Video | Search engine optimization

Video | Search engine optimization
Danielle Beaumont

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the goal of raising the online visibility of site with higher ranking in search engine's list of search results. Sites that are ranked highest appear at the top of the list, which encourages visitors searching online to find a relevant site. Good search engine optimization practices help improve a site's ranking, which tends to increase a site's traffic.

In this article, you'll explore some best practices and tips you can follow to improve the search engine ranking of the sites you create in Muse. The Muse workspace includes many helpful features you can use to perform site optimization to increase discoverability and route traffic to your web pages.

In order to list the sites on the Internet, search engines crawl the web by following links that connect web pages and site assets. Search engines evaluate the content of pages and assets in a process called indexing. Indexing is important because it is a constant research that informs search engines of the available content on the web. If a site is no longer available, the search engine removes the website from the search results. Search engines use the results of indexing to determine the content and ranking of sites.

Indexing enables search engines to accurately suggest website links in the search results that match a specific query based on a key word or phrase. For example, if you type "Adobe" into a search engine field and click Search, a list of web pages will appear in the search results. The search results display links to websites that the search engine has determined contain content related to Adobe software and products.

There are many parameters that search engines use to decide which websites are listed highest in the list. High ranking is optimal, because that means that people who search on that keyword or phrase are more likely to visit your website. By following the suggestions outlined below, you can help facilitate search engine indexing, so that new visitors searching online will find the sites you create.

Understanding how search engines index sites

Web pages can contain embedded metadata information such as author, keywords, description, and language. The keywords and description are helpful for identifying the site's purpose and describing the content presented. These meta tags are embedded within the HTML source code; they are not displayed visually when the page is displayed in a browser window.

In the past, search engines would evaluate both the metadata keywords and description during the index process. Web designers would sometimes add hundreds of keyword terms, hoping to improve a site's visibility in the search results. Some modern search algorithms, such as Google's search engine, no longer consider keyword values when calculating ranking, but it is worth investing the time to update them. Keywords may improve ranking in other search engines and in Google Search Appliance used by larger websites. Metadata descriptions are often displayed as the description when your page shows up in a search result list, or as the default description in Facebook, Google+, and other social networking sites. An interesting description may help drive traffic to a site.

Search engines often perform full-text indexing, which means that they parse the entire text content on the page. The text that is placed in header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) is deemed especially important because headers generally summarize the information being displayed. Using paragraph styles, you can define paragraph tag containers, to create a page that uses an h1 header for the top title in the text content, an h2 header for a subhead title, and an h3 header as a sub subhead title. Text formatting indicates the importance of the header text at each level to search engines. Defining styles to use paragraph tags and applying them to header text enables you to create well-formed HTML code—which search engine crawlers find especially easy to navigate.

As the indexing occurs on a page's content, images and other linked assets are analyzed. If the assets contain titles or alternative text, this text information is parsed. The tooltips added to hyperlinks are also evaluated. The search engine utilizes all of the text content it finds when indexing sites to make informed decisions about each page's content. Additionally, adding titles and alternative text to images and tooltips to hyperlinks ensures that the pages you create are more accessible for everyone, including visitors using assistive devices to navigate the web.

Be sure to check your sites periodically to remove or fix broken links. If search engines detect broken links, they may assume that the site is no longer being updated. Also resolve missing image files or linked assets. Older sites that are not maintained may be assigned lower ranking in search results.

Adding metadata keywords and descriptions to page properties

When you first create a site in Muse, you are prompted to set up the site properties. These are the attributes that affect every page in the site, such as the layout values and the appearance of hyperlinks. However, each page also has individual properties that you can set to add specific attributes. For example, you can set Menu Options to control whether a page displays in a menu and update the metadata that is added to the source code, but is not displayed in the browser.

Follow these steps to update the page properties for a specific page:

  1. In Plan view, double-click a page thumbnail to open it in Design view. The page opens in its own tab and is ready to be edited.

  2. Choose Page > Page Properties.

    Choose Page, Page Properties
    Use the Page menu to open the Page Properties dialog box.

  3. In the Page Properties dialog box, click the Metadata tab to access the fields where you can enter the metadata information in the provided fields.

    Page Properties
    Use the Metadata section of the Page Properties to add metadata text.

  4. Click in the Description field to enter terms that are likely matches for the site's content. For example, if you are designing a page about rescue dogs, you could type a short page description: Rescue a dog and find your best friend. We are the largest Labrador retriever dog rescue organization in Northern California, dedicated to finding caring homes for loving dogs.

  5. Click in the Keywords field to enter terms that are likely matches for the site's content. For example, if you are designing a page about dogs, you could enter keywords that match the page's content, such as: California rescue dogs, Labrador retrievers, black labs, chocolate labs, dog health care, dog grooming, dog adoption services.

  6. If you want to update the Page Name field, keep in mind that the page name is the label name displayed in Menu widgets throughout the site.

  7. The Page Title field is set by default to use the same name as the page name. The page title will display in the browser window, in browser tabs, and in bookmark lists (depending on the browser used to view the site). If you want to change it, deselect the checkbox next to Same As Page Name, and then type a different page title.

  8. When you have finished updating the metadata, click OK to close the Page Properties dialog box.

Adding titles and alternative text to images

After you place images on a page, you can access the Image Properties dialog box to set both a title and alternative text (also sometimes called alt text) that is assigned to the image.

