The university website/CMS already has the following measures to assist in search engine optimization (SEO) of our site.
- Brand Name in Page Title
"University of Puget Sound" is automatically added to the end of the text entered in the Page Title field (Template tab) that appears at the top of browsers.
- Descriptive URLs
The switch to Big Tree resulted in a change from the unfriendly URLs of our previous CMS (e.g., www.pugetsound.edu/x1234.xml) to friendlier, easier-to-understand URLs (e.g., www.pugetsound.edu/academics/departments-and-programs/undergraduate/biology). Research shows that friendlier URLs can increase search traffic; one quoted example increased traffic by 15 percent. This also allows users the ability to change the URL in the browser address field by removing lower sections of the page URL to go to a higher level page in the same navigation tree (e.g. visiting www.pugetsound.edu/academics by removing the /departments-and-programs/undergraduate/biology section of the URL referenced above).
- Hyphens in URLs
Not all search engines understand logical separators like the underscore (_), plus sign (+), spaces, or the "%20" that some programs translate spaces into in filenames. Luckily, Big Tree automatically removes these items from URLs and replaces them with hyphens. The CMS also removes special characters that may be likely to cause problems (such as ampersands). In addition, we adhere to the Google guideline of using lower case URLs wherever possible.
A breadcrumb trail is the row of links at the top of our pages that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the site home page. The use of breadcrumbs on a site ensures more convenience for users.
- Useful 404 Page
We've all gotten them: a 404 error page telling us the page we're looking for doesn't exist. Then what do we do? It is better to have, as we do, a useful 404 page that provides site visitors with a list of common site destinations that may help them find the content they were looking for. The descriptive URLs are also helpful in this case, as the user could try removing the lowest levels of the URL to try to find some more general information on the target topic.
- Easy to Distinguish Links
Using site styles that make links easily distinguished from plain text allows visitors to navigate your site more easily. Also, no plain text should be underlined on a website, which confuses the user's experience.