How to develop and maintain a website - ESRC

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Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving web content so that it ranks highly in search engines such as Google and users can find it.

To increase the chances of users finding your content in search engines you should:

  • design high quality, consistent content
  • only use SEO techniques that improve usability and accessibility
  • think about the search terms before you write or update your content – the keywords – that users are likely to use when they search for content on a particular subject
  • use clear and descriptive page titles and headings that include some of the keywords that your users might search for. Keep titles brief and succinct
  • frontload your content so that the most important information comes first, including keywords
  • include keywords throughout your content, but do not overuse keywords, use them in an unnatural way or let them break the flow of your text
  • try variations of the keywords, for example, ‘funding opportunities’ and ‘funding schemes’
  • create descriptive URLs for your pages. For example, use ‘seo-techniques’ rather than a vague title like ‘techniques’. Use hyphens, not underscores, to separate words
  • provide clear and descriptive metadata. This does not directly improve your search rankings, but it will appear on search results pages, which might encourage users to click through to your content
  • use alternative text for all images to properly describe what is in the image
  • include links to relevant organisations and funders, including ESRC, using descriptive hyperlinks
  • encourage other relevant websites to link to your content whenever possible – inward links can boost search engine rankings
  • use HTML rather than PDFs and other documents
  • update your content regularly.

SEO is not a one-off task. You need to proactively manage your content so that it performs well in search engines, including:

  • regularly monitoring the performance of your top keywords and phrases in Google
  • making content improvements to see if they improve your rankings.

Last updated: 31 August 2021

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