Around 70% of our website visitors discover the site using a search engine such as Google, so it's important to make sure your pages can be easily found. These tips should help you to optimise your content for search engines.
When you build or edit a page you also need to add metadata. This helps to ensure that your page will be visible in search engine results and it could help your page to achieve a higher ranking position. In Contensis, metadata fields can generally be found in the ‘Metadata’ tab next to your page’s main ‘Content’ tab. Within structured content such as news, events, staff and course templates, the meta description and keywords fields appear towards the bottom of the ‘Content’ tab when you are editing the page.
Meta description ('Description' field)
Your meta description is the text that appears in Google search results underneath the title of your page. Having metadata that closely matches what people are searching for can increase the number of people who click through from Google, which can also help your page to rank well in search results. So your meta description needs to accurately describe your content, include relevant keywords and be unique to the page. The field is compulsory and should not exceed 220 characters. (You will see an error message when you try to save the page if these requirements are not met).
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Meta title ('Document Title' field)
Document Title allows you to give your page a longer, in context title that appears in browser tabs and in search engine results. For example, if you are creating an ‘undergraduate study’ page in the School of Psychology, you might put the following as the Title of the page:
This would populate the ‘Auto generated title’ field, and appear as the page header.
You could then specify the following as the DocumentTitle:
Undergraduate study – School of Psychology
The site suffix ‘– University of Birmingham’ will be added automatically unless you untick the ‘IncludeSuffixForDocumentTitle’ box.
So the title that would appear in browser tabs and in search engine results would be:
Undergraduate study – School of Psychology – University of Birmingham
For Document Title use the convention:
[Page title] – [school/department/institute/research lab/project]
For course pages, the equivalent field to ‘Document Title’ is 'MetaDataTitle'. The ‘University of Birmingham’ suffix will automatically be added to whatever is put into this field.
Character limit: Document Title and MetaDataTitle are not limited to a character length, but be aware that search engines such as Google will truncate titles that are very long, so put the unique page title information at the beginning of the Document Title. We recommend a character limit of 65, or as close to this as possible.
Keywords indicate to search engines the topic of the page. Make sure that keywords accurately reflect the content of your pages.
You can use the Adwords keyword planner tool to select the keywords that have the highest search volumes for your page.
Use descriptive text for links, as this helps Google to confirm the topic of that page. Avoid using phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘find out more’ as your link text - it is better to include the name of where you are linking to in your hyperlink. For example, 'find out more about our Executive MBA programme'.
The time your page takes to load could have an impact on your search ranking. It’s also important to make sure your page loads quickly to ensure a positive user experience, which is particularly important if you’re targeting countries where users generally have a slower internet connection.
You can measure your page sitespeed using the Google Developer tools.
One way to decrease page load time is to compress your images – you can download useful compressed versions of your images from PageSpeed Insights which you can then upload to Contensis.
Structured data on news, events and courses
We have recently added structured data to our news, events and course page templates, which means we are providing Google with the information it needs to display our content as rich snippets, which will help users find our content more easily.
While news pages will be marked up automatically, if you edit events or courses, there are a number of actions you need to take:
- Events - if your event is off campus, change the address. If on campus, leave it prepopulated. Note that Google requires this information to be able to display your event as a rich snippet. All other fields are optional, but if you complete these, people are more likely to discover your event in search engines. Follow Google’s advice on how to complete these fields.
- Courses - Google is working on a new course listing tool, and to display courses in this it needs a new short description. There's now a field on the course template for a short description (max 60 characters) which needs to be completed for every course in order to appear in this tool.
Video: Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation
Amy Commander (Digital Channel Manager) and Maddy McGarrie (Digital Marketing and Communications Manager) delivered a session on SEO on 28 November 2018 as part of the Marketing Network CPD Series.
You can now watch the video and download the slides.