Best Practices Article Series : Recommendations : Web Communications : University of Rochester

Best Practices Article Series : Recommendations : Web Communications : University of Rochester

Best practice article series

A brief introduction to search engine optimization (SEO)

This is an example of a search engine results page (SERP). Results that appear at the top with “Ad” next to the URL are paid search results. Then there’s a featured snippet, a special aspect of Google Search that describes the content of a page or directly answers a specific question (this is especially useful for voice-activated and mobile searches). Google then highlights related questions in its “People Also Ask” section. Finally, you have your organic search results. Note: Not all SERPs will display all of these elements. Depending on your search query, you may see more or fewer ads, maps with locations and ratings, or even featured videos as part of the top results. View a larger image.

Search engine optimization is one of the most useful tools when it comes to digital marketing. That’s because Internet searches, often using a search engine like Google, but also Bing and Yahoo, and even voice-activated devices like Alexa, are a common starting point when people online want answer a question, solve a problem, or go to a specific location: “Where is the Super Bowl this year?” “How to renew my passport?” “What are the New York Public Library hours?”

There are thousands, even millions, of web pages that have information or content related to a particular search term or query, also known as a keyword or key phrase. That’s why Google and other search engines use algorithms, machine learning, and big data to sort through these individual pages and rank them based on how helpful or useful they are.

In accordance with GoogleThe resulting rankings, which appear on search engine results pages (SERPs), take into account:

Meaning of the original search query – What is the person’s intention? What do they really need and want? How specific or broad is the search? Is it a trending topic? Different search queries and key phrases align with different visitor intent and needs.Relevance of web pages – Does the page contain the information the person is looking for? Is this information comprehensive and thoughtful? Are keywords and semantically related phrases used in the content? Google considers pages under 300 words to be “thin” content that is unlikely to answer the visitor’s question or solve their problem. As a result, thin content is less likely to rank well.Content quality – Google’s search algorithms “prioritize the most reliable sources available”. This means that results from websites that demonstrate reliability, credibility and authority are prioritized in search rankings.Usability of web pages – Does the website and webpage appear correctly in different browsers or on different devices? Does the page load quickly? Google wants to ensure that as many people as possible can see and use the results.Context and configuration – Google may consider your device’s search history and location information to personalize search results.

Marketing in search engines

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a combination of two approaches aimed at generating traffic through search results:

Paid Search, sometimes referred to as “pay-per-click” or “cost-per-click.” These are results that appear at the top of the SERPs but have “Ad” next to the page URL. In other words, an institution or organization pays for its results to appear first.Organic search, which is what we mainly mean when we talk about search engine optimization (SEO). Ideally, you want your results to appear on the first page, in the top ten results, of the SERPs.

Organic search includes queries that are usually branded or unbranded:

Mark queries are keywords or key phrases that include your institution’s name, nickname, or other brand identifier. For example: “university of Rochester Medical School” is a branded keyword phrase. Unsurprisingly, the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is the number one result when searching for this brand keyword phrase.Unbranded queries are keywords or key phrases that are not unique to a specific brand (eg, “best medical schools in the US” or “best medical schools near me”).

SEO at the University of Rochester

It’s worth remembering that the two main factors that influence search engine rankings are website domain authority and individual page relevance.

Fortunately, the University as a whole has a strong domain authority. In other words, Google sees us as a credible, established, and authoritative website, which improves the chances of our individual pages ranking well in search results, but only when those individual pages are relevant. Relevant pages consist of high-quality content that incorporates specific and relevant keywords and key phrases in the right places, such as the title tag, URL, meta description, headings, body copy, text alternative, etc.

When it comes to SEO, the University generally does well with ranking for branded key phrases. Our challenge now is to rank for non-branded key phrases, ones that align with people’s search queries while also being relevant to us as an institution. Doing so can result in consistent traffic to our web pages, thereby increasing awareness of the University, which in turn can assist with admissions, recruitment, fundraising and other strategic institutional priorities.

SEO for AS&E Websites

The Arts, Sciences and Engineering Web Communications team works closely with University Communications on institution-wide SEO efforts. Our team can help with:

Make sure the technical aspects of your website are optimized for search engines. Monitor and analyze your website traffic. Search for target key phrases and their semantically related variants. Optimize web pages for the right key phrases to better indicate their relevance to search engines. Create original content to help rank for unbranded key phrases. help increase rankings Check out paid search opportunities Share SEO-related tools and resources

We encourage you to connect with us to see how SEO can be an effective part of your team or department’s digital marketing strategy.

Sofia Tokar is the web writer and communications manager for Arts, Sciences and Engineering at the University of Rochester. You can contact her at

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About the Author: Ted Simmons

I follow and report the current news trends on Google news.

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