University Web Developers

University Web Developers

HI Everyone,

We are in the process of building out a redesigned website for an university alumni magazine. A question has come up regarding SEO best practices for publications in general and specifically for a online university magazine. I figured this would be a great place to harness the wisdom of the crowds and come up with some creative solutions.

To clarify: we are covering all the basics in terms of  website design best practices, but wanted to explore issues related to publications, since there is an assumption of more dynamic/fresh content and the concept of "issues" where 90 % of the core content is turned over with every issue.  Any links or tips from your personal experience would be much appreciated. I'll post anything I find in my own research.



Views: 113

Replies to This Discussion

SEO, Accessibility, Valid XHTML overlap in some ways, so make sure you follow those standards.

Don't worry about meta keywords, search engines don't weigh those into the results like they use to.

Have useful alt="" and title="" on images, links, because search engines like bing will use those.

Overall, content is KING. If you have certain keywords within your content multiple times, it will help you show up better in search engine rankins.

Also, another thing, try to use URL's that have the name of the article or subject in the URL, so instead of, it'd be better if it was

It is also good that content will be changing periodically, search engines love websites that is updated regularly.

Hope some of this helps.
Ideally, the headlines of your articles should also be search engine friendly, i.e they should work without the body of the article to pull some readers viewing them as they are listed in search results.

It's better to avoid smart or funny headlines and use keyword-rich headlines. But, it might be too much to ask your mag editors ;-)
Thanks Brad and Karine--good stuff. In my research I haven't found a lot of advise that veers too far from "normal" best practices for Website design, so I really appreciate your help. Karine, I think you are definitely onto the right mode of thinking, which is to educate creative contributors and non-technical editors so they can keep SEO in mind as part of their day-to-day thinking.
The more content you have (the more stories you have online), the more authority Google can ascribe to you and the more chances you'll have for high rankings on long tail search terms. So avoid deleting anything, and don't change URLs on old stories either, to avoid losing authority and breaking links. Make the date of publication prominent in headlines and title, so that nobody can fault you for providing old information five years later. You can assure them these were the very latest facts, back in the day

After a while, magazine stories could lose "Google points" because of datedness or lack of timeliness. Here's a strategy that's even better (but much harder to implement) than prominent publication dates: keep adding fresh internal links to old stories. Find a way to automatically link to current stories on the same topic if you can. The story itself may not be current, but your stories can still remain some sort of authority hub for their topics. Few things can turn off readers and discourage linkers more than to give them a story that they know is outdated without giving them any easy way to find updated information.
Thanks Michael. Very good points. This university does have a large archive of past issues that they'd like to import into the new CMS environment (Drupal) once it's up and running. We are bracing ourselves for an initial drop off in traffic as we'll inevitably lose some legacy links and the search engines take time to re-orient themselves to the new site structure. As you advise, we will definitely be looking into strategies for dynamically linking articles using tags to leverage articles in back issues.

I also asked Amanda Evans, an SEO specialist that we often partner with for her thoughts; here's what she recommended:

"They are probably looking for advice as they write new content/articles but there’s usually a bigger issue that online publications fall into so I’ll address both.

Optimizing Articles
Most importantly, make sure the editorial staff considers the target keywords as they are writing the articles. For example, if they are writing an article about fruit and mentioned apples, oranges and bananas but never included the word “fruit” in the article search engines wouldn’t find that article for searches on fruit. So its important to know the target keywords and pay attention to how often they actually appear in the article.

Also, if there’s a shortened article description that appears on the website or as the meta description, that description needs to include the target keywords.

Topic Pages
The biggest pitfall online publications fall into is poor or missing topic pages. People search by topics not by articles. So they need a set of good strong pages that house all the articles from that online publication relating to a particular topic. Those pages should be optimized as follows:
* All the appropriate title, meta description & ALT tags that are unique & relevant to the topic area
* Header tags which reflect the main topic area
* Topic area keyword within the URL structure
* Links from external sites going into those pages. Many online publications have lots of links going to their home page but are missing links into the topic areas.
* Links from within the site including in the footer and sitemaps."

