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Get Your Non-Profit Online: Pt 3 – Driving Traffic to Your Site

This post continues the Get Your Non-Profit Online for under $125 series. Start here.

Now that your site is up and running, you might be wondering, “Why isn’t anyone visiting my site?” Well, the simple answer is, they don’t know about it!

It is the goal of this post to give you some tools for declaring your website’s presence on the web and driving more visitors to visit it. The goal is to expose your website (and your message) to a broad audience and seek to continue to produce new visitors, repeat visitors and site conversions (no, not evangelism, but we’ll get to this later in this post).

Part 1 – Hey Google! I’m here!

Submitting your site to search engines for review is not difficult at all, and is the first step to getting your site indexed and found by searches. This means we give search engines a heads up, they send their robots to scan your page and save it in their indexing for future searches.

Submit your website to Google by visiting http://google.com/addurl. Do not pay anyone to submit your site to search engines for you. Some of these services could save you some legwork, but many of them will try to sell you something else and some are even outright scams.

Another way to raise your profile with Google is to submit a sitemap. If you use a sitemap plugin for WordPress, you should create a Google Webmaster account and submit your sitemap there.

Part 2 – Link Up!

The most important factor in your PageRank (this is Google’s semi-mysterious web page rating) is the number of links back to your website on the internet. If you have a new domain name, this means you’re starting from scratch. If you had a previous site, make sure you use proper tools to preserve old links to your site by forwarding them too relevant content or to your home page. The Redirection plugin for WordPress will help you with this after reviewing existing links to your site through Google’s webmaster tools.

Building links to your site is hard. For the purposes of this article, we’ll say – don’t ever pay for backlinks. Great ways to build backlinks are to ask people in your community to link to you, add yourself to free, relevant directories such as DMOZ, connect to your website from personal profiles in the various social networks you belong to.

Part 3 – Get Social!

Yep, social media is here to stay, and the good news is that you can make it work to your website’s advantage. The goal of engaging social media (as far as your website is concerned) is to republish content or links back to your site through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

WordPress automatically produces an RSS Feed of your blog content. This handy feature makes it easy to republish your blog content automatically (read: no effort). And every bit of content republished by you through social networks is a possibility for one of your connections to republish it to their contacts. That’s can turn into an exponential opportunity for exposure. Keep in mind, people only republish that which is interesting or valuable.

Your WordPress site feed address is simply http://yourdomainname.com/feed.  Use services like TwitterFeed or plugins like Twitter Tools and follow Facebook’s instructions to get going.

Part 4 – Tell Everyone!

Now that you have a great website and it should be easy for people to find, don’t forget to tell people to visit it. This seems painfully obvious, but in order to build repeat visitors to your site, it is vitally important to use email blasts, printed reminders and personal invites to come back to the site. Repeat this invitation ad nauseam and track your website usage statistics to see what is effective.

Hopefully these posts have gotten your organization to a place where you feel good about your website and instead of focusing on the design, you can now focus on producing interesting and valuable content to engage your visitors. And don’t forget, your website exists to further the mission of your organization, not just to develop high traffic patterns. Consistently evaluate the time and resources you put into your web presence versus the perceived benefit to your mission.

Good luck and happy websiting! (new word, just for you)

-scott @ fourtencreative