Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is all about getting found online amidst the seemingly infinite number of websites and pages on the Internet. And, even though government organizations and departments are authoritative sources on community information, it still does not guarantee that those who are looking for your site will find it.
Bottom line:  Not being found online is inefficient—it’s likely to cause staff to answer more phone calls and e-mails with requests for information. Additionally, good websites can be costly and in order to see return on your investment, people need to see it.So how can your agency achieve strong search engine optimization?
Well, the short answer is that search engines calculate a website’s results ranking based on two components: context and authority.
“Context” depends on how much the page’s content matches what the user is searching for. This directly relates to the site’s text and keywords. “Authority” refers to how much the search engine trusts your website in terms of quality. Frequently visited websites, with numerous other sites linking to them, will have higher authority over their less-trafficked counterparts.In order to leverage your site’s context and authority, consider these tips:

  • Hold a brainstorming session to determine keywords— words or phrases that constituents use when seeking information. Give each teammate a Notepad or All-in-one Mini Notebook to easily write down their thoughts. Make it a game by giving each member of the team that contributes a realistic keyword a turn at the Toss and Win for a chance to win a small prize. Use online tools to help research, too, like the Google AdWords tool. Then, work these words and phrases into the content of your site whenever possible without going overboard. Copy should still make sense and appeal to humans.
  • One of the easiest ways to see search engine marketing results quickly is by enhancing your web pages’ titles—especially your home page. Your home page’s “title” is the descriptive text that appears in the very top bar, left side of the browser window when you’ve navigated to the website’s home page. Simply showing “Home” or your organization’s name as the title here is little help—instead, insert a handful of keywords that are the most relevant to your site.
  • Search engine crawlers love new content. So do people. The more frequently the content on your organization’s site is updated, the greater the likelihood that your site will be found in a relevant Internet search. Encourage and remind departments to submit updated content on a regular basis. Explain the request and hand out fun items that will serve as future reminders, too, like a Desktop Organizer or Mega Magnetic Clip with the phrase “Content is king!” imprinted on the side.
  • Show (and get) some link love. One of the domino effects of producing relevant and timely content on your site is that someone, somewhere is more likely to link to it. Search engines like links because they lend authority. Another way to see this link love is to ask for it from credible sites that mention your organization or complement your efforts. They link to you, you link to them. If they respond to this request, be sure to thank them—send them a nice little token of gratitude, like a Travel Mug or a Computer-Shaped Stress Reliever, for helping position your site.
  • Incorporate your own search functionality. Not only will it provide a slight bump in SEO-friendliness, but it optimizes your site for government standards, too. As you may be aware, federal government requires all federal public websites to feature their own search capability as a means to ensure constituents can find the information they are seeking. Specifically, Section 207(f) of the E-Gov Act of 2002 outlines what measures federal agencies must take in order to make their sites findable and credible. Some states have similar laws regarding local government sites—be sure that your site is not only optimized, but optimized in a way that complements these guidelines. Then, you’re creating a win-win situation.

Get found online. Take time to address and enhance your site’s SEO and your constituents will see the results.  Check out our Blue Paper® for more information.

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