It’s June and the thermometer is starting to stretch out after its long winter nap.  Normally I get excited about the prospect of warm summer days and air-conditioned offices, but since I live in California I’m more worried about finishing this column before the power goes out on me again.  Whenever a rolling blackout hits, businesses find themselves trying to operate with their virtual hands tied behind their backs.

Many nonprofits who haven’t planned for search engines when building their website pages find themselves in a similar situation when they try to achieve higher search rankings. Last time we discussed the importance of choosing proper keyword phrases to target for searcher.  This month, I’d like to give you some tips on how to place those phrases into your web pages effectively so the engines can find them.

Following are the areas in HTML coding of web ages that you need to pay the most attention to.  Now if you contract with a web development firm to build your site, you should make sure that their development includes these methods.

Page Titles – Make sure that your Title tags are unique, descriptive and longer than just two or three words.  Search engines rank titles higher because they assume that’s what the page is about.  One caution:  make sure the content on your pages truly reflect the page titles; otherwise, the engines will think you’re spamming them.

Heading Tags – Use the H1 and H2 tags for important summaries of text.  These are weighted more highly as well.  Current HTML supports these tags as being scalable in terms of size, so the headings on your page don’t have to appear huge.  You must separate headings with paragraph text, though, to appear legitimate.  If you’re designing a table, the TH tag (an often forgotten one) makes that table cell a heading and its contents will be weighted more heavily.

Body Copy – Make sure the copy on your pages contain your keyword phrases in more than one place.  It is also important to try and keep your keyword phrases at the top of the page, before any tables or other layout designs.  The higher these words appear on the page, the more heavily they’re weighted.

Alt Tags – Alt tags are used to define the text labels you see when you place your mouse over an image on your site.  Make sure you put proper text there!  Too many people will create their corporate logo in a beautiful image, post it to the top of their web page, but only enter “logo” in the alt text.  Not only does this make their brand invisible to search engines, but anyone who is blind or on a text-based browser sees the word logo and has no idea where they are.  Don’t be afraid to make the text explanatory.

Links Page – Instead of only relying on your site’s internal search engine, place a text-based site map on your site, linking to all important pages.  Then make sure that page is linked from your homepage.  Search engines use automatic programs called “spiders” to follow links from one page to another and index your site.  They can’t use your search engine and they can’t follow your JavaScript mouseovers or image maps.

META Tags – META tags are tags that don’t show up on the web page itself, but they are placed into the page’s code specifically so search engines can pull from their keywords and descriptions.  Not all search engines rely on these tags, but not having them is as much a mistake as thinking they’ll solve all of your search engine ranking problems.  Make sure your keywords don’t repeat and your descriptions are complete and accurate.

Doorways – If your site deals with several different topics, make sure you draw attention to these different audiences by building doorway pages.  Doorway pages are static pages that lead visitors to a specific section of your site.  They employ all the techniques above while focusing on that section’s specific niche. This way you aren’t having all your keyword phrases fighting each other for relevance.

According to Statistical Research, Inc., Web users report searching the Internet (57%) on an average day. This means that people use search engines more often than any other Web activity, second only to email.  If you want new people to hear about your organization online, you’d better make sure you aren’t buried on the 34th page of a search result.  Putting these techniques into practice when building a website is one good way to make sure you aren’t left in the dark

Categories: Home Page Stories

Leave a Reply