How visible is your agency’s website?
By Rose Reinert
Happy Monday, everyone! This week, we look at Chapter 18 of Lon Safko’s “The Social Media Bible” focusing on Search Engine Optimization. This week’s chapter resonated with me greatly because I had just dealt with it at work!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated practice, but a very simple concept. In a nutshell, SEO is the way to impact the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine, in a natural, unpaid way. The benefits are obvious . . . when someone searches for you or what you do, you want to be on the list and on the first page.
I experienced this first-hand!
Over a year ago, I started as the Community Outreach Liaison for an area non-profit serving the medical and dental needs of all, regardless of the ability to pay. Our website had a lot of heart behind it, but it was clear we could use a make-over!
So, we did just that.
We discovered, if you jumped on Google or Yahoo and typed in, “pediatric dental Medicaid” that our site we would not pop up! Why? Because we had not a one page dedicated to our dental clinic.
It is still an ongoing process as we continue to focus on our content (e.g. the words we use and how we would want to have people find us).
If you want people to find your website, start by looking at your website and seeing what is in the content. Include key phrases that describe your organization and what you do. The best way to impact your SEO is to pay attention to your content and ensure it is current.
If you want to learn more about SEO, you will want to pick-up a copy of The Social Media Bible and devour chapter 18. Here are a few additional resources I suggest checking out online:
- Joanne Fritz at about.com: “Simple SEO for Nonprofit Writers — 12 Tips“
- The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University: “10 Tips to SEO Your Website on a Shoestring“
- LunaMetrics: “How Non-Profits Can Use a Blog to Improve SEO“
Last week, my friends at Network for Good sent me their weekly eNewsletter with links to all sorts of good things. One of the links took me to an article by Caryn Stein titled “10 Amazing Nonprofit Websites“. With a few free minutes on my hands, the headline was like a fishing lure, and I was hooked. I wanted to know:
- Who are those agencies?
- What made their websites “amazing”?
- What do those sites look like?
The following images are the front pages from three of the ten non-profit webpages highlighted by Caryn. As you scroll down, I encourage you to take a good look because I think there is a common thread running through all these home pages.
What did you see? As you scrolled through these three website homepages, what went running through your head?
For me, it was the pictures that captured my attention. I found myself thinking:
- Who are those people?
- What is their story?
- How did the agency help them?
- Is there a happy ending?
It has been said millions of times that a picture is worth a thousand words. Since a webpage packed with lots of verbiage has been proven by SEO experts to chase people away, then why wouldn’t you use as many pictures as possible to pull people into your agency’s story?
Last week, I introduced you to Christopher Davenport’s storytelling resources and his book “Nonprofit Storytelling for Board Members“. Starting on page 10, Christopher introduces the concept of “The 4 C’s of Storytelling,” which are:
I won’t expound on these ideas because you’re really supposed to go buy his book. (Disclaimer — I am not affiliated with Christopher Davenport and do not profit from your purchase of his products.)
However, I bring up the 4 C’s because the three websites from the Network for Good eNewsletter article remind me of how much one picture on your website can do when it comes to the four elements of storytelling. After all, doesn’t the picture essentially introduce the character? Doesn’t the image also initially create a connection and get you wondering about the conflict and potential resolution?
Of course, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology. So, the moral to today’s story isn’t as simple as “go add some pictures to your agency’s website“.
Lenka Istvanova wrote a great post titled “How to Increase Traffic To Your Website With The Help Of Images” at Koozai blog. She goes into great detail about:
- Alt Tag
- File Name
- Image Size
- XML and Image Sitemap
As I said, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology, online marketing and ePhilanthropy. My best advice to non-techie people is to: 1) fight through the urge to give up and 2) hire employees and recruit volunteers who are techies to help you.
One final note . . . a few months ago a non-profit executive director friend of mine was contacted by a company claiming that her agency used a picture on their website that didn’t belong to them. Not only did it not belong to them, but there was no photo credit. This honest mistake by an employee cost the agency thousands of dollars in fines.
Does your non-profit organization make effective use of images on your website? Are you pulling people into your agency’s story? After capturing their attention, where are you taking them and how are you telling your story (e.g. YouTube video, article with more pictures, etc)? How are you using images on your website to enhance SEO? Where are you finding your images and ensuring you aren’t violating copyright laws?
Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC