Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The best way to increase your search ranking is through high quality, original content. Please do not hire SEO consultants without fully understanding what they intend to do. Cheap SEO consultants may be able to deliver a small increase in traffic in the very short term, but their methods are constantly being discovered and penalized by search engines.

When search engines first appeared, it was easy to control your ranking. SEO is a lot more complicated these days, and much of your ranking situation is purposefully beyond your direct control. Search engines discovered long ago that content creators can not be trusted to judge the worth of their own content. SEO consultants who claim to be able to improve your rankings overnight should be avoided, as the vast majority of the advice they will give you is either useless or will actually hurt your ranking. While you can network with other sites and promote your material to increase awareness and discussion to bolster your site’s quality indicators, if SEO was truly something site owners could easily and directly control, search results would be nothing but spam and scams. Whatever you do, DO NOT spam your URL to blog comments or attempt other contextually meaningless ways to increase the links back to your site.

Google Mobile Ranking

Google announced that they will begin to take mobile optimization into account in page ranking for searches performed on a mobile device (phones, tablets) beginning April 21st, 2015. If you are on AMP CMS, you have nothing to worry about: AMP CMS is mobile optimized! If your station is still on FLEX, don’t panic, this is a small portion of the many factors Google takes into account in page ranking. A site that is the best match for a particular user’s search will not get demoted for a lesser match simply because it is not mobile optimized.

Keywords and other Meta Tags

While much of the SEO advice you may find online is essentially voodoo that can get actually get your site demoted, meta keywords (aka “SEO Keywords” in FLEX) are an especially futile exercise.

“Google doesn’t use the ‘keywords’ meta tag in our web search ranking.” – Google Webmaster Central

It’s true that Google will sometimes use the description meta tag in their results display, but no meta tag is used by Google to determine ranking because that would put control of ranking in the hands of site creators. Google is more likely to penalize sites using keywords to drive traffic and game the system, and they will even ban whole domains who do so. Instead, it looks at the page content and how the web is reacting to that content through discussion, links, the ranking and “quality” of those sites linking, and other mysterious means.

Bing, Yahoo! (who use Bing), and (who use Google) all have similar or the same methodology. received a boost from media attention related to the PRISM disclosure, and though SEO information on their engine is somewhat lacking, it can be safely assumed that they also ignore meta tags and penalize keyword stuffing.

Otherwise, structure your content in a way that provides immediate insight into its purpose and meaning. Craft titles that are concise and eye-catching. Ensure that the first paragraph is relevant; don’t “bury the lead.” AMP CMS provides additional input fields for you to craft search-engine friendly content descriptions.

What can we do?

Produce original, relevant content with strong headlines. Don’t rely too much on syndicated content or content otherwise duplicated across multiple sites. Do not attempt to game the system by stuffing pages full of keywords or creating contentless additional sites just to link back to your own. Modern search engines take meaning and context into account in their rankings.

Network with other sites that show interest in or are related to your own, and try to get them to talk about and link to your site. When they link to you, ask them to link with relevant text instead of “click here.” Relevance and quality of content is key, so stay away from “link farms” and other sites that do nothing but link back to you.

Use “expire” times sparingly and try not to change page URLs unless absolutely necessary. Nothing ever truly disappears from the web, and sites with constantly shifting sitemaps may be penalized in ranking. If a search engine is slow to update their index of your site, you may also frustrate users who try to come to your site from links you’ve removed.

Refrain from using images for text content when possible, and when you use images, include a description of the image’s content in its “alt” or “title” parameter.

Optimize your images. Do not rely on your CMS to compress images for you. If you’re using Photoshop, always create your JPGs, GIFs and PNGs using Save for Web, and try to get the lowest file size possible without impacting image quality. If you don’t have Photoshop, there are many alternatives that can help you, from to open source tools like GIMP. Consider using automated optimization tools such as FileOptimizerRIOT (Windows), or ImageOptim (Mac).