Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the position of your website in search engine rankings.
The Wild Apricot platform has been designed to be search engine friendly so that content of your site will easily be read and indexed by search engine crawlers, whatever account plan you use. Even so, there are a number of things you can do to optimize your site's rankings. These include:
- Make your site interesting and relevant to your target audience.
- Update your site regularly.
- Persuade other related sites to link to it.
- Use a custom domain name rather than a wildapricot.org subdomain.
- Set your traffic encryption to Always so that all your pages are viewed using HTTPS rather than HTTP. Google ranks encrypted/secured pages higher than unencrypted/unsecured ones. If you're using a custom domain, make sure your site has a security certificate installed before changing your encryption settings.
- Assign custom URLs to your pages using relevant keywords (e.g. Typography for a typography forum).
- Use meta-tags to define site keywords that match search strings your target audience is likely to use. Keywords should be broad enough to attract a wide range of visitors but not so general that your site gets lost in the crowd. For example, if you set up a site for the International Association of Typographers, you might use targeted keywords like "typographers association", "typeface designers", and "font designers" (along with obvious ones like "typography" and "typographers") but avoid generic ones like "association" and "international".
- Set custom page titles that incorporate your keywords without overloading them (a practice known as keyword stuffing that gets penalized by search engines). For the International Association of Typographers, you might want to title the home page "IAT - association for typographers, typeface designers, font designers, and other typography professionals".
- Create a sitemap file and submit it to Google. You can create a sitemap.xml file using a sitemap generator, then upload the file to your Wild Apricot site from the Files screen. After uploading the file, you can right click over it within the Files screen, choose the Properties option, and copy its full URL, which you can then submit to Google.