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Idaho State University

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is an activity that attempts to increase the relevance and rank of your site on a search engine.
It is intended to increase traffic to your site by helping search engine users find what they are looking for.

Good content is the key

Be Concise

Use Headings

Integrate Keywords

Use Images

Use links




Page Title



Good Content is the Key

A search engine can 'read' and catalog every piece of text and HTML on your site. It knows the difference between a paragraph, a table, a list, a link, and an image. It correlates all of these things to determine what is actually on the page.

Search engine algorithms are very intelligent and difficult to manipulate. So the best strategy is to create content that is relevant and concise.


Be Concise

They don't really read websites. They scan through them looking for important information.

Search Engine
It goes through all the content and then decides what is important based on algoritms.

People and search engines do the same thing, just in different ways.

For the sake of people and search engines, your content should be concise, brief, and scannable.

How Users Read on the Web - a great article on how to make content scannable.


Use Headings Strategically

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

These are not just about the size of the text.

Search engines use heading tags to organize content.

The number of the heading tells the engine how important the content is.

Plan your pages so that your use of headings is hierarchical and structured.


Integrate Keywords

Keywords are words and phrases that serchers use in their queries. If you can reduce all of your content into a few words, those would be keywords.

How to choose keywords

Get in your user's heads
Think about what terms they may be searching. Ask students and others what they words they might use.

Develop long-tail keywords
Long-tails are phrases with some detail. While a long-tail phrase may not be searched frequently, the detail will help those who search for more specific terms.

Keyword: Car
Long-tail: Used 2012 blue 4-door sedan

When you have chosen keywords, use them in paragraphs, headings, image descriptions, and METADATA.

Keyword Resources

Yoast Google Suggest Expander

Moz Keyword Explorer

Google Trends


Use Images

Search engines can't actually see images the way humans do.

Engines use the following to understand images:

  • Text surrounding the image - text near the image can give context for the image
  • Image description (alt tag) - this is added in TerminalFour's media library, be sure that it is relevant to the image and the context of the page
  • Image file name - rename image file names to match the context of the image (e.g. a person, place, or event name)
  • Image size - most images never need to be bigger than 500kb


Use Links

The text of a link should inform a person and a search engine of what will happen when they click on it.

Search engines use link text to understand the interconnectivity of pages within websites and that website in relation to other websites.

Link text should never be 'click here' or 'here'.




Metadata is information in HTML tags that tells a search engine about a page.

The 3 most important pieces of metadata are:

  • URL
  • Page Title
  • Page Description


google results with URL, title, and description labeled



A URL should be:

  • Short
  • Easy to read and remember - Use whole words or acronyms
  • Descriptive of the site

How to change your URL


Page Title

The page title is what is displayed in the tab of the browser. Engines use the title to categorize the page.

Titles should be:

  • Related to the page content
  • 60 characters or less

How to change your page title

Page Description

Description is a snippet of text that describes the page's content.

It often shows in search engine previews.

All pages have a default description that is pre-set. This can be changed.

Descriptions should be 160 characters. They must be less than 200 characters.