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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guidelines

Hints for Content Creation and Website Optimization

Be concise
The strongest written content for the web is concise and formatted into short sentences and broken up into brief paragraphs using keyword-rich headers so that readers can scan a page and find exactly what they are looking for quickly. Bulleted lists are also helpful where appropriate.

Present the most important idea first
Avoid lengthy introductory paragraphs. An inverted pyramid style of writing, where the most substantial, interesting and important information is presented in the first paragraph is highly recommended. This type of formatting helps search engines catalogue pages by subject matter which assists people in finding the exact content they are looking for more quickly.

Identify keywords before you write
Before you begin writing any content for your site, we recommend identifying a short list of strategically selected keywords and keyword phrases (called long tail keywords) related to your subject and then intentionally incorporating these in a natural, unforced way into your content where appropriate.  Well selected keywords not only can help a web page receive higher organic (unpaid) search engine results across the entire worldwide web but also with “internal” searches on Messiah’s own website.

The web team provides a keyword list WORKSHEET to help you identify keywords and keyword phrases and to ensure these keywords are then included in your site at appropriate places.

Google has a free search-based keyword tool that displays the frequency with which various keyword phrases are used by visitors to a website. Similar phrases with high search counts can be incorporated into the content of pages to help visitors find the information they are looking for on our pages, so long as the terms are relevant to the content.

Use keywords in meta data

Meta data is information not visible on the web page itself but embedded in the page’s coding. Search engines often use this “hidden” information to understand and catalogue the content and relevancy of individual pages and help others find content quickly.

Keywords should be used in metadata areas but consistency between a page’s actual visible content and the wording used in the metadata areas is very important.

Metadata information should be updated as page content is revised.

Include keywords in these meta data tags

  • Images: Webpage images have coding associated with them (called alt tags) and also use descriptive filenames as well.
  • Page Description: The page description is coding that briefly and concisely summarizes a page's content. These descriptions should be 170 to 200 characters at most. This is the information that shows up in the search results of many search engines.
  • Page Title

Know your audience
As you create your keyword list, also keep in mind your audience and consider the terms they are most likely to use when searching for the kind of content your site provides. For example, the prospective student audience typically is far more familiar with the term “creation care” than they are with the word “sustainability.”

Review the Google SEO Starter Guide to further assist you in optimizing your website for attaining favorable organic (unpaid) ranking in the various search engines.

Keep your content current
We highly recommend that you review your site on a regular basis to add, revise, or delete content where appropriate. As you do this, don’t forget to also check your metadata to make sure it is consistent with any revised content.

Frequently updated content can also improve your search engine rankings.

How To's