Search Optimization

Nearly all Web users rely on search at least some of the time. For many, it's their main way to navigate the Web.

Search tools continue to be important once a visitor reaches your website. Many will use the site's search tools to find specific information, but others will continue to use whichever search engine brought them there.

It is well worth your time to make your webpages as search-friendly as possible.

Two Levels of Search: Public and Site-specific

Public search engines index content that is open to the public. Google, Yahoo! and Bing are examples of popular search engines. Most people come to the college site via a public search engine.

The college's site search is behind the search box at the top of  the college's webpages. The college's site search includes college and college-affiliated webpages, both public and password-protected, as well as electronic publications on college and college-affiliated webpages.

The site search does not include individual or personal sites, or Web-based instructional materials.

OCM and ITS can help with improving the results of users finding your pages in both public and college site searches.

Content Matters More than Technology

The most important point about search is that content matters more than technology. Even the most sophisticated search engine is only as good as the content it indexes.

The best thing you can do to make your webpages show up well in search results is to follow the guidelines on writing for the Web.

How to Make Your Pages Even More Searchable

Once you've applied the guidelines on writing for the Web to your pages, here are some other things you can do:

  • Make the Web address (URL) and title bar reflect the page's topic using meaningful keywords, as shown in the sample screenshot
    Note: In TerminalFour (t4), the section name is, by default, displayed in the title bar.
  • The section/tittle bar name has several uses:
    • it appears in the title bar of the user's browser window, as shown in the sample screenshot
    • search engines index its words
    • in a search results page, it is the text of the link to your page
    • if the webpage is bookmarked (or saved to favorites), it is the default text displayed in the list of bookmarks (favorites).
  • Make sure the first-level heading on your page (in HTML, the "<h1>" heading) matches what is in the "<title>" tag (browser tab or window title), or at least is very similar. 
  • Make sure all headings follow proper hierarchy and HTML markup -- they should be actual headings vs. bold, large parapraph text.
  • Use descriptive words for links (not "click here" or  the Web address), letting readers know what to expect at the linked page. See the guidelines for writing Web content for examples.
  • Make sure all graphics that convey content have meaningful alternative text in the "alt" attribute. If a graphic is only decorative, such as bullets, put one blank space in the "alt" attribute.

Make PDFs and Other Files More Searchable

There are two simple ways to improve how PDFs and other files are found in searches:

  1. Use a file name that is meaningful and readable by human users (as opposed to search engines).
  2. Fill in some of the file's properties, especially the title, subject and keywords fields.

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