How to retool your association website for thought leadership
Every association wants to be top of mind among its membership. But what about prospective members? The media? Government? Associations must engage a broader audience to be recognized as thought leaders in their respective industries. The main portal between an association and its target audience is the association website.
However, when people look for information on the Web, they rarely go to a bookmarked site. Instead, their first stop – the trusty search engine.
To be top of mind, you have to be at the top of Google.
As Association Hub Expert Peter Wright explains in this brief preview video, it’s less about the aesthetics and user-friendliness of your site and more about your association’s rank on the SERPs (search engine results pages). It’s all about search engine optimization, or SEO.
“ A lot of associations refresh their websites over and over again, but all they do is change the look and the feel, or the navigation, and never actually make a real impact on the efficacy of their site,” says Wright. “ If they do a good job on SEO, Google will take visitors to the right place on their website.”
To get to the top of that mountain, you need a website strategy. This is where most associations struggle says Wright. It begins with some critical questions.
What are you trying to accomplish with this website? What are your objectives and how do you measure success? What are the different visitor segments that you want to attract to your website? “ Everybody” is often the knee-jerk response. But who are you actually targeting?
“Association management typically wants their current members to find useful and relevant information, and feel satisfied that they belong to a great association that knows everything about their industry,” says Wright. “They’re also trying to attract prospective members. Then you have the media. They want journalists to recognize their association as the voice of the industry and call them to comment on relevant topics. They also want government to contact them for industry insight and comments on particular legislation.”
Now, consider how you want each of these different visitor segments to interact with your association website.
“ For example, how you engage with existing members is twofold. You want to validate and retain their membership, but you also want to engage them more deeply, so that they give back to the association. Maybe they write something for the association website or help another member. The call to action is different for different target groups.”
Therefore the tactics are different for each visitor segment. The next step is to identify what each segment would be searching for on the Web.
Retool your association website to be found.
Wright provides an example. “If the media is searching for an opinion on what’s happening in the mining industry in Canada, then we help that industry association identify what words or phrases people are actually searching for, and then how to be found for those terms.”
Those terms are called keywords. Choosing your primary and secondary keywords is the single, most important step in retooling your website. (We’ll cover all 10 Steps to Retooling Your Website in upcoming articles.)
The right keywords and SEO optimization are just a sampling of the essential topics to be covered in a webinar on March 24. The free webinar is a prelude to a comprehensive workshop on April 23. Both events will be hosted by Peter Wright and fellow association consulting expert Jim Beretta.
Unlike most professional development forums, the Retooling Your Association Website: Maximize Your Website’s ROI Workshop is a unique program that encourages participating associations to send up to three staff members to work directly with the seminar hosts in on-site strategy sessions. At the end of the full-day event, your association website team will emerge with a sound strategy they can begin implementing right away.
For more information and to register, head to the CSAE site for details. Join more than 80 registrants already signed up for the live webinar.