Decide on what your keywords/phrases should be
Your keywords/phrases should be what you think users would search for when looking for your website online.
Key-phrases work better than single keywords such as just your town or village name as they are more specific. Most people search using a phrase rather than a single word. Using a phrase will make your site stand out against the likes of Rightmove or Trip Advisor, who will often rank more highly for your town or village name as they are large commercial sites.
A good starting point would be the name of your council followed by town council or parish council eg ‘[yourcouncil] parish council’. If there are several town, parish or community councils with the same name, you would probably want to include the name of your county to differentiate from the other ones eg ‘[yourcouncil] town/parish/community council, Staffordshire’.
Optimise your homepage for your keywords
When you are writing the content for your homepage you should include your keywords or phrases. You should always use your key phrase at least once on your homepage.
There are certain places where your keywords are given more weight. These are:
Headings (always format your page using Heading 1, Heading 2 etc, rather than manually setting the sizes of text eg Bold, 14pt), as search engines prioritise the content of your web pages using the headings. If you are using WordPress you can find the heading settings under the Paragraph drop-down menu in the editing buttons along the top of your page.
The first words on the page – search engines such as Google give more weight to the very first words on the page, so it is a good idea to begin your homepage ‘[yourcouncil] is….’ .
Images – when you add images to your site you need to add an ‘alt tag’. This has a number of purposes, for example it will be shown to anyone who has images turned off in their browser or for visually impaired people using your site with screen readers, so it should be a description of the picture. It is also used by search engines, so it is a good idea to also include your keywords. A good alt tag description that works for accessibility and for search engines would be something like ‘[yourcouncil] parish council village fete’.
Optimise each page on your site for your keywords
You can optimise different pages on your site for different keywords – for example if you have a page about your village hall, you can optimise that page with the key phrase ‘[yourcouncil] village hall’.
Keep your content fresh with new posts
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” Google, 2017
It’s a good idea to add new content to your site as often as you have time. This not only helps with your search engine ranking, you will find that your visitors also like to find new information on the site and it will keep your visitors coming back.
Get incoming links to your site
Make sure your district and county council websites have a link to your site. You should also make sure that your local association for local councils adds a link to you.
If you have social media accounts you should have a link to your website as part of your profile. It’s also a good idea to link back to specific articles your publish. If you publish a post about your village fete, write something about it on your Facebook or Twitter page and include a link that goes back to your website.
If you have a page of links to other local businesses or organisations, you can get in touch with them and ask them to link back to your site.