PMACS Web Team

SEO Guidelines

(rev. September 2016)

What is SEO? 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is defined as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results”1.

Optimizing a website an involve increasing relevance to specific keywords, ensuring your content is meaningful and valuable, and using headings and navigation menu titles that are germaine to the content on their corresponding pages.

Page Content

Page content is key!!!

  • Each page should contain a minimum of 500 words.
  • Make sure your pages offer real value, something of substance to visitors that is useful, different, and unique.
  • Use descriptive link text – i.e., not “click here”.
  • Further content writing tips on Search Engine Land


Page Title

Most important SEO component on the page.

Tips for titles:

  • Each page needs to have its own title tag relevant to the content on the page.
  • Should be descriptive and follow the format of most specific to least specific
    For example:

Age Related Disease, Neurodegenerative Disease Research || Institute on Aging || Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

In MODX: set this in the required Title field found within the Document tab on a new or existing page.  You can also add a more descriptive title in the Long Title field that will override the Title.  

In Contribute: set this as you create a new page or, to edit the title on an existing page, go to “Page Properties” under the “Format” menu.


Displays in search results under page title.  Also used for indexing so should be descriptive.

Tips for the description:

  • Should be between 50 and 149 characters.
  • Should provide a concise summary of the page content.

In MODX: go to Configuration within the Extras dropdown located in the top menu bar.  Here you can add a Site Description and Site Keywords.  This is also the location where you can add your Google Analytics Key in order to gather data and activity on your site.  

In Contribute: go to “Keywords & Description” under the “Format” menu.


Google has stated publicly that it no longer uses keywords in its indexing, and other search engines do not use them much if it all.  It is recommended that you employ the desired search terms within the visible text on your site, instead.


Make sure not to embed important information within images or Flash applications because search engines can't see the content; they can only see the file name and ALT tag.

Tips for images:

  • Use a descriptive name.
  • Use – or _ between the words in the name. For example: ioa -pilot-grants-announcement-2012.jpg
  • Always include a descriptive ALT tag.

In MODX: make sure to fill out the Alternative Text field when you upload an image to a page on your site.  To add ALT text to an image that is already uploaded, right-click on the image within the text editor, choose Image Properties and fill in the Alternative Text field.  

In Contribute: set up the image name and ALT tag as you upload the image or right-click on the image and select “Image Properties…”

Naming Files

File names become part of the URL, which search engines pay close attention to, so it pays to make your file names meaningful and readable.

Tips for naming files:

  • Use a descriptive name that matches your page title.
  • Use – or _ between the words. For example: if you have a navigation element called “Talking about Aging” you should name the page talking-about-aging.shtml.
  • Do NOT use spaces within a file name.

In MODX: make sure to name the file appropriately before you upload it to the Media Browser.  To rename a file, go to the Media Browser within the Media dropdown located in the top menu bar.  Right-click on the file and choose Rename.   Fill in the New Name field with the desired file name.  

In Contribute: renaming files can be difficult so make sure to name the files appropriately as you save them. If you do need to rename a file, copy out the page’s content, create a new page with the desired file name, paste in the content from that other page, then delete the first page – or just call the PMACS Web Team and we’ll help.

Other Recommendations/Tips:

  • Link back to yourself often, and try to get other sites to link to you, too.
  • Use heading tags appropriately and hierarchically (for example: h1 followed by h2 followed by h3, etc.) Ideally, there should only be one h1 header per page.
  • Use breadcrumb navigation on your pages.
  • Google uses geotagging during searches, so local businesses come up higher on the list. If this is important to you, add the cities/counties/states that you serve somewhere in the page’s title, description, and/or content.
  • It can take up to six months for search engines to reindex your site, so do not expect immediate results.

For more information on SEO:

"Search Engine Optimization." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 June 2015.