Let’s say you work for an organization focused on Hepatitis B awareness and prevention in Santa Clara County. If someone were looking for such an organization to volunteer for, donate to, or gather information from – how can you be sure that your organization’s page will appear in the first few search results (because let’s face it – few people look further than the first few results) on a Google search for “hepatitis B Santa Clara”?
The answer lies in your website’s page rank. I got intrigued by this concept while reading Heather Mansfield’s chapter on websites – she mentions that you should make sure there are keywords in your website’s titles because metatags are now less relevant to increase your page’s search engine optimization (SEO). Not knowing exactly what this meant, I consulted an expert – my brother, who advises people on such matters for a living. With his guidance, I have developed a list of ten ways to increase your website’s search optimization – in other words, make your Hepatitis B website come before others in a google search.
1. Have keywords in the titles and headings on your page – like Mansfield alluded to, metatags (labels about the content of the page hidden from the viewer) are no longer as important because of they were being overused.
2. Get a domain name – keywords in the URL will help your search optimization.
3. Be patient – the length of time a website has been around will also increase the page rank.
4. Try to get “inbound links” – other credible sites that link to your website will increase the page rank of your site.
5. Clicks from searches increases your page rank – if you can get more people to select your site, your site will climb the list.
6. The fresher the content, the better. It is good to have blogs, news postings, etc that are frequently updated on your site to increase page rank.
7. Page performance – if your site takes a long time to load (due to flash, etc), your page performance and therefore page rank will decrease. I found this recommendation repeated often in web design – avoid Flash.
8. The IP address of your server counts – some hosting companies have a better reputation than others – look around.
9. Use “alt tags” on images – this is the text description of the image and will increase the keywords found on your site.
10. Lastly, you can buy “ad words” – it was recommended to buy keywords that are more narrowly related to your website.
It is a shame to spend a lot of effort on a great website and then have it buried in a search result – hidden from the public. Hopefully these tips will help bring it to the top!
As a bonus, I have included the link to a website that my brother told me about that can also help you with your web design – www.webpagesthatsuck.com. I learn from mine and other peoples’ mistakes, and while reading about and seeing the 38 Best Non-Profit Websites was inspiring and helpful – I also enjoyed looking at what makes other websites ineffective. Enjoy and learn!