We all know that Google loves new content and a blog can be a great way to continually create fresh content. Many companies find that a blog becomes an integral part of their overall SEO strategy to drive more search engine traffic and increase Page Rank. However, writing a blog post several times a month can get old over time.
Writer’s block? You betcha! The answer? Convince other people to get into the fun of content creation!
Sometimes employees are excited about this prospect, sometimes they need more motivation. So how can you motivate employees to write blog posts? Well, there are a variety of ways limited only by your imagination. One such way is to offer a contest where for a period of time you accept entries for best blog submission. Ideally, you should be able to collect enough entries from one contest to have blog material for several posts. You can offer a prize for the best submission, or perhaps the best submission in each category if you receive a large number of entries. Make sure to set criteria, it helps produce quality posts.
What criteria should you use to ensure good content? You might have to spend some time thinking about your goals setting a clear blog strategy to develop criteria that make sense for you. We’ll cover that in a follow-up blog post next week.
Prizes. Make the reward enough to be a true incentive, but not so much that it breaks the bank. Keep in mind that companies are spending big bucks on Search Engine Optimization and the SEO value of a current and quality blog is worth a lot more than a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks!
The prize can simply be cash or a gift card
A prized toy or fun item that can be used or displayed around the office. Rock’em Sock’em Robots or a quality motion-sensitive fart machine are classics and are always appreciated by your more sophisticated and mature co-workers! ;o)
A cheesy trophy can be fun.
Lunch with the CEO or a member of the senior staff to bestow a little recognition and thank you for your contribution. If you’ve been looking for the right time to chat them up about that raise or promotion you’ve been wanting, now’s your chance!
A free paid day off.
Hold a department versus department challenge to see which group can write the best blog post. Winner gets bragging rights plus a group celebration/reward.
Do a monthly contest for the best blog submission and record the winners each month. At the end of 6-12 months do a drawing from among those winners and they get a weekend vacation for two.
You can even use analytics to track how much traffic each blog post drives to deeper pages on your site and hold a contest around that!
As I said, the possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination. In the end, you should have enough quality blog posts that you will rarely have to worry about a languishing blog or lacking enough content to make your site interesting to search engines. Not bad for a bit of blog navel-gazing and some money for prizes.
During PubCon Vegas 2009, Matt Cutts hinted that Google will start considering page load time in their organic search ranking algorithm in 2010. Google already factors the time the pages on your site take to populate into its quality score, a metric used for Pay Per Click customers to reward higher quality sites with top placement and lower bid requirements. Search engines care about the speed of your site because fast load times improve the user’s experience and increases their productivity, something you should be concerned with as well if you hope for loyal customers.
Google is obsessed with speed. They have been not so secretly developing a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search, dubbed Google Caffeine, that aims to “push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.” Google does not, however, want to leave your site in the dust. In fact, they recommend several tools to improve your page load speed and thus the quality of your site.
Since 2006, Google Webmaster Tools has been offering up diagnostic information on your site such as crawl errors, checking robot.txt, and content issues. Now, under the Labs tab, Google has added a Site Performance page that delivers “information to improve the speed of your site and create a faster experience for your users.” Here you’ll find your average page load time, how it changes over time, and how it compares to other sites. You can also view suggestions on how to improve your site’s performance based on a tool called Page Speed.
Even though page load time has not traditionally been part of the natural search ranking equation, Google intends to factor speed into its organic search algorithm, and so you should factor it in to your SEO strategy. Google is doing its part to create a faster world wide web, but they need the help of webmasters, site owners, and webhosting services to usher in a higher standard of web surfing. With these new tools, now you can keep pace with search engine ingenuity and the demands of your site’s visitors and, ultimately, win the favor of both.
Google Social Search has gone live, literally. Now when you search for a topic, Google’s universal search results feature real-time updates from social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca , and Twitter, all of which have partnered with the search engine giant. So don’t be alarmed when you see tweets appearing the second they are posted amongst your web, news, blog, video, and image search results. Google says, “When they are relevant, we’ll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.” Below is an example of Google’s new search results.
