Association Marketing Strategy

Search Engine Optimization An Hour A Day- Week 1: Keywords

I recently picked up the book, Search Engine Optimization An Hour a Day, by Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin. You know how you feel when you pick up a book that you just know you're going to like? That's how this book made me feel.

I like things that feel manageable. I really dislike breaking promises or missing deadlines, and an hour a day seemed like something I could commit to. Also, I love the way the book is set up with real examples, special tips, and even extra credit items.

Week 1 is all about creating your list of keywords. Here's what I learned through my week 1 journey:

1. It all starts with a plan. I've said this before, but I believe whole heartedly that a plan is the key to success. I always make lists and I'm even the type that will add something to a list just to check it off. For SEO, you must start with what your SEO goals are for your association's website. Do you want to increase your association website traffic? Or member engagement? Increase non-dues revenue? Or show up on the first page of Google? Write down your goals.

2. Determine your keywords. This can be a single word, but most likely it's a string of keywords that describe your association. Here are a few tips:

  • Don't just think about how you describe your association. Think about what search terms others would use to find you via a search engine. For example, at WebLink we may consider ourselves an "association management software" company, but potential customers may search for us by using, "association database management". The keyword is only relevant if your target website viewers use it to find you.
  • Don't just think about what you do. Think about what need you fulfill or problem that you solve. For us at WebLink, something like "Database to manage members" may be a very appropriate keyword phrase.
  • Think about relevance and competiveness. For instance, "software" describes what we do at WebLink, but it also describes many, many other businesses. We could drive ourselves crazy and probably not see any positive impact if we tried to rank in search engines for just "software". However showing up in a search engine for "membership database software" would be much more relevant and much easier to rank.
  • If you don't frequently talk to members, talk to someone on your staff that does. Ask them what sort of phrases they hear members use and incorporate these phrases into your keyword list.

3. Use free tools available. Here is a list of websites that are free and can provide great insight for keyword analysis:

  • Wordtracker. - use it to get an estimate of how many searches are done for a given term.
  • Google Adwords. - often used by advertisers, this free tool can also be very helpful in organic search by providing the number of searches for a given keyword, directly from Google.

4. Match keywords to landing pages. Let's say you have 15 keywords that you want to rank for in search engines. It wouldn't be smart to try to utilize all 15 words throughout every page of your site. Make sure you have landing pages for specific areas of content and optimize each page with relevant keywords. Your homepage will most likely not be the best page for many of your keywords, but rather a landing page within your site.

5. Keep your keyword list manageable. Usually, about 10 keywords are optimal and you shouldn’t have more than 20. This allows you to stay focused on the most important keywords and you aren't overcrowding any of your landing pages with too many keywords. Don't use more than 3 keywords on a page.

6. Learn and adapt. There isn't one way to do SEO. You'll probably try tactics on your association website that you think will have a big impact but don't do much. Or vice versa. If you feel like you're guessing or going with your gut sometimes, that's okay. That’s part of SEO. Just make sure you're paying attention to what's working and what's not.

Do you have a keyword list for your association? We’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned to next week’s blog where I’ll share what I learned through Week 2: Baseline Assessment.

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