Unless you are completely new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know that there are some fundamental SEO applications that should be employed within your website. And as time goes by, more and more SEO tricks come into play. At a minimum, however, you will want to know and include the real essentials, such as:
- Know your keywords. Before doing anything, you’ll need to identify your major keywords/key phrases, and sync your site with Google.
- Strong ‘Meta Titles’. Make sure that your keywords are prioritized in the (SEO) title of your page/post. (It’s your primary branding opportunity for that page or post.)
- Strong ‘Meta Descriptions’. Here too you will want to maximize your keywords when you describe your page/post.
- Use the H1 header. Don’t forget to select the “h1” size for the (visible) header of your page/post.
- Use your keywords throughout each page. Judiciously re-used and populated your major keywords throughout the page/post.
However, as stated above, that is just the minimum you should be doing to optimize your search engine results. If you want to float closer to the top of the rankings, you’ll have to work your SEO opportunities a bit more (because, no doubt, the competition is).
At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “This sounds like a lot of work. And, besides, the experts hackers out there who work for larger organizations have a lock on it all.”
The answer is: not true.
Many of these applications are not all that hard to accomplish with a bit of effort. (But if you’re not up to it, we can certainly help.) Also, one of the more comforting aspects of SEO is knowing that, for lack of a better explanation, Google pretty much favors the little guy. They continuously monitor their listings for “black hat” programmers (scammers and tricksters) and are really looking out for honest, modest sized, websites. And… Google loves nonprofits! If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be giving qualifying nonprofits free AdWord accounts. And when all is said and done, good, organic, listings are really just a matter of knowing your brand and (honestly) promoting your site using your established keywords in as much original content as possible.
Now for some really great SEO tricks. (Okay, not really “tricks”. More like, “Important SEO applications.”)
- Make sure that your pages and post are branded to the content. Moreover, keep in mind that search engines reward “SMEs” (subject-matter experts), so that the more you blog with your own original content (not duplicated), the better the SEO reward. In other words, “content is still king”; do more of it! If you are blogging and are providing unique, necessary, content that is branded to your site, it is the nectar that attracts the birds. Here’s why: Search engines prioritize and place value on how many visitors are interested in your specific content, as well how often the visitors have shared (via a link) your content within their networks. And the longer a visitor visits a specific page of your website, the better it is: it demonstrates the value (if not quality) and search engines will take note of that. Consequently, however, when a person visits only for a few seconds and leaves (“bounce”) that does not work in your favor. Nor does copying someone else’s content and pasting it into your site. (Please see “Don’t-dos” at the bottom of this article.)
- Maximize linking opportunities (“link juice”). SEO likes pages with plenty of useful links. Whenever possible, also add “title” and “alt” tags to your images and hyperlinks. And, don’t be so pedestrian about your link label. For example: Instead of labeling a link that goes to your organization’s services as simply “services”, it should be something closer to your keyword/search term, like: “info on homeless health care services” (with title tags). More specifically, instead of your (HTML) link looking like this: <a href=”http://website.org/services/homeless-services/”> services</a>, it should read like this:
<a title=”information on homeless health care services” href=”http://website.org/services/homeless-services/”>info on homeless healthcare services</a>. Though maximizing your link juice may be cumbersome as Main Menu items, these kind of “anchor links” are valuable and can be used in the footer link or within the body of texts easily and effectively.
- Your permalinks should be reflective of keywords. If you have a post on, for example, where to get free socks in January, your page permalink should be: website.org/get-free-socks-january, and not: website.org/blog/archives/123.
- Inbound links are Awesome: Also called “backlinks”, these are other sites linking to your site. And the higher that website’s page ranking the better. (I.e.: NYTimes.com would be better than, Mikes-Tiny-Blog.com.) In other words, if a media outlet mentions your organization and, preferably, provides a link to your site, that is gold.
- Integrate Google Maps to your Contact Us page. Needless to say, Google loves it when you use their products. Simply add a Google Map to your site and get yet another SEO bump.
- Make Social Media showcase your brand. You should monitor your brand mentions within your Facebook page and other social media outlets. Positive comments and reviews are crucial. And, don’t forget to link your site to your own social media channels.
- Hook up with Google for Nonprofits, and get yourself a FREE Google AdWords account. Qualifying nonprofit organizations can receive $10,000 in AdWords, free Google Maps use, and much more via Google for Nonprofits.
As a bonus to the above important SEO “to-dos”, here are a few… “don’t-dos”.
- Article Sharing: Don’t copy and paste other website’s content, even with permission.
- Don’t buy a bunch of URLs and have them point to your one site.
- Don’t duplicate your website and try to pass it off as another.
- Don’t share an IP address (especially if it’s sharing with bad content).
- Don’t use Flash and/or other graphic text.
- Avoid deep page content because the crawlers like content closest to the surface of your website root. Example: home/helping/donations/online-giving/sustaining-members/gold-level.
- Too many links listed (saturating a page with links that are really redundant or pointing to superfluous content). Also, linking back from a child pages to a parent page when not really necessary is generally frowned upon.
- Irrelevant content or outbound links: if you are a domestic violence shelter for women, don’t have pages and/or links to automotive carburetor parts.
Certainly these techniques take time to implement, but do try to focus on some of the key ones. Alternatively, you can get on a website maintenance plan that may keep an eye out on your SEO opportunities.