SEO, or search engine optimization, is the art of being findable online. While SEO is an entire industry and field of expertise, there are a few simple things you can do to make your Neighborhood Council easier to find by those who are looking online for your Council or for the kind of community services you provide.
This is the first article in a multi-part SEO series. Here, we discuss what SEO is, and how it applies to Neighborhood Councils.
What is SEO?
Good SEO relies on finding and using the keywords that are central to who your Neighborhood Council is, what you do, and where you are. The goal of SEO is to rank well for search terms that are central to who your Council is, and what you do. “Ranking” refers to how close to the top of the results your entries are.
Unlike retailers, who must compete to rank well for keywords describing products that they and other retailers sell, Neighborhood Councils do not have to worry about competing for rank. If you search for your Neighborhood Council by name, your Council’s website and social media accounts should be near the top of the first page of results returned.
However, a basic understanding of what SEO is and how to apply it can help you fine-tune what appears in your entries on that results page. And more importantly, it can help you attract local stakeholders who are looking for the kind of services you provide, but who don’t know that Neighborhood Councils exist.
What are search engines?
A search engine is a tool for finding websites and webpages that contain the kind of information you are looking for. A browser, on the other hand, is what you use to navigate to and open those sites and pages, once you find them via a search engine. (A browser is actually also what you use to open the search engine’s home page.) A search engine exists online, while a browser is installed on your PC, smartphone or tablet.
Sometimes the difference between a search engine and a browser can be unclear, since the most popular search engine, Google, also has a popular web browser, Google Chrome. An easy way to remember the difference is to recall that many people use Google as their default search engine, but they use it on a variety of browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Safari.
The top three search engines by market share in the United States are currently Google (85.8%), Bing (6.7%), and Yahoo! (5.4%). If you enter the same words into the search bar on all three of these search engines, you’ll see that the list of results may have slightly different content, but there is quite a bit of overlap.
How do your Council’s search engine results look?
It’s a good idea to see what results your Council’s name pulls up in each of these search engines, but for Neighborhood Council purposes, so long as your Council’s web assets come up on the first page of results, and the content displayed there is meaningful, you will be fine. Don’t worry if your web assets, such as your Council’s website, social media accounts, and EmpowerLA webpage don’t appear on that first page right now, or if the content displayed in these entries is garbled. During the rest of this SEO series, you’ll learn the tools you need to remedy that.
Next week, we’ll talk about how to create the keyword lists you’ll need to get started with SEO for your Council.
Outreach Tip Of The Week is an ongoing series on using communications, branding, marketing, and public relations to build better relationships with your stakeholders. Send your outreach questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be featured in a future Outreach Tip article.