We all want our content to appear on the first page of a Google search. That is all down to how your content is ranked. And you can do something about that. There are similarities in how your content ranks in search results between search engines and our on-site search. Here are some tips you can take to improve the search visibility of your content…
Do your research
An example my old boss used was to imagine you’re writing a page about a pen. Should you be writing about a black pen, a ball point pen, a biro? Before you start writing, it’s important to do your research to find out the kind of language and phrases people are using when they search.
There are lots of tools you can use for finding out keyword ideas. A couple I would recommend are Ubersuggest and Google’s Keyword Planner. They are both free tools, the later requires you to be logged into Adwords, which you can do through your Google account. These tools will give you ideas of the kinds of terms and phrases you need be using throughout your content.
Below is an example of the keywords ideas from Ubersuggest for the term apprenticeships.
The words used in the URL of your content are important. By default, in T4 the URL is formed from the name of the section, however, moderators can override this by using the output uri field. It is best practice to set this yourself, keeping your URL concise, including relevant key words/phrases and ignoring stop words such as and, the, a, etc.
For example, if the name of your section is Accounting and Finance courses at the University of Derby then accounting-finance-courses would be a good output uri.
The meta description is a snippet of usually up to 160 characters which summarises the content of your page. The snippet is shown in search results and is important in getting users to click through to your content. Use your research to help you write your description.
In T4, by default the abstract within the Section Config content type is used for the meta description. Moderators can override this using the description field on the metadata tab of your section.
The use of headings to structure your content well will improve user experience by making your pages more readable. Better quality content can lead to lower bounce rates and users spending more time on pages. These are positive indicators when it comes to ranking search results. To find out more, Justin’s recent post on the importance of headings is well worth a read.
The more links there are to a page within a website, the more important it is deemed to be. Therefore, link to your content appropriately.
For example, if you’re writing content about plastic pollution and there’s a news article that covers the same subject, add a link. If you don’t own the content where you want the link to be added reach out to the relevant person. If you’re unsure who that is, email email@example.com.
This works both ways too. Within your content, you should be adding links where appropriate, for example, if you refer to an academic member of staff in your content, link to their staff profile.
On a similar note, external websites that link to your content influence search results. Once your content is live, look for opportunities for other websites to link to your content. Don’t be afraid to ask. Email colleagues, contacts, web admins and blog owners who you think will be interested in your content. Again it works both ways so link out from content appropriately too.
Be wary though, bad link building practice eg buying links is penalised by Google so ensure any links built are authentic and organic.
Sharing your content on your social media networks will help too. But don’t just post it, engage with people talking about subjects related to your content and share with relevant users.
Have a go at applying the tips above to your content. If you have any questions or if you’d like to talk in more detail about improving the search visibility of your content, you can book a slot at one of our drop-in sessions. You can do both by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.