Sunday, February 17, 2008

Making Google Work For You

For organizations that already have a solid web presence - meaning a site that explains the mission and vision of the organization in a compelling way and also encourages supporters to provide their contact information and donate to your cause - the next step is to find a way to bring more people to your site.

Begin by typing in some keywords about your organization into Google. The higher your website is on the list of search results for your keywords, the more visitors your site is likely to get. If your organization is dedicated to serving homeless children in New York, type "homeless children New York" into the search engine and see what happens. Is your organization on the first page of the results? Most people don't navigate beyond Google's first page, so if you want to connect with those searching for organizations like yours, what can you do to appear higher in the results?
  1. Search Engine Optimization. Sometimes you'll hear this referred to as SEO in the tech world. This is essentially a series of steps you can take to make sure that search engines can read and catalogue your site easily. Many companies offer SEO services for a fee, but you can probably make many of the changes yourself.
  2. Keep your content fresh. Search engines consider recent information more important than old information. Keep your site updated, read and comment on blogs in your sector, and publish press releases, journal articles and studies regularly to be sure your organization appears in as many new online locations as possible.
  3. Encourage connections. The more places on the internet that link back to your site, the higher your search engines rankings will be. Encourage connections by giving people something to talk about - and a place to do it. Social networking sites create satellite outposts for your organization throughout the web - allowing you to alert supporters to newly published press releases, journal articles, studies and other tidbits of information as they're available on your site. As those supporters discuss and distribute new news, their links back to your site will increase your search engine standings.
  4. Advertise on Google. If your search placement still isn't ideal, consider advertising. Google offers grants to nonprofits who would like to appear in the paid search results that appear at the top and right-hand side of search results.
Have other ideas? Share them in the comments section below!

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