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Recent SEO Blog Posts

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Please review our SEO Checklist for content writers and publishers.  (You can also take a look at our previous SEO Checklist.)

(question) Questions? Please contact your program manager or Melanie Phung in PBS Digital.

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For more recent blog posts, please visit our Producer Blog at http://producerblog.pbs.org/.

 

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SEO Training Archives

Note

Be aware that the content below contains some very outdated information.  There is also, however, some very useful information that may be of particular interest to those of you who are brand new to SEO.  Take a look around!

Web producers who want to drive significant traffic to their websites, often neglect the single most important factor that will bring more people to their sites – making them more attractive and "findable" by search engines - a practice called "search engine optimization" (SEO).

Unfortunately search engine optimization is misunderstood by many as being difficult, but it doesn't have to be.

PBS can help you learn more about SEO and why it's critical for you to be thinking about it, from the very start of the web production process.

For a basic guide to Search Engine Optimization, check out SEO Resources.

Training Resources

Station and Producer SEO Training Overview
This document outlines components of a training program conducted to help PBS producers and stations increase their search engine rankings and traffic from all major global search engines - Google, Yahoo! Search, Microsoft Live Search, and Ask.com.

All training seminars were instructed by Aaron Wall & Todd Malicoat. Of the thousands of people selling SEO service Aaron's SeoBook.com site is one of the few that ranks on the first page of Google's search results when someone searches for SEO. Todd is also a thought leader in the SEO space. He runs the popular Stuntdubl.com internet marketing blog and is a regular speaker at industry events.

PBS SEO Seminars

These seminars focused on core building blocks of SEO:

  • Keyword research – how to do keyword research and competitive research
  • Page titles – how to optimize each page to its full potential
  • Site structure & internal linking – understanding how pages within a site can work together to rank for a broader array of search queries
  • Link building – why links are important, and how PBS can leverage its brand and reach to build links
  • Analytics – how to measure success & tie ranking and traffic feedback into your SEO process

The two seminars addressed the same topics, but were customized for stations and producers, based on pre-interviews the trainers are conducting with representatives from each stakeholder group.  Each seminar topic within the three hour webinar was approximately 25 to 30 minutes long, followed by a 10 to 15 minute question and answer period.

Advanced SEO Training for Producers and Stations

This training covered four niche topics with the focus on:

Follow Up Questions and Online Training

It is not uncommon for a person learning SEO to feel like they understand it, but have some questions pop up a week or two later. As a part of this training seminar, all PBS producers and stations participating in the training are entitled to a free three month trial of the online SEO training program at www.seobook.com/pbs.

Stations and producers: You will need to use that URL: www.seobook.com/pbs and the directions on that page in order to get the free offer.

NOTE: You will be required to enter a credit card number or pay pal account, BUT if you cancel by the end of the free 3 month trial, you won't be charged anything. Just make a note that you need to cancel after the trial period.

What you'll find on the site:

  • Over 100 searchable and cross referenced text based training modules broken down by topic.
  • Dozens of videos that help explain concepts like optimizing page titles and on page content.
  • A selection of free and paid SEO tools that can be used to help track SEO progress.
  • An online forum with over 500 active paid members who are SEO professionals.

(question) Questions?  Email us at seo@pbs.org.

Resources

Below are links to resources that may be of interest to you regarding SEO. The slides are what the SEO consultants used for the training. Whether or not you made it to the training, you can review these documents as they are full of good SEO knowledge.

Contact Information

For further questions or for more information about SEO training, email Melanie Phung at mmphung@pbs.org.

 

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What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines in order to drive more qualified traffic.

Understanding Search Engines

Search engines strive to provide users with the “best” set of results for their queries. If you think of the keywords a user types into the search field as asking a particular question, then the top results that are returned should help answer the user’s question. Each engine uses a different algorithm to determine which webpages to show in the results, but every search engine has the goal of showing its users high-quality and relevant results.

The first step to understanding SEO is to recognize that search engines order their rankings based on calculations of quantifiable data. While the exact ranking algorithms are unknown to all but the search engine engineers themselves, we do know many of the factors that are considered. When you build your website with an eye toward how a search engine might evaluate the page, you’re off to a good start getting more traffic from sites like Google and Yahoo/Bing.

Understanding Common Problems

Common problems that will prevent your webpage from showing up at the top of the results can be grouped into a few categories:

  • the search engine can’t find your page
  • the search engine doesn’t understand what your page is about
  • the search engine doesn’t think your content is relevant to the user’s particular query
  • the search engine thinks your page isn’t authoritative enough (i.e., there are other pages about the same topic that the search engine believes are more trustworthy than yours).

In addition to the common categories above, one more reason that your page(s) might not show up in any search engine results could be that your site has been banned. This will happen if a search engine believes you’ve participated in any behavior that goes against its terms of service.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important first steps of SEO. Keyword research will tell you which search terms you should pursue in your optimization work. If you don’t start the SEO process with research, you may end up wasting effort on low-quality keywords that won’t send many visitors your way.

