June 30, 2009

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site

Search Engine Optimization isn’t black magic, so get your site to shape up

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzLocal

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Most people treat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as black magic. While there are unethical methods to inflate your search engine rankings — cloaking, doorways pages, link farms, “google bombing,” dupe content poisoning, keyword stuffing, and so forth — these tactics are short-lived and can even get you banned. Folks who employ these tricks (also known as “black hat SEOs”) are in a cat-and-mouse war with search engines, as loopholes are being exploited, found and closed.

Most experts will tell you not to play this risky game — your long-term strategy is to write lots of good content. If it’s good for humans, it’s good for robots. And much of what SEOs charge for is good old-fashioned webmastering.

So ask yourself these questions:

1Is your code clean? Run it through validator.w3.org and see. Search engines are finicky and fragile. Cut and paste whole content blocks and paste them into the search box to see if they’re being indexed.

2Does your site load fast? Check average load times with free external monitoring services, like host-tracker.com and spyfu.com. Could your images be reduced in size? Optimize your code to run faster and cache where possible. You want pages to load in under one second for an average connection.

3Are you using dynamic pages? Do your urls have question marks or equal signs in them ( www.mysite.org/?sessionid=123&contentid=3456 , etc…)? You can typically have one or two variables in the url, but it’s best to have static pages where you can. Descriptive urls are better for the user and can result in portions of your url being bolded (a good thing) when they match terms in the user’s search. CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) and CMS (Content Management System) vendors such as GetActive/Convio and Joomla have issues with dynamic urls but are working to make their packages SEO-friendly.

4Do you have a Flash landing page? Or perhaps Flash navigation? Search engines cannot see beyond flash, as they look only at text. Do it in CSS. Use the Lynx browser or do a “view source” to get an idea of what search engines see. Don’t put up brick walls to search engines.

5Do you have multiple versions of your homepage? For example, http://www.mysite.org and http://mysite.org), which is also known as the “canonical” issue. To prevent diluting your rank, choose one version and permanently redirect all others to that one. See Matt Cutts’ advice.

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June 30, 2009

How Convio uses social media

How Convio uses social media from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaThe name Convio is a well-known brand in the nonprofit sector. The company offers online fundraising and marketing software and donor database and CMS solutions to its more than 1,200 nonprofit clients, ranging from a seven-person nonprofit with remote staff to large institutions like the Humane Society and American Cancer Society. (Yep, you have to be a nonprofi.)

At the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco I caught up with Jordan Viator, interactive communications manager for Convio. Jordan heads up their social media efforts, much of it through their Connection Cafe blog.

In this 6-minute video, Jordan talks about Austin-based Convio and how it uses social media.

Watch or embed video on Vimeo
Watch video in beautiful H.264 QuickTime on Ourmedia
Download video from Archive.org

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June 29, 2009

Tweetcamp: Online network moves to offline community

Amy Sample WardThis past Saturday, I participated in an experiment: Tweetcamp! The combination of a Tweetup and a BarCamp.  (Those links are to definitions!)  What this created was a chance for people who use Twitter to come together offline to create community. There is no agenda to the conference as it is co-created by the participants throughout the day.  It is for the community, by the community, all thanks originally to Twitter.

n2thinktankThis month’s Net2 Think Tank asks: How do real-world (offline) events fit into social media conversations and campaigns?

I think that my reflections about Tweetcamp are an excellent fit to answer this question!  And I hope they help you think about the way your organization uses opportunities online and offline to create community.

What worked?

Cross-section of participants: It was great to turn up to an event and have every person I talked to have a different line a work, a different reason for using social media tools, and a unique goal for what they wanted to get out of the day.  One way to accomplish this is to ensure you have a diverse set of organizers – you will tap into networks that do, eventually, overlap, but the influencers you target will push a great diversity of participants toward the event.

