How to make your site easier to find

Applies to: T4 Site Manager, Plone, Zope
Last updated: 24/10/2014
Summary: How to create, edit and structure the content on a web page to raise the page’s ranking in search-engine results. Known as search engine optimisation (SEO).

Before you start

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines.

Search engines aim to provide users with a list of links to web pages that contain content relevant to the users' search terms. To do this, search engine software analyses web page content to determine how it should be indexed (for example, words are extracted from the page titles, headings and body content) in relation to likely search terms.

Websites that are well-structured, accessible and use valid HTML are ranked higher in search results.

How to improve your website's SEO

Improve the structure of your page

The way a page is structured affects how search engines index it. Make sure you use:

  • headings
  • lists
  • meaningful links on every page.

See how to structure a basic web page.

Use keywords

Content should include frequently searched keywords or phrases.

Choose keywords that most accurately reflect your web page's content, eg on a page about travelling to Bristol, 'travel' and 'Bristol' would both be important keywords. Use keywords as much as possible within the following elements on the web page:

  • page title
  • headings
  • content block, particularly within the first paragraph
  • meaningful links, eg 'travelling to Bristol' rather than 'local travel'.

Using meaningful words for your section/page and media-file names will also improve page rankings, eg use 'undergraduate' rather than an abbreviations such as 'ugrad' or ‘ug’.

See naming websites, sections and web pages.

Use links

Search engines work by crawling the web, using software that follows links from website to website, scanning each page as it goes.

Google (and other search engines) rank web pages higher when they have more external links pointing to them. The assumption is that if third parties are linking into it, it must have something of value.

If the University of Bristol has one hundred external links pointing to its page on postgraduate study and another institution has only ten, Bristol will be ranked much more highly. Linking websites must be quality websites, ie a link from the BBC is worth much more than a link from a small organisation.

Other ways to promote your website

  • Include your URL on leaflets/flyers/publications;
  • Use social media;
  • Include your URL in email signatures;
  • Circulate your URL on relevant mailing lists.

University A-Z index

Being listed on the University A-Z index can improve the visibility of your website. The A-Z index, aimed at our external visitors, is a common way for users to navigate through the University site. If you are not listed, contact us to see if you can be added.