There are many elements that go into creating a website that results in being an effective communications tool. Integrating targeted messaging for your intended audiences and using an intuitive sitemap that helps them navigate to important content with appropriate calls to action are all essential components needed to market your mission and programs. However, attracting new businesses or adult and youth customers to your site requires that you can be found on the Web by search engines such as Google. We often tell our customers that writing for the web is different than writing for other media such as press releases or op-ed articles – and this difference lies in the use of keywords.
What is a keyword?
Keywords are all about enabling search engine users to find your website so that they can engage with your organization as a customer or partner. Organic search traffic comes to your website when an individual searching on specific keywords related to workforce development, education, economic development, etc. sees your website in their search results and subsequently clicks on the link. Improving this percentage of visitors is accomplished through Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. “The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to include those words and phrases in your text in the most natural way,” says marketing blogger Stephanie Norman.
How can the right keywords increase traffic?
Determining the keywords that are important to your audience requires that you put yourself in the mind of your customer and ask what search terms they would enter if they were looking for your services. Remember that they will not know your specific program names, and they may not even know the name of your organization. The trick is to find a balance of words that are not so generic as to be ineffective, but not so specific as to be unknown.
First, compile a list of phrases and words that are associated with what you do. To generate additional phrases and keywords that you may not have considered, use Google's Keyword Generator from its suite of free webmaster tools. Edit the list to make sure the words fit what you offer. Then, test your website’s performance by plugging in these keywords into a search engine such as Yahoo or Google and seeing whether your website appears. Some pages may contain higher value keywords than others.
Once you’ve established the keywords for your organization, these should be incorporated into your website both behind the scenes on the page titles and tags, and in the public facing content of your pages. An SEO project does not mean you’ll need a complete overhaul of your website, but you may have to make changes to content on a number of pages to incorporate keywords naturally and implement best practices for engagement to boost the value of your site’s content to your audience.
What are 3 strategies that help boost keyword performance?
- Blogging – Do you write a blog? If so, every blog post is an opportunity to include SEO tactics and improve your search engine performance. Use a keyword in your blog post article (remembering that your organization name is not a keyword) and in the blog’s permalink as well. For more keyword strategies related to blogging, we found this kikolani article
- Inbound links – this ‘tech-y’ term translates to asking your community partners and other allies to share a link to your website on their own sites. Many community organizations, local governments, and business associations have resources pages on their sites to help their visitors find partnered services in the community. Reach out to your partners and ask that your website be included on their resources page. Provide a link to the most relevant page for their audience, and share a suggested description for your organization. Remember to make the description attractive to their audience – don’t just use your mission statement.
- Build out social profiles – Your communications strategies on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and especially YouTube are important website traffic boosters and engagement tools. Make sure that your profile pages contain current addresses and organizational descriptions as well as links to your homepage in the ‘about’ sections. On YouTube, every video is an opportunity to use keywords relevant to the target audience and to refer viewers to your website. YouTube itself is a search engine, so make sure that you include keywords for all of your video posts.
Do these strategies work?
We know that over time, consistent use of SEO best practices as described above will increase website visits. However, it’s important to measure your progress. Before you make changes, take a snapshot of your current performance using Google Analytics and the methods described in FCM’s Workforce Website Benchmark Study. Save this report, and update it quarterly to track to your SEO progress over time. Remember to measure increases in traffic derived from search engines as well as overall increases in visitors.
Have you successfully improved your website performance using these strategies? Share those successes with us in the comments. If you need assistance with improving your online presence, contact us for a complimentary web consultation.