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June 29, 2009

NPtech + causes + open source + social media

JD LasicaAs part of our silo-busting effort at Socialbrite, we’ll be showcasing cool technologies that haven’t received enough attention in the nonprofit and social change worlds. So here’s a one-minute video, announcing the launch of Socialbrite, that I created last night on Animoto:

Introducing Socialbrite.org. Nonprofit tech + Causes + Open source + Social media.

We’re using it at the top of our Media Center.

Check out Animoto: They’re doing amazing things with a very small staff. You can try out a few remixes for free, and choose from music and images on their site; after that, it’s 3 bucks a video or $30 a year.

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June 29, 2009

Socialbrite releases Creative Commons plug-in

Esteban Panzeri

JD LasicaWe’re happy to launch today with the news that our lead developer, Esteban Panzeri (above), is releasing a new WordPress plug-in to the WordPress community. It’s called Creative Commons Reloaded, and it lets individual blogs or group blogs assign Creative Commons licenses on a post-by-post basis.

That’s especially useful at sites like Socialbrite, where some of us (me, Beth, Ken) release our works under a CC Attribution license, while others (Amy, John, Katrin) use a CC Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike license. Creative Commons lets you fine-tune your copyright, allowing others to reuse it as you specify.

I asked Esteban, a tech guru/analyst at Lenovo in Buenos Aires, why he developed the plug-in on his own time. “I think the old copyright model is outdated,” he said. “It does not fit the digital era. I’m convinced that it strangles creativity and it is bad for business. Creative Commons is a good step in the right direction. With so many excellent blogs out there, I thought it would be a nice way to help all those authors get a simple way to license their work. That and ‘giving back to the community’ that has helped me achieve so much.”

He cited Michael Geist’s recent post pointing to a new Harvard Business Chool working paper that suggests weaker copyright protection has benefited society.

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June 29, 2009

Introducing Socialbrite: Why we’re here

Socialbrite team

JD LasicaSocialbrite.org fills a glaring gap in the social media world. While young people and early adopters increasingly turn to the social Web not only to socialize but to communicate, explore new ideas and share new experiences, nonprofits and social change organizations are still generally stuck in the top-down, one-way world of Web 1.0.

The young and the wired are moving at an accelerating pace away from old-school destination Web sites and toward the social media ecosystem embodied in the real-time Web. In this new world of Twitter and Facebook, of citizen journalism and astonishing grassroots campaigns like Twestival, it’s easy to feel befuddled by the dizzying pace of change.

socialbrite rings 143x143iThat’s why eight leading nonprofit technologists and social marketing experts have come together to create this learning and sharing hub. Socialbrite is here to offer articles, videos, resources and tutorials on how to take command of all this Web 2.0 jazz and put it to work for your organization or cause. (We created a cheat sheet for you to help tweet our launch.)

And please note: We’re here not only to show how social tools can be used to advance the social good – but to learn from you as well. We’ll be republishing some of these articles on learning wikis, and everything here is released under a Creative Commons license, so we hope you’ll take part in this ecosystem of sharing.

A sharing and learning hub

We invite you to cruise around the site — and we hope you’ll help us spread the word. You’ll notice that we’re not starting from scratch. You’ll find:

• A directory of Web 2.0 Productivity Tools in dozens of categories that can help organizations get a handle on the social Web.

• A Social Media Glossary that offers a deep, friendly introduction to dozens of social media terms in plain English.

• A first-of-its-kind Twitter widget that tracks tweets about nonprofits or social causes in real time.

• A Free Photos Directory, Free Video Directory and Free Music Directory that offers nonprofits, cause organizations and Web publishers a guide to hundreds of online resources for adding legal, high-quality content to their own websites, blogs, newsletters, printed materials or online presentations.

• A Causes widget that points to charitable actions and donations on other sites such as Global Giving and Facebook Causes.

• Scores of additional articles, guides and tutorials to help newcomers and veterans alike get better acquainted with this fast-moving space.

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