Helping internal and external search engines find your content

SEO is important for the success of the CCBC website and is the responsibility of every contributor. When executed properly, SEO is the process of improving web content so that search engines can more easily understand its purpose.

In short, using SEO techniques can help search engines find your content, which in turn allows your target audience to find your content. Below we provide a number of practices to employ when considering building content for the CCBC website.

Choose the right keywords to incorporate in your content

Keyword research refers to the process of finding actual search terms people enter into search engines when conducting a search. Keyword research requires an understanding of your targets and the goals of your content. You can find your keywords by:
  • Looking at your existing content and pulling out a few words that are frequently used.
  • Getting ideas from competitors who are successful in search.
  • Refining your keyword list page-by-page based on your research.
  • Refining your keywords based on performance.
To submit keywords for existing CCBC pages, email the Web Content Managers: Melanie Hotaling, mmyers3@ccbcmd.edu and Vanessa Pratnicki, vpratnicki@ccbcmd.edu. For new pages, please include the keywords on the new pages templates.

Site and page structure are important

There are certain elements of a website that need to be addressed in order for search engine spiders to ‘read’ and better understand your content. Below is a list of the most important structural elements and some best practices in order of importance.

Page title
This is the title of a page that shows up at the top of the browser window. Users don’t always notice it, but search engines always do. Page titles should be concise and keyword rich. They should be descriptive of what a reader will find on the page.

Body copy

Body copy is the text on a web page. Try to optimize between 1-3 keywords per page and use them at least three times per page. Although it is important to follow these guidelines when optimizing your page for SEO, when it comes to writing content don’t sacrifice content quality by trying to incorporate keywords too heavily. You want search engines to find your copy for your audience.

Encourage links to your content from other (reputable) sites

Search engines view links to your website as votes or recommendations for a website, so it is important to get as many links to your page as possible. Keep in mind though, that not all links are equal. A large number of links from low quality websites (like spam sites, content farms or sites that you can pay to link to your site) can actually hurt your search rankings. Some ideas for building links to your website are:

Local associations & organizations.
Are you a member of a professional association? Is your program accredited by a regional or national body? Do you work with the local Chamber of Commerce, a business association or the Better Business Bureau? Local organizations like these will link back to your site and help search engines trust you as a local authority site. Try to think of other local groups with which you and your department or program are affiliated.

Local blogs & websites.
You might live in an area populated by great local sites and blogs that you can tap into. Links from these sites establish local trust that the search engines look for so comment on these blogs and include links to your content, offer to guest post or request a link for a valuable “local resource”.

Social media. Link to your page from Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and especially Twitter.

Optimize PDF documents for better search engine visibility

The text in PDFs created with Acrobat (or other similar software programs) can be viewed by external search engines, so keyword use will help external search engines understand these documents. PDFs that follow the Standards for PDF Accessibility are optimized for external SEO.

Regardless of which method you use to create the PDF, the information under document properties should be filled out to assist with search ability. This information includes title, author, subject and keywords. Description, author description and copyright information can be added under advanced options. When populating the keywords dialogue box, use keywords that are specific to the subject matter within the PDF.