Mary Hoy

Mary Hoy

Director of Marketing Analytics and Performance

Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - What Works

Mary Hoy

Oct 04, 2017

Interested in SEO, but not sure where to start or whether or not it’s worth it? Welcome to the second post of a three-part series designed to provide you with enough information to be dangerous, find the value in search and offer a few ways to get started. Missed the first post? Get the basics here. Already know what works? Skip to move ahead to find seven things to try.

Factors that impact search rankings

Strong SEO comes from a combination of factors, from technical implementation in your page code and site structure to how long your users stay on your pages to how many followers you have on Twitter.

The most important element in all of SEO is developing engaging page content that is useful, practical and meaningful for your audience.

Google treats engaging content as that on which users stay on for longer periods of time and where they can find additional resources indicated by click through on page links. Google highly values the user experience — giving additional weight to accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and pages that receive inbound links from reputable sources.

A second critical element is not to confuse Google. Confirm that Google can crawl your pages accurately. Ensure your site is organized in a logical manner, a sitemap exists and is structured, pages within the site link to each other and that you’ve removed broken links or outdated pages that are no longer usable for your audience.

Tactics for page optimization include:

  • Identifying primary and related keywords for pages that are aligned with the interest of your audience
  • Creating unique page titles and meta descriptions for each page
  • Infusing primary keywords in header tags, image alt tags and opening paragraph copy when possible

The major challenge with on-page optimizations is to ensure that you don't over-implement, subsequently ruining the user experience.

SEO practices also can be utilized to improve rankings of your social properties and social content — following a similar pattern: create content that is engaging, optimize with keywords and ensure your properties are technically sound.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is inherently the long game. Can you impact tomorrow’s traffic? Probably not. Can you set yourself up for future success? Absolutely. Is it a lot of work? Totally. Is it worth it? Definitely.


Ready to get started? Skip to the next post to learn seven things to try or reach out to us for a consult. University Marketing has access to tools that can help you with this process if your department or college does not have them — please reach out to us for a consult, help with an audit or other questions.


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