SJSU Web Search

The San José State University Search Engine is powered by a Google Search Appliance (GSA) hosted and supported by the CSU Chancellor's office. Web Services is responsible for the look and feel of the search results page, determining which sites get indexed (crawled), and providing highlighted "recommended links" for specific words and phrases. 

Search-Related Services

Search Engine Optimization

Also known as SEO, the goal of Search Engine Optimization is to help people find your content when they search for keywords related to what your site is about. One important thing to keep in mind is that search engines, and by extension computers, see your website and your web pages very differently than you do. Humans are visually-oriented, but computers understand only text.

At the end of the day SEO isn't about tricks, it's about good, solid content.

SEO Checklist

Build Your Page With the Correct Building Blocks

Humans see words on a page and can interpret design as meaning, but a computer just sees lines of code. However, there are ways to tell a computer about how to understand the design of a page. If a computer can better understand your website, then it can deliver more accurate search results when people search for keywords relating to your content.

Screenshot of the Format dropdown menu

It's important to use headings to break content into sections instead of just highlighting text and making it bold. A human can interpret bold text as the title of a section of your page, but it has a very different meaning for a computer.

When formatting content into lists, use the bullet list tool. Having lines of text with hyphens or some other icon is useful for humans, but doesn't provide the necessary context for a computer.

Using bold and italics to pick out key phrases or important concepts in your paragraphs can be another way to help a computer understand what your page is all about. But use them sparingly, if you emphasize everything, then nothing really gets emphasized at all.

Use Keywords Strategically

There are a few key areas where having an appropriate keyword can mean the difference between your page appearing on the first page of search results or buried somewhere on page 42. However, use them where appropriate--overly repeating keywords in order to game the system can often have the opposite effect.

Page Title

In addition to being automatically added in large, bold text at the top of every page, the Page Title of a page is used as the linked text in navigation menus across your site. Having a concise and meaningful title that includes your keyword can really help get your content found.

Headings

Using keywords in headings further associates the page with the keyword.

Media File Names and Descriptions

Using descriptive names for images, documents and other files linked on a page can have a beneficial impact on search results. IMG0031.jpg or PRGDSCENG1.pdf don't have much meaning, but "tower-hall-commencement.jpg" or "english-program-course-listing.pdf" definitely do. Also, alt text for images is a good place for appropriate keywords. Text alternatives for media content is also an accessibility requirement for all campus websites.

Choose Clear Directory Names

Directory names, chosen when pages are created, become the individual elements of the URL for each page. People using search engines frequently look at URLs to determine the relevance of their search results. Giving consideration to directory names can not only help people find your content easier, but also create a human-readable URL.

Example of a bad URL: www.sjsu.edu/english/prog/ltr/fin_aid/fall_2011

Example of a good URL: www.sjsu.edu/english/programs/learn-to-read/financial-aid/2011

Easy To Read

The easier a URL is to read, the easier it is for someone searching for your information to make the determination that your site will be of some use to them. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • avoid unnecessary abbreviations
  • avoid acronyms that are unfamiliar to people outside your department or college
  • hyphenate multi-word names

Concise

While it is important to not be too brief, there is a balance between saying too much and saying too little. The best choice is to choose the fewest number of words needed to get the point across.

Avoid Repetition

Excessive repetition can make grasping the full context of the URL more difficult. Common human behavior when searching for information is to ignore or skip anything that even looks like it might take too much time to process mentally. If you want people to visit your site, you don't want to do things to make them look over your site in their search results.

Example of an overly repetitive URL:

www.sjsu.edu/science/newsletters/2013_newsletter_october/chem_oct_13/

Repetition often creeps in when pages and sections of sites are expanded without a plan or structure in place in advance. Thinking ahead and planning for future content can greatly help the legibility of your site URLs.

Example of a non-repetitive URL:

www.sjsu.edu/science/newsletters/2013/october/chemistry/

Test and Analyze Your Content

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a useful tool in understanding how visitors are coming to your site and what pages they are visiting. Tracking data is embedded into every campus page. If you'd like access to your site's information, please fill out the access request form.

Google Search Results Preview

 Google has a tool that allows you to preview how your page will appear in search results. It's called the Structured Data Testing Tool. It is a good way to see your site as potential visitors might.

Compliance Sheriff

Accessibility reports are run regularly and the information is posted on the Accessibility Reports page. Identifying and fixing potential accessibility problems will also improve the findability of your page.