Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a worthwhile task to consider incorporating into your website design plan; but can also be a complex mistress to master. SEO is a multi-faceted endeavor that most people erroneously skip, due to its apparent complexity, and the lack of good roadmap to run with.

Here – we’re going to attempt to give you a basic, general working roadmap to follow, as you work your way through the process. The first thing to understand is that SEO is generally to be approached as a non-static, ongoing, long term project, to be employed over the course of the lifetime of your website. That being said; it also doesn’t need to be an arduous endeavor. Common sense applies; if your website is more static than dynamic: you’ll need to do less SEO work than those with dynamic sites. The focus of the roadmap will be to take current SEO principals and apply them to a specific case scenario: being District and Blue Lodge websites. These sites, in theory; should share common SEO considerations, and will probably lean to slightly more static content than dynamic when measured.

The first task – is to make sure that we’re all on the same page; so please feel free to refer to the site-wide GLOSSARY herein to help ensure we all are speaking the same language as we move together through the process.

The search engine community is now divided as to the value of what we will deal with here; which is website meta-data information. Some claim they have no value, others that they are central, while many simply conclude there is no clear answer but, since they do no harm, they use them just in case. The major search engines state they do currently support them. The concept is important to us because; simply stated: meta-data elements provide information about the web page, which are used by search engines to help categorize the page correctly, which are therefore the tools we use to ensure our content ranks well in search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for our websites, and the content we provide in/on them. If you subscribe to the worthless theory – then – if for no other reason; metadata will help with archiving and directory categorization in ODP, and other major systems, as well as in the SERPS – it will help describe relevancy for the searchers… Therefore; after all is said and done – we ascribe to the worth-wile theory.

Given we’ve established a baseline for our SEO practices; it’s now time to apply some of the practical theory. These will hopefully turn into your consistent best practices, and are based on what we understand to be current. These are important considerations to employ, because when potential members search locally for us – they need to find us – within the correct local jurisdiction(s) they are searching from. Since search engines now widely employ geography into their SERPs, the additional consideration of relevant local SEO information is important.

First we’ll deal with keywords. We’ve done some initial research and have found suggested keywords that are relevant, AND rank in current US “global” SERPs. These suggestions – used in combination with other relevant keywords which stress location, and content (…up to the established limits…), should do a good job of localizing your website, and getting decent rankings in the local SERPs. These are our results from Google at the time of this writing(…other engines will have different results…):

Keyword                                                             Competition                                          Local Searches

fraternity                                                             1                                                           22200

masonry                                                              8                                                           18090

brotherhood                                                        27                                                          9900

freemasonry                                                         2                                                           8100

free and accepted masons                                   38                                                         720

masons

Second; we’ll deal with descriptions. Depending upon the page / post content – the description should reflect the subject matter of the content – but NOT be an exact copy of the content itself… no matter how tempting it may be to do so. If at all possible – try to include relevant subject keywords that match content –or- keywords -or- both; using correct grammar and complete sentences. Stay away from colloquial or slang language. Grammatically this may be taxing, so don’t be upset if it is not possible. The more important concept is to be accurate in your description of the content.

Third; we’ll cover links. For many reasons, it is important to have RELEVANT links going both from your site, and to your site… So it would be wise to CONSIDER placing links to concordant bodies, and other districts, and other Blue lodges on your site, as well as have backlinks from those same sites – pointing back to your site. On balance – the backlinks are slightly more valuable than your forward links to others – but both are factors that search engines consider when calculating their SERPs. The ability of you to place outbound links is fully under your control – while getting a backlink (inbound link) from another site might take some work – and is never guaranteed. The combination of “quality” outbound and inbound links from / to your site are collectively contributing to your “link juice”. The definition of what makes up quality is not subjective – but yet is not 100% known (search engines always change their algorythms) . Suffice to say – the page rank (yet another SEO factor) of your backlinks is still a contributing factor. What this means is – try and get backlinks from sites that already have an established presence, and rank well in SERPs for the keywords you are targeting. This can be daunting – and messy – because it has both subjective and objective components. Our suggestion is stick with sites within the jurisdiction first, then expand your linking as you learn more about the complex factors that make up a quality backlink over time.

In conclusion; SEO is a complex set of factors and work to implement – but taken item by item; over time – it can be done effectively. If you need any assistance – feel free to contact us.

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