Basic SEO is all about common sense and simplicity. Having a website with rich content about your office/school/department that is referenced by other websites is the key to gaining good search engine rankings. Ultimately, search engines aim to be helpful to the person who is searching, and the best way to do that is with useful content.

page-details
The tools and functions available in  Page Details/Post Details plugin for BU’s WordPress CMS can help you improve your site’s standing in search results.

If your site does not have this plugin activated, you can request that it be turned on.

When this plugin is activated, a new metabox called “Additional Page Details…” displays directly below your WordPress editing window (screenshot at right – click it to enlarge).

The following guidelines help you write page summary and descriptions, titles, and keywords for your page that help search engines understand your website and display it more clearly on search result pages.

Page Summary

The page summary in this plugin can be used in two ways. Type in a page summary in the indicated area (#1 in screenshot). For SEO, also make sure the checkbox (#3 in screenshot) is turned on to use the page summary as a Meta Description. In addition to adding a meta tag with a page description for search engines to use, this text can be displayed elsewhere on your site through special WordPress shortcodes.

RECOMMENDED FOR SEO:

  • make the page summary unique on every page
  • write in tight and concise language
  • remember that Google uses approximately the first 160 characters

DON’T FOR SEO:

  • re-use the same page summary on multiple pages
  • make the page summary too long

meta-description-1

Meta Description

You also have the option to use a separate Meta Description that is different from the Page Summary. For instance, you may want to use longer page summaries because they are being used as descriptions elsewhere in WordPress. In this case, simply turn off the checkbox (#3 in screenshot) and WordPress will display an additional dialogue box where you can enter the page description for the Meta Description tag.


Keywords

Google claims to not use keywords in determining search results, but it is possible that keywords have an impact on page rank. Other search engines may (Bing) or do (Yahoo) use keywords, so it’s best to use them. Keywords (#4 in screenshot) should be separated by commas.

Separate keywords with commas. Keywords can be more than one actual word:

graduate program, molecular biology, masters degree = 3 keywords.

RECOMMENDED FOR SEO:

  • use 5 to 7 keywords
  • use keywords that are specific to the content of the specific page you are on
  • use keywords for the most popular concepts and content that you expect people will be searching for

DON’T FOR SEO:

  • use more than 10 keywords
  • use keywords that are very generic (Boston)
  • use keywords that are already in your page title (Boston University)

Custom Title Tag

Search engines use content of your page’s HTML title tag for the page title link in search results. By default WordPress constructs this HTML title in this manner:  [page title] » [site name] » Boston University. For example, the title of this page (which you can see in the titlebar at the top of the browser window and/or on the browser tab) is:

Improve Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) » TechWeb » Boston University

If this default scheme makes your page title too long, cumbersome, or unclear for search engine optimization, you can specify a page title that overrides the WordPress default (#2 in screenshot).

RECOMMENDED FOR SEO:

  • make your titles unique for every page on your site
  • keep your page titles short and concise
  • keep the main topic/category of the page within approximately the first 70 characters

DON’T FOR SEO:

  • re-use the same page title on multiple pages — this can actually hurt your page ranking
  • use non-standard abbreviations

Further Reading

There are some good free tools for search engine optimization available online. Start with Google’s guide to SEO. This will cover most of the basics in addition to offering a starter guide to SEO.

There are also several blogs that cover different aspects of SEO.