We already wrote about how to advertise your crowdfunding web site. One thing is to let people know about your web site, the other is to let search engines know about it and present it in the best possible way. In this article we'll go through how CrowdfundHQ supports search engine optimization (SEO).
1. Organic search
Maybe the best way of marketing your site is through organic search engine traffic. This is when people search online using Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and other search engines, and enters your site because they found you right there on in the search results. The reason why this is so important, is that the quality of such traffic is higher since the user is actively searching for a site like yours. You want your site to be shown on the very first page of the search results, so how do you do that with CrowdfundHQ?
2. Your domain name is important
First of all, choose a good domain name. The domain name isn't just a name, it's also a huge part of what the search engines use to determine the relevance of your site in searches. The words in your domain name directly affects your rank in search results. If your domain name is "strawberries-is-a-must.com", then anyone searching for "strawberries is a must" will likely find your site. Keep in mind though, if a lot of other people has similar names, you might not be ranked as high as them, and your site will be less visible. Long names are harder to remember and short names may be more catchy, so there's always a trade-off here.
The second part of your domain name, the ".com", also matters. ".com" sites tend to be ranked higher for searches done in English and especially the United States. If your crowdfunding site is based in Spain and is mainly for Spanish users, you might want to choose a domain name that ends in ".es" instead, since that will rank higher in Spain.
3. Web master tools
Google, Bing and Yahoo has something called "web master tools". One of the first things you should do after deciding on your domain name is to tell the search engines that your site is live. It may take a few weeks before they add your site, so do this as soon as possible. Our marketing docs on search engine tools explains where to find them.
With web master tools you can submit your domain, and also your sitemap, which tells the search engines about the structure of your site. The sitemap for your CrowdfundHQ site is found at http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml, and should be added as well. To update your sitemap manually, go to Manage Site > Configuration > Settings > Sitemap & RSS feed and click Update Sitemap. This will be done automatically for you every time you save a campaign. We also notify both Google and Bing automatically every time your sitemap changes.
Explore web master tools, there's lots of things to do there. You can see who's linking to your site, and delete links that no longer exist to optimize.
If your domain is not .com but you still want it to be appear in search results outside your country, remember to tell web master tools about it, or it will be restricted to the country of your domain.
4. Site title
After you domain name, the most important thing for getting a good search engine rank is your site title. The site title is what the users see in the search result (the blue link) and in the web browser tab, but is also used by the search engines for ranking your page. The different search engines use the title a little differently, but generally the title should be between 100 and 160 characters and contain key phrases that accurately describes your site. If it's too long, it won't be shown in the search result, but the engines may still use it for determining relevance in searches. If you use simple key words or key phrases that are not relevant for your site, you might draw in more users, but they will leave quickly when they see that your site is not what they were searching for, so keep this in mind.
You can experiment with searches and key phrases that will both draw in lots of people and keep them from leaving. Web master tools will show you which keywords people used to land at your site. Use that to tweak your site title and monitor the bounce rate and number of hits to measure the effect. To set you site title, go to Manage Site > Configuration > Site Title.
5. Meta description
The meta description is an HTML tag that describes the pages on your site. The meta description is built right into CrowdfundHQ, and is what you see in the search results below the blue link. The search engines does not use this for ranking your page, it's only for humans to read. If you don't set your own meta descriptions, the search engines will generate it from your site's content, but it's recommended to write it yourself to be sure that they are relevant. Use key phrases and readable sentences instead of just keywords, remember, this text is what may persuade the searchers to actually enter your site, so the same thing applies for relevance, don't overdo it, just tell them what the site or page is about. You are looking for conversion, meaning people that contribute, not just hits.
To set you site's meta description, go to Manage Site > Configuration > Settings > Meta Description. The campaign page will have automatically generated meta descriptions, but you can set your meta description for all your pages as well. The search engines like it if every page has a different meta description. Go to Manage Site > Pages and select your page. For each page that is visible on your site, scroll down to fill in the meta description and hit Save. To see how it really looks, try searching for your site or page, hopefully you'll be able to see for yourself what your users see.
6. More page rank fields
The search engines will also look for the H1 and H2 tags, as well as page content for words to index. It is important that you think about the words you use, as well as keeping them consistent throughout the site. For example, the search engines distinguish between singular and plural of words, should you write "Campaigns" or "Campaign"? Or maybe both? Use web master tools and analytics to measure the effect of what you do, or use specialized software like the Google Keyword planner. Key phrases in the header tags (H1, H2, H3) may be more important than the content, so write descriptive but readable titles everywhere.
CrowdfundHQ has built in support for the H1 and H2 tags through the tagline just below the header of your crowdfunding site. To set your tagline title and subtitle, go to Manage Site > Configuration > Settings > Tagline Title / Subtitle
7. Set up your own blog
In addition to creating the static pages on your site, the easiest way to create content is to set up your own blog. Search engines love sites with original content that updates often.
At the moment, CrowdfundHQ does not have a separate blogging engine built in, though it's on the road map, but you can add your own blog in (at least) two different ways.
- Set up a subdomain for your blog (for example http://blog.yoursite.com), and use a different host like Wordpress or Blogger. If you apply the same styles to the blog as on your crowdfunding site, the experience for the users will almost be seamless, except that the user would maybe need a separate login to add comments. This depends on the software you will be using.
- Use the Pages (as in go to Manage Site > Pages) and create a new page for each blog post, or do several posts on the same pages. Be careful to not have too much content to load, as users don't like to wait too long.
The content on your blog will be indexed by the search engines and will be searcheable by your potential users. Make other people and sites link to your articles for even better ranks, or even better, become an authority on what your site is about, and people will come to your site just to read your posts. Get people talking about it too, have news sites link use your articles for reference, people and search engines alike like high quality content. Don't just write something, share your unique knowledge instead.
8. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an amazing tool for analyzing how you site is doing. Not only is it 100% free, but it can tell you everything you need about your users: how many hits you get, how they arrived at your site, when, who they are, how long time they spend, enter and exit pages, and lots more. It's everything from a hit counter to a super advanced statistics tool and how to use it is an article in itself, but you can find info on how to use it online and as online courses, for example at Lynda.com.
Go to Google Analytics to set up your account. To integrate with CrowdfundHQ, go to Manage Site > Configuration > Sharing > Google Analytics Tracking ID and input the ID from your Analytics account. Within a few hours, you will see that you have hits on your crowdfunding site.
9. Social Media
CrowdfundHQ integrates your campaigns directly with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sharing on social media can give an incredible boost to your traffic if it's something that your users love. If your content is good, it might "go viral" and you'll see thousands of hits in a very short time. It is sometimes hard to predict exactly what people will like though, but social media marketing really works.