Monday, November 23, 2020

by Michael Magnus

When our daughter was 4 years old, her response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey was “I want to give away my drawings to help the little babies whose houses got hurt.” We shared her story online, posted some pictures, and in two days she raised over $600 with her art to send diapers down to Houston. This sweet sentiment continued after her first fundraiser, and because of the foundation of her philanthropy, Pictures Helping People.

Now, three years in, we realize a fundamental mistake that we made in supporting her big heart; we only used social media to share the story. It took us three years to get around to putting together a website for her. And, why is that a problem? Lost potential.

  

Link Building 101

There is a marketing discipline called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which consists of strategies and tactics to rank higher for certain phrases on Google. There are a lot of moving pieces to SEO, but one of the more simple things you can do to help potential donors or clients discover your services is to get more links back to your website.

Links from Facebook and other user content sites aren’t taken into account in Google’s algorithm; however, a link from a news story or another page can go a long way in helping rank higher for key search terms relevant to your organization.

In the case of Pictures Helping People, a cute kid with an uplifting story to share garnered more media attention than we were really prepared for. Our daughter was featured multiple times on local news stations, radio stations, newspapers, and also appeared on NBCLearn in partnership with Red Nose Day in 2018. These stories evolved into articles on Parent Toolkit and more. We were, and continue to be, extremely proud of our daughter and her servant heart.

Unfortunately, since we hadn’t created a website for her (after all, why would a kid need a website?), we missed the opportunity to have those links direct back to a source that would have gone on to help her support even more people as she continued to fundraise for those in need with her drawings, paintings, and crafts. Fortunately, by the time we did finally get around to it, she was old enough to be able to help design her own website.

But Aren’t Websites Expensive and Time-Consuming?

In theory, they can be. Hiring a designer to build a site, deciphering hosting options, creating content, and so on can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. If you are managing an established organization, it may be worth that effort.

However, if you’re getting started and want something simple, inexpensive, and DIY, know that there are website builders out there that substantially lower the barrier for entry. For a fairly nominal investment of time and money, you can use some of these “drag and drop” designer templates to quickly pull together a starter site that you can be proud of. This also gives a place to link all of your mentions as people begin talking more about your organization and services so that you can start building “search equity” in Google and other search engines.

Think of your website as your online catalog that doesn’t require printing or storage, people can find it on their own, and you don’t need to have any fancy design programs to create something that looks good. The technology has been simplified to the point that we no longer have an excuse not to do a better job telling our story online.

Michael Magnus is a digital marketing lecturer and principal consultant at Magnus Opus, focused on championing measurable storytelling in both aspects of his professional life.

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