You're looking for a new restaurant, a tailor, a church, or maybe a nonprofit to support. What's the first thing you do? Google it, of course!
In fact, the phrase "Google it!" has become so ubiqutious that we often forget it refers to a complex process of searches, keywords, and algorithms that help search engines match searchers with the best and most relevant results. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of increasing the visibility of your website to these search engines.
Being able to be found organically is a critical marketing strategy for churches, nonprofits and businesses, which means SEO must be part of your digital strategy. By focusing on the factors that matter most and following three basic keys to boosting your SEO, you'll be climbing the ranks in no time!
How Does SEO Work?
At their basic function, search engines deliver a results page of website links based on a words an internet user entered into the search engine’s search box. The search engine’s goal is to deliver the best search results that answer the users implied questions. Consistent and accurate results that answer users’ questions creates user confidence that encourages them to return to the search engine for future searches across the web.
Your goal in optimizing your organization’s website is to get the search engines to calculate the relevancy of your website’s content in order to include links to your website within the users’ results pages.
Search Engine Optimization: The Three Keys
SEO isn't rocket science, but does take some well thought out strategy to boost your rankings. The following search engine optimization (SEO) techniques provide a solid way to authentically increase the opportunity for users to discover your website.
1. Determine the Keywords
Billions of users use search engines to seek answers to their questions every day. Great SEO involves positioning yourself to be easily found for searches using search terms, or keywords, closely related to your organization. The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that displays the list of keywords and phrases that users have used to search Google.
- Access Google Keyword Planner.
- Enter the keywords/phrases that you feel best describes your organization. Choose words that your target audience would likely search for, and keep them specific enough to keep the competition low.
- Google will display the various keywords and phrases along with the average monthly search volume of the keyword data.
2. Optimize Your Website
With your selected keywords or phrases in hand, you can easily optimize your website’s pages by simply positioning your selected keyword data naturally within these content areas of your organization’s website programming.
tags of your site.
- Page Title & URL plug
- The page title - or the copy that appears in the top of the window in your browser - is one of the most critical factors in SEO. Be sure to include your most important keywords in the
- Header tags (H1, H2, or H3)
- Include key words wihtin the
tags in your site's HTML to really boost your findability.
- Include key words wihtin the
- Meta description
- Though there is no real SEO value here, the description does well to promote the content of your website page to users reviewing the Search Engine Results (SERP). Simply, this is the text that entices users to click the your link on the SERP.
- Alt-tags within the website images
- Organizations should consider saving the actual art file to their computers by using the selected keyword/phrase as well as incorporating the keyword data into the image alt-tag fields.
- Anchor tag within the website's content
- Within the content of your organization’s website pages, consider linking from keyword data within the page content to another webpage on your website where readers may access more specific information related to the linked keywords.
Natural and authentic keyword placement within the individual pages of your website does well to assist the search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, and Yahoo) to define your website’s content, to rank that content, and to display links to your website within the users’ search engine results pages.
3. Link Building Strategy: Build Relationships
An authoritative inbound and outbound website link is another important component used to optimize your organization’s website. In other words, the more legitimate websites linking to you and the more legitimate sites you think to, the better you look to Google and other search engines.
Search engines analyze the various website links in order to determine the relationship between the connected websites. Organizations must proactively work to ensure genuine and authentic links are put in place. Link abuse could result in the search engines penalizing the organization’s website with a very low domain and page rank score, which prohibits the website from appearing coveted top three positions on page of the SERP.
Your organization has a great opportunity to increase the value of its search engine rank when you perform your due diligence to identify and authentically link to a few higher-authority websites, where there may be added value for your website visitors (.gov & .edu website typically hold very high rank value).
Organizations should consider reaching out to higher-authority website owners who are already connected to the organization to determine if there is a value-add on your website that they would consider linking as well (i.e. Resources section of their website).
Search engine optimization is one of the simplest ways to generate organic traffic for your organization, and it continues to be a powerful component for any organization with a successful digital marketing strategy.