BASIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION FOR PARANORMAL SOCIETIES
Many paranormal societies have the same problem: they have a group of dedicated, skilled investigators, but few clients. They are unable to advertise via traditional avenues because of cost, so they build a basic website for the society. However, after some time they realize that they are in the same predicament as before. No one can find their site, and the search engines are pretending they don’t exist. What can be done to remedy this?
You need to optimize your site for the search engines. Although Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a daunting task, there are some basic things that you can do to increase your site's visibility. To begin, first think of this: if a person went to Google and was looking for what it is you offer, what do you think they would type in to find you? If a person needed assistance with a paranormal problem, and they lived in Anytown, USA, it would be realistic for them to type in "Anytown Paranormal Society", "Paranormal Society in Anytown", "Anytown Ghost Hunters", etc. Write down a few phrases that you come up with. These are the phrases for which you will probably want to be the #1 result.
Now, everyone wants to be the #1 result for the term "Ghost Hunters", or "Paranormal Investigators", or even "Ghosts". Impossible? No, but it would require massive amounts of SEO and time. Basic SEO is about being realistic, and not getting greedy. Narrow it down, focus your efforts to something more specific.
Two effective ways of narrowing it down would be by geographic area ("Anytown Paranormal Investigators"), or by specialty ("Demonic Possession in Children"). By utilizing such a strategy, you will be optimizing your site for the general term (Paranormal Investigators) as well, because it is part of the narrowed term (Anytown Paranormal Investigators). Besides, most people who are using the internet to search for services, be it from a mechanic, caterer, jeweler, or paranormal society, will search by geographic area. They want to find local people who can help them quickly; they are not going to be interested in finding someone located 1,200 miles away.
Making it Happen
So how do you go about optimizing your site for the search engines? Let's focus on two main components of SEO: content, and links.
You will want to create keyword rich content on your site. To do this, you must first identify your keywords and keyphrases. Take those terms and continually work them into the text of your site. Sometimes it can be difficult, but there are always ways to get those words and phrases into your content. For example, if your targeted keyphrase is "Anytown Paranormal Investigators", you could put the following on your site:
"XYZ Paranormal is a team of Anytown Paranormal Investigators..."
Create a blog, write articles….do whatever you can to increase the content on your site. Just remember, your content is still primarily intended to be read by a human, so be sure that it would make sense to a human reader. You do not want to overload your text with the same keywords, otherwise it will not make sense, and the search engines may penalize your site. One aspect of the Google algorithm to identify sites using blackhat techniques (an SEO term meaning techniques meant to trick the search engines) is to check keyword density. If one word or phrase appears too often in your content, your site can be penalized, or banned altogether. Currently, the recommended amount of times any particular phrase or word should appear on a page is about 7%, or 7 times out of every 100 words. That number is not written in stone, however, so exceeding it on some pages should not be a problem.
Linking is huge in the SEO world, and you will want as many as you can get. Now when it comes to linking, I am referring to incoming links, or those that point to your site. Your search engine ranking can actually suffer from having too many outgoing links on your site. So before you link to another site from your own, try to get a reciprocal link back from them. If you can't get a reciprocal link, then ask yourself if it's really necessary to have that outgoing link. Usually a few outgoing links that are not reciprocated won't hurt you, but it's always worth asking for a back link.
It's also not just the amount of links you get, but the quality of those links. The best links you can get are from sites that are both relevant to your what it is you are doing, and from sites that are in good standing with the search engines (which means don't try to get links from link farms or other sites that have questionable content).
Luckily, the world of paranormal investigation is rife with lots of good people who will gladly exchange links with you. Ask other societies in your area or region to exchange links, ask mediums, paranormal radio stations, paranormal equipment dealers, etc. You will be surprised at how many people will agree to a link exchange.
What else can you do?
Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing project for any site. By following the simple steps outlined above, your site will be well on its way to competing for the prime spots atop the search engine results.
William Wilkens, Jr. is the founder of ParanormalSocieties.com, and the owner of Wilkens Development - Website Design, Development, and SEO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.