Writing for search engine optimisation (SEO) instruction

Instruction

Instruction statement

To provide web content creators, web editors and web managers with instructions on how to optimise their web content so that users can find it easily, and so their content ranks well in search engines.

Exclusions

This guideline does not apply to:

  • courseware, including scholarly and student work and teaching and learning materials
  • websites that have no relationship to RMIT (e.g., personal or private websites)

Instruction steps and actions

Search engine optimisation (SEO) describes the technique of improving your website to enable people using search engines to find what they need. It means adapting your content so search engines can understand the purpose of your website and deliver relevant results.

Using the following techniques will assist with the SEO of your content.

1. Use Writing for the Web principles

The Key to good SEO is good usability – ie. Making it easy for people to find what they are looking for. Using the principles of good writing for the web, your content will rank better in search engines and be easy for users to find and read. See the Writing for the web instruction for more.

2. Establish metadata

Use the Metadata schema instruction to gather the fixed and free vocabulary keywords for content and understand where they should be applied.

3. Create original content

Create original content for all pages except when duplication supports the user experience (for example in forms or event descriptions). Search engines penalise duplicated text content. Paraphrase RMIT or another site’s text content only when necessary, for example when the same message needs to be conveyed to two different audiences, in two different parts of the website.

3.1 Be focussed

Creating text content that focuses on its topic and audience helps to optimise for search engines. By expanding on a single message you will use words closely associated with your core idea and help search engines confirm the category of the content.

3.2 Keep content fresh

For news, events and topical content search engines favour fresh text. Refer to the Content type instruction to discover the renewal or removal date. Incorporate this date into the CMS and set a reminder alert.

4. Ensure keywords are included in your text content

Search engines categorise text content by indexing which words or closely related phrases appear frequently. These keywords help define the purpose and differentiate it from other content.

4.1 Weave keywords into the text

Aim for 1-3% keywords in your text. Ensure the metadata is similar to the text content so search results match the corresponding page. Stay concise. Keywords can help the user to decide quickly if this is the page they want.

5. Optimise the page

Search engines index the layout of your page to ensure it provides a good user experience.

5.1 Put a summary statement first

Providing a summary also helps users confirm that they have arrived at the page they need. See the Writing for the web instruction for tips on creating a good summary statement.

5.2 Make your content accessible

Applying general accessibility principles is good for SEO. For example search engines cannot see the content of a video or image so it is important to provide text content to help indexing. Use the page description, header and transcript as an opportunity to describe video content. Use captions and alternative (alt) text to describe the contents of the image. Refer to the Web accessibility checklist.

6. Optimise links

Search engines rank important pages by looking at how many pages link to it. Include links to other relevant pages and create links to your new content, although only create links between related pages.

6.1 Use keywords to describe links

Use keywords in link text that match the content on the destination page. Where possible, use the header (H1) of the destination page as your link text. For standards in creating links, see the Creating text content procedure.

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