Ever wonder why some synagogues in your area show up on the first page of a Google search results query and why others are relegated to page 2 or 3? By better optimizing your website for SEO (search engine optimization), you can gain visibility online and boost your site’s standing in a search engine's results.
Making it easier for prospective members to find and learn about your synagogue is the primary reason why SEO is so important.
While there isn’t a step-by-step formula for guaranteed success, there are several best-practices surrounding the use of keywords that you can take to improve your site’s ranking.
But, before we get started, what exactly are keywords?
Keywords are the words or phrases that an Internet user enters into a search engine. They can be single words (Rabbi, minyan, or mikvah) or they can be multiple words in the form of a question (what time do Shabbat services at Temple Beth El start?), topic (B'nai Mitzvah), or phrase (Reform temples in San Francisco).
Knowing and understanding what your members and prospective members are searching for online can help you provide your readers with informative and relevant content. Google offers a keyword planner that can give you insight into what people are searching for. Keywords can also help prospects discover your organization as they search for information that is important to them.
1. Think Like a Member
When it comes to developing keywords, the trick is to think like your members and prospective members. How would they search for something? What are the words or phrases that they would use?
Take a moment and imagine that you are the parent of a three-year-old. You are interested in sending your child to a Jewish preschool and want to research the different options in your area. After heading to Google, what keywords or phrases would you use to begin your search?
Jewish preschool? Jewish early childhood center? Jewish preschool in [your town] or [your county]?
Mimicking the language that your members and prospects potentially use in a search is a fundamental part of SEO.
Use these phrases as the basis for creating meaningful and relevant content. Write content that addresses the questions and topics posed by these keywords. Don't be afraid to directly include keywords on your web pages, but remember, you are writing for your readers - actual people who will be turned off by content that feels inauthentic.
2. Include Keywords in Page Titles
Using keywords in your page titles can help your pages rank higher than those of your competitors. But, similar to how keywords should be used strategically within page content, the inclusion of keywords in page titles also needs to appear as effortless and as natural as possible. A page about membership could include keywords in the URL like- /become-a-member, or /join-our-synagogue.
3. Add Keywords to the Page URL
Not only should keywords be a part of your page titles, but they should be woven into your page URLs. Write concise, yet descriptive URLs. A URL for your Temple’s preschool should be templeshalom.org/preschool - simple and descriptive. It’s important not to go overboard. A URL like templeshalom.org/preschool-nursery-school-best-Jewish-early-childhood-center isn’t going to help and, a URL packed with too many keywords may hurt how Google perceives the value of your page. But, before you update the URLs on your website, take the time to set up redirects and URL aliases. Broken links hurt SEO.
4. Add Keywords to the Image Alt-Text
Adding words to the image alt-text allows screen reading software for blind or visually impaired to read and understand your image. It makes your image accessible to those who might otherwise not be able to see it. But, besides for creating an accommodating online environment, image alt-text can be used to give your SEO a boost.
An image tagged with a keyword or key phrase will be included in the image search results for those words or phrases. This broadens your reach to people who are searching based on images.
5. Create Website Content Around Keywords
Focus on building web pages that address the keywords or phrases that are important to your readers. If you receive requests and questions about having a wedding or other event at your synagogue, a page should be created to support the interest surrounding this topic. Providing valuable and relevant content to your readers to critical.
Keywords are critical to your SEO strategy, but simply stuffing your web pages, titles, and URLs full of targeted keywords isn't helpful - in fact, it can hurt your site's ranking and get your site flagged as spam. The goal is to provide a nice balance between what people are searching for and the content provided on your website.
Taking the time to create interesting and relevant pages filled with rich content that is supported and based on keywords is one of the best ways to improve your SEO.
About the Author
As the client relationship manager at Jvillage, Jen Lieberman is committed to helping synagogues grow and thrive in today's increasingly online world.