Many local organizations invest time, energy and money to build a website, but just how visible is your website in the infinite space of the internet? With the small staff and smaller budgets of non-profits, web developers need to be strategic, and generating a lively and engaging webpage is only part of the battle. In this article, we will explore the various opportunities and tools that are available to optimize your web presence.
Secure Your Domain
When building a website, often the first challenge is deciding on a domain name. Selecting a domain name is very important because it will become a part of your organization’s identity. Something that is simple,easy to remember and representative of your organization’s name works best, but may not always be available. When checking for the availability of your desired domain name, you will also want to consider the various extensions (ie. .com,.org, .net, etc.), and alternative spellings.
Once you have decided on one or more appropriate domain(s), lock it down! It costs about $10 to register your domain for a year, and the cost can be reduced if you pay more than one year at a time. It is well worth the estimated $100 to secure your domain names for the next decade.
Metadata is like a card catalog for web browsers that matches search queries to keywords built into the web-language. Therefore, if someone enters a search query of “Museums near Anywhere, NY,” your museum may appear first. Work with your graphic designer and identify a set of keywords that could be associated with your organization, and be wary of Search Engine Optimizer SPAM mail.
The average U.S. Internet user spends more time on Facebook than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon combined. Websites tend to be static, with regular but not daily updates. Social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, create new opportunities for you to create a dialogue with your audience, and learn what they are thinking to drive traffic to your website.
Collaborations and Cross-Links
Local and region chambers, county tourism promotion agencies and multi-regional organizations create great opportunities for collaborations and cross-linking. Learn about regional and multi-regional partnerships in your area, such as Erie Canalway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Corridors, Mohawk Towpath, Seaway Trail and Lakes to Locks Passage. Lakes to Locks Passage, for example, offers free user-generated web-listings under 40+ categories on their Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website, with unlimited capacity for text and media to make the information rich and compelling. (www.lakestolocks.org)
Google Adwords Grants
Is your organization a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit agency? You may consider applying for a Google Adwords Grant. When Google users search on keywords related to your organization, your ad appears next to relevant Google search results under the Sponsored Links sections. A click on your ad takes users directly to your website. Instead of looking for an audience, you' have an audience looking for you. (www.google.com/grants/#)
Review and Assess
Setting benchmarks and goals for your website is a great wayto demonstrate impact and keep on task. This means that you have to be aware ofwhere you started, and where you are going. Google Analytics is a free tool formeasuring web traffic, links that refer people to your website and locationdata about the visitor. Utilize this information, and take a strategic approachto developing web-traffic. (www.google.com/analytics/)