by Erik Zoomers
Almost every organization has its own website these days and charities are no exception. As well as investing due time and care on the design and content of this site, it is also important to invest in finding and being found on the Internet. Although there are some hundred points which can and should be given attention if the organization’s ability to be found and its conversion rate are to be improved, the following ten occur very frequently. If you are responsible for marketing and communication they are certainly appropriate.
1. Look your organization’s website up in one of the search engines.
In most search engines you can find out which pages of your website are indexed. A search engine will look for results in its own database. If you are in this there is a chance that your website will also be shown as a search result. In Google you will find the indexed pages by typing in: site: www.apple.com. You will then see all links for www.mywebsite.com.
2. Click on a search result as if you are a potential visitor.
Search as described in tip 1. You will see a number of results. What does the title say? What does the description say? Now click on the link. Which page of the website do you come to? Does the content of this page match what is in the title and description?
3. Check the page titles of your web pages.
A page title gives the visitor support in using your website. Search engines value good titles which make the content of the page clear. Relevance counts.
4. Write content that is relevant to the visitor and not to yourself.
With a website you wish to provide information for a visitor who has shown interest. Keep it interesting for the visitor and definitely short, concise and active. Forget the fact that you know everything already and are familiar with specialised terms and other jargon for insiders.
5. Improve readability with a good layout.
Headlines and straplines quickly make a text more readable. Use the normal HTML tags as H1, H2 etc. for the headings.
6. Friendly URL’s.
Check the pages’ URLs. Do they look like this? /default.asp?mID=5888&rID=1. Or like this? /crossing-borders-in-fundraising.
So-called friendly URLs give the visitor support just like page titles do. This makes it easier for search engines to index the website.
7. Spend one hour per day improving your website.
Every day? Yes, every day. Marketing via a website is not a project but an ongoing day-by-day process, just like eating, drinking and sleeping.
8. Make sure you know what is happening on your website.
Keep your statistics together. Not so much those of the number of visitors, but rather the rate at which the number of visitors rises or falls. Where do the visitors enter the site? What do they see? Which search terms do they use? Which search engines do they use? From which point do they leave the website? Do they come back?
9. Find out why customers (donors) become customers (donors) via the website.
How did they arrive on the website? Via which search term and which search engine? What were they looking for? Which answer did they find? Did they become customers (donors) straight away or did they return several times before actually taking action?
10. Is it worth carrying out tips 1 to 9?
You may well think so. “Of course we want to be found via the search engines”. Yet this is actually only relevant if the expense in terms of time and energy is worthwhile output. What is valuable output for you and your organization? Therefore before starting anything, specify what the output must be for which internet activity. Describe the output and determine the customer (donor) value in the appropriate currency. Offset this against the costs you will incur by carrying out tips 1 to 9 and then make your choice.
Erik Zoomers is director of Websight internet bureau.