Search Engine Optimization-Templates and CMS - Carnegie Mellon University

Search Engine Optimization

Websites that have been optimized for search engines have a greater chance of being visible in search results. When creating pages and writing content, there are a few things you can do to ensure your website is "search engine friendly." For example, the titles and system names you give to pages and folders are very important as a search engine may determine what a page is about partly based on the keywords used in its naming.  In addition, using relevant keywords and structuring your content by using heading and paragraph tags will be highly beneficial when a search engine takes inventory of the content of your pages.  Below are some guidelines to follow when building your website.

Titles

According the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C.org), the title you give a page is "the most important element of a quality Web page" and is designed to provide a short piece of text that should represent the document in browser window title bars, bookmarks, and search engine result listings (reference).

In the CMS, when you give a page a title (not to be confused with headings as addressed below) you will see it reflected in three areas: the left navigation, the breadcrumb navigation, and in the title bar at the top of the browser window or tab (by default, your site name and Carnegie Mellon University are added after the page title in the browser's title bar.)  Because the title of a page is considered to be the single most important identifier of what the page is about, great care should be taken to ensure the title contains the top keywords associated with the page.

Read more about adding page titles on the Create, Name, Save a Page instructions.

System Names

Every item (e.g., page, folder, and file) in the CMS has a system name. System names appear in the folder structure on the left; in addition, a system name of an item gets displayed in the live URL for that item. The CMS will automatically generate a system name when a new page or folder is created, however it is highly advisable that you manually assign a relevant system name based on the content of the page or folder. Learn more about system names including recommended guidelines and good and bad examples.

Relevant Keywords

A very important factor to making your website search engine friendly is to populate your content with keywords that are highly relevant to the topic at hand. Sift through your content and take note of important words and phrases that you feel are most relevant to the topic being discussed.  Once identified, you can then further enhance your content by focusing on these words and phrases and using them in your content often (also referred to as "keyword density"). Overall, a website that has been optimized to use relevant keywords will have a greater chance at appearing in search results when those keywords are searched for. Keep in mind, your goal is not to just draw traffic to your website, but to draw targeted traffic, that is, traffic that is specifically looking for the information you have to offer.

Structured Content: Using Heading and Paragraph Tags

Search engines will crawl through your website and categorize it based on its content. Written content that has been structured using heading and paragraph tags is much more conducive to being search engine friendly and proper steps should be taken to format content for this reason. Heading tags should be used for every heading throughout your website, and the bulk of your written content should be formatted using paragraph tags. 

Heading Tags

The CMS offers several different levels of styled heading tags that can be used to designate the headings of a page. Heading 1 carries the most importance and is styled to be the most prominent heading on a page, therefore it is usually intended for the first and topmost heading. Headings 2, 3, and 4 are used for subheadings and are styled to portray their level of importance respectively.  You may use a heading tag more than once on a page, and you do not need to use all of the heading tags.

As an example, every red heading on this page uses a heading tag:

  • The top-most heading, "Search Engine Optimization," has been designated as Heading 1.
  • The next four headings, "Titles," "System Names," "Relevant Keywords," and "Structured Content: Using Heading and Paragraph Tags," have been designated as Heading 2.
  • The last two headings, "Heading Tags" and "Paragraph Tags," have been designated as Heading 3.

To designate heading tags, simply highlight the heading and select the appropriate heading tag in the pull-down menu as shown in the example below.

Header Tags

Paragraph Tags

The bulk of your written content should be properly formatted into paragraphs using paragraph tags. A paragraph tag is automatically generated whenever you hit "Enter" or "Return" on your keyboard while writing text in the CMS, however you can also highlight a chunk of text and format it into a paragraph by using the pull-down menu as shown in the example above (select Paragraph.)