Have you experienced pages on your website ranking inexplicably high and have no clue why? If so, then you’ve seen how that can make measuring your website success difficult. It’s time to focus on your association SEO efforts.

SEO is happening behind the scenes on your association’s website, whether you are planning for it or not. It seems like any search engine optimization would be a good thing. But you can’t replicate results if you have no idea how they happened in the first place.

Man looking at SEO chart

Having a digital marketing plan eliminates this guesswork. And when you have an SEO strategy in place, you target the right keywords for your web pages and get the results you want. In the end, SEO for associations is essential for any organization looking for digital marketing success, and here are 7 secrets for success

Optimizing for strategic keywords will also help decrease your bounce rates. You’ll attract visitors to your website interested in your organization and avoid visitors who landed there by accident.

Here are five reasons why associations must do SEO in 2020.

1. Google is the Web

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Google users conduct 3.5 billion searches a day. That’s a lot of people performing search queries multiple times per day for events, publications, resources and more. Some people call Google an “Answer Engine” instead of a search engine – and for good reason.

People also say that Google.com can be your association’s “other” home page. Why? Because sometimes a user can get the information they need from Google’s search engine results without clicking through to your site.

Listen to our “Anatomy of a Home Page” podcast to learn more about Google.com being your other home page.

Not having your website optimized for search would be like not having the right address number listed on the front of your house. It’s confusing, and people can’t find you. 

Potential members are looking for information on the web all day long. And they generally start with Google. Be there for them when they need you.

2. Your Content Management System (CMS) Isn’t Enough

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We commonly hear, “My CMS handles SEO for us.” It may be SEO-friendly, but it can’t do the heavy lifting.

Your CMS is not a substitute for SEO; your CMS is merely a piece of the puzzle. It can help make some things easier, but it can also cause its own issues such as case sensitive URLs and duplicate pages.  

CMS platforms can also be slow, outdated, and painful to update. Don’t bother with the hassle and risk making a mess. 

An agency (or trained staff member) will be much more efficient because they have expertise. They are in it day in and day out. They know what to look for and can fix any issues caused by your CMS.  

So take matters into your own hands. Start small by selecting the pages that matter most and optimize them first. Our advice is to hire a trained professional that can get your success quickly.

3. SEO is Not Just About Attracting New Members

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The main goal of optimizing your association’s website shouldn’t be to attract new members. 

Yes, it’s great if that is an outcome. But chances are, your members are the ones who are searching for solutions that you may already provide and are prime potential customers.

Search engine optimization is about providing quality content for your members. It’s about helping them do their jobs by giving them sound advice, resources, and support. 

For example, say one of your members is looking for resources on working remotely. They type in “remote work tips” in Google, and your association’s blog comes up on page one. 

They’re surprised because they didn’t know you offered advice on the subject. After reading the article, they search your website to find more information and find your other amazing content. 

It’s a no-brainer for them the next time membership renewal comes around. The value is there.

Your association cannot only relay your value to your members with SEO tactics, but it can also help your association monetize new services to members.

By analyzing page content in Google Analytics (GA) and keywords in Google Search Console (GSC), Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool, you can spot opportunities to help your members – and potentially generate more revenue for your organization in the process.

If you’re not currently thinking about your website this way – you should be. Consider starting a blog post and creating relevant content that will help your members in their day-to-day life on the job.

4. Association SEO Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

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SEO can seem daunting. We get it. The good news is that there is help out there to make it less complicated. There are a ton of online resources to help you become more educated on the subject. 

Even if you optimize a few pages on your site, you can generate traffic to your website and results quickly. When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s about the individual pages vs. the whole website.

Choosing to optimize more specific landing pages in favor of the homepage will help you see results faster.

This video by Neil Patel tells you how long it takes to rank. Spoiler alert: with the help of content marketing, high quality link building and social media marketing it can take as little as six weeks.

You should also think about optimizing for long-tail keywords. Remember, your acronym isn’t a keyword to optimize for. You will rank for that defacto. 

Long-tail keywords are words that are more specific and typically more words than other more commonly used terms. The more specific you can be with your keywords, the higher you’ll rank on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

Some simple tweaks to a few web pages and optimizing long-tail keywords can help your association get started on the right track.

5. You Can Outsource SEO Cost-Effectively

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It’s a common myth that outsourcing your SEO is expensive. There are basic, mid-range, and premium options for outsourcing like many other products or services.

You don’t have to use your existing website vendor either. There are specialized agencies that are experts in SEO. And sometimes an outside perspective can be good.

Your time is valuable. If you want the results SEO best practices brings, but don’t have the capacity or the knowledge to do it correctly, outsourcing is worth it. 

As far as marketing goes, search optimization is relatively inexpensive for the results it achieves. Think of it as an investment vs. a cost. 

It’s an investment with a high ROI because targeting site visitors will yield higher quality leads and clicks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of an SEO campaign. Either educate yourself on it or get someone else who has the experience and is up-to-date on the latest strategies to do it for you. You won’t regret the investment.

Association SEO is Here to Stay 

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Why can’t associations ignore SEO? Well, as we mentioned at the start, on-page SEO is working behind the scenes, whether you realize it or not. It can either help you achieve success or bring more confusion.

Your association can get more qualified leads and serve your current members better if you learn to harness SEO’s power. 

You can DIY-it or hire a professional if you want the job done more efficiently. Whichever route you take, it’s an investment that can move your association’s goals forward. SEO is a mid to long-term strategy that works.


Written by

Zachary Wilson

I enjoy reading & writing about the web and digital marketing. My day-to-day focuses on ensuring our clients have big wins. That begins with extraordinary website design and UX. The real exciting stuff is helping develop strategies to drive traffic (on-site page optimization) and help conversion rate optimization (getting new sales and / or customers). With all my “other” time, I enjoy exploring new adventures with my 3 daughters and wife.