Free resources to improve meta tags, deep linking, and SEO

Make your URLs more search-engine-friendly by naming them with clear keywords. (Credit: Bianca Male)

Make your URLs more search-engine-friendly by naming them with clear keywords. (Credit: Bianca Male)

In the December 11, 2013 post for Questia by Lorraine Savage, “What is SEO and why is it important for research?” Savage discussed how important SEO is to someone running a search. But it’s also important if you’re the content provider. If you’re creating an ongoing blog of your research and are trying to make sure that people in your field are noticing your work, you not only have to choose good research topics, but you have to seed your writing with keywords. Here are some tips on free resources to improve things like deep linking and meta tags. Our first tip? Check out Google AdWords keyword planner as an essential free tool to get you started.

Keywords

When you’re writing an article or a blog post, one of the first things to think about is how you would search for your topic if you were a researcher. Whatever you’d type into Google are keywords, search terms that should be prominently placed in your article. “You should be conscious of placing appropriate keywords throughout every aspect of your site: your titles, content, URLs, and image names,” advised Bianca Male of Business Insider in “10 basic SEO tips to get you started.” But don’t go too keyword crazy, Male noted. Overusing keywords can be construed by search engines as “keyword stuffing,” and your site will get bypassed for sites that seem to have more relevant content.

Good keywords should be accurate to your topic, unique, and well-searched. How do you find out how a search ranks? Try the Google AdWords keyword planner. After signing up for a free account on AdWords, you can search for ideas, find the search volumes for lists of keywords, and find out just how frequently those words are searched. If you’re just getting started, select “search for new keyword and ad group ideas.”  To search for an exact phrase – which excludes similar search phrases – put your keyword in [brackets]. Once you hit search, the planner will show your exact phrase, along with a number of suggestions for similar searches. For example, if you are researching the “literature of 16th century France,” you’ll find no hits for the exact phrase, but 16th century France receives 170 monthly searches, 16th century literature gets 90, and the 16th century – present in both phrases – is searched for 4,400 times per month. All have “low” competition, which means that there aren’t a lot of variations on the way people search for those ideas. (You’ll also find that Jean Molinet has twice the monthly searches as Remy Belleau – but neither is a hot topic.)

Link building, deep linking, and meta tags

Beyond keywords, there are other important ways to help search engines recognize your content. The first is by building links to your site from other sites. Search engines work by assuming that sites linked to other outside sources are more relevant to searchers than pages that exist in a bubble. How do you build links?

  • If you have multiple blogs – personal and professional – link to your articles.
  • Ask fellow researchers working on similar topics to put up links to your articles (and, as a gesture of good faith, link back to theirs).
  • Create links from your social media: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

But don’t just link to your home page. Search engines also look for deep linking – or links to individual articles. “Sites that only have links going to the homepage are often viewed as shallow by search engines, or that the links are not genuine and generated by automation, reducing the site values,” warned a writer for Alchemy Interactive, an online design and marketing company, in “Top 10 tips to improving your SEO.”

Meta tags require a little bit of digging in the code of your website or blog: they summarize what your site is about on the back end of the site. Meaning, if you manage your own site, add (or edit) the description and keyword tags in your site’s code to help search engines determine that your site is relevant to your search.

Build fresh content

Keeping your content fresh is important, too. “If you just write a website and leave it, then the search engines forget about you,” said tech developer Matt Williamson to interviewer Heide Brandes of Journal Record in “Advice for small businesses: How to maximize your SEO.” Keep adding content and use social media to link back to your main page, and the search engines will continue to view you as a viable research source. Use an external blog through Blogger, WordPress, or LiveJournal to link back to your homepage (and drive up those links).

Do you use SEO in your research posts? Tell us in the comments. 

For more on search engines, visit Questia.

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