how to:How to Increase Your Audience and Get Your Website Noticed With Search Engine Optimization
Have you created a blog or website for your group, and are now wondering how you can get more people to visit it? Is your website search engine friendly?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making small modifications to parts of your website so that your site is more likely to appear prominently in search results. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but on the whole they can play a big role in broadening your audience.
Ask yourself three questions:
- Who is the audience you want to reach?
- What do you want to say to them?
- How is your message relevant to them?
You can monitor the words and phrases that people are already using to get to your site using Google Insights, and the content management system (CMS) you’re using almost definitely has a referrer log that identifies where your visitors are coming from and the search terms they are using.
Self-assess. Use tools like Alexa, Google toolbars, or a Google page rank checker to track your current page rank. Use SEO Browser to see how a search engine views your website and Website Grader to learn more about how your website is doing.
Why does page rank matter? Being one of the top sites listed when someone performs a search is crucial to increasing your visibility and the likelihood that the user will visit your site.
An equally important task is to create a set of keywords associated with your website. Refer to this list when creating pages. For example, an environmental organization whose mission is to protect forest destruction in Brazil may create a list that includes keywords such as, “forest,” “Brazil forest,” “forest destruction,” “protect forests,” and “Brazil environment.”
Keywords are also used in online advertising [LINK to how-to].
Google ranks pages according to the number of links to your page, so try to get as many places to link to your site as possible. These types of links are known as inbound links. Carolyn Shelby, an SEO expert, underscores the importance of inbound links to boosting your page rank: “I would love to say that the most important thing to get a site to rank well is having superior content, or standards compliant HTML, or even a magic percentage of certain keywords, but I can’t. Unfortunately, you can overcome a lot of really basic flaws with any website if you have enough inbound links (with the right anchor text) pointing at the site.”
Think about your site’s display on Google and landing page display, and remember that every page of your site can become your “homepage” because of search. You need to optimize every single internal page. Make a checklist like this one and go over it every time you add new content until it becomes second nature.
- Header: What is the title of your homepage? Use meaningful text with relevant keywords to title each page. The titles should be compelling enough to entice people to click on your links in the search engines (the link text on a page of search engine results is the title tag).
- Content: The more keywords you use on a page, the greater the possibility that your page will rank higher in search engine results. That said, don’t just randomly use keywords to fill the page; insert them thoughtfully and where necessary.
- Links: Do the links pointing to your page have relevant keywords in them? If so, this can also help your page to be ranked higher in search engine results.
- Add ALT tags to images (gif, jpg, or png files). Google indexes text using the ALT tags of image. This provides an alternative text description of an image. When you hover your mouse over an image on a web page, it will provide a short description of the image. You will need to add the tag to the HTML code. Here is a brief overview that will guide you to creating ALT tags.
- Overall design: The simpler the web design, the better. Flash, frames, and AJAX are not good for SEO; web spiders or crawlers can only search text, not text in your images. Try to stick to HTML text and make your site easy to navigate and use.
Generating traffic is just the first step to successful online organizing. It’s also important to ensure that people are taking the actions you want once they get to your page.
Link Back to Yourself (also known as cross linking): There’s no easier way to boost your SEO ranking than to integrate internal links into your site. When writing a new blog post, for example, look out for opportunities to link to posts you have written on the site in the past. This may improve the site’s overall visibility. Try to link back to the most important pages on your site.
Add a site map. This is a webpage that lists all of the components of a website including contents, layout, and structure. This makes it easier for robots, or search engine spiders, to search your site.
- Google Webmaster Tools will help you to create a sitemap.
- For those skilled in HTML and programming, sitemaps.org offers details on the specific protocol for a sitemap.
Advertising in search results will get you faster traffic results than just relying on optimizing your pages for search engine spiders. See our guide to online advertising.