Monday, 9 November 2015

IEEE - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for IEEE Sites


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of modifying the
content and structure of web pages to increase traffic. SEO affects the
user experience of a website, and the performance of that site's pages
in organic search results on the major search engines (Google, Bing,
Yahoo, Ask, AOL, Baidu, etc.).

Why is this important?
about one third of site visits come through organic searches. Also,
since is using a version of Google Custom Search Engine (CSE)
for site search, which uses those same algorithms as the
engine, any improvements made to content across the IEEE digital
presence will improve results on both platforms.


How SEO works

You've likely heard about the mysterious Google search
algorithm, with its hundreds of arcane “signals” that affect a website
or webpage’s position on a search engine results page (SERP). What are
the most important of those signals, and which can be influenced? For
Google and the other major search engines, the most important positive
ranking factors are:

  • Global link authority of site
  • Age of domain name
  • Keyword use in Title tag
  • Keyword use in body text
  • Link popularity within the site’s internal link structure
  • Link popularity of site to topical community
  • Anchor text of inbound links
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Topical relevance of inbound links
  • Global link popularity of sites that link to the site
of these can web managers directly affect? The domain has been
online since 1989, and it’s highly respected and linked to, as are many
of the IEEE Society sites. The last two ranking factors are somewhat
out of the site team's control, at least for non-IEEE-owned sites. The
other factors can be impacted by applying the best practices described
on this page.

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Evaluating your site SEO

As a starting point toward improvement, it’s easy to do test
searches on Google, Bing, and the site search to see how your
pages currently appear in search engine results page (SERP) citations.
Simply searching on IEEE (your site or organization name) should give
you a good idea of what is being displayed in the TITLE, URL, and
snippets, and whether Site Links (see below) are being extracted and
displayed. You can perform this same process for peer sites or
competitors to see how you compare.

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SEO best practices

This refers to the set of "key
words" that together distill the "aboutness" of that page. Keywords
should reflect the “who, what, where, when, and how” of the content.
They could be as simple as the labels for primary site subsections and
should always be related to the goal or topic of the particular webpage
being optimized. For example, most IEEE Society sites use labels such
as Home, About, Conferences, Education, Membership, Publications, News,
Awards, etc. These terms and their synonyms form the basis for a set
of site keywords. For lower-level pages, analyze the page text to
identify words that convey the essence of the “aboutness” of the page.

Search engines look for search terms in important areas of the site
structure and pages. Once you have identified your keywords, they should
be used in:

  • Page URL structure/citation URL
  • Title tag
  • Meta name=”description”
  • <H1>, <H2>, etc., tags
  • Body text
  • Image <ALT> text.
a user does a search (hopefully using one of your keywords), what they
see on the results page is a set of citations, with the searched-for
keywords highlighted in each of those elements. Right away the user is
deciding on the relevance of each citation based on the words that
appear. So, you want to control what they see by ensuring that your
keywords are in your page code and site structure.

Metadata keywords field
not spend time on adding keywords to the metadata keywords field. The
words placed in that tag have had little, or no, value or effect on SEO
for many years. They keywords (<meta name="keywords"content=ieee,
society, conferences, publications, electrical engineering">) field
was vary important in the "early days" of SEO. Now, not so much. Back in
the day, search engines used the meta name="keywords" tag in indexing
and page ranking. Google no longer does this; Bing interprets meta
keywords tag like a spam signal.


Ensure that every page has a meaningful TITLE tag in the <HEAD>
area. The page TITLE is both a primary signal to the search engine and
probably the most important SERP Signal: searchers scan the page titles
first in order to evaluate the relevance of each citation. Best
practices for TITLE tags include the following:

  • Use
    your primary keyword at least once in the Title tag, or possibly twice.
    Try to keep the keyword as close to the beginning of the Title tag text
    as possible.
  • The TITLE text can be any length, but no exact
    number of characters can be defined as a best practice to guarantee
    that a full title will display on Google. To ensure your full title tag
    shows in Google SERPS, stick to about 65 characters.
Keywords in page content

