It’s been said that the best place to hide a body is on page two of Google search results.
That makes me chuckle because, who clicks on search results past page one? OK, a few people do (me included), but for the most part, Google has become so good at returning highly relevant search results that 75% of people will never scroll past page one.
If your key audiences and customers can’t find you, then your organization won’t survive. People have to know you exist and be moved to engage with you.
Taking out a Yellow Pages ad or, say, renting a billboard works today if your organization or event is truly only local. Still, it’s very difficult to measure who saw that ad or billboard and especially who took action because they saw your ad or billboard. Not knowing how many people saw it and then were prompted to buy from you or walk through your doors or become a supporter, how do you justify the spend? (Though once in a while, that may not even matter.)
In 2015, more than 3 billion people are on the Internet. And they are searching–social networks, email, search engines, apps and more. They want information and they want to connect and be part of a tribe.
It doesn’t matter where you’re located in the world, the Internet helps us connect, belong and buy. Far more people have the opportunity to find you and engage with you when your organization has an Internet strategy.
But with all these people searching and all these results and no one scrolling past page one of search results, how can your mission, ministry or Christian-based company get found?
Here are 10 things your organization can do to get found:
1. Publish Content. Content is fuel to Google’s fire. It’s how Google finds you and shows you to the rest of the searching world. When you create content that is right up your key audiences’ alley and rightly addresses their pain points, and you publish it frequently, Google and other search engines like Bing will give priority to that content so it can be found more easily. Consider these few ways of publishing content on your website:
- Create a Blog. The one you’re reading is an example </shameless plug>.
- Curate Relevant Content from Other Sources. Think “magazine,” right on your site. Curate both content you create as well as content from other sources, all around a specific theme.
- Showcase Video. Video is an excellent tool for sharing stories and evoking emotion. Video can be funny or moving. But above all, it should be relatable and inspiring so that people want to share it and are persuaded to action.
- Do a Podcast. Interview customers, members or supporters or feature experts on a particular subject.
2. Be Active in Social Media. When your organization has active social media accounts (“active,” meaning you are regularly posting and interacting with people), search engines will show that in search results. In other words, when someone searches for your organization in Google, the results will show your website, anywhere your organization has been mentioned in the media (more on that below) and all of your social media accounts. It gives you credibility and shows that you have a strong online presence and web strategy. People want to be part of a mission, a ministry, that is active and engaged. Here are a few ways to use social media:
- Leverage User-Generated Content. Borrowing an example from the consumer electronics industry, check out GoPro. The company makes the customer the hero of its story. Just look at the company’s Instagram feed. Encourage your audience to share your content, and then highlight them for doing so. A few ideas: Give them plenty of opportunities to show what it’s like to attend your church or use your product or serve alongside you in mission or raise money for your mission. User-generated content is a good way to rally people around a cause.
- Use a Specific Hashtag. Hashtags are prevalent across social media networks these days. They provide a means for people to easily find your content because they are searchable. I like to use the hashtag #GetFoundGiveHope. No one else uses it so it’s a way to find content from this site, and it’s fairly easy to remember. Pick 1-3 hashtags, specific to your organization, that you can use consistently across social media networks. The idea is to make your presence on social media easily found. So, you’ll want to use a hashtag people can remember and use consistently.
- Share (Really Good) Content. Find and share content that adds a multitude of value to your audiences’ lives.
- Respond to and Engage People. When people share your content, be sure to thank them! Call them out when they share your content. Talk back to people when they talk to you, as much as you’re able to. Be real to people. Show them that you’re listening. (But a word of caution: Steer clear of arguments on social media. It just leads to no good. Some people just want to argue. You have my permission to ignore those people. Engage the rest.)
3. Implement SEO. SEO or “search engine optimization” is a process that impacts the visibility of a website in search engines. An example: If you type “organizations that fight human trafficking” into Google, the first few results at the very top with the “Ad” icon next to them are paid search ads. Companies paid for those results to be there based on the search phrase. The remaining results are “organic” listings that appear because of the SEO implemented on their websites. Organizations that haven’t implemented any type of SEO on their site aren’t very likely to appear.