If you’re not seeing these live social media updates in your Google search results, click on the “Show Options” link just below the Google search bar. An “All Results” column will appear to the left of your screen. In this column, click “Updates” and your results will be sorted to show the most recent social network updates on your searched topic in real-time.
Obviously, these live results work best for hot topics. Find out the most popular searches at that moment with Google Trends. Google just added a “Hot Topics” section to this search tool, which has recently graduated from Google Labs, that lists the most common topics people are currently publishing to the web. These new social search features from Google are likely an answer to Bing’s recent integration of live tweets in their search results. Google’s implementation of live search aggregates information from more sources and features detailed sorting options. These enhanced live search elements make it hard for Yahoo and Bing to gain ground on this constantly moving target.
No one can be certain of the effect social search will have on search engine marketing, but one thing will always be true. In order for a company to control its message and image online, they’ll need to have a presence in all facets of the internet that can appear in the search results. Today, that means engaging consumers on social networks and optimizing posts with trending keywords.
The dawn of a new search marketing era is upon us, marked by the rising glow emanating from Twitter deals between Microsoft’s Bing and soon after, Google. Providing real-time search results from social media outlets is a game changing addition to how people search and find information online and puts more pressure on the delicate interaction between brands and fans. Let’s see what this new era will look like and how your brand can take advantage of it.
The latest news in the integration of social media updates and organic search results is from Google with their Social Search. This is currently an experiment featured in Google Labs, but it scheduled to move to a full release after the holiday season. Google Social Search, still in beta, claims to “help you find relevant public web content from people in your social circle when you’re signed into your Google Account.” Your social circle is composed of your Gmail and Google Talk contacts as well as people you are connected with on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, FriendFeed, or whatever else you choose to add to your Google Profile. Even results from your extended social circle, or public connections of your connections, can appear in your search results, since Google finds it likely that you will know your friend’s friends or at least find them relevant. All this information is added to the bottom of your regular universal search results and creates a truly personalized search of the web for pertinent information on your query. For example, if you perform a Google search for “Happy Hour Austin,” a collection of opinions and musings from your friends’ Twitter and Facebook updates on the topic will all conveniently be presented in the search results.
Why should you take this new social search seriously? The biggest influence on purchase decisions comes from friends and the word of mouth they generate. Search engines are now making it easier to consult your friends before going out to eat, reading a book, or taking a vacation. This new landscape requires an approach that goes beyond traditional SEO. Marketers, more than ever, must be proactive in online social environments in order to positively impact their natural search rankings.
What can you do to be featured in social search results? Be active! Befriend more users on your current social networking sites and then engage in a conversation. Share entertaining and informative information targeted towards your growing audience(s) and try to include your researched keywords in your posts. By optimizing your social network updates with keywords from your on-page SEO and those with the highest search volumes each month, your updates are more likely to appear on social search results. If negative feedback comes up, respond directly to it and offer solutions. It is one of the best ways to combat and prevent negative press. Be transparent and don’t torture your friends and followers with spam. It’s not all about you or your brand anymore, so act like someone who deserves a fan. Finally, reward your social networking connections with exclusive product or service deals and contests. It’s a great way to generate positive brand buzz, attract new customers, and build brand loyalty.
The search marketing landscape has changed once again. By now you should know better than to fight the new, after all, “that Twitter fad” certainly hasn’t died out yet. In conclusion, embracing change and adapting is how your brand will weather the new climate. Start finding the time to be a presence online and revisit that Facebook fan page you built six months ago and forgot about. By the time Google Social Search has a full rollout, you’ll be ready and easy to find.
Here is a video with Matt Cutts on How Google Social Search Works:
Is the content on your site linkable? Does it need to be beefed up? Do you deserve to be ranked on the first page? No, yes, no? We’ll use Austin Restaurant Week to illustrate the idea behind creating sumptuous, linkable content to garner incoming links. Google is hungry and you need to feed it.
