Writing for Search Engine Optimization

So you've got a beautiful website with lots of great information. The problem is, your page ranks poorly in the search engines, making it difficult for prospects to find you. It's time to look at your website and see how you can improve your rankings. Here are a few simple tips to raise your visibility in the search engines.

Tips for Improving Your Search Engine Rankings

1. Identify Keywords

  • What words would people use to search for you? Some ideas to get you started:

    • The name of the institution
    • The name of your office, program, department, or organization
    • A general term for what you offer
    • Your location (Mankato, Twin Cities, one of our partner institutions)
    • Your accreditation
  • Brainstorm words you think people should use to find you in a search, and write them down.

2. Use Keywords Throughout Your Site

  • Use descriptive text and keywords for your page name and page title.

    • Example: Use "About [department name]" instead of simply using "About".
    • Example: Use "[department or college] Student Advising Resources" instead of "Advising" or "Resources"
  • Use search-friendly URL's.

    • In the past, best practice was to keep URL's as short as possible. This is no longer the case. The longer and more descriptive the URL, the higher your search engine ranking will be.
      • Example: instead of using mnsu.edu/visit, use mnsu.edu/admissions-and-aid/undergraduate-admissions/visit-campus.
    • There are ways to create short URL's for pages that you would like to promote in other marketing materials. Please contact Integrated Marketing to get your short URL approved and implemented.
      • Using the example above, we can create a URL mnsu.edu/visit that leads to mnsu.edu/admissions-and-aid/undergraduate-admissions/visit-campus.
  • Use keywords in headings.

    • Tell the search engines which text are headings by assigning a heading style in the EpiServer editor (visit Let's Build a Page! for information on how to apply styles).
    • The search engines will give more value to words used in headings.
  • Use keywords in links.

    • This is called "link building". By using descriptive link text, your pages will rank higher in the search engines.
      • Example: Instead of writing "To contact us, click here", consider simply write "Contact [department]". (Note: these links illustrate the example but do not lead anywhere).
  • Use keywords in the meta data.

    • In the "settings" tab of the EpiServer editor, type your keywords into the "Meta keywords" field. Separate each keyword with a comma.
    • Write a description of your website that uses keywords and enter this into the "Meta description" field in the settings tab of the EpiServer editor. The description should be a comprehensive sentence or two.

3. Use Descriptive Image Names

  • Search engines catalog images.

    • An image named "memorial-library-minnesota-state-mankato.jpg" will help your search engine rankings. An image named "IMG_0874.jpg" will not. Make sure your image name describes the image.

4. Use Alternative Text on Images

  • This not only helps your website's accessibility, but it also helps your SEO.

    • When you upload an image to EpiServer, be sure to add descriptive text in the "Alt Text" field. For instructions on how to add alt text, visit the EpiServer Image Guide.
    • This text will display if images are disabled, will be readable with screen readers, and will improve your SEO.

5. Use Social Media

  • Search engines reward social media users.

    • If you have any social media pages, be sure to link to them from your website.
    • Be sure to post links to your website from social media as often as possible.