Every swim team wants to be on the top of search results and rankings for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Getting there involves applying practices and techniques known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It's a very broad subject that helps your team rank higher in non-paid search results and the whole tech industry has exploded with tactics, and strategies to help you gain online visibility for your swim team.
From year to year, release to release, search engines like Google change their search algorithms. Sometimes upwards of 500 - 600 minor changes and releases a year. For those who want to geek out, here is a breakdown of the major historical changes of Google's algorithm. It is literally a mountain of changes that affect the visibility of your swim team in search engines.
Here at TeamUnify we are here to help you both in growing your swim team with some of our great online tools. But we also are here to help you with a few best practices on how to optimize your site for search engines.
With all of these changes how can you, a volunteer administrator, coach or web admin, actually stay up-to-date with the changes? Here are a few basic practices inside your swim team site that will ring true throughout time.
CONTENT IS KING!
Great content is the number one way you will be found on search engines. Without good, reliable, original content search engines will have nothing to refer to when directing current or potential new customers to your site. So, find great content with optimized keywords that refer to what you do and where you do it. If you add great content people will want to read and share it. Do not just copy and paste from another site, as the search engines generally avoid showing duplicate content and will usually only show the original. Learn more about duplicate content. Instead, compose your own original material and you will find yourself on the top of search pages in no time.
Define Title Tags:
Title Tags define what the name of each page in your site is. For non-TeamUnify sites this is defined in the <title>Example Title</title> of the header. For TeamUnify Teams we automatically build these from your team name and append the page name to it, such as Sharks Swim Club : Events. Just make sure to name your club what you want the search engines to show in the "Team Name" field in the Team Admin > Team Profile area of your site.
Define Meta Information:
Normally found within the header of your site, the <meta> tags allow search engines to get a glimpse of what you want them to see and know about your site. Defining the <meta> keywords can be done in many ways but we make it easy in your site to define the Meta tags inside our website design area. Found in Team Admin > Website Design > Website Layout Configuration in the Team Site Meta Keywords field. So add in those keywords you want to be found by in Google searches, but keep it under 1000 characters.
Fill in Image Alt Tags:
Whenever you search by name in Google for images a plethora of pictures show up. All of these pictures have been named something by someone on the web. It is really important to do this so that Google and other search engines know what the picture has in it or so that someone who has a slow internet connection can know what that picture is about. Currently, that is the only way search engines know how to index the photo. Before you upload an image to your site, give it a good name with keywords. "shark-swim-summer-team.jpg" is much more meaningful than "IMG2837.jpg." Use hyphens to separate words instead of spaces. Add an original/descriptive Alternative Text line explaining what is in the image so search engines know how to index this picture. In your Teamunify site once you click the add image button you will be prompted to add information about the photo including an Alternative Text line, so make sure to fill that out before you save.
Add Internal/External linking:
Make sure to add linking to relevant pages both internal and external. With TeamUnify we structure your pages to link internally via the navigation bars at the top and side of your site. However, inline (text) hyperlinking is also very important. Put keywords in your hyperlinks you create and make them descriptive. Making "click here" your link text (known as the anchor text) not only doesn't help the user understand what it will do, it's not a term you want to rank on. "Download Shark Team 2016 summer swim schedule" is much better--it describes what clicking the link will do, and it has terms people might search for. To link, highlight the text you want to link from and click the button in your text editor.
Good Site Architecture:
In SEO terms this means having a good URL structure with descriptive titles and a good breakdown of the header to footer properties and tags. With TeamUnify this is all taken care of.
If you have long content, make sure to use header tags to organize sections of the content, just like you see bold headings and sub-headings in magazine and newspaper articles (and this blog post). Type your section headers and then use the "Format" drop-down menu in the content editor to format and alert the search engine spiders to their importance. Make sure to start with Heading 2 (H2) and above, as we automatically use H1 tags for the title of each page.
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools:
You can submit your site to the search engines as well as receive analytics on how many visitors you have and much more. Learn how to add Google Analytics to your TeamUnify site. Search engine spiders will automatically find your site given enough time, but manually submitting your site may speed up their discovery process. See this article on Search Engine Submission.
Submit an XML Sitemap:
The last area to cover is a site map. This is one area for more advanced web users. This allows you to map your site structure and pages for search engines and takes a little more fancy footwork. If you would like to learn more about this please visit Google Help and Training.
Before you even add your headline to your site, know that when you host your swim team's website with TeamUnify, we have you covered. From the start with TeamUnify's domain authority and structured system, your team will have automatic link validity and credibility within search engines.
Secondly, we have a website structure that allows you to build out your team website with good site architecture and congruent tabs with internal linking. This is why you will find many TeamUnify teams at the top of Google rankings.
So, with the last three bullets covered by simply being on the TeamUnify/SwimOffice system, it is up to you to follow best practices in creating great content and defining your pictures alt tags, meta tags, and title tags.
TeamUnify makes it easy to get found on the internet and we are here to help. If you are interested in having your team join the TeamUnify family please follow the link below to learn how we have helped tens of thousands of administrators to run and grow their swim teams.