First, what is AustinRestaurantWeek? Between September 13th- 16th and September 20th – 23rd, those fortunate enough to be in Austin can visit a number of fine dining establishments to feast on a delicious menu set at an affordable fixed price, between $25 – $35. Call in a reservation to ensure you and your significant other a seat and eat up (if you’re looking for a date idea, I think this fits the bill perfectly)!
Second, how does this have anything to do with SEO and beefy content? Rewind to last night. I’m sitting in my living room nearly comatose from the pizza and football I’ve gorged myself on for the past few hours. Of course, my mind’s nose picks up the scent of Austin Restaurant Week and I head to the website. I click the links of two places I’ve not been to, Roaring Fork and Green Pastures Restaurant, and notice links to their respective menus:
Now, like I said, I’ve never been to the Roaring Fork and am making no assumptions about the quality of their dining. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard nothing but good things. When I mentioned this blog idea to a co-worker, she said, “Roaring Fork is one of my favs.”
However, looking at these twomenus, which one has you salivating? Which one has beefier content? Which menu would you rather link to? Which menu provides the most information about their offerings? I think the information provided in the Green Pastures Restaurant menu makes their food sound much more enticing – they didn’t even dress up the language with adjectives – and I’d be more inclined to link to their menu.
If I or a search engine only had the information provided by the menus, and could look at the popularity of each by way of incoming links, to determine the most relevant menu for a search term such as “austin fine dining” or “austin restaurants,” then who would likely rank in first position?
The same idea should drive your analysis of the content on your own site: if someone came across my site, would the information I’m providing them about “Software Development Life Cycle” be enough for them to link back to my site? If I visit a competitor’s website and notice they’re providing beefier content that likely attracts incoming links, then why should I be ranked ahead of them?
To summarize, be honest about the quality and/or quantity of the content on your site: Is it informative? Should more be added? But not simply added to attain a mythical keyword density. Is it linkable? Smoked salmon or The Upland Game Plate: Quail, Quail and Some More Quail? Serve your visitors with healthy portions of information.
And, in case you’re wondering, I’ll be making a trip to The Melting Pot tonight.
Brands influence purchases; there is really no argument about that. The art of advertising has paired a brand with a single adjective since the ads moved beyond basic product descriptions. For example: Coca-Cola=Classic, Gatorade=Quench, and Volvo=Safety. In today’s market, Google=Search and Bing=Decide. What would happen if brands were to disappear and only the bare bones, no glitz or glamour services and products were left behind? Michael Kordahi has provided the public with just that, a way to compare search results without the big three’s branding.
What is BlindSearch?
Kordahi has taken the famous Coke v Pepsi blind taste test and applied it to modern day technology. The introduction of BlindSearch has given Internet users the ability to search for results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo! without any branding or layout.
BlindSearch provides the results in three side by side columns with a voting button at the top of each. Each column represents results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo! The user is able to vote on the column which most closely matches their desired results. After voting, the buttons are replaced with the search engine logos to reveal which search engine’s results most closely matched your search. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t anything brand new. There are other search engine comparison sites out there. However, I found this one to be particularly blog worthy since the results are listed side by side rather than tabbed as in Zuula (not to mention a fun little test).
Why I’m writing about it
BlindSearch isn’t really a big deal per say. It is just a fun, quick way to see what search engine may be better for you without having a hundred experts telling you which one you should use. On the plus side, BlindSearch helps in beating out some lazy tendencies when doing deeper web research. Additionally, even if at a base level, it may be a helpful nudge to some users in considering other search alternatives in their every day routines.
In no way is BlindSearch a statistical tool that will be the end all be all of the search engine supremacy argument. Even if it was 100% effective, it could render the same results as the Coke v Pepsi test, in which Pepsi was more generally liked but Coke was still the dominating force in sales.
The first to clarify BlindSearch’s discrepancies is Kordahi with a clear disclaimer on the BlindSearch homepage.
“The system has many flaws that I know about already, the primary one of interest is the lack of localisation. So, all searches are going through the US as US searches. The other deficiency worth noting is that there is much missing from the actual experience of using these search engines eg, image thumbnails, suggestions, refine queries, etc.”
