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Five tips we can borrow from SEO to organise learning resources

by Susan Dumas - September 9, 2016

This blog is about organising your eLearning resources to make it easier for your staff to find them and use them as they work. Just in time learning, or learning in the workflow helps staff to keep pace with the speed of business and gives them more flexible ways to learn.  Being learning and technie nerds, we're borrowing on some ideas from google and search engine optimisation (SEO). 

SEO for eLearning - the time is now!

With millions of pieces of content and new websites being released to the wilds of the internet every day, search engine optimisation (SEO) is the new must have skill.  Eventually for learning technology ecosystems, SEO and good information tagging will matter more and more. We see the natural evolution of the LMS as transition to a larger learning technology ecosystem where many different types of learning assets will reside. Instead of trying rigidly to align content into structured courses to present to a group of staff, individual learners will be encouraged to create their own learning pathways. How else can we offer this, unless we have a great global search feature?

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Learning from Google SEO to organise learning resources

The lack of a global search feature has long been a criticism of the LMS - especially the older, more traditional LMS.  Many of our clients have asked us:

How do we get our workplace learning to work just like google?

How can our staff find the most relevant content to suit my needs, just when I need it?

First, let’s take a quick look at how google serves you relevant information when you search. Let’s say you want to buy a new car. You might type ‘new car’ into Google.  What do you think comes up? Millions and millions of results, of course. It probably does not match what you need, as you didn’t give enough information. 


What Google provides at that stage is the most highly rated and accessed content that fits the ‘new car’ term. So, you get results from car dealers, widely read car manufacture sites and the most used online car traders – and paid advertisement.

What if you type in ‘cheap new cars’? This is better – it is more focused and more aligned to what you want. And if you add in a location, bingo, you’ll likely find someone to talk to right on your doorstep!

Try it – type in ‘cheap new cars ’

 Google lives to serve you the most relevant content to match your search query. It works based on a set of sophisticated algorithms and the semantic interpretation of data. The reason why a specific local car dealer would get to the top of your search list is due to having:

  • Frequently updated good quality content on their website to match their target audience needs
  • Good application of SEO rules, such as a clear title, key word focus and good use of subtitles to re-enforce the page title
  • Their content shared and accessed by many people

How search engines work

Search engines do not index every word of a content page; rather they crawl the main page structure. Search engines want to crawl or work through as many content pages as possible so that when you type your search query it knows the best page to serve you. If your content page has a page title, set of keywords and set of subtitles that indicate a clear focus for the page, then this helps the search engine to better rate the page.  Good SEO is also about what signals search engines get about your content - it craves authenticity and quality. For example, search engines monitor how others link to your pages and if many people link to your content, then this signals to search engines that your content is trustworthy and of high quality.


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5 eLearning SEO tips

So armed with this basic information about how SEO and search engines work, take a look at our five tips. The global search phenomenon is coming to your learning resources soon!

1. It starts with a great title

Give your learning asset a great title, but keep it relatively short. It should do what it says it will do. Think about who it is for – learning tips for new managers is better than learning tips for managers.

2. What’s your (keyword) focus?

If you were to describe one area that your content covers, what would that be? A tight keyword focus helps to re-enforce the content title and makes it more relevant to the user. Ask yourself, what is this content is really about? If it is about more than one area, then maybe you should break it up into sub-topics. Thinking of page titles and keywords before you write content is a good focus to help you keep on topic and avoid unnecessary information.

3. Structure and re-enforcement is vital

Following on from your page title, and keywords, your page should also have related subtitles. So if your page is called ‘Tips for new managers’ one of your subtitles could be ‘What new managers fear most’

4. Recommend what is good

As mentioned previously, search engines rate your content by how many people have viewed it and shared it. In many modern LMS there are functions to allow users to ‘like’ or recommend content to others. This is a vital feature we will need in future learning technology ecosystems.

5. Keep the learning going

What do users do after they complete your content? Where should they go next? Sending users off to good high quality content that is related to your initial content is good practice. This keeps the learning going for your staff and keeps your content associated with other high quality content.

You can’t ‘game’ organising learning assets though!

So you might be tempted to think – ah I’ll just put loads of high quality links in my content and ask lots of my friends to ‘like’ me. For a sophisticated search engine, this will not work. They can spot these gaming techniques a mile off with their sophisticated sematic algorithms.

When it comes to implementing global search for our learning programmes, you should take the same tact; tag your content smartly, and link it fairly so that only the best results are served to your learners.

Percipio - global search is here!

We have a new intelligent learning platform - Percipio that has an in-built global search feature. For the first time a learning platform makes it easy for staff to find short, foucsed learning resources to learning quickly and efficiently. We'd love to get a chance to show it to you. Contact us for a demo of Percipio


Ps - If you want to learn about SEO, a great place to start is on Polemic Digital's site -Barry Adams has a great blog. 

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