The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Engage and Convert: SEO Helps Your Association Website Content Be Found

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, Aug 05, 2014

    

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts based on the “5 Website Improvements to Make in 5 Minutes (or Less)” that I co-presented with Maggie McGary at the ASAE Membership, Marketing and Communications Conference in June 2014. Each of these posts will cover one of the elements we discussed in more detail and today’s topic is Engage and Convert: Make your Content “Web Friendly”.  To get a sneak peek of future posts, view the slides from our session on Slideshare.

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While the term “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization” isn't used quite as much as it used to be, optimizing your association’s website to achieve the best search engine results is as essential as ever. As your website users – especially potential members – search for specific sites and content via Google FIRST, you need to tailor your site's content to make it as visible as possible. And good SEO will pull in targeted prospects (and potential new association members), paving the way for your content to keep them engaged and, hopefully, converted.

SEO Tips for An Engaging Association Website

To make your site visible and engaging, start by developing a cohesive strategy to use across your entire site.

  • Make it visible It's no good creating interesting, helpful, relevant content if it's hidden behind a member login. You need to make it accessible to anyone and everyone who visits your site, whether they meant to or simply stumbled upon it. While members only content is important, the reality is that the search engines can’t see past your member login. Therefore they won’t know about this content – and won’t be able to show it in search results.
  • Know your relevant keywords … and use them The days of keyword stuffing as a viable SEO tool are long gone, but when used in moderation, keywords are still one of your top tools. Research the best ones for your industry, and use them across your site in subtle, reader-friendly ways. Place them in your headlines, in the body copy, and in your internal links – make your anchor text relevant and clickable. Be sure not to focus on industry jargon but use keywords that someone new to your industry may use as they learn about what you do.
  • Build links back to your site Get your association’s name and brand out there. Create off-page content that links back to your site – press releases, guest blogs, articles. So long as these are engaging pieces placed on reputable sites, they be vital in attracting new users. Investigate forging partnerships with other sites, and embrace social media including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Be engaging. Be relevant to your target audiences and potential members. Be irresistible.

SEO Details For Every Page of Your Association Website

To get the most out of your site and give it the best chance of achieving a higher ranking on search engine results pages, you need to focus on the four details on every page:

  • SEO-friendly URL - URLs should be as clear and informative for human users as possible. Tell the user where they will end up when they click on your link, and keep it short. For example, a URL which begins with a domain name but then devolves into confusing code will only baffle your user, and may even chase them away. Present page categories in your URLs, and perhaps hyphens too, for maximum clarity (such as “generic-website/news/Canada” – this tells the user they will be directed to the Canadian news section of Generic Website).
  • Title Tag - Your title tag is one of your top players on the SEO game field. This is what defines your page. You should place the target keywords or phrase at the start of your tag, as this is most likely to boost your chances of a high ranking, and will show users how relevant your page is to their search. For example, a good title tag for a page targeting users searching for “generic websites” would be “Generic Websites: Basic Design for Basic Sites”.
  • Descriptions  - Your meta description is the few lines of text appearing beneath your title tag on search results pages. These are essential for telling users what they will find on your page, and for placing relevant keywords, enhancing your visibility. For pages without a description, search engines will present a snippet from the page, which is less helpful for users. Write a concise, engaging description of the page's content. For example, “Generic Websites is the #1 source for basic websites, with over 1 million satisfied customers around the world. We offer 20,000+ designs at highly competitive prices”.
  • Keywords - Choosing keywords for your site can be a difficult process, but you need to focus on specificity. If you sell products or services with very generic terms – such as “cat food” or “men's shorts” then you'll struggle to register on those keywords alone. However, if you focus on the specific brands or styles available, you're more likely to succeed. Research your competitors' keywords, and plan your strategy from there.

Want to create a new site but feel unsure of where to start? Need help planning a winning strategy? Get in touch today, and our expert team will give you all the answers you need!

Photo Credit: Flickr, Eric Spiegel

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