There are other arguments that can be made against the accuracy, relevancy, and even importance of this experiment.
First, it could be that modern search engines are already too much alike in terms of results. Search engines have begun to emulate the leaders, taking what is effective and applying it to their own engines.
A simple comparison could be described with handbags. Designer handbags are extremely popular, high end stores carry these high end bags. In order to provide an alternative, lower end stores emulate the designs, colors, and patterns and sell similar bags for a cheaper price. After a bit of time, knockoff purses are released that are identical to the high end originals and if done correctly, can rarely be told apart. Basically, the best was emulated, and now, even the competitors have a similar product.
A second argument is shown when viewing the top ten results. The list shows a fairly generic breath of search. None of the ten results show any type of long tail searches and therefore do not really replicate normal search. This could be in part to lazy testing and a desire to get a result as quickly as possible to “test” a user’s search engine preference. It could also be in part to the limited amount of data, only 600,000 queries to date.
Lastly, BlindSearch is a sort of site where users would try to get off the wall results and test the boundaries/parameters. The site is small and the audience is certainly a select sample.
Kordahi released the following results with roughly 8 weeks of data:
Google: 41%, Bing: 31%, Yahoo: 28%
Although an employee of Microsoft, Kordahi makes it abundantly clear that this project is not initiated by or affiliated with Microsoft.
The dust has begun to settle in the Microsoft/Yahoo! deal that took place last week. Now we can finally begin to see what it really means… or can we? This specific topic can be broken down and analyzed in a million different ways. The implications on SEO, ad space, search engine market share, user interface changes, budget constraints, layoffs, and the list goes on and on. For my sake, and for your sake, let us cut through the fat and see what this new deal means at a foundational level, cut and dry.
So… What just happened?
On July 29th, 4:55am Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo!, posted on the Yahoo! blog that they had just signed a major search deal with Microsoft. The deal entailed that Yahoo! will be giving up their search technology, paid listings and organic listings, and lease Microsoft’s as of 2010. If everything goes as planned, a full transition will happen by 2012. Yahoo! will continue running their Premium Search throughout this new deal.
Running search technology is costly, and rather than own it, Yahoo! felt it was an economical decision to lease Microsoft’s and concentrate on what they do best, be a portal. Essentially, by leasing search, Yahoo! is able to optimize what Bartz refers to as “properties” such as news, sports, finance, email, and messaging.
This approach has already caused some confusion. It is important to realize that although Bing will be running the back end of search for Yahoo!, the results will still be dressed up as Yahoo’s results. The only real difference is that the bottom of the results will say “Powered by Bing” or something along the same lines. It will be interesting to see how this is going to affect local search since both Yahoo! and Bing have their own Local pages.
Microsoft’s massive attack on Google really launched with the release of Bing. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I believe that Bing will be gnawing away at smaller search engine’s market share but will have a tough time taking on Google. The lease of their search technology to Yahoo! is yet another strategy to gain some ground, hence, Coopetition (Cooperation + Competition). Although Yahoo! and Bing are technically competing, they are joining forces to take on the powerhouse we know as Google. Think of it as a David v. Goliath situation where Yahoo! is the rock that Microsoft is throwing. As Bartz put it, the new deal will lead to better competition “Competition equals innovation. But with one player dominating 70% of search, that field has been pretty lopsided. This transaction will create a healthy competitor that’ll keep everyone on their toes.” It is certain that both Microsoft and Yahoo! believe that if they hope to succeed, they must work together.
Make no mistake of it, although Google has not radically changed their user interface or rubbed new features in our faces, they are still making headway. Just like Yahoo!, they offer applications that simplify every day life and constantly improve them through the use of Google Labs. Just recently, they removed the Beta label from their AdWords service, improved their “Show More Results” link, and launched a traditional advertising campaign to promote their apps. The latter of the three is a blatant response to Microsoft’s Bing campaign. Although we are not used to seeing Google use traditional forms of advertising, this clearly shows that Google is willing to adapt and mix it up to keep what is theirs.
