The world of SEO is always changing, and while some of the algorithm adjustments seem rather obscure and hard to use in day-to-day life, a few of the (relatively) recent changes that Google has made to its ranking algorithms are fairly straightforward to implement.
A few years back, we did a short series on the basics of SEO, which has remained popular with people who are trying to grasp the building block concepts of optimizing for search engines. The entries are collected below:
As you are creating your website, you are probably interested in making it easier for your audience to find it. This post will be the first in a series of posts with some quick and easy tips to help your site rise in the search results on keywords and keyphrases which relate to your organization and the information available on your website.
Part two in our series on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) covers the basics of internal linking. If you remember the pages that you created in part one (corresponding to the specific keywords and phrases you are targetting), the next step is to create links from all the other keyword references on all the other pages on your website to those keyphrase landing pages.
Following up on the last tip about internal linking, it makes sense that external links are also important to your search engine optimization strategy. These are links from sites other than your own and in general, the more the better, assuming the links are coming from reputable sites and with some caveats listed below. One way to think of this is that search engines consider a link from one site to another as a vote of confidence.
Continuing our series of SEO tips, we come to what is probably the most important of all: add good content to the site, and add it regularly. You are developing this site for people, not for search engine robots, so make sure that the content will draw people in. (Luckily, good content is also helpful for those search engine robots.)
As you design your site and add content, you should be considering best practices for users who are visually impaired or who browse with screen readers. It is fortunate that much of the basic advice regarding accessibility can also help with search engine optimization. "Google is blind" is a phrase you hear a lot in introductory SEO circles.
This is actually a subset of the third part in our non-profit SEO series, building external links, but I thought it deserved its own entry. If you've got patience, it's a good idea to submit your site to the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and perhaps other directories -- human edited compilations of categorized sites.
When you redesign a site, chances are that your structure may change and your URLs may change. If you don't plan ahead, you could throw away a lot of the search engine optimization you may have already achieved. When a search engine comes back to index your site again after a redesign, it will find that many (or all) of the old URLs no longer function and it will drop them and then reindex your new pages as new pages instead of as new versions of existing pages (which already have some ranking).
When you consider the question of how to optimize your site for various search engines, the obvious answer is: why not ask the search engines? All of the major search engines have some kind of guidance as to what they look at when they analyze pages and what they recommend for a page. Most of the information will parallel with the items we've already mentioned in our SEO series (e.g. create good content, don't try to be sneaky and trick search engines, make your site clean and accessible...), but you may find it useful to read the suggestions written in other ways.
Continuing our series of non-profit SEO tips, I encourage you to take a look at your site as it renders in text form, as it is "seen" by Google and other search engines.There are a number of different "SEO browsers" you can experiment with to see which of them is useful for you.
Keeping track of your site statistics is an important part of assessing the success of your online presence. You can see where your visitors are coming from and what they are looking at, which can help as you try to make your site as valuable as possible and measure the success of your SEO goals. Google Analytics is a common solution, but since some non-profits have privacy issues with integrating their sites with the Google Empire I'm also listing some other resources which allow you to retain your own stats on your own server.
There are two types of sitemaps -- those primarily for your human visitors and those that are for your search engine robot visitors. Both types of sitemap provide a summary of content on the site in the form of links, and both can provide some SEO value if you build your internal links correctly. I'll focus primarily on the latter in this post, which are often referred to as XML Sitemaps and are supported by all the major search engines.
As we enter this new year, it's helpful to look back on some of the things that we learned about SEO last year. Thanks to SEO Moz for putting a bunch of them together in a Christmas-themed video from the last week or two, summarized below. I'm pulling out Blekko for a focus since it has so much potential as a helpful SEO tool.