Getting your primary association website to a good place with search engine optimization (SEO) is important, but what about all the association component microsites? Do they show up in Google when your members are looking for content? Are they accessible at that moment when a prospective member is literally in search of something?
We have put together a list that will get the ball rolling and help those microsites thrive in Google search results. Completing each of these tasks will dramatically impact how they rank and how your members access the site via search engines.
User Experience (UX) really is important
If your association component websites don’t look anything like the main association style guide or brand this can impact how Google ranks the website and WILL impact how users interact with the site.
Google uses something called Dwell Time as a signal when deciding if a webpage should rank on a results page. Dwell Time – at a high level – is how much time users spend on that page and others within the site. When the user-experience is hard to navigate or doesn’t provide a clear path to the content they are looking for your Dwell Time goes down and it hurts your chances of ranking.
Provide you association components with updated logo files to use on their site and a style guide that shows what RGB codes to use for the colors on the website. Even if they don’t touch anything else on the UX, at least the microsite will identify with the association in a clear way.
Use Google My Business to its fullest
Google My Business (GMB) is Google’s tool for local organizations that helps your information to show up clearly on a result page when someone looks for the brand in the geographic region of that business location. These results can also be found when doing a search within Google Maps.
An important part of GMB is the physical address. It can not be a UPS store or PO box or the information will not be displayed. Complete as much of the information as possible and follow the steps for verifying the physical address.
Verifying the physical address usually requires a postcard to be sent to the address that has a code on it. Once you receive it in the mail, log in to your Google account and use the code to complete the verification process.
If you have questions about this process contact us and we’ll walk you through it.
Display the Name, Address and Phone (NAP) information in a clear way. Typically this is found in the footer of the website and on a Contact Us or About Us page. Doing so helps Google understand that it is a legitimate entity that can be trusted.
Make sure Google Analytics (GA) is tracking
Understanding the traffic your association components are getting and what they are doing on the site is important if you want to effectively use Google to your advantage. Make sure each microsite contains a working version of the most current GA code snippet and is tracking the traffic it should be tracking
Creating content around how the association component is involved with the community not only helps users relate to the organization, it helps Google verify trust and authenticity. Expand your About Us page to talk about the area around the office or community it serves. Include geo-relevant information in the bios of anyone that might be listed on the site. Write blog posts on events or activities the association components are involved with.
Provide an easy-to-use content management system (CMS)
One of the biggest barriers in creating good microsites for each association component is the content management system used to power the sites. Often times the solution provided by your association management system (AMS) is an outdated module that doesn’t care about how the back-end of the website might impact SEO. Using something like WordPress will allow for multiple microsites to be built on a single platform in an affordable way.
Provide them with recommended keywords to optimize for
Take the guesswork out of local SEO for your association components by providing them with a list of keywords they should optimize their main pages for. Don’t worry about competing for rank, they will show up when it counts and so will you.
Reduce duplicate content
Creating blog content for your components to post on their microsite along with the main association blog sounds like a good idea but it can cause some real problems when it comes to SEO. Google will not only devalue the microsite and make it hard to rank for anything, it will do the same for your main association blog!
Not to worry, there are other options to navigate around this. If components don’t have the resources to run their own unique blog (which we all know is typically the case), make sure you use something called a Canonical meta tag. This meta tag tells Google where the original post lives and that it should get the SEO juice. Yes, this means the microsite won’t get any SEO value out of the content but their users will still be able to enjoy it and Google won’t penalize the site for having duplicate content.
Sure, some of these might seem like daunting tasks but they are well worth the time and effort. If you’re not sure where to start and would like some assistance or guidance, let us know. We are more than happy to have a conversation about your specific situation and how to ensure your association components can thrive with Google.