Microsoft is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Google. In Microsoft’s defense, they are actually making some headway. However, overthrowing a competitor who holds 70% of the market share is no simple task, especially when that competitor is continually evolving in subtle but effective fashion. We can eternally dwell into the depth of this new deal and analyze every aspect of it. The bottom line is that Microsoft is following an aggressive attack plan on Google. As the two companies already established on Wednesday, they have “options” which means that many details are still to be determined. It truly is an unpredictable outcome. There are speculations and heavily weighted odds but one should never rule out any outcome. The tortoise has beaten the hare, the mouse has scared the elephant, and it’s possible that Bing could defeat Google.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company providing “facial-firming procedures,” will pay $300,000 in penalties and costs for publishing false reviews of the company and its procedures on the Internet. The company must also cease posting fake reviews and testimonials online and clearly disclose Internet content for which they are responsible.
Lifestyle Lift felt that negative online feedback had hurt its reputation, so the company launched an aggressive in-house brand management campaign. Employees were instructed to pose as satisfied customers on message boards and forums and to criticize or attempt to remove posts that were critical of Lifestyle Lift. The company also created several blogs and websites on which employees posted positive reviews. The sites did not disclose that they were run by Lifestyle Lift. (Examples of the reviews can be downloaded at http://www.oag.state.ny.us/bureaus/internet_bureau/pdfs/LifestyleLiftStories.pdf.)
The Lifestyle Lift settlement is the first case in the United States to address the issue of companies posing as consumers and posting false reviews of products or services, also known as “astroturfing.” This practice is an extreme tactic avoided by Apogee Search and (I hope) other reputable search marketers, but the Lifestyle Lift case has important implications for less aggressive brand management and search engine optimization campaigns.
Don’t forget advertising laws and regulations. Search marketing campaigns gone wrong can have consequences more dire and expensive than search engine penalties. Most companies are very aware that they must keep Federal Trade Commission, state, and local regulations in mind when advertising through traditional media, but some forget that advertising online is no different. Keep regulations in mind and be aware of what you can and cannot say when creating campaigns and messaging, particularly if your company does not have a legal department to review marketing materials.For more information, see “FTC Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” and general information on “truth-in-advertising laws” at http://www.business.gov/business-law/advertising-law/truth-in-advertising/. Certain products and services, especially those related to health and medicine, may also be subject to additional regulations.
Be transparent. Concealing your affiliation with a company during online marketing efforts can lead to a damaged reputation, embarrassment, and legal penalties in extreme cases like the Lifestyle Lift settlement. Some websites, particularly Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers, may also ban you and/or your IP address if you frequently endorse a product or service without disclosure.Always mention that you represent the company that you are endorsing when requesting links, commenting on blog posts, or posting in forums. This disclosure may cause some of your posts or comments to be taken down, but in the end, you will avoid potential fraud allegations and resentment from visitors who learn of the dishonesty. Disclosure is especially important on microsites and blogs; make it obvious that your company has a hand in the website.
Respond to negative feedback. Lifestyle Lift dealt with negative online feedback by trying to squash it. Instead, use negative feedback as an opportunity to communicate with your customers. Respond to negative posts on forums or blogs with apologies and attempts to rectify the situation (perhaps offer a gift card or advice for fixing a product). If these negative comments show up in search results, visitors will also see that your company cares enough to respond to dissatisfied customers. If your company has experienced a public relations nightmare and the Internet is flooded with negative comments, consider creating a microsite dedicated to telling your company’s side of the story (but remember to disclose that your company created the site!).Many companies are also using social media as an avenue for responding to negative feedback. Search Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets for negative comments about your company and respond directly to the posters with advice and/or offers of recompensation. Some companies have also setup Twitter accounts specifically for customer support questions. For examples of how some businesses are using Twitter to communicate with customers, see http://www.searchenginejournal.com/16-examples-of-huge-brands-using-twitter-for-business/7792/.
Create listings but not reviews on review sites. Listings on sites that allow users to leave reviews can generate traffic and word-of-mouth about your business. These sites are most effective for B2C establishments with physical locations. Some of the most popular review sites are Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google Local, and Citysearch.It is perfectly acceptable to list your business locations on these sites, but leave the reviews to the users. These websites can use IP addresses to determine if your company is reviewing itself, and this can lead to you being banned from the site. Also, if users realize that your employees are reviewing the company, this can lead to more damaging press than a negative review.
Ensure that everyone knows what can and cannot be said. Make sure that employees who might post online about the company know the rules of your marketing message. Reinforce that everyone should disclose their affiliation with the company when posting comments online. Employees may even want to refrain from leaving comments on review sites to avoid potential problems.
It is anything but a secret that today’s consumers rely heavily on the use of their smartphones to accomplish previously desktop dominated tasks. It can even be argued that the ease of use of mobile devices has overthrown its desktop counterpart as the weapon of choice for solving every day quandaries. The growing use of mobile smartphones has not been overlooked by Google and on Wednesday June 24th they made their search engine presence known once again with the beta release of Google AdSense for Mobile iPhone and Android Applications.
The release and refinement to come of this new and necessary form of reaching consumers impacts each party differently as well as provides new opportunities. Hitting users on the go with relative advertisements provides consumers with suggestions based on location and query while giving advertisers a healthy dose of impressions, if executed correctly.
A recent blog posting by Google VP of product management Susan Wojcicki reads, “[A]dvertisers are looking for ways to reach potential customers when they are engaged with mobile content, and application developers are looking for ways to show the best ads to their users,”
Advantages for Marketers:
At a glance, the benefits of being able to target consumers not only when they are at their home computers but also anytime they use their smartphones for web queries appear to be straight forward and quite simple. However, the benefits of this advancement provide advertisers with a snowball effect. Expanding an advertising campaign to full html smartphones gives advertisers an advantage that was previously unavailable, targeting their audience by keyword and geography while they are on the move.
Advertisers want to be able to reach consumers when they become engaged with mobile content. The growth of shops like iTunes app store, show an abundance of opportunities for qualified traffic since consumers are specifically searching for a subject matter. Providing advertisers with one more medium to reach consumers brings forth the potential to tap into more qualified leads. In turn, advertiser can experience increased click through rate and gain more impressions based on location.
Google’s Adsense for Mobile Marketers information page goes on to describe their own take on marketer benefits in which they focus on five main points:
Use the new platform, keep a familiar process
Google’s AdSense for Mobile Applications offers marketers the familiar AdWords interface, goal tracking with Google Analytics, and the banner ad format.
Reach customers on the go to maximize your ROI
Mobile Internet users are often close to the point of sale, and high-end device users are some of the most engaged targets.
Join the innovation of apps
Ad placements are all above the fold, so advertisers have steady interactions with users in the apps they use every day.
Send traffic where you want
Send traffic to mobile or web landing pages, or promote your own apps by sending clicks directly to the iTunes App Store or Android Market.
Deliver to your target audience
Target specific applications, locations, categories, or keywords to reach your target audience.
…as well as Developers/Consumers:
Marketers are not the only party that is in line to benefit from Google’s new release. Developers and website owners are able to make a few easy bucks by merely putting Adsense on a marketer’s service. Additionally, consumers will benefit from seeing relevant advertisements based on their location and query much like they do at home.
Only two weeks have passed since the clearly beta release of Google has left me continually scratching my head. As described by Advertising Age, links with certain titles such as “University of Kentucky” directs users “to a Hewlett Packard page with information about student discounts for HP computers,” leaving users at pages that are not only irrelevant but also not mobile friendly OR flash enabled (neither iPhone or Google’s Android supports Flash).
Additionally, it appears as though many marketers are not aware that they are getting impressions via mobile devices. Google’s service is currently running in conjunction with PC web unless the marketer opts out of mobile advertising. As a result, some marketers are paying for double the clicks. According to Google spokesman Eric Obenzinger, marketers received a letter last year indicating the change and the ability to opt out.
We are no strangers to Google’s constant efforts to be the first to develop new web advances. Although it has problems, I believe that AdSense Mobile will work out all of its kinks and target consumers as efficiently as its desktop counterpart once it is out of beta. The only problem with that is figuring out when Google will move past beta testing, whether it is five plus years (Gmail) or fourteen weeks (Chrome Browser).
In this week’s edition of SEO Odds & Ends, I’m shifting gears into the nonprofit SEO space. I came across Liberty Hill Foundation’s website and found their slogan to be impressive–”30 Years of Change, Not Charity.” As a fan of participating in change instead of throwing money at problems, this spoke to me and I thought I’d help out.
First off, there is a great resource online for any nonprofit out there–a charity version of SEO Book. With 25 chapters, I must admit I haven’t combed through it all, but if you have the time, it gives a lot of great SEO information tailored to nonprofits.
As with many nonprofits, marketing in general gets put on the back burner, because money could be better spent on making things happen rather than getting a shiny website, right? That seems to be the case with Liberty Hill, as well. Here are the top tips I’d start with for their site:
1. Create a specific page for each of the organization’s issues.
Even if it seems that the issues cross over a lot, create each page to be as different as possible, and then link between similar pages. A well-optimized site involves giving the search engines a single page for each idea your organization (and website) represents.
For Liberty Hill, initiatives related to developing a green economy and promoting environmental justice are extremely important. There are multiple pages about this, including the 2009 Environmental Agenda “Turn Green to Gold”, a donor page explaining what Environmental Justice is, and finally, a grant seekers page describes the funds available.
To organize the site a bit more from a search engine perspective, first, organize the group’s initiatives into a category such as “Liberty Hill Issues,” then add specific pages with descriptive content for Environmental Justice, Gay/Lesbian Rights, etc., third, add links on the Environmental Justice page to the Donors, Grant Seekers, and Media/Press pages devoted to this topic.
Pick keywords for each issue your organization represents, and optimize your tags for those terms.
For the Environmental Justice issue, there isn’t much search volume for many terms beyond “California Environmental Justice” and “Los Angeles Environmental Justice.” Therefore, creating a title tag using this code would probably be be the best option:
<title>Environmental Justice | Los
| Liberty Hill Foundation</title>
On the Liberty Hill Blog, there are several stories about undocumented students and the hardships they face–keywords such as “Scholarships For Undocumented Students” and “Undocumented Students in California” would be good options to target on the primary site.
Use variations of your keywords within the content on each page of your site.
Often adding a city name plus the primary keywords for a page is a good start.
Within the content of the page, use variations of this broad term by starting with “Environmental Justice” and adding the following words: “solution(s),” “project(s),” “action,” “group.” Always focus on making the content readable and relevant to your readers, optimization is a second priority.
Liberty Hill is pleased to announce our new grantmaking program, the Fund for Change…Liberty Hill will hold two webinars and four community workshops across Los Angeles to introduce our new grantmaking program.
An optimized phrase from an SEO perspective would be:
Liberty Hill is pleased to announce our new Environmental Justice project, the Fund for Change…Liberty Hill will hold two webinars and four community workshops in conjunction with various Los Angeles Environmental Justice groups to announce our new grantmaking program.
Ask for links from your donors and grant recipients!
The single most valuable thing for a website to have in order to have better visibility in the search engines is links! Get more links! This, of course, can be an extremely time consuming process, hence its inclusion at the bottom of this list.
When donors inquire about giving money or resources, mention to them that simply adding a link to the Liberty Hill Foundation from a donor company’s website, the donor’s personal blog, or even their Facebook page would help you out. Ask them to link to the particular issue on Liberty Hill’s website that is of interest to them, as oppposed to the homepage.
Require that recipients of grants mention the Liberty Hill Foundation website through a post or a link of some sort! If they’ve received $20,000, a link from their site to the grant site shouldn’t be a major effort for them.
SEO is an ongoing process–do what you can when redesigning a website or when there are specks of free time, but don’t ignore it entirely! A little bit of effort each week (or month!) is better than none.
If you have specific questions for your nonprofit, please ask them in the comments below.