Everyone wants to drive organic traffic from search engines like Google. To get there, you need to be at the top of the search results for the keywords most important to your business. However, taking the time to learn the latest SEO techniques to rank in Google is not always top of mind when time is so precious.
When it comes down to it, there are a few basic things you can do to improve your results in Google, and most have not changed in over the years.
Understanding the basics is especially important as you design your website since it is much easier to build a solid SEO foundation. However, going back and making changes will still make an impact; it just takes a bit more work.
Here are the top best practices to improve your keyword rankings and keep your website at the front of the crowd.
1. Keyword Research is Key
Take the time to learn what phrases people type into Google to find information related to your website and how often they are searched.
Take an hour or two and use the most popular and FREE option to conduct keyword research - Google's Keyword Planner.
All you need to do is sign up for an AdWords account. You do not need to spend any money or give your credit card to gain access.
To start, enter a few phrases related to your business, e.g., hockey camps, soccer tournaments, basketball leagues in Bemidji, MN, etc., and make a list of all relevant terms. Once complete, export it to Excel or Google Sheets.
Open the file -
Identify the top 5-10 keywords goals
Group 'like' keywords into topics to guide how the site should be structured and what pages will be needed
Assign keyword goals to each page and create content around those goals
Create a content calendar to help prioritize the most valuable content and your time
With this competitive advantage, you can tailor your content and site structure around the phrases that drive the most relevant search traffic.
Learn more about Google Keyword Planner.
Where should keywords be used?
H1 & H2 tags
Internal & external hyperlinks
Image file name and alt text
2. Make the Most Out of Page Titles
The title tag is an important ranking factor and is what Google uses to generate titles in search results.
To view the page title on any site, simply right click on a page and select View Source and search for <title>Example Title</title> or hover your mouse over the tab in your browser.
Within SportsEngine, title tags are built from the Page Title (long) on each page or from the title of a news article.
For example, the page title long for the Cake Eater's Classic page on Edina Hockey Association's website is "Cake Eaters Classic" even though the button is titled Cake Eaters.
Page Title Tips
Place important keywords first
Describe exactly what a user will find on the page
Keep titles around 60 characters
Select - 'Do not display page title (long) at the top of the page' to prevent it from showing up on the page
Create a title for all pages, no matter how insignificant they seem. Simply describe what the page is about
3. Utilize Search Friendly URLs
Use Sitebuilder's built-in feature to create search engine friendly URLs.
Search friendly URLs have few advantages.
Ranking boost for keyword(s) or phrase(s) used
Improved click-through-rates (CTR) and user experience
Shared links pointing back to your site contain keywords
Since Google uses the page URL in search, it is important to create well-crafted and organized URLs that are clear and concise. This will help users and search engines understand what a page is about before they even enter.
Crafting Search Friendly URLs:
Keep URLs short and concise
Utilize keyword research to name pages
In Sitebuilder, use the 'Friendly Name' field for Pages and article 'Title' for News Articles.
4. It's All About Content
Great content is the number one way you will be found on search engines. Without good, reliable, and original content, search engines cannot understand what your site and each page is about.
Great content, the kind people like and share with their friends, is rewarded with incoming links (#1 ranking factor–the more links a page receives, the more likely it is to rank #1 for related terms).
Highly curated articles or news stories is not the only form of great content. Great content could be scores, rankings, results, upcoming events, or any other information unique to your organization.
However, just because the information exists does not mean Google can understand it.
For example, if you have pages with team scores, add a block of descriptive text at the top of the page above the scores to help Google and users understand what the page is about.
Utilize keyword research to create content around the phrases you are targeting. A page can be focused on multiple keywords but should be related to the overall theme. If you are writing about apples, don't include keywords about oranges.
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 original material, and you will find yourself on the top of search pages in no time.
5. Don't Forget About Images
Whenever you search for an image by name, many pictures show up. One way these images appear in the search results is by the image's filename. This is why it is important to give each image a meaningful name before you upload it to your website. Instead of uploading your photo as "IMG2837.jpg," use "bobby-roberts-sliding-home.jpg."
Use hyphens to separate words instead of spaces.
In addition to using a meaningful file name, you should include an original/descriptive Alternative Tag line explaining what is in the image so search engines know how to index this picture and screen readers can describe it to those with decreased vision.
To add an alt tag, fill in the Alt Text field when you add your photo via the Single Photo page element.
6. Links Matter
Incoming links are critical to achieving number-one rankings. Google looks at incoming links a bit like a popularity contest, but it is not just the number of links that matter. The authority and relevance of a link's source are also considered.
Internal links also add value by showing Google how pages relate to one another and the content that matters most.
Links in SportsEngine can be added via two methods:
Within the text block page element, you can add inline links to your content. This is a great way to reference supplementary content inline in your text.
Link Page Element
For links that are more important or that you want to call out separately, use the link page element. This special style directs the reader's eyes to that link.
NOTE: The link page element provides no special SEO benefit over an inline link.
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. Instead, use something like "Download Mites Team 2018 winter schedule" – it describes what clicking the link will do and has terms people might search for.
7. Organize Your Page with H Tags
If you have long content, make sure to use header tags (H tags) to organize content sections. Not only is it good for users, but Google also looks at the H tags to better understand a page and, at times, uses them for search snippets (the large answer box is sometimes displayed at the top of search results).
To change your H tags in Sitebuilder, leave the subheading field blank, type and highlight the headline for the content section, and use the "Format" drop-down menu in the content editor to change the heading.
For pages, start with Heading 2 (H2), as H1 tags are automatically added using the title of each page.
8. Setup Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results. You don't have to sign up for GSC for your site to be included in Google's search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.
GSC is the only place to see what keywords were used in Google Search to find your content. You can also see who links to you, title tag recommendations, broken pages, and more.
To expedite the time it takes for Google to find and index your pages, we recommend setting up GSC and submitting the .xml sitemap automatically generated for every Sitebuilder site.
Google Search Console
Go to google.com/webmasters
Sign in to Google
Select Add a Property
Verify property using Google Analytics
Navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemaps
Enter sitemap.xml and select publish
If you have not set up Google Analytics yet please see - Learn how to add Google Analytics to your SportsEngine site.
9. Blocking Pages from Google
Sometimes, there are pieces of content you do not want a search engine to find. Some examples include a calendar, player profile, or image you don't want to be found on the web. You can do this for a single page or, for more control, with the robots.txt file.
Blocking a single page
To exclude a single page, you can add a noindex tag by navigating to 'Options' and selecting 'Edit <Head> Code.' Place the code below into the Single Page section.
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
With the robots.txt file, you can block all pages in a folder or a single page so they will be found in Google. This can be set up in the Admin Control Panel -> Website Settings -> SEO ->Robots.txt. As an example, you can disable the crawling of all calendars, player profiles, and meeting notes.
User-agent: * Disallow: /roster_players/* Disallow: /page/show/1240820-calendar Disallow: /folder/meeting-notes.pdf
You can also block specific file types, such as pdf files, using robots.txt.
Learn more about blocking pages via the robots.txt file
Before you even add a headline to your site, know that when you host your website or online registration with SportsEngine, we have the technology and resources to help you succeed online and pull past the competition.