Here's a brief description of each property:

Title: In many browsers, the title is displayed in addition to the image, typically as a tooltip that appears when a cursor hovers over it.

Alternate text: If the image file cannot be shown, this text is displayed in place of the image. Alternate text is also used to describe images to visually impaired visitors using assistive technologies to access page content.

It is ideal to set titles and alternative text for every site asset, to ensure that visitors have the best experience when navigating your site. Tooltips are helpful for including additional information about graphics and alternative text makes pages more accessible for screen readers that verbally present graphic content.

To add titles and alternative text, follow these steps:

  1. Select a placed image.

  2. Right-click the image and choose Add Title or Add Alternative Text from the context menu.

    Image Properties
    Choose to add a title or alternative text.

  3. Enter the title for the image in the Title field of the Image Properties dialog box. For example, if the image was the Adobe logo, you could type: Adobe Systems, Inc.

    Image Title Properties
    Type the text you want to appear as a tooltip in the Title field.

  4. In the Alternative Text field, enter a description of the graphic content, such as: Adobe logo.

  5. Click OK to close the Image Properties dialog box.

Setting tooltips for linked images and text

You can create tooltips that display whenever a cursor hovers over a link. These tooltips display on both images and text that has a hyperlink. Tooltips are helpful for visitors because they can get more information about the linked content before actually clicking the link to view it. Tooltips are also ideal because they provide search engines with a description of the content that is referenced from a site.

To add a tooltip to an element with a hyperlink, follow these steps:

  1. Select the linked text or image.

  2. Click the Hyperlink text in the Control panel to the left of the Hyperlink menu. The Hyperlink options appear. ​

    Hyperlink options
    Access the Hyperlink Options by clicking the blue Hyperlink text in the Control panel.

  3. Enter a tooltip in the Tooltip field. For example, if the linked text has a hyperlink back to the Home page, you could enter: Return to the Home page.

  4. Click anywhere else on the page to close the Hyperlink Options.

Using paragraph styles to apply text formatting and set paragraph tags

  1. Using the Text tool, click drag a text field. Type some text content, such as: This is text.

  2. Format the text to set the font, font size, color, and other settings. While the text is selected with the Text tool, either update the options in the Control panel or use the options in the Text panel. For example you could set the following text formatting.

    • Web safe font: Verdana
    • Font Size: 24
    • Color: Brown (#8C6239 or R=140 G=98 B=57)
    • Tracking: 6
    • Leading: 120%
    Text tool panel
    Use the Text panel or the options in the Control panel to format text.

  3. Open the Paragraph Styles panel. While the formatted text is still selected, click the Create New Style icon at the bottom of the Paragraph Styles panel.

    Paragraph Styles options
    Click the New Style button to create a new style.

    The new style contains the formatting attributes and is given the default name of Paragraph Style.

  4. Double-click the Paragraph Style name to open the Style Options dialog box and then enter the Style Name for the new style: Brown Header Large. Use the Paragraph Tag menu to set the HTML tag associated with style to the h1 header.

    Style options
    Select h1 from the Paragraph Tag menu.

  5. Click OK to set the Paragraph Style options. The paragraph style is now set up to update both the appearance and the HTML tag for any header that you apply it to on the site.

    It is a best practice to create and apply the h1 header styles to the top (generally the largest) text on the page.

    Create more paragraph styles for h2, h3, and so on, and then apply those styles to the subheaders that appear in descending order on all of the site's pages.

    Text styles
    A well-formed web page uses headers that display in descending order to define tiers of text content.

    Once you've created the paragraph styles for all of the headers, you can quickly select the text you want to style and then click the name of the style in the Paragraph Styles panel to apply the style's attributes and paragraph tags.

Understanding the sitemap.xml file that is generated when you export or upload a site

When you export your site or upload your Muse site to a third-party host provider using the Upload to FTP Host dialog box, Muse generates a file named sitemap.xml that contains a list of all the site pages and assets. This file helps search engines index your site content more easily.

Note: If you host sites on the integrated Adobe host servers, the domain name you add to a site is automatically added to the internal server index and no other action is required.

You can use the site map generated by Muse during to help improve your site's search engine ranking. If you are uploading the files using Muse, the sitemap.xml file is uploaded to the host server along with the other files. If you are exporting the site and using an FTP client to upload the files, upload this file to the host server along with the rest of the assets in the exported folder.

Follow these steps to specify the domain name in your exported sitemap.xml file:

  1. Choose File > Export as HTML.

    Choose File, Export as HTML
    Export all of the site files to a folder on your computer.

  2. Enter the domain name in the Domain Name field.

    Export as HTML dialog box
    In the Domain Name field, enter the site's domain name.

  3. Verify that the domain name is spelled correctly, in this format: mysite.com

  4. Click OK to add the domain name to the sitemap.xml file and complete the export process. After the site has been exported, the folder containing the site files is ready to be uploaded to the web host provider of your choosing.

    Note: When you choose File > Upload to FTP Host to upload your site, the domain name you enter in the Domain Name field will be added to the sitemap.xml file.

    FTP Host options
    Enter the domain name in Upload to FTP Host dialog box.

To learn how the Google search engine uses sitemap.xml files, visit the Google Webmaster tools help pages.

To get more information about designing sites in Muse, see Adobe Muse Help. Also visit the Adobe Muse Site of the Day to see inspiring designs as you start creating your own projects.

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