By Jen Lieberman
SEO is a word that gets tossed around a lot, but what does it actually mean? SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the primary marketing strategies an organization uses to gain visibility online. By optimizing your website for SEO, you can improve your site’s ranking in a search engine’s results.
Why is this important? Websites displayed on the first page of a search results query gain more attention than those located on page 5 or 6. Making it easier for folks (and search engine robots) to find and learn about you is the primary reason why people take SEO so seriously. And while there isn’t a step-by-step formula for guaranteed SEO success, there are several best-practice strategies that you can take to improve enhance your site’s ranking:
Strategic and Thoughtful Use of Keywords: Once upon a time, marketers would pack their web pages full of keywords (or words that people could potentially enter in a search for a particular subject) and search engines like Google or Bing would give a site that contained those words a higher ranking than one that didn’t. Those days are long gone and stuffing your pages full of every word related to a topic isn’t going to help – in fact it can actually hurt your website’s ranking and flag your website as being spam. So the question is, do keywords matter in 2016? The answer is still a resounding yes.
While search engines are smarter than ever and you don’t even need to have the exact keyword match for the search engine to pick up on what you are saying (amazing!), it’s still helpful to include keywords or key phrases within your web pages. Think about what people are searching for and be sure to include those exact words in your page text. Also, consider the context of how someone would search for a given topic. A page devoted to early childhood education must contain like-minded words and phrases related to that topic, but it should also reflect the words someone would potentially use to search for a preschool that fits the characteristics of your preschool. Naturally weave words or phrases like ‘Jewish preschool,’ ‘top Montessori inspired preschool in Nassau County’, and so on into text of your pages to ensure that your site will be relevant to your readers. Writing interesting content that is of value to your reader is much more important than the number of keywords used on a given webpage. Think keywords quality over quantity.
Inclusion of Keywords in Page Titles: Using keywords in your page titles can help your pages rank higher than those of your competitors. But similar to how keywords should be used strategically, the inclusion of keywords in page titles also needs to appear as effortless and as natural as possible. A page about your B’nai Mitzvah program should contain that in it’s title for example.
Make Keywords a Part of the Page URL: Consider modifying the URLs of your webpages to include commonly searched keywords related to the topic described on the page. Again, the key to implementing this strategy is for the URL to be relevant and as short as possible. A URL for your Temple’s preschool should be templeshalom.org/preschool – simple and descriptive. It’s important not to go overboard. A URL of templeshalom.org/preschool-nuresery-school-best-Jewish-early-childhood-center isn’t going to help and, in fact, it may hurt how Google perceives the value of your page. However, before you change all your page URLs, take the time to set up redirects and URL aliases. Broken links hurt SEO.
Register with Google My Business: Take the time to register your organization with Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places). Letting Google know who you are, your hours of operation and your address is essentially the same as what it meant to be included in the Yellow Pages. For more information – check out our recent blog devoted to this topic.
Key Takeaways! Google isn’t simply scanning sites looking for exact keyword matches anymore. Keywords remain relevant, but today’s search engines are much more sophisticated than those of yesteryear. Google and others are focused on creating complex algorithms that are able to understand the context in which content was written. Pretty amazing right? So what does this mean for you? Taking the time to create interesting and relevant pages filled with rich content that your readers will find valuable is best way to improve your SEO.
Jen Lieberman is Client Relationship Manager at Jvillage Network.