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December 17, 2011 / Kirsty Pitkin

IWMW11 Plenary 5: UK University Website Visibility

  1. Weideman: Usability and visibility are the two motivating factors when judging the success of a website design #iwmw11 #p5
  2. To begin, Weideman described the methodology for his study, including some of the assumptions and omissions he made, and the evidence which informed the focus of his study, such as established user behaviours.

  3. Weideman: I couldn’t find out how many universities the UK has! Studied a sample of 38, assuming total population is circa 150 #iwmw11 #p5
  4. Weideman: Most users seem to prefer natural search engine results, rather than paid results, which are seen as ads #iwmw11 #p5
  5. Weideman: 2/3rd of users will click on the first two positions on the search results #iwmw11 #p5
  6. Weideman: There was no method within the available tools to analyse anchor text links, so this was omitted #iwmw11 #p5
  7. In outlining the criteria he used to assess his sample group of websites, Weideman described best practices for optimising websites for search engines, which provided the audience with the following practical tips to help improve their sites…

  8. Tips for description metatags:

  9. Weideman: Reminding us of the importance of the description metatag. You need a copywriting expert to do this well #iwmw11 #p5
  10. Weideman: A good description metatag will be multiple sentence, keyword rich, well written, and strong uni related #iwmw11 #p5
  11. Tips for title tags:

  12. Weideman: Title tags are important: they appear top left on most browsers. The top left is the most read part of the screen #iwmw11 #p5
  13. Weideman: How many people search for the word "home page" to find your university? Don’t use non-sensical words at the start! #iwmw11 #p5
  14. Weideman: The title tag is prime real estate, so don’t waste characters #iwmw11 #p5
  15. Weideman: A good title tag starts with the full uni name, plus other important key words about the content #iwmw11 #p5
  16. Tips for header tags:

  17. Weideman: Best practice for header tags: one H1 per page, very descriptive, followed by some H2 and H3 #iwmw11 #p5
  18. The Results

    Weideman highlighted the universities that came out on top in his analysis of specific criteria, and those which ranked highest overall for visibility across all criteria.

  19. Weideman: University of Warwick came top of the rankings for inlinks #iwmw11 #p5
  20. Weideman: University of Birmingham came top of the results for the quality of their description metatags #iwmw11 #p5
  21. Weideman: University of Liverpool and came top overall for their website visibility, followed by University of Cambridge #iwmw11 #p5
  22. Reactions

    Melius’ presentation was very popular given it’s practical, evidence-based tips that informed immediate changes to improve the search visibility of institutional websites.

    Here are just some of the things the audience had to say about the talk…

  23. loving th eback to basics metatag analysis of Weiderman – a reminder to keep the key crawlable texts complete and well selected #p5 #iwmw11
  24. Good stuff about microcopy and #contentstrategy RT @iwmwlive
    Weideman: You need a copywriting expert to do this well #iwmw11 #p5
  25. We put page specific info before org name to get more relevant words first – also helps with #a11y says Shaw Trust #iwmw11 #p5
  26. Are we optimising our website with the words that people are looking for? #iwmw11 #P5
  27. Looks like @SalfordUni has a lot of work to do to topple top 10 uni search engine rankings. Drat. #iwmw11 #p5
  28. #iwmw11 #p5 Excellent talk. Good reminder to go back to the basics for Search Engine Optimisation.
  29. Further Information

    For full details of his research and the top 10 rankings against each of his criteria, Melius’ slides are available in PDF format at the IWMW webpage for his talk.


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