Search engine optimization

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more than just ranking your website high in search engines such as Google or Bing. It is the art of understanding your website visitors and optimizing your site to the needs of those visitors. If you succeed, your website will automatically rank higher on search engines such as Google.

SEO is an enormous area, employing many people, and its details are not in the scope of this user guide. However, this topic contains a checklist with the most important things you can do, as an editor, in Optimizely Content Management System (CMS) to improve your site's attractiveness and ranking in search engines. Google's algorithms for ranking websites are based on hundreds of different criteria (known and unknown) that can change without any notice.

SEO tasks are partly handled by developers and administrators, such as:

  • Setting up Google Analytics and Google Web Master Tools
  • Creating a responsive design
  • Setting up the templates with relevant and consistent SEO properties
  • Setting up canonical links
  • Optimizing site speed

As an editor or content marketer, you also play an important part in SEO. Your tasks may consist of:

  • Creating quality content and easy navigation
  • Keywords research
  • Adding meta descriptions and title tags
  • Performing A/B tests and making sure there are no broken links
  • Analyzing site search and site traffic data

Prepare your content and navigation

First and foremost, you have to ensure that your content is original and relevant and that your navigation is easy. If visitors cannot find what they are looking for, or if the content is not genuine or engaging, they will not stay on your site, make purchases, and not return. Also, they will not create any backlinks (links from their content to yours), which are important for your site’s ranking; see Internal and external linking and backlinking in the next section.

As content is a key element of site optimization, write for your visitors and create quality content. You should also try to create content that can be relevant for a long time. Google is refining its algorithms and putting less weight on individual keywords and more on content quality and user experience. Focus on everything that keeps your visitors on the site (relevant and searchable content, easy navigation, internal linking, videos, site speed, and so on)

Try to use compelling language and make your point early. Do not save your selling points until the end.

Internal and external linking and backlinking

An administrator should make sure that your site is using canonical URLs. A canonical link specifies which page is the preferred version of a web page. This is useful if you have a website with subdomains that contain identical or almost identical pages. The canonical link points out the main page to the search engine, indicating that it is the most important page and that it can skip the other pages. The canonical link is defined in the HTML head tag.

Use a friendly and short URL that still describes the page content. The URL does not necessarily have to match the topic title to set the URL manually; you do not have to stay with the automated option.

Create simple addresses for your campaigns, so you are using, for example: instead of


Keywords are the words visitors use when searching for your site. It is important to use the same words in your content that are actually used by people when searching. Keyword research, that is, analyzing which terms people use when trying to find your content, is, therefore very important.

Keywords here are not the same as the Keyword attribute in the HTML head section. The HTML Keyword attribute was used by search engines a long time ago but is ignored today, so it has no effect on SEO.

Equally important is knowing your target audience. Who are your visitors, how many are they, what type of information or items are they looking for, when are they searching, and why? Finding out the answers to questions like these will help you sort out the most valuable keywords when you research your keywords.


You should define and use a few keywords for each page in your content. However, note that keyword stuffing (overusing your keywords) is considered a bad practice by search engines such as Google.

Use your keywords consistently in your content and track them to ensure they are up-to-date and match what people are searching for.

Meta elements – descriptions and titles

Meta elements are pieces of information describing the page and found in the page's HTML head area. They can describe the content, who has written the page when it was last updated, and so on. The metadata elements, especially the title and description, are used by search engines and are often displayed in the search results.

Image: Meta data in Google search results

The meta title specifies the title of a web page. It is displayed as a clickable link in the search results and is important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

A meta description is a summary that is displayed in the search result beneath the page title.

Use short and concise meta titles and descriptions, and include your keywords. Meta descriptions do not necessarily affect your site ranking, but the better the meta description, the more likely it is that visitors will click the link in the search results.

Note that search engines may display your meta description if they find it relevant to the search term. But they might also display another piece of content found on your page if it is considered more relevant.

