B2B Articles - December 01, 2013

SEO Checklist for Member Websites

membership website engagementSEO is a longterm process. Member websites have a unique advantage in some ways, in that they possess user-generated content (UGC). One of the clear opportunities of membership websites is that you can mobilize members to build search ranking for the website, helping to drive web traffic from organic search.

List of tips to improve SEO for member websites

  • Create an SEO worksheet or plan. SEO takes time. By creating an SEO and keyword plan, you will receive more bye-in from team members and your organization as a whole. An SEO plan helps to curb unrealistic expectations--preventing disappointments.
  • Establish KPIs as part of your SEO plan. Define metrics to follow as focus points for achieving success. KPIs (key performance indicators) will help keep your organization focused and make your reporting easier. SEO metrics can be tracked with Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and other web analytics tools. Common key performance indicators include Visits (traffic), Downloads, Referrers, Top pages, keyword referrers, keyword ranking, organic traffic from keywords, and Conversions.
  • Select inbound marketing channels. Your organization may not be able to focus on all marketing channels equally, as most organizations do not have those kinds of resources. What are the sharing, discovery, and publishing behaviors of members? This will give you a clue as to what works and what isn't working well for your membership website.
    1. Find which social media channels send the most traffic. Is this the result of members sharing content? If not, discover where members are inclined to share.
    2. Identify the top websites, blogs, and microblogs that send links. Build a strategy to encourage links from these or similar websites. A strategy may include participating in those networks or creating content that encourages such links.
    3. Which inbound channels create the most member sign-ups? These conversion channels should be optimized. Understand the landing pages and pathways that lead to sign-ups, and work to optimize these channels.
  • Set up tools to assist with your SEO plan. These tools could be free or paid. Examples of free SEO tools include Google Analytics, Google Ads Planner, and Webmaster Tools.
  • Optimize your member website for trust. Trust factors are vital to building web traffic and membership for social networks or other member websites.  Website trust factors include having a privacy page, including SSL in confidential information areas, and demonstrating site/data protections.
  • Optimize headers, titles, and meta descriptions on web pages. Check all section landing pages, public member profile pages, forums, story or content pages, and blog pages for unique and SEO-friendly headers, <H1> tags, and page titles. Proper SEO page titles help drive traffic from organic search, and often member websites are riddled with problems on highly-dynamic pages.
  • Build dynamic recommendations to members to drive engagement around interests. If your members create content or tell stories, create tools that recommend content to members based on their interests, behavior, or browsing activity.
  • Include social or blog-sharing tools. Help mobilize your members by offering sharing tools to encourage posting to other networks or websites. This can be a powerful step for driving web traffic.
  • Quality web design can help member websites. Good design builds engagement for member websites. Use web design best practices to improve navigation and clarity of purpose.
  • Reduce 404 errors by being diligent. Finding and building programmatic fixes for 404 errors is vital for member websites. These websites tend to have highly dynamic content and, as a result, have a high propensity for 404 errors. Try tracing 404 errors to the source node related to the sought-after content. If someone lands on a 404 error on a UGC page, then offer a link back to the creator's profile page while indicating the content has been removed.
  • Use canonical links.  Member websites should prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the "canonical" or "preferred" version of web pages and user-generated content.
  • Keep an active blog. Help to supplement your website's content publishing by keeping a brand blog. This will help your organization control internal link-building and stabilize content creation. Here are 5 simple ways to improve the SEO value of your blog, which will, in turn, boost the value of your website.

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