Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics

Follow these best practices to optimize your website for search engines. Remember, what is good for your users is often what is good for search engines as well.

Know your SEO: minimum requirements

  • Use a unique page title. No two pages on your site should have the same title.
  • Write a unique meta description. This is the small text preview that appears on a Google search. No two pages should have the same meta description.
  • Customize your Open Graph (OG) for social media platforms. OG tells specific platforms such as Facebook and Twitter what each should display so that your content is tailored to its context.
  • Optimize your Twitter Cards. These tell Twitter what image and summary to use when people share your content.
  • Make sure there is no <p> element (paragraph) used before first body paragraph, and no <h2> element (headline 2) used before <h1> (headline 1).
  • Deliver your sites with HTTPS, and make sure they load fast and are responsive.

Optimize your keywords

Keywords help search engines find your content. Include them in your page title, meta description and the first body paragraph. Try to keep keyword usage to three to five per topic or element.

Create useful content

By building content that fulfills a user’s need, you have a better chance at ranking in search. If you are a reputable source for the topic, are providing a better experience than competition and/or are addressing a niche that is not currently being addressed, you are more likely to rank in search for your content.

  • Focus on topics you are known for or you can craft a unique and valuable experience for your users.
  • Build content that is evergreen or seasonal.
  • By using usability best practices, you can better position your content for search.
  • Use metrics to help you make the best decisions in optimizing existing content or in crafting new content.

Start a BrightEdge account

BrightEdge helps communicators track the search rankings and opportunities of their content and keywords. The Strategic Communications web team has a cost-sharing plan available for units across UC Davis. For more information about BrightEdge and to start using it, please contact the web team at scweb@ucdavis.edu.

Redirects: leave no link behind

  • Make sure to put redirects in place.
  • When reorganizing or merging content, make sure to redirect to the proper URL.
  • Watch 404 logs to fix broken links or redirect where necessary.
  • If deleting a page, find a page that gives similar content. If no page exists that is related, leave the page a 404. However, if you delete a page and are seeing traffic to it, you may want to consider creating a page to address the need.