Here are a couple of ways to implement organic SEO on your site (I’ll talk more about paid SEO later):
- Do Keyword Research. This will uncover what your key audiences searching for. Google Adwords is a good place to start. Other keyword tools include Keyword.io and Ubersuggest. Also, do your own search across different browsers for keyword phrases you think you want to rank for. Scroll to the very bottom of the results page and look at the section titled “Searches related to…” and you’ll get a few ideas of similar phrases people search. These might give you additional ideas for keywords to try ranking for.
- Look at Technical SEO. For this, you may need a webmaster or experienced SEO expert to help. But it’s something that really can’t be ignored. These back-end things matter to Google:
- Make sure your website link structure is on par
- Make sure your code is correct
- Make sure your site loads quickly (use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or GTmetrix)
- Make sure your site looks good on mobile (use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool)
- Make sure you’ve submitted a sitemap to Google Search Console. There is more, but these are really good places to start.
4. Do Email Marketing. When I give someone my email address, to me, that’s almost like giving them my social security number. I won’t give it unless really necessary. And then I want it to be treated gently and carefully. I won’t hesitate to unsubscribe from a mailing list if I feel like the privilege of having my email address has been abused (not that it’s anything special; I just don’t want to be spammed). Give your email subscribers so much value that not only will they be glad they gave you their email address, but they’ll also regularly open your emails and maybe even share them—or at least the content within—to other people. Then maybe those people will subscribe to your email list and start opening and sharing your emails. When done right, email marketing is one of the most effective ways for organizations to get found.
5. Do Media Relations. If your organization is quoted or written about in the media, it can offer a wealth of third-party credibility. When someone searches Google for your organization, media articles that mention your organization will be among the first results that appear. I have spent the last almost 20 years doing media relations for mobile tech companies. I know how valuable it is as a brand awareness and SEO tactic. If your organization can speak to the media authoritatively on a topic, your PR specialist can pitch that to the right journalist. If the journalist is interested, perhaps he or she will interview you, and it will turn into a story.
6. Contribute Articles. This is a similar tactic to Media Relations. If your organization can speak authoritatively on a topic, your PR specialist can identify the right media outlet that fits your organization and accepts article contributions. If you can write an article on that topic and have your PR person submit it to the media outlet, its publication can offer much good brand awareness and SEO value. It’s a strong way to help you get found.
7. Invest in Sponsored Social Media Posts. More and more, people are using social networks as search engines. This is particularly true for Facebook. Yet, in order for your social media posts to be seen by more and targeted audiences, putting some money behind a post is the best way to go. Facebook in particular, though not cheap, offers very good targeting tools so that the right people see your post. Develop a stellar social media post with a very clear call to action. Then sponsor that post, whether via Twitter, Facebook or other network.
8. Conduct Blogger Outreach. Blogger outreach (also called influencer marketing) is when an organization works with a blogger who has an established audience to get them to write about the organization or its mission. The blogger will almost always require a fee or at least something in exchange for writing about the organization. But the benefit of having an established blogger write about a mission is extremely effective. It can mean new sponsors, new champions and a wealth of SEO value.
9. Start a YouTube Channel. YouTube has become one of the largest search engines, possibly even the second largest. If you produce a lot of video, having a YouTube channel is now a “must” in terms of getting found.
10. Sign up for Google My Business. This is kind of like today’s version of the Yellow Pages. It allows your organization to showcase its phone number, address, operating hours and for mobile users, will enable them to easily access driving directions.
Last, please be sure you’re regularly checking your analytics—Google Analytics, social media analytics, email analytics and more—to see how well these tactics are helping your organization get found.
I’ve seen over and again businesses fail because they didn’t have an Internet strategy. Ask honestly: can your mission survive without one?
Think about just one tactic you can feasibly do today to help your organization get found online. Maybe you’re already doing some of these things. Maybe none of them. Perhaps you’re doing it all and want to do more. What is just ONE thing you can feasibly start doing now that will move your organization forward in terms of getting found?