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Communications and Marketing Office



Search Engine Optimization

Number one rankings on search engines can never be guaranteed and are often fleeting.

Each search engine has unique ways of determining page rankings. In general, pages that are highly-ranked have keywords in their URL, page title (appearing at the top of the browser window), and in the content itself. The number of links to a particular page from outside websites can also boost a page's ranking, as well as the way those links are named and formatted.

The best way to ensure that your pages are findable in key search engines is to populate them with content that is relevant to the keywords that target audiences search. To rank more highly, page content, page titles, headings and image alt attributes should be written using the language and words that searchers are likely to enter into sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo! Two to three keywords per page are adequate. For example, target audiences might search for terms such as:

  • Sport management
  • Quad Cities theatre students
  • Study abroad in nursing

When writing content, pay careful attention to the natural language St. Ambrose University's audiences use to describe programs, and take care to mimic that language in web content.

Here are some components to remember when writing for the web:

Page Title

The title is one of the most important components in search engine optimization. Create unique titles that include key search terms. 65 characters or less recommended.

For prominent pages on the site, consider a different page title that should appear in the browser bar and on search engine results. Having a title populated with keywords or phrases that your audience is likely to search for will improve search engine optimization.

Ex. The page title of the About page is "About St. Ambrose University." The browser bar title is "St. Ambrose University :: A leading, private, liberal arts university in the Midwest."

A page title for a News Detail page or an Event Detail page should be written to stand on its own without any supporting information. 2-5 words recommended.

Ex. Classical Music Concert
Ex. Smith Named Player of the Week

Meta Description

For prominent pages on the site, create a meta description you would like associated with each page. The description appears on search engine results. Use complete sentences or phrases and utilize keywords and key phrases that highlight topics covered on the page that your audience is likely to search for. This is not required for every page. 256 characters or less recommended.

Ex. The meta description for the About St. Ambrose page is: "A leading, private, liberal arts university in the Midwest committed to academic excellence, social justice and service."


Use headings in your body copy that include key search terms. Heading carries weight in search engine optimization and tells search engines what's important on the page. The page title automatically formats as Heading 1. Format the main headline of the body copy as Heading 2. Format subheads and sub-subheads as Heading 3 and Heading 4. Use the Format dropdown in the WYSIWYG editor to choose a heading style.

Ex. About St. Ambrose [Heading 1]
President's Office [Heading 2]
A Teaching President [Heading 3]

Alt Text

Include alt text for images. Alt tags should describe the information and/or meaning of an image or graphic so that those using text-only browsers or other assistive devices can interpret. This is very important for accessibility. If the image contains text, use the exact text as it appears in the image. 2-10 words recommended.

Ex. St. Ambrose President Joan Lescinski shakes hands with a recent graduate.