We’ve outlined a strategy for improving your site’s SEO. Read on for detailed information on how to implement this strategy:
Step 1 - Audit your site:
- Make sure you know all your site’s URLs and check that they don’t have errors when you access them.
- Look for things like >1MB images, broken links, or errors that could cause pages to load slowly or not at all on mobile devices as well as desktop computers.
- Check for important pages on Google and on various devices from various locations upfront. Check later if you make changes, or just periodically so there are no surprises.
- Check that your site has a properly-configured ‘robots.txt’ file and a ‘sitemap’ file at yoursite.com/robots.txt and /sitemap.xml respectively. Do this especially if you’re not finding pages you should find in Google, or you’re seeing pages from your site that you don’t want showing up! After trying some normal searches for important pages, a good trick to see ALL the pages Google has for your domain is to enter “site: yourdomain.com” in the Google search box.
- Make sure your site’s page URLs are clearly, concisely and properly named using words that a normal person would think to search for in Google.
- Plurals/Singulars and misspellings do not need extra effort, as search engines generally handle those obvious variations themselves.
- Avoid word repetition and extra slashes in the URL where possible. This is harder to read and remember, and more slashes in a URL typically indicate less importance to the content.
- Make sure the words you use in the URL also appear high on the page (not just in the URL, Title, and Description fields) as well as in the ‘alt’ text that describes images or other media on the page.
- Consider using word variants and related keyword phrase constructions where it is natural to do so as well.
- ‘Alt’ text on images is not just for SEO -- it’s for accessibility. It ensures the vision-impaired can understand the content of images on your site.
- Make sure any old pages you want to take down (or where ‘404’/Page Not Found error reports show that people are still trying to find missing pages through links from other sites) are either:
- Redirected to other working pages, or
- Replaced at the exact same URL
Wordpress, Squarespace and other common platforms have different tools to manage redirection and 404 errors, and Google Webmaster tools can also help you remove unwanted pages (see below). Contact us if you need some help figuring out where to find these reports or configuration settings.
Step 2 - List your site with Google:
- Confirm ownership of your website and track its visibility and performance in Google’s suite of webmaster tools such as Search Console and Google Analytics.
- Set aside a couple hours to walk through these tools if you’re unfamiliar, ideally at a time when someone is available to help you identify how to make changes on your website as needed along the way.
- Bing is the next largest search engine outside of Google, but it’s only about 10% of the size of Google, so do their webmaster stuff only if time permits.
Step 3 - Get links pointing to your site:
- Make sure other web properties link to your site and relevant pages for your most important topics. The most important ones to get are:
- Your own Social Media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts)
- Your campaign office’s local / map listing in Google
- Any Wikipedia entries related to the candidate
- The websites of your close allies and supporters (such as your party committee and endorsing organizations).
- Other local reference, service and news sites for your area and branch of government.
- It is a best practice to refer to a website with keyword-friendly text when labelling these links wherever possible. This means it should ideally reflect the name/content on the resulting page. Examples:
- Use: ‘Donate to Pat Smith for State Senate’ or ‘Pat Smith official campaign site’
- Do NOT use: ‘click here’, ‘website’, ‘District 1’, etc...
If you want to do more, check out SEO agency Moz.com’s free tools to see what they can tell you about your site’s competition and your opportunities to improve. Regardless of whether your campaign will spend a significant amount on Google Adwords or not, you can use this tool. Specifically, they offer alternate keyword suggestions and related data on how much search volume and competition these keywords have. Use those to get ideas for other things you might be able to rank for organically. Click around the various reports in their Search Console tool for other opportunities to improve your presence.
You can leverage certain events or campaign ideas and reinforce them through special pages, blog posts or news coverage that can create links to your website, as a way to start using these resources. If you see deeper problems or opportunities, we’d love you to talk to us about getting help in this area!