September 16, 2013

SEO 101: 10 ways to make your site more findable

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Search basics every organization needs to know

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists.

Guest post by Teddy Hunt

teddy-huntIf you’re just starting to look into search engine optimization, or SEO, it’s important to get a handle on how it works so that you use it to benefit your organization. Using SEO properly will eventually pays big dividends as it boosts your website’s visibility, thereby creating more opportunity to convert prospects into supporters or customers.

Let’s run down a few simple things to keep in mind when you’re first getting started.

What is SEO?

1The first step to effectively implementing an SEO strategy is to understand what it is. Search engine optimization affects how your website shows up in the unpaid, or organic, search results returned by Google and other search engines. Most users click on the first few results of a search, and even fewer make it past the first page. So when you don’t break into the top, you’re losing opportunity for support.

Researching keywords

Check that your image tags, title tags and H1 tags match the keywords you’re looking to target

2Although their value has dipped a bit in the latest iterations of Google’s algorithm, learning how to use keywords wisely is still a key part of SEO. Do your research to get the best results! Tools like Google Analytics will help you get started — look at Content > Site Content > Content Drilldown >Tags (yes, those are keywords), for starters. Figure out some keywords that match up with your cause, service, product or offering — both the ones that are working and the ones you’re not ranking for then try out Google’s new Keyword Planner, which has taken the place of the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to see which of keywords people search for most often.

Creating titles and descriptions

3Meta descriptions and page titles are the first things that any visitor will come across when they’re searching for your site — that’s what they see on the search engine results page. As a result, you’ll need to optimize these so that they also work with your keywords. Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions include those top keywords you determined. You’ll need to make sure that they’re written correctly as well so that they display well in search engines. However, first and foremost, they should be designed with your users in mind.

Understanding keyword ratio

4It’s not enough to use your keywords. You need to exercise caution when using them. In fact, if you use them too often, you’re actually hurting yourself. You shouldn’t have a keyword density of more than 3% when you’re creating your text. If you do, search engines could think you’re spamming, and this will hurt your results. While having a good density of keywords isn’t as important as it has been in the past — inbound links have become more important — it’s still a valuable part of SEO.

Using internal links

5Learning how to work internal linking is another important part of a successful SEO strategy, because it helps search engines find the deeper parts of the site. You’ll want to know that everything links up correctly. Adjust how you structure your internal linking system so that the keywords you have in the content on your site link to other pages. This way, you’ll improve your results while creating a seamless experience for your users once they land on your website.

Optimizing URLs

6Of course, you can’t just keep your keywords in your text. Keywords are important throughout your website, including in your page URLs. You’ll want to make sure that your page URLs contain those keywords you’re targeting. This way, search engines will rank your site based on this, too. And anything that boosts your ranking when it comes to search engines is a big help.

Optimizing HTML

7Keywords go far beyond the simple text you’re using as the content in your website. Along with your URLs, you should optimize your HTML. To do so, check that your image tags, title tags and H1 tags match the keywords you’re looking to target. Keeping these things in line with your targeted keywords goes a long way when it comes to SEO.

Using analytics to your benefit

8When you’ve selected your keywords, written your content and followed all the steps for SEO, you’ll want to track your results to make sure you stay on target. Google Analytics will come in handy here as well. You’ll have access to the data that shows how you’re performing, and with that knowledge, the power to tweak things to get even better results. Check out these sections in particular: Content Drilldown, In-Page Analytics, Speed Suggestions and more.

Writing for mobile sites

9With so many people relying on their mobile devices for Web browsing, it’s essential that you don’t ignore mobile sites when designing an SEO strategy. Eighty-one percent of Internet users use their phones to browse. Since search engines rank your site higher if you have a mobile version of the website as well, you don’t want to ignore users on 4G LTE phones on T-Mobile or other mobile phones.

Fresh content is key

10It doesn’t matter if you have an intricately crafted SEO strategy that uses the best keywords. You won’t keep readers with stale content. By continually updating your content and creating new content — always based on these SEO tips — you’ll keep search engines and customers alike happy. Do this by updating various sections of your site and keeping an updated blog.

Whether you’re launching your website or fine-tuning it to make sure more people find it, there are certain things to keep in mind when formulating an SEO strategy. Learning how SEO works goes a long way in making sure that potential funders and donors get themselves to your site.

Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends most of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Fla. Follow him on Twitter at @tedhunt9.
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