Search engine optimization case study for heritage websites

Search engine optimization (SEO): We’ve heard a lot about it a lot over the years. While the approaches change (driven largely by Google) and social media takes a bite out of its effectiveness, it’s still an important part of making sure your heritage message transcends the “noise” online.

In this post, we’ll look at the general tactics involved, and provide a tactical case study from my own experience.

The Search engine optimization (SEO) project was part of CHF’s efforts to expand its online presence through social media, video segments, and webcasts.

The project targeted ten high traffic biography pages on the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s (renamed Science History Institute) main site: Robert Boyle, John Dalton, Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Leo Baekeland, Meyer and Mendeleev, Joseph Priestley, Joseph John Thomson, and Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin. Each page was edited to include the following:

  1. embedded videos
  2. in-line links
  3. sidebars promoting related content
  4. images
  5. the ability to request those images for use
  6. language likely to be noticed up by a search engine
  7. external links were added with hopes that the sites we link to will return the favor
  8. collaboration with the museum’s GLAM-Wiki program for deeper ties to similar content on Wikipedia

The purpose of the project was to test the effectiveness of Search engine optimization practices on a number of factors including

  1. daily page views,
  2. bounce rate,
  3. pages per visit,
  4. average time spent on page,
  5. and unique visitors.

Google Analytics recorded all of these numbers, and others were extrapolated from Social Reports, both valuable tools for future SEO work. After analyzing these metrics and comparing them to the same reporting period (May – December) in 2012 and 2013, it is clear that the targeted web pages significantly improved in almost every area. It should be noted that analysis of other pages that were not changed in this project showed a similar (but generally lower) rate of growth. This leads to the conclusion that the website as a whole has many more visitors staying on pages longer in post SEO implementation than it did before, but that SEO practices can help those metrics improve even faster.

SEO Whitepaper Draft 9-16-14 by jkguin on Scribd

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