within Google’s content indexes.


Use Contextual Links

When including links, make sure to use descriptive link titles. Linking to other pages within your site and having outside sites link back to your page helps boost your SEO relevance.

As Google indexes pages across syr.edu and the web, it comes across links within content. Google compares and saves the description you give the link. It cross-references those descriptions to provide a better picture of what the page is about, giving the SERP a more reliable result.

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