Search is not a minor influencing factor anymore, it is one of the top influencing factors when it comes to people’s decisions and actions. For example, when it comes to shopping, Google’s study shows that 83% of last-minute shoppers ‘search’ for the product before they buy. 89% of the deal seekers ‘search’ for the deals before they buy.
And search is not just influencing commerce, it is also influencing the way people think.
Yes, you read that right. Google has a big impact on the way we think and make decisions as a human being. This interesting research quoted by the World Economic Forum states that Google is changing the way the human brain functions and even its shape (neuroplasticity).
If you are a nonprofit or a ministry then you are in the business of influencing people (for Good and by Good). So it is good for you to pay attention to Google and how search engine works.
Whether you have an online or an offline model of operations, working on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be a game changer for you. And if you as a leader understand a few basic things about SEO, it can help you lead your organisation in the right direction.
In this post, we will look at 5 important SEO terms that is good for you to understand. With this knowledge you can fine-tune your approach to SEO. If are a small organisation with a team, with this knowledge you can have more meaningful conversations with your SEO team.
Some of the terms we discuss below are just Google-based, but since Google has more than 90% of the search engine market share, we don’t have to worry too much about the other search engines right now (source)
5 SEO Terms Every Leader Needs To Know
#1 – Keyword Research
Keywords are the terms or phrases that users type (or speak) into search engine websites like Google.
What is Keyword Research?
If you know the probable Keywords that your audience are using to search for your products or services, you can optimise your website and content accordingly. The process of finding these probable keywords is called ‘Keyword Research’. This is a foundational step in search engine optimisation. If you like to know more about keyword research and how to choose the right keywords for your organisation, check out my earlier detailed post on this topic.
#2 – Meta Tags
Meta tags or meta elements are tags used in a webpage to document structured information about the page. You can think of them as ‘labels’ or ‘sticky notes’ that describe what a webpage is all about.
In the search process, search engines like Google use software robots to look at billions of new webpages on the internet and try to understand them. When these robots visit a webpage, they use the meta tags on the page to understand its content and store this information. This process is called crawling & indexing. Then they use this information to retrieve this page for a search engine user, if it is relevant.
For example: Let us assume your nonprofit sells T-shirts online. And suppose you create 3 webpages for 3 different types of T-shirts – Red, Blue, and Green.
- You will use meta tags to label each of these pages as ‘Red T-shirt page’, ‘Blue T-shirt page’ and ‘Green T-shirt page’ and explain what they are about.
- When the search engine robot looks at these pages, it will understand what these pages are about using the meta tags and the actual content on the page
- Then the robot will store this information
- When a user searches for the term ‘Red T-shirt’ or for the phrase ‘I want to buy a Red T-shirt’, the search engine will remember that your page had these labels or meta tags on them, and show your page link as part of the search results.
This is the simplified version of how a search engine uses meta tags and the basic principle behind meta tags.
3 important meta tags for SEO:
Though there are many meta tags and elements, the 3 most important ones for SEO are:
- Title Tag – This is the heading or the title of a page. It is best to keep the title between 50 and 60 characters and keyword rich.
- Meta Description – This is where you describe your page with a few more details in addition to the title tag. Best to keep the description between 150 to 160 characters and keyword rich. Think of this as an ‘elevator pitch’ for your page.
- ALT tags – These are alternative texts or attributes that are associated with each image & visual element (infographic, etc) on your webpage. You can think of it as a ‘label’ for each image on your webpage. This tag was originally created to help visually challenged users who may not be able to view an image but like to know what the image is about (which is still one of the main purposes), but later it evolved as a tool for search engines to help them understand the kind of images that are associated with a webpage.
#3 – Relevancy
Relevancy is the measure of the extent to which the content of a webpage corresponds to the keyword or search intent of the user.
The success of any search engine depends on the consistency with which they are able to show up relevant search results to the user. If they are able to do it time and again, the user will know that this is a source he can trust to find relevant information and will keep coming back to the site. That is why ‘relevance’ of the content on your webpage is important for search engines (and your ranking).
#4 – Authority
Authority in SEO terms is similar to authority in real life. It is the measure of the influence that a website or a webpage has in a particular industry or a domain.
For example: CNN’s website is considered as one of the authoritative websites for breaking news in the United States. So when you search for ‘Breaking News in US’, you will see CNN right at the top of search results, even though you never typed the word ‘CNN’ in the search term.
#5 – Click Through Rate (CTR)
This is the ratio of the number of users who clicked on a webpage link in search results and the number of people who viewed that webpage link.
For example: Let us assume that 100 users searched for the term ‘Red T-shirt’ and your webpage link showed up all the 100 times as one of the search results. If only 30 of those users who saw the search results clicked on your webpage link, then the click-through-rate (CTR) for your webpage link is 30%.
Till recently CTR was associated mostly with paid search. But now there is a lot of evidence that click-through-rate could be a key factor in organic search rankings. Here is an article from MOZ that discusses this topic in detail.
7 factors that impact your site authority, relevancy and CTR:
Though no one knows the exact signals that are used in the algorithm of search engines, there are some proven factors that are known to influence authority, relevancy and click-through-rate:
- External links (links that connect another website to your website)
- Social media links
- Citations and references
- Internal links (links that connect various pages within your website)
- Quality and structure of your content (headings, side-headings, body text, etc)
- The architecture of your website
- Optimised meta tags – title tags, meta description, alt text, etc.
Do not be overwhelmed if this list sounds too technical for you. When you consistently create content that helps your audience and when you aggressively promote it online, the first 3 factors are covered. The next 4 factors can be taken care of by a developer with basic knowledge on web development or a freelancer.
SEO is becoming more of a business tactic than a technical task. Now that you have a basic understanding of SEO, get more involved with your SEO team, share your vision, insights, goals and objectives. Sync the efforts of your content team with your SEO team. When you integrate your technical efforts with your content and organisational strategy, you should start seeing growth in search rankings. Then when you get to a point when need help in advanced SEO techniques (like SEO audit, landing page optimisation or advanced link building techniques) you can hire an agency or an SEO consultant for your organisation.
If you like to learn more about SEO you can read all our SEO related articles here. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments section.
All the very best!
Author of The Connected Church. Social Media and Digital Marketing Consultant for Nonprofits, Faith-based Organisations, Churches and Ministries.