Three Tips for Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

Horowitz_SEO May 30, 2023 By: Ira Horowitz

Want to drive more traffic to your association’s website? It’s time to harness the power of search engine optimization, or SEO. Here are three ideas you can use.

There’s a lot that goes into creating an engaging association website. From choosing the right website builder and branding the site to your organization, to populating it with content that will be useful to members, it can be a big lift. 

Consequently, it can be tempting to finish designing your website and then move on to other tasks. But websites are not a tool to set and forget. Unless you’re actively driving traffic to your website, it won’t help your member community. 

There are several ways to encourage people to visit your website—for example, you might pay for online ads or link to your website from email newsletters. But there’s another way to drive traffic to your association’s site: by optimizing it for search engines.

What Is Search Engine Optimization? 

According to Cornershop Creative, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your web content’s page rankings for targeted keywords on search engines like Google. When you optimize your content for search engines, you help drive more organic traffic to your website—the users who type a query into a search engine and then see your content in the results. 

For example, say your association is focused on serving elementary school teachers. If someone Googles “professional organizations for elementary school teachers” and your content is optimized for that keyword and is a high-quality resource, you could rank in one of the top spots on the results page, quickly catching the attention of Google users and encouraging them to click onto your web page. 

But how do you get to the point where your content is ranking well for keywords that are specific to your organization? Let’s explore three tips.  

1. Create useful web content with a great user experience. Before you can focus on how your content will perform on a search engine, you should focus on how it will serve your current and future members. In other words, create your web content with humans in mind first and foremost. 

Start by ensuring that you’re populating your site with content that will benefit your target audience: 

  • “About Us” information (including information on how to join your association) 
  • Training and learning tools (e.g., online courses, webinars, podcasts, and so forth) 
  • Research and report hub
  • Member directory
  • Job board 
  • Advocacy tools 
  • Events calendar 
  • Volunteering information
  • Blog

In addition to creating this useful content, make sure that the content is easy to access and use. Ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices, accessible to people of all abilities, and quick to load. 

2. Optimize content for specific keywords. As you create or update your content, target keywords that are aligned with your mission. But you need to be specific. You don’t want to compete with thousands of other organizations and high-authority websites for keywords, but you do want to choose words and phrases that are relevant to your target audience’s queries. To make more informed decisions about keywords, conduct keyword research

For example, say your Boston-based association of pet groomers wants to optimize a web page for the keyword “volunteering opportunities.” It would be difficult to rank for such a general term. Instead, you’ll want to get more specific. Keywords like “volunteering opportunities for animal lovers” or “animal shelter volunteering opportunities in Boston” would yield much better results for your page—and your volunteer program! 

3. Leverage linking. Once you’ve created high-quality content that is optimized for specific keywords, it’s time to tap into the power of linking. Consider these three types of linking:  

  • Internal linking: Link to your most important SEO-optimized pages throughout your website. Not only will this help your website visitors easily navigate your website, but it will also show search engines how the pages on your site are connected.
  • External linking: Within your optimized content, you should link to authoritative external sources to add credibility to your own content.
  • Backlinking: It’s also important to have high-quality websites link to the content you’ve created. For example, you could write guest blogs for websites that might be interested in your content, or reach out to partner organizations and ask if they’d be willing to link to your content. Don’t forget to offer the same courtesy in return.

However, don’t overdo it when it comes to linking. Stuffing your content with links just for the sake of linking won’t do much good for your members and will look fishy to search engines. Instead, take a natural approach and build links both on and off your website over time. 

Your website can be an excellent resource for engaging your current and future members, so make sure they can find it on search engines!

Ira Horowitz

Ira is cofounder of Cornershop Creative and an expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising. His work has resulted in increased funds and resounding supporter engagement for hundreds of organizations.