Sometimes when you are so deep in agency-related content, it’s easy to forget the big picture of who are you writing for and how they are finding you. Take a step back. Are you keeping your reader in mind? If they do not have your site bookmarked and visit your site regularly for one reason or another, chances are they find you in search.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO, also known as “organic search,” should be a crucial part of your content strategy. Never assume that as a state agency, you operate a very niche site — only of interest to a small group or organization. People who are unaware of your very organization or existence are looking for information that you have. Agencies have the opportunity to help anyone who searches for “veteran support group in Georgia,” “Lemon Law in Georgia” or “Homeschooling in Georgia.”
Being aware of and using terms that people may search for, is at the forefront of SEO. You can find what keywords and terms people are already using to get to your site in Google Analytics.
Naming conventions refers to how your pages and files are organized in the URL, or how you name your site’s content and where you place it. Keyword-rich URLs are more effective in search than irrelevant terms or a gobbledygook string of numbers.
Consider the hierarchy, organization and sequence of your site’s content. On Georgia.gov, the path to Wilcox County is: georgia.gov/cities-counties/wilcox-county. If you read it backwards, you understand (without having to even see the page) that Wilcox is a county in Georgia.
Page titles have clout when it comes to SEO. Here is an example of a blog post from the Field Museum about how to identify a meteorite:
As mentioned above, search engines pay attention to the title of pages and blog posts. No one is looking for “node 34” in a search. If you have found a piece of rock in a crater that you are convinced must be a meteorite, you are going to search for “how to identify a meteorite.” The second option is more readable by humans (accessible) and has more page weight, meaning it will show up in the search list.
If you are on our platform, you don't have to worry about erroneously creating a blog post titled “node” because friendly urls are automatic. In your titles, be sure to use keywords and phrases.
Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. While originally used for biology, taxonomy is now widely used for information science as well. Yes, if you create or manage content, consider yourself an information scientist.
The big sites like Amazon rely heavily on taxonomy. By correctly tagging, categorizing and cross-referencing content, they are able to place related products or products you’d like in front of you.
You may not be the largest online mall, but you can still take advantage of taxonomy to organize your site, serve related content (topics) and even improve SEO.
Check out our Taxonomy User Manual for the basics of using taxonomy on our platform.
Keywords / Key Phrases
Using keywords and phrases is crucial to attract organic traffic to your site. Many times, keywords come naturally when you write about a topic. But all too often, agencies overlook commonly searched terms or other opportunities to relate to the information needs of their readers. A little keyword planning and research goes a long way to ensure that you’re using the best combination of words or phrases.
|Before Keywords||After Keywords|
Welcome To Consumer Ed!
Making a major purchase or using credit can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, especially if you're contemplating these decisions for the first time.
The Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Unit has designed this website as a comprehensive resource to help you make wise decisions — whether you're buying a car, getting your first house or apartment, applying for credit, or trying to manage your money.
Follow ConsumerEd to learn more about these important topics.
Consumer Ed is a service of the Consumer Protection Unit in Georgia.
Ask Ed a question about consumer laws in Georgia, and we'll post our answer on the site.
We've helped many people by answering questions relating to:
Whether you're applying for home loans, buying a car or you have a question about consumer rights in Georgia, we'd love to hear from you!
It’s important to keep the audience in mind. Since this agency is in Georgia, specify “Georgia” in the keyword terms. The more specific you are, the more likely people will find you. “Lemon laws in Georgia” has a better chance of being found than “buying a car.”
Predicting the reasons why someone comes to your site for help is a factor in determining keywords. If they are simply “buying a car,” they probably won’t be looking for Consumer Ed. However, if they just found out the used car they bought in Georgia doesn’t work, they will be searching for “consumer rights” or “lemon laws in georgia.” Those are the terms we want to capitalize on.
There are plenty of keyword research tools available online. However, for most state agencies, you don’t need to put too much time or money into keyword research. Having a clear understanding of the industry you operate in, who you help and the topics you cover are what’s most important to finding alternate words or phrases to help people find you.
Also, because you’re a state agency in Georgia, location is important too. When people are searching for help regarding legal or government information, they will likely need to know the specifics pertaining to their state government. The more local and specific you can be, the more likely you’ll be found.
Here is an example of how to blend locality with a specific topic pertaining to your industry. Feel free to use this template for expanding on keywords or keyword phrases that pertain to consumer questions in Georgia.
|Your Car||Buying a car in Georgia|
Car financing in Georgia
Buying used cars in Georgia
Lemon laws in Georgia
|Your Home||Home buyers in Georgia|
Refinancing a house in Georgia
Georgia Eviction laws
Renters rights in Georgia
|Your Money||Money management in Georgia|
Filing bankruptcy in Georgia
Apply for a VA loan in Georgia
Small business loans in Georgia
|Your Security||Your security in Georgia|
Identity theft in Georgia
Food safety laws in Georgia
As you can see, adding the location along with a specific topic will give you a better chance of ranking in organic search. You don’t have to go overboard with using the word “Georgia”, but it should be included frequently in blog posts and site page titles.
A large part of our content strategy at Digital Services Georgia involves being accessible. We believe that information, especially government information, should be easily seen and found by anyone including those with various disabilities. Keep in mind that having accessible content benefits everyone: young, old, disabled or not.
As far as your site’s infrastructure on our platform, we have many accessibility features baked into the framework, such as color contrast, fonts and screen reader functionality. However, making your website accessible doesn’t end with us. We depend on our agencies to keep their websites accessible with accessible content.
Tips For Keeping Content Accessible
- Structure your blog posts for better readability
Making content easy to scan and digest in small chunks helps readers decide if they want to keep reading. Keep blog posts concise and to the point. Break up chunks of text into small paragraphs no more than 4 or 5 sentences. Use headings as summaries to keep the message scannable. This not only helps those with cognitive impairments, but it’s also just good web etiquette.
- Use alternative text for images
Alternative text (Alt text) is picked up by screen readers for people who have low vision. Alt text can also be seen when images are disabled to save bandwidth. Relevant images in the body of a page need context. If you have an image that tells a story such as a graph, chart or a photo, it should be accessible. When adding an image on our platform, you will always have the option to include alt text. Keep it brief and accurate. Imagine describing your image to a friend over the phone or on the radio — what would you say about it?
- Name your files clearly
Take any chance you get to properly name your files. If you have a photo of a baby giraffe, your .jpg should read something like “baby-giraffe.jpg” and not “img_00067.jpg.” Not only are screen readers noticing this, but so are search engines (SEO). Any attached documents, images or other files on your site should have descriptive names.
- Avoid Countless Links
It’s okay to include links in your pages and blogs, but avoid being a “link list.” It’s annoying and overwhelms. Ironically, the homepage of Americans With Disabilities Act is a good example of what NOT to do on a homepage for those with disabilities.
According to Glenda Hyatt, author of the Blog Accessibility site, link lists are brutal for those using joysticks. “Immediately I am overwhelmed by the number of links on the page that is 10 screens long. I don’t know where to even place my joystick to get started. Or, if my hand is functioning poorly in that moment, navigating the 203 links with my keyboard is energy draining, time consuming and mind numbing,” says Glenda.
- Avoid auto-start on video or audio
It’s annoying for everyone. But if you have trouble seeing, or even if the video isn’t visually obvious at first glance, it’s downright frightening to enter a site that suddenly starts playing music. Multimedia is awesome, but please let the user control it.