Let’s be honest: you’ve Googled for fun before. You may have been fallen down a “search engine rabbit hole” before where you binge on knowledge, blogs, and photos on a never-ending chain of relevant topics until you get exhausted. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all done it. So how about you put that search engine skill to good use?
Think about it: if a new potential member moves to town, graduates college, or enters the industry and decide he or she needs to join a professional association so they enter some search terms into Google, what is he going to find? Will your website be near the top? Or worse, will you see negative stuff about your events? Maybe they’ll see glowing reviews. Regardless, it’s important to know what’s out there, as search engines are becoming more and more a primary source of information.
It only takes a minute to run an internet search, so now what?
There’s a bad review out there:
Often, it’s best just to ignore bad reviews. We all know that sometimes events flub, things go wrong, or must be rescheduled. Sometimes that’s enough to annoy someone to the point of posting something nasty online. Although that’s not great PR for your association, it happens all the time and people know that. Americans are getting good at reading reviews, and the population has come to expect a few bad ones. Usually they’re written off as an anomaly as long and your're well established on the internet and there are good reviews to balance it. If it’s still bugging you, get an outsider’s perspective: is this something you should address? Then bring in your board or fellow staff members to set a plan of action if necessary. And by all means, moving forward be sure to prove it wrong!
There are great reviews out there:
That’s fabulous! Be sure those reviews are seen. If the credit goes to a particular event planning committee, make sure they know what was said about their event. A little unsolicited feedback goes a long way in promoting your association and even your personal clout in the space as a leader. But beware: as nice as it is to have positive reviews out there, if you invite everyone to contribute and comment you may have some negative feedback too. Be prepared to deal with both.
You don’t come up in a search at all:
This is possibly worse than a negative review. In this case, it may be a website issue. Talk to your website host and do a