Searching on the Kenyon Web Site
How to improve your search ratings and draw people to your site
Search ratings are very important for on-line business -- why should it be any different for college sites? When visitors search for information, either from our own or an outside search engine, they should get the page they want.
But why should you care, as a site maintainer? If a visitor can't find your site, you may as well have not put in the time designing, populating and maintaining it. The site becomes useless. There are several ways to make sure that your pages are rated properly.
- Headers and Titles
- Link Text
- Alt Text
- General Dos and Don'ts
Kenyon's internal search has been changed and now ignores keywords. You no longer need to add them to new pages and we will be slowly eliminating the textboxes for them in the CMS.
Kenyon's internal search has been changed and now ignores descriptions. You no longer need to add them to new pages and we will be slowly eliminating the textboxes for them in the CMS.
On the Kenyon site, the header is the text that appears at the top of your page in bold, slightly larger letters. What many people don't know is that this text is also the title of your page, appearing in the title bar of the browser window and also as bookmark text and the link text in search engine results.
This means that text in the header is often indexed twice, once as the header and once as the title. Because of this, your header needs to be a very clear indication of what is on your page.
- Do choose header text wisely
- Do be concise
- Do try to avoid using the same header text for more than one page
- Do include your office or department in headers, where appropriate
- Don't write book-length headers
- Don't use "Kenyon" in your headers unless absolutely necessary.
Because of their proximity to the top of the page, information in subheaders will often be weighted higher by search engines than text below it. Subheaders should be chosen with the same care as headers, but can often be longer and catchier.
Headings (as opposed to your pages Headers) are the bolded or colored section headings that can be used to break up the content on your page. Search engines often rate headings higher than regular text.
DON'T abuse headings. They should be used in a logical way to structure your page, not to make text bigger or to try and fool the search engine. Abused headings will be removed when we come across them.
Carefully choosing link text is a way that you can help others improve their ratings. Search engines, especially Google, often use the words included in hyperlinked text to rate pages. This is especially important now that Kenyon's internal search engine is based on Google's algorithms.
The simplest way to choose link text when linking to other pages is to let the CMS choose it for you. If the page you wish to link to exists in the CMS, link to it with an internal link. The link text will be the page's header -- the importance of which is described above. Link to your own CMS pages the same way.
When linking to pages outside of the CMS (or when choosing your own text because your link is in the main body text), choose words that are appropriate to the page's content.
- Do use internal links when possible
- Do choose link text words that appear in the page you are linking to.
- Don't use phrases such as "Click Here" or "Visit this site" as link text.
On the web, images are often given special alternative text that describes what they contain. This was originally for people who could not see the images for some reason, either due to disability or the use of a text-browser. Today, search engines often use the alternate text in indexing pages.
In the Kenyon CMS, alt text is added when an image is uploaded. It can also be changed by editing the source of a document through the CMS and changing the contents of the "alt" attribute for an image.
- Do select alt text that honestly describes the image it is paired with
- Don't use alt text as a way to push search terms
The best way to improve your search ratings is to focus on your subject. Your content should be clear and concise and should use your important terms without overusing them.
- Do know what your subject is and stick to it.
- Do pay attention to your first sentence. Often search engines rate the early words in a document higher than later ones.
- Don't overuse terms.
- Do use all the methods listed above
- Do think about your search terms. Use words that you would search for if you wanted the information in your page and didn't know where it was.
- Don't use hidden or whited-out text to hide search terms from users but show them to search engines. Today's search engines penalize this method.
- Don't use images of words in place of words; search engines won't be able to index them and it is impolite to any visitors that might be vision impaired or using a slow internet connection. The exception to this rule is the Kenyon wordmark.