High-value terms are those that have the most potential to drive well-qualified traffic to your site. The terms you target should be:

  • Relevant to the content you have to offer - so you’re attracting traffic that will stay on your site rather than bouncing immediately.
  • High-volume - so you attract sufficient traffic to make it worth your efforts.
  • Attainable - you want to concentrate on optimizing for search terms you have a good chance at achieving high rankings for.

Page Titles & On-Page Optimization

Start your SEO efforts by focusing on those things under your immediate control. Since you can easily control the text that appears on your webpages, on-page optimization is usually the lowest hanging fruit. In addition to the copy on the page itself, the other page element that’s going to give you a lot of bang for your buck is the page title (i.e., the <TITLE> tag).  Learn more about Title tags

Site Structure & Internal Linking

How you structure your site directly impacts how search engines discover your content and what they think is important on your site. Pages within a site can work together to increase your search ranks for a broad array of search terms. By building your website with an SEO-friendly information architecture and a solid internal linking strategy, you’re laying a strong foundation for achieving equally strong rankings for your current and future content. Links are believed to be one of the, if not the single most, important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Taking a moment to assess your site's internal linking structure can be highly beneficial to your SEO effectiveness.

SEO Checklist

When creating a new website or a new page on your site, refer to the following checklist to help you take basic steps to improve SEO and avoid pitfalls:

  • For each page on the site, select 2-3 high-value keyword phrases that are directly relevant to the content on that page.
    • If possible, fill out 5-8 additional related keyword phrases
  • Create a unique Title Tag for each page.
    • Homepage Title Tag starts with program name. Include tagline if applicable or a short, descriptive keyword phrase that contextualizes what the program is about (e.g., Independent Films, History of the American Ballet Theatre).
    • Non-homepage Title Tags include target keywords selected in the previous step.
  • Write unique, targeted meta description of around 150 characters for every page.
    • No two pages share the same description.
    • Each description includes the page’s target keywords near the beginning of the meta description.
    • Meta description should be compelling copy that entices search engine users to click on the listing. (tick) Tip: Rather than describing what the page is about, think in terms of why someone would want to see it.
    • Do not put broadcast dates in the description.
  • Verify that code elements are SEO-friendly.
    • Do not use Flash for navigation or critical content elements!
    • Make sure all images have descriptive alt attributes
    • Do not use frames
    • Use descriptive link text for all navigation elements
    • Use external CSS files for styling and positioning
  • Create SEO-friendly site architecture.
    • Exclude site search results pages using robots.txt (You must architect your site so that internal search results URLs are in a separate subdirectory).
    • Top-level navigation links point to the site’s most important pages.

Things You Can Start Doing Today

Follow these five steps to start improving your SEO today:

  1. Find one page on your site that doesn't get as much organic search traffic as you think it should.
  2. Pick two or three keyword phrases for which you want that page to rank.
  3. Create a unique Title Tag incorporating your primary keyword phrase (at the beginning!)
  4. Make sure the page has at least 200 words of copy on it.
  5. Find a related page on your site and add a link to your target page, using your keyword phrase as anchor text.

SEO Title Tags

The Title tag is a piece of metadata on a webpage that tells users and search engines about that page.  The Title tag, along with the meta description, are also displayed when you or a user post a link to your content on social sites such as Facebook.  Therefore, it should be descriptive, specific, concise and compelling.  In addition, a well-written title tag is one of the most important “on page” ranking factors for getting visibility in search rankings.

By default, Bento auto-generates Title tags for each page. You do, however, have the option to override the default tag by entering your own carefully crafted Title in the SEO Settings section of each Bento page.

Learn more about Title Tags

Description Text

The Meta Description is displayed in search results (and Facebook postings) as the page description (Figure 1).

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The description is not a ranking factor, but can impact click-through rates.

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Tips on writing Description text

  1. When writing your meta description, be sure to make it compelling and relevant to your target keywords so people will want to click on your result.
  2. Descriptions should not exceed 155 characters in length.
  3. Be sure your description text reads well, makes sense, and is engaging to readers.  You have one sentence to get users interested in viewing your website.
  4. Don’t duplicate your descriptions across website pages.
  5. Make an effort to add keyword(s) at the beginning of the Meta Description while still retaining a sensible sentence structure that is easy to read.
  6. Avoid using any unusual characters, unless they are included in the keywords you are using. Try to use basic text, without unnecessary symbols.
  7. Try to include your station or program name within the Description so that people will see recognizable text in search results.
  8. Always try to add in a variant of your main keywords or key phrase. Try to choose broadly used terms that people may use when searching.

Keywords

Keywords have no impact on SEO ranking and can be kept blank, however, you can add two or three phrases as a reminder of editorial intent.