Test your content

When you have created your content, you want to make sure that it is optimized and that your visitors are finding it. One way to check that your content is compelling and creates conversions is by using A/B tests. The A/B test lets you compare two versions of a content item and see which of the two versions creates the most conversions, that is, which version makes the visitors stay on the page for the longest time, makes them click your links, or buy the most items, or whatever goal you have set up for your content.

Check for broken links to ensure your visitors find the content they want. CMS has a link status report for that.

Optimize and fine-tune

SEO is ongoing work, so you should continually analyze the search statistics and optimize and fine-tune your website. markup

Adding (or just schema) markup to your pages improves the search results (also known as “the SERP” in SEO talk – the Search engine results page). The schema markup is a set of HTML tags that, among other things, creates so-called “rich snippets”. The rich snippets enhance the descriptions in the search results by displaying, for example, contact information, event information, product ratings, or videos. The rich snippets do not affect Google's ranking of your site directly, but they can entice more visitors to click your links in the search results.

This search result uses schema markup for recipe ratings.

Image: Example of SERP with schema markup

See Get started with using Microdata for information on markup.

Responsive design

The website developer is most responsible for adjusting your site for mobile users. Still, as an editor, you can consider visitors with small screens when planning your content and website structure. Preview your site on different devices with the preview tool. Smaller screens mean the content is often more important than images and should be at the top. Focus on the content and, thereby on the user.

Automate your SEO with add-ons

SEO used to be the handiwork of specialists only. Still, there are SEO automation tools that can help even those who are not experts to organize meta tags, manage keywords, monitor the SEO impact, estimate the search traffic and make recommendations to improve SEO.

SEO automation tools increase your ROI with three main features:

Image: SEO automation add-ons

You can find several SEO add-ons on Optimizely Apps. For example, Siteimprove Website Optimizer scans your website for errors when you publish a page, letting you fix mistakes, optimize content, and manage your site more efficiently.


Ideally, you want to serve your visitors top-notch high-resolution images, but high-resolution images can increase your website’s loading time, especially for users on smaller devices. A longer loading time negatively affects the user experience and decreases your SEO ranking. Your website developer should set up your environment so that the visitor is served whatever image quality is appropriate for their screen size while getting a fast loading time. If this is automated, you do not have to consider image placement, image sizes, and image resizing too much.

For SEO purposes, spend some time on the image HTML alt attribute (which stands for “alternative text”). The search engines cannot “see” your images, but they use the information they find in the images’ alt attribute to determine the content of each image. Keep the alt attribute short and concise, clearly describing the topic of your content; use your main keywords if they fit in the context. Just remember to avoid keyword stuffing.

Use image alt attributes together with clear image descriptions (which is displayed when a visitor hovers over an image with the mouse) and image file names. These factors may affect your SEO ranking.

Note that the alt attribute is mainly intended as an accessibility tool, so the main purpose of the alt attribute is to describe the image for the visually impaired, not to search engines.

Website analytics

As an editor, you can also learn how to use Google Analytics and how to interpret the vast data that can be found there, such as page views, audience (for example, returning visitors), and how to set conversion goals. You may also find it useful to learn Google Search Console (which contains tools and reports that help you measure your site's search traffic and performance), Google Tag Manager (which lets you keep track of the ROI of your advertising), and Google Ads (which lets you buy advertising spaces in Google).

The Google Search Console also includes a Disavow backlinks tool. If Google believes that your website has unnatural links pointing to it, it can affect your SEO ranking. In this case, you can manually disavow these links. That is, tell Google to disregard these links.

Google My Business

If you run a small local business, getting your message across in the competition with much larger businesses might be difficult. In that case, Google My Business might be a good tool for you. Google My Business is a tool that lets you manage how your business is displayed in the Google search results and on Google Maps. It is free to use, but it is a requirement that you have face-to-face interactions with your customers and that you are not only an online company.

The Don'ts

Don't duplicate content, overuse keywords, and ads, or buy links from link farms.