Amanda is great, by the way, Her firm is called Illumniated Marketing -- highly recommended for those who are seeking an outside SEO consultant.
Jake: A couple other tips that were adopted by major publications:

1) First, Karine is right about funny and creative headlines: Avoid them if you can. If it is an article by an author and you can't change the headline on the page itself, change the title tag so that it is a more descriptive headlines. Search engines look at the Title Tags first. Ideally, it should match the headline on the page - but sometimes you just can't.

2) With headlines, try to contain them in < h1 > tags - search engines view content within those tags as essential text. You can always use CSS to customize the look further so your headlines look more customized.
3) Finally, when your CMS writes title tags, the name of your publication should go AFTER the headline and not before. Ideally, the most important keywords should appear at the beginning of your title tags for better indexing in search engines. The name of the publication is secondary (sorry, but it's true). You'll notice most major newspapers follow this format.

Best of luck to you.
A strong internal link structure will not only benefit your SEO goals, but also your users.



Latest Activity

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Web governance should not be an afterthought; when it’s done right, it can actually enhance your workflow and make your job easier."
Nov 8
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Exciting news... OmniUpdate has merged with Destiny Solutions! Learn more on our blog."
Oct 30
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Switching to a new CMS? Join our next webcast with Briana Johnson from @OSUIT to learn how to convince decentralized web content authors to tolerate the switch, actively participate, and enjoy it!"
Oct 29
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Your website is the front door to your college or university. Your website design has to accommodate for the way that students interact with and use the information your institution provides."
Oct 24
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn how a new website design and CMS helped Florida Gulf Coast University increase new visits to the school’s website with improved SEO."
Oct 21
Profile IconJames Pollard and Michael Clarke joined University Web Developers
Oct 21
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join our next webcast with Kelly Rushing from @uofsouthalabama to learn how to create accessible PDFs for your website by starting with your source documents."
Oct 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn why your college or university should choose SaaS across the board, especially for your next CMS."
Oct 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with OmniUpdate CEO Lance Merker, who will delve into key insights about Generation Z’s online search behaviors to help you refine your school's web marketing strategy."
Oct 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Our newest guide will help you learn what it means to be accessible, how to implement accessibility best practices, quick fixes to try as well as a long-term plan, plus tools to help you in your website accessibility efforts. Download it now!"
Oct 1
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Are online forms more efficient? Learn how El Camino College used Formstack to create online forms that expedited processing, improved communications, increased transparency, and promoted accountability across campus."
Sep 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"It's important to understand the science behind your web pages to better engage and ultimately attract prospective students to your site."
Sep 12
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"If you’re struggling with web challenges such as accessibility, SEO, design consistency, workflow, content governance, or how to start a website redesign, you’re not alone. Join our next webcast to learn how other higher ed institutions…"
Sep 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"eQAfy confirms that OU Campus is still the #1 commercial CMS for colleges and universities in the United States."
Aug 28
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Here’s an outline of everything you need to know about OCR compliance, including what it is, what your college or university can do to stay compliant, and resources for OCR compliance. #accessibility"
Aug 23
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with April Buscher from Montana State University Billings to learn how blind readers and people with hearing impairment view and read your website and how you can make it accessible to them."
Aug 14
Amanda Lawson joined Lynn Zawie's group


Share your experiences using OmniUpdate CMS
Aug 9
Amanda Lawson posted a photo

Amanda Lawson

Amanda Lawson, Web Content ManagerCommunity College of Allgheny County
Aug 9
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"High schoolers spend more time on their digital devices than they do sleeping, doing homework, or participating in extracurricular activities. So how do you make your message stand out to them? #eexpect"
Aug 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Want to increase digital engagement with high school juniors and seniors? Join our next webcast with Stephanie Geyer from Ruffalo Noel Levitz as she shares new data from the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report on email, paid media, and social media…"
Jul 31

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic


© 2019   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service