  • Head tags <H1>, <H2>
    engines use the head tags as a ranking signal and as a confirmation
    that the page is “about” the keyword(s) in your page TITLE. Use your
    primary keyword once in the <H1> tag of the page. When a searcher
    clicks a citation Title, reinforcing the search term just typed with
    the prominent headline helps to indicate that the searcher has arrived
    on the right page with the content sought.
  • Body text
    engines do semantic connectivity: they build thesauri and dictionaries
    of related terms based on common searches and words in context:
    Georgia – Atlanta – lyrics - peaches – Bulldogs – Russia, etc. You
    should use your primary keyword at least three times in the body-text
    copy on the page. Also, searchers may use synonyms and related terms in
    their search strategies, so include alternate terms that they are
    likely to search.  
Page URL structure

Use simple URL structure in your IA, preferably using obvious words and
keywords in the file names. Your site structure naming should match the
keywords you’ve identified:<index.html>,
<conference-calendar.html>, <conference-sponsors.html>,
Hyphens vs. underscores
creating a new site, use hyphens for multi-word file and directory
names, not underscores: search engines treat hyphens as spaces between
separate words, but underscores as characters joining words. However, if
you have an existing site that is using underscores, it is not always
recommended to immediately go back and change all existing URLs to
hyphens, as the impact on user experience (i.e.,
inconsistency, broken bookmarks and links, etc.) may outweigh the
positives in this case. This must be evaluated case by case, with
consideration of future site-update plans.

Site LinksSite
Links are the additional “mini citations” (a minimum of three and a
maximum of eight) that sometimes appear below the primary citation on
Google and Bing. Site Links are added based on automated analysis of the
link structure of your site to find shortcuts to what’s deemed the most
important content. Site Links only display the first 37 characters of
the TITLE tag, so that makes it even more important to make the TITLE
concise and accurate, with the primary keyword up front.
meta name=”description” field
meta “description” tag in the <HEAD> area of the page is probably
the most important source of SEO signals to search engines and SERP
Signals to the user. It’s vital that you have a meaningful and accurate
description on your page. Along with correct, coordinated, and accurate
TITLEs, adding this text would greatly improve the user experience
across the IEEE Web presence.

Search engines normally pull the
citation’s snippet text from the meta=description. If you don’t provide
one in your HEAD code, the SE will often cobble together a snippet
together from text it finds on the page, sometimes including
unintelligible code it may find.

The meta description should do three things:
  • Serve as a short “ad” to encourage clicking on your page in the search results
  • Describe the content of the page accurately and succinctly
  • Include
    targeted keywords; these will be highlighted in search-results
    snippets, to indicate “aboutness” of the content to searchers
Best practices and strictures for the meta description include:

  • No longer than 130 to 155 characters
  • Average of 160 characters will display (Google, 156; Yahoo, 165; Bing, 200)
  • Should have unique descriptions for at least your primary navigation and tabs
  • DON'T use the same description on every page
  • Well-written descriptions influence click-through rate
of titles and meta descriptions are the main reason that they are
ignored by Google or Bing, so it’s important to take care to make these
unique for each page. Another issue with duplication is the special case
when the title and snippet generated are both identical. When this
happens, Google will only show one result, suppress the rest because
Google couldn’t differentiate it from the other page that ranked.

Image ALT text and page image
images on HTML pages should have ALT image text, for both SEO and
accessibility reasons. Screen readers for users with visual
disabilities will read the ALT image text. Use your primary keyword at
least once in the ALT attribute of an image on the page. This not only
helps web search, but also image search, which can bring valuable
traffic. Also, SERP citations now often include a thumbnail image along
with the Title, URL, and snippet. The search engine may choose an
image it finds on the page to display here. However, you can control it
by adding the meta name=”og:image” content=”<some-image-url.jpg>.

Social Media Tagging
(Open Graph Protocol) is the page markup that Facebook (FB) encourages
site owners to add for sharing and "liking" pages on Facebook. Twitter
and Google+ will also read and use this code. When you share a page,
Facebook, etc. crawls the page and looks for Open Graph meta tags to
build a complete post-preview (with a URL, image, title, description).
This page code allows control of the appearance of the page info when
they are shared:

Example of an uncontrolled Facebook Post

 No tagging = uncontrolled Facebook post

 Example of an controlled Facebook Post

OGP tagging = controlled Facebook post

OGP markup within the page controls the headline and summary text, and the icon that shows up on my wall. See:

UCM CMS tool that contributors to use automatically adds this
code to each page. Other CMS tools that IEEE Web Presence managers use
may also add this code through installed plugins. Contact your site
administrator for details.

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SEO resources

The Art of SEO – Eric Enge, et. al. ISBN 978-0-596-51886-8

Web site articles and resources:

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IEEE - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for IEEE Sites


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