I do a lot of work with nonprofit organizations along with our commercial clients. A hurdle I’m constantly facing with the NPOs is informing them of the value of optimizing their websites. Add to that the reality that many NPOs face a regular change in staff (particularly those who manage the NPO websites), and you can probably already guess the scenerio ( a true one) I’m about to share.
A nonprofit administrator once recognized the value of ranking organically in search engines. She contacted us several years ago and entered into a 12 month contract. Within those 12 months, we developed new sites for the NPO and optimized their existing site. Traffic went from a mere 100-200 visits per month (which is actually average for this type of client) to a whopping 16,000 + visits per month. Their websites ranked at the top of Google on many long tail searches within the 100 mile radius where they served.
Let’s skip forward a couple years. After the nonprofit’s initial 12 month contract expired, we continued to provide services to them on a pro bono basis (I hate seeing hard work go to a waste, and these continuing services were minimal but intended to keep their web presence strong). Administrators came and went at the nonprofit, and there arose a leader who did not understand how they arrived at where they were. Abundant web traffic and leads and community recognition was taken for granted. The new focus for the NPO’s web related projects became simplicity: how to manage our websites with minimal work.
And so they discovered a free flash based website program (begins with W and is three letters long, ending with X) and began the rapid transition and consolidation of their websites to W_X. I was concerned, yet I didn’t know exactly how to approach the situation. So, I gave a warning which was inevitably unheeded. The learning curve that existed was huge, and there didn’t appear to be any interest in acknowledging that the learning curve was there or that it needed to be minimized.
Now, the nonprofit has several W_X powered flash websites. Their high traffic websites are gone as is their organic ranking. Soon, they’ll be back to the 100-200 visits per month. Someday, another NPO admin may arise who will wonder why donations, community recognition and clients have trimmed to a trickle. And then the whole process may arise again – but, this time, it might not be so easy to get back to the top.
Don’t let this unoptimization process happen to you. You can turn your nonprofit’s web presence into a powerhouse for affecting change. But it will take work and lots of it. This particular nonprofit just sat back while the traffic poured through the fire hydrant hose of the web and didn’t know what to do with it. Because they didn’t perceive the value, they didn’t know the ramifications of shutting that traffic off. Yes, you can get serious about your web presence; but, you’ll have to work hard to keep it.
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