If you have been directed to this page it is probably because your website has been published and the development work is either complete, or nearing completion.
What I have provided
The following guide is just an opinion on how to handle the propagation of your site to your target market. There are many ways of doing this, and you can spend a lot of money doing this through a third party. The approach below is targeted at the local charity with little to no budget, so it assumes that you are spending nothing except time in doing this and perhaps a few phone calls.
The following steps will have been taken by myself in the late stages of developing the site and publishing it under your domain name.
- Site map generation
- Registering with Google and Bing search engines
- Google Analytics account set up
- Useful Links page creation
- Social Media*
The first two items are processes which firstly create an index of the content of your website in a series of files that are held on the server and used by search engines when they visit your site. The importance of registering with Bing and Google ensures that these search engines visit your site and learn about the content on the site. Once this process is completed you will start to appear in searches on the Internet.
The site map generation is also automatic once it is configured, and every time you add something Bing and Google will be invited back to re-index your site.
Google Analytics will tell you how many site visits there are, where people are looking, how long for, how many bounces there are (people arriving and leaving from the same page). It used to be a lot better 12 months ago, now the statistics are affected by referral spam, so you need to look in a little more detail to see what is going on, however this is your quality control check to make sure you are being found on the internet.
The Useful Links page is there as a resource on your site to guide your users to similar or related content. If people know it is there, then they may come back. It is also there so you can network with other groups, and hopefully get some of those groups to network with you. More on this when I get to Back Links.
For those that have opted for the newsletter integrated into their website, this is of particular value because you are encouraging people interested in your message to subscribe to your site. This gives you a database of email addresses and names that one should reasonably expect to be within your target market. They would include for example; potential funders, donors, clients, volunteers and supporters.
If you create news items at least once a month, then with the newsletter plugin you can create a newsletter based on the content of your site (with particular reference to the news page) and send this out to your database. Some of those people will return to the site to read the expanded version of the news items.
Here the key point is you are pulling people back to your site. If you don’t have a newsletter you are relying on people either locating you following a search, or that they happened to drop by. This is why a newsletter is a very valuable asset in generating leads and legitimate visitors to your site.
This will either be a connection to Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, or share buttons or something similar. People tend to engage at different levels in this area dependent on the work their charity is engaged in. The most successful charities (the ones that are engaging their audience) are the ones that utilise a Facebook Group page and/or Twitter.
However from a demographics point of view, you will find that using Facebook and Twitter will help you to reach another group of people that you may not have reached just via your website. This is the reason why it is useful to consider Social Media, however it comes at a cost, because in order to engage that audience you need to put some effort into updating your facebook page and sending out tweets. You or your staff/ volunteers may not have the time.
So you have all of the ingredients for success but that is not enough. There are some things you need to do.
I have written about or verbally told this to every group I work with. However, even a year later not everyone bothers to take action and it follows that not everyone is where they should be in a Google Search. It is largely for this reason that I am creating this article.
Two weeks after the launch of your website Google and Bing should have noted your site’s details. Google is the most important search engine, as it is the one most people use. Bing is of secondary importance.
Open your browser and go to Google.co.uk and enter the name of your organisation in the browser search box.
I am going to use Home-Start Derby in this example. They have a website at homestartderby.org.uk
This is what I get back
At the top is the parent organisation Home-Start UK. They have listings for Home-Start Derby. Clicking on the icon “Website” this takes you to their site.
If you are not at the top, examine who is. In this case it is Home-Start UK (the parent organisation). First thing to check is your listing on Home-Start UK, are your details correct? It is surprising that in some cases they are not. Make sure your website address is correct and added to any entry and make sure your telephone number and email address is also correct.
The first 10 entries
As you review what comes back from Google, if you are not at the top, then examine all of the entries that are not direct to your site including the ones below your entry.
We covered the parent organisation case above, next we look to see who knows about you. If you searched for Home-Start Derby (note this is not the website address, just the entity name), then you may find other references to the organisation.
These might be newspaper or web based articles, community sites featuring something about you, they may be directories in their own right, or organisations that present financial information about your entity.
In each case follow the first 10 links and make sure that in each case they carry your web address, correct postal address, email address and telephone number. The most important of these is the web address followed by the email address (if the email address includes your domain name). If your organisation is new to the web, you may find they are missing.
Never pay for listings
If you find an entry following a search refers to you, but does not include your web address, contact them and ask if they would be kind enough to add the details in. If someone asks you for money to do this, thank them, but move on to the next one. For every charitable group I have worked with, none of them (as far as I am aware) have paid for their listing in Google, but they are all at the top on page 1.
This is achieved through backlinks. This is a link from someone else’s site BACK to yours. They are very important.
Do I need SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Do you need a full engineered approach to SEO? I don’t think so, the costs are generally high, and I am not convinced for small local charitable organisations the benefits outweigh the costs. A lot of people will contact you offering to provide it for £150/ month. If you see this there is probably a scam going on somewhere.
Just make sure that your site accurately represents what you do and how you do it. Look after backlinks they are the next most important aspect of being found.
Facebook and Twitter
Some people are unwilling to embrace it, but I think that you definitely need it to propagate your presence and reach as many people as you can. From my research there is a different demographic that uses social media, so you might not reach them if you only have a website. However if you do use Facebook and Twitter, place links on them back to your website. This is another example of how to create a backlink to your site.
Create your own Web
Another useful strategy particularly useful to charities with branch or regional offices is to connect them together through your website. For the most recent Home-Start sites I have created a map and included the Home-Start organisations adjacent to the office. This means that anyone landing on a Home-Start site in say Hampshire, can see the other offices around, and perhaps one is more local and better able to meet their needs (see this page).
If you provide a link to another satellite office, call them ask them to reciprocate. If you do this you will be mutually supporting each other, it is another backlink for you.
Useful Links page
Most of the sites I have created feature a Useful Links page. Particularly for local organisations you may be pointing to from your site, contact them and ask if they would also provide a link back to you. Again this is mutually beneficial and keeps you local as well.
Changes in Google Search Algorithm
I have read a couple of articles on the latest innovation in the Google Search Engine process. They are beginning to use artificial intelligence to analyse search requests and come up with better matches on content. This appears to be a method to try to work around the SEO specialists who artificially try to bump up a website in the search listing by manipulating the content.
Help, I still need help
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