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Optimizing Web Pages for Search

Nova Southeastern University utilizes the Google Search Appliance, which is the commercial version of the popular Google engine. Search engines function by visiting a list of sites, following all the links to various web pages, and indexing the content on the pages found. The Google Search Appliance enables NSU to provide search engine services for all content, regardless of the server on which it is housed. In addition, the Google search engine allows users to limit their search to a particular site or sites within NSU. Visit NSU's Google Search at:

How Google Search Appliance Scores Content

Like all search engines, Google scores content it indexes according to a specific formula. How high a web page turns up in a search engine result stems directly from how well a web page complies with the formula. When Google hits a page, it looks at the actual text or data found in the body of the document, but it also looks at a variety of other factors which are not so readily apparent, and which may be weighted to positively or negatively impact the document's score.

Hidden Factors

The text in the body of a document indexed by Google adds the most weight to your pages ranking. Google does give extra weight to pages based on elements such as:

Additional Weighted Items
Page Title
META tags (description)
Remote anchors (links in other documents that point to this page)
Alt tags for images

A page about financial aid which has as its title 'Financial Aid | Nova Southeastern University', along with the phrase 'financial aid' in its META tag description, will rank high in the search engine results returned to a user searching on financial aid. If a large number of other pages have links pointing to this page, it will rank even higher.

Adding META Tags to your Pages

META tags help visitors find your web pages by allowing Google and other search engines to index the material you provide and put it into categories. META tags are placed in the <HEAD> portion of each web page, and should contain information which is immediately descriptive and relevant to the page on which it is placed. META tags take the format below (brackets indicate an area where information needs to be filled in appropriately and should not be included in the code) :

<meta name="[type of tag here]" content="[the information you wish to provide]">

The following types of META tags should be placed within each page you create in order to make it easier for search engines to categorize:

Name/Type of Tag Content Example (for a web page describing financial aid)
Author Name of the College, Center, or Department whose page this is, followed by a comma and NSU <meta name="author" content="Student Financial Services">
Description A short description of the page content <meta name="description" content="Information about financial aid at Nova Southeastern University, including how financial need is calculated, where to obtain a FAFSA, and what scholarships and student employment options are available">

Using META tags responsibly

  • Don't use the same description for every page on your site. While some pages may have the same, or closely related description, differences in content demand differences in the META tags.
  • Don't use keywords that do not apply to the web page. Leading someone doing a search to the wrong information based on misleading keywords simply frustrates them, and leaves a poor impression of the University as a whole.

NSU Google Search Appliance Support

For assistance with NSU's Google Search Appliance and/or optimizing your web pages to be found via search engines, please contact the Web Development department.

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