Six Steps to Optimizing Your Web Site for Search Engines
When someone searches a search engine on a word related to your cause, the search engine lists the sites it feels are most important and likely to be the best on a topic. Search engine optimization is all about polishing your Web site so that it appears high in search engine results.
In the Idealware webinar "Optimizing Your Web site for Search Engines" in June, presenter Laura Quinn, director of Idealware, discussed the basics of search engine optimization, tips for creating a site search engines can find and ensuring a search-friendly site architecture.
Quinn recommended the following six steps to optimizing your site:
1. Create a site worth finding.
A great, meaty site will naturally include lots of great keywords, inspire people to link to your content, get you more publicity (and thus more links), help you deliver on your mission, and turn more visitors into friends.
Keep your site fresh with new information. Frequent new content encourages search engines to index your site more frequently, and you move up in the ranks of how often search engines come to index your site. If nothing changes on your site, search engines get bored of you and stop indexing as often.
2. Encourage others to link to you.
Search engines find you through links. If no one links to your site, it's unlikely that the search engines will find you. Create content that inspires links. What can you create that's so good people want to link to it?
To find out whether your site is indexed, search your organization name by doing a Google search of your organization's URL. This will show you all the pages that Google knows of from your domain.
A good place to start, Quinn said, is getting linked by large directories, e.g., www.dmoz.org. But any site that's ranked highly itself is just as good, as the higher the linking site is ranked for relevant keywords, the better. Ask partners to link to you, and look for geographic or subject-matter directories.
3. Choose keywords for your site.
Search engines index your site based on keywords that match up to keywords people are searching on. Therefore, it's important to identify high-priority keywords for your organization. Start with the phrases associated with your organization, e.g., its name; if you're locally focused, your location and variations on your location; names of your programs; and common search strings people will use to find you.