Everybody wants their website to get found by their target audiences – prospective clients, future donors, and lead generators, to name a few. A key component of “getting found” is making sure your website is search engine-friendly (i.e. that it follows search engine optimization best practices). Here are a few key areas to focus on when it comes to website SEO:
- Key Words: what people are searching for! Be sure you’ve thought about your key words, and have them repeated often throughout your website. Key words should appear in your content, alt tags for images, page titles and file names. We recommend taking a research-informed approach to identifying keywords to ensure you are focusing on the relevant terms that are most widely searched for.
When integrating keywords into your website copy and blog posts, make sure the copy is still easy for readers to digest. You want to avoid filling your copy with jargon, as it can lead to confusion. Case and point: strike a balance between writing for readers and writing for SEO.
- Meta Tags: these are inserted into the html code, but not visible to the user. They provide information about a Web page (key words, description), most often to help search engines categorize them correctly.
- Page Titles: the name that appears at the top of a page. This should have some key words to help describe the page, and mention your company name.
- Site Map & sitemap: A Site Map is a list of pages on your site (like an index). This can be a separate page, or for smaller site, a footer at the bottom of each page. This helps to increase the number of links within your site, and repeats your page names. A sitemap is an XML file (a file that ends in .xml which isn’t seen by visitors) that contains a list of your site pages, with information on how often a page will be updated, level of importance, etc. Both help with a search engine’s ability to rank your site.
When working to enhance your website’s SEO, you also want to consider how your content is structured. Google favors sites that are content rich and have volumes of high quality content to crawl. For example, embedding your blog in your site (as opposed to hosting it separately) and structuring it so that each post is a new page of content for which you can customize the page title, tags and meta description can also help to enhance your SEO.
Another structural consideration is your homepage. Google can’t crawl text that is embedded in images, so you’ll want to be sure there the important language on your homepage is plain text copy.
Well-done websites focus on both form and function to deliver positive user experiences. Whether you are redesigning your website or looking to launch an entirely new website, be mindful of SEO best practices so that your new website isn’t a billboard in the desert – if nobody can find it, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is.