Search engine optimization (SEO). Does the very term strike terror in your heart? When you contemplate the process of getting your website ranked highly in search engine results, do you feel slightly less confident than you would if you were about to change your car’s transmission? Well, it’s understandable. There are incredibly involved things you can do to increase your website’s search rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Those kinds of things, you know, you hire consultants to do for you. I think they go to wizard school to learn that.

Seriously, however…every cent you spend on search engine optimization and paid search–whether it’s hiring a consultant or paying per click for a sponsored listing–will be money well spent. Consider SEO as a critical element of your marketing campaign.

And it’s impact on public relations? Well, according to Melanie Mitchell, the Vice President of SEO/SEM at America Online, 92% of journalists turn to search engines to find background information and 73% look there for press releases for their news stories.

Anyway, given that…also know there are some simple, free, and easy things you can do right now (are you liking the sound of this?) to optimize your web site for unpaid search listings.

Create Great Content

  1. Make your website useful to your readers. In an entertaining way. And change it up pretty frequently. Keep your information fresh.
  2. When talking about your business or nonprofit organization, always ask yourself, why would they want to read this? What is the benefit of our services or product to my web page readers? How are you different from the competition? Highlight those benefits in a short and sweet way.
  3. In the first paragraph or two, put in that call to action. What do you want the web page reader to do?
  4. Use headlines and subtitles liberally, but keep your content short and readable. Remember, the search engines only pick up html, generally, so don’t put any content you want searched in java or flash.
  5. Create a generous number of pages.
  6. Create a blog, and add content to it twice a week. Meaningful content, of course. Not how your day is going. Try your company’s press releases for starters. Search engines love blogs.
  7. Create a “myspace” page and blog there, as well. If you have video, consider “YouTube.” And to try podcasting, check out

Keyword Essentials

  1. If you can, include your most important keyword in your domain url.
  2. Think up the most important keywords for your business, and mention them in the title of your page, in your headline, and throughout your home page (and the rest of your website). Don’t overdo it, but a little repetition of a key terms will clue the search bots into what your site is all about. One rule of thumb is for every 100 words on your web page, repeat the keyword 4 to 6 times.
  3. Boldface your keywords.
  4. Leave out keywords that are irrelevant to your business–non sequiturs will cause the search engine’s web crawlers to ignore your web page.

Link It Up

  1. Link to your own pages in your site.
  2. If you can manage it, get other web sites to link to your site.
  3. Write an article related to your business/nonprofit and post it on
  4. Link to external web pages that are relevant to your core business…and don’t link to pages that are not relevant. Target well-established, complementary web sites. Examples: trade associations; important and useful articles.
  5. Make it easy for your readers to bookmark your page, subscribe to your blog, and e-mail or print your press releases. The best way to do this is to incorporate user-friendly “widgets,” such as RSS feed buttons, and digg, my yahoo, delicious, and other bookmarking icons. Put these widgets right on your web page or online press release.
  6. Cultivate public relations relationships with influential bloggers just as you would if they were journalists or editors.

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on September 4, 2009, in Web Site Design and SEO Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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