Search Engine Optimization. Wait, What?

If you do a Google Search with the words Search Engine Optimization” youll see about 34.6 million pages on the subject. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) making sure your website has high visibility with search engines – is a hot topic these days, creating an entire industry of firms specializing in SEO. As I started writing this post I said to myself, “SEO isn’t yet the norm unless there’s an “SEO for Dummies” book published. And after a search, of course there is. (I’m not recommending the book, just using it as a cultural barometer. Also, how meta/odd is it to search for a book on searching?)

There are a few basic things you can do to make sure your synagogue/organization appears near the top of any searches. For detailed information, here’s a fantastic Guide to SEO for Non-Profits. And following is a general overview of 3 key items:

Content Still is King: Google, Yahoo! and MSN (the top 3 search engines) and other search engines send web robots throughout the Internet to index words found on the pages of websites (especially home pages!) in order to better determine the appropriateness of search terms for a particular site. You should take a look at your site and make sure the name of your organization, the location, and keywords (see below) are repeated throughout the site. Obviously, you dont want to go overboard, but, if nothing else, insure that your home page includes text describing your synagogue/organization.

Keywords: In the backend coding of your website is a list of keywords describing your site. Search engines use these key words to determine search rankings. When deciding on these keywords, put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just moved to your area and is looking for something that you provide. What terms would they use? Synagogue Chicago is obvious if you’re a synagogue in Chicago, but what other terms would people use to find you? For more info on keywords and how to choose them, click here. If you are a Darim member, contact [email protected] and we can show you what keywords are currently being used on your site.

Reciprocal links: how many other sites link to your site? Some search engines use the number of sites linking to your site as a method for ranking your site. We recommend to clients that they beef up their local links section by contacting local and national organizations to seek reciprocal links (some folks call it a link exchange). It helps both sites increase their rankings, and of course, it provides good content on your site by providing your visitors with great content and a comprehensive list of resources. For an example of how one of Darims clients used their Local Links section in order to increase both service to their members and their Google rankings, click here: Your list doesnt have to be that extensive, but it provides a starting point for ideas.

For more information on SEO, Deborah Finn wrote a guide and published it on her blog, which is targeted specifically to the non-profit sector.

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