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Marketing and the Web: How to get to the top of search engine results

The first part of this help sheet examined some of the benefits your community group or organisation can gain from having a good website, as well as some of the basic ways to attract people to it.

Some of those methods include:
  • Having a domain name that is similar or the same as your group's.
  • Advertising and cross-promoting your website through your group's other promotional vehicles – everything from newsletters to letterheads, posters, business cards and press releases, and.
  • Swapping links with websites run by your friends, members, associates, peak associations for your area of interest, local State or Federal Government sites or on-line community portals and directories.
Because websites are a form of 'pull marketing' means people have to come to you to find your group's message. Because of this, your group needs to make its message easy to find and easy to access.

This help sheet examines one of the most important ways to make sure your website draws in the "cyber-crowds" - and that is, getting your site to the top of the search engine search results.

Search Engines

With search engines, the aim should be to make sure your site is up near the top of the list, preferably on the first page, of a search through a search engine like Google, Yahoo, AltaVista or Lycos.

People who have never heard of you are not going to bother looking at your site unless it turns up reasonably near the top of their search engine lists. Ideally if people search for your name, what you focus on doing, or other linked subjects, issues or names, they should find your group's name and website at or near the top of their search.

To make sure that you feature prominently, there are five ways to make this happen.

1.    Don't hide your text

Although putting text in a picture format can look better, search engine "spiders" which "crawl" over the web and identify pages that match search criteria may not be able to pick up the text and your page won't be displayed in any search results.  

It is better to put captions on all your pictures and aim for a "spider-friendly" site.

2.    Metatags

Your site has several ways to say what you do. There's the domain name (www.yourgroup.com.au), there's the title, (which comes up as the heading in the search lists) and there's the often overlooked metatag or page description that is not displayed on screen.

If you've been typing your text into Microsoft Word and simply converting it into HTML and putting it up on your site, you haven't had to bother about them.

Metatags put in searchable words that don't appear in the visible text on the page.

This helps if:
  • You want people to come to your front page first, even though it has a lot of pictures and not much text, or
  • You want to get those words onto the search engine priority list.
Think of some keywords people may type in when searching for your group's page and note them – they can be included as metatags.

For example, a local football club could include their name, nickname, football league, home town, home ground, sponsor's name, names of star players and even its coach's name as metatags.

Talk to your Web programmer or the person designing your website about including some metatags.

3.    Links

Search engine Google ranks its pages on the basis of how many other pages link to them.

The more links your group's site has the higher up the search engine rankings your page will appear.

Think about looking for prospective "link-buddies". If you were one of your donors/members/users/supporters/friends, what sites would you frequent?

4.    Sign up

The web is huge and search engines may find it difficult to find you.

Some search engines send "spiders" out looking for websites to add to their index, but many do not. With between a quarter and half of all traffic to a site coming from search engine results, your group wants to be able to maximize its exposure through search engines.

One way of increasing your exposure is to sign up to the big search engines yourself by filling out the online forms for engines such as those listed earlier in this help sheet.

5.    Pay

Another option, though probably not one most community groups or not-for-profits will opt for, is to pay a search engine to move your site to the top (or near the top) of the list.

However, for community groups, this is probably not the best use of your money.

Then what?

Once you manage to get your site to the top of the heap, you need to make sure you hold people's interest and get them coming back to your site time and time again.

To do this, your group needs to manage its site's appearance and content. For more information on doing this, refer to the third help sheet in the Marketing your Group Online series - available by Clicking Here.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.

Our Community Pty Ltd   www.ourcommunity.com.au   ABN 24 094 608 705
National Headquarters: 51 Stanley St, West Melbourne Victoria 3003 Australia
(PO Box 354 North Melbourne 3051 Victoria)
Telephone (03) 9320 6800   Email service@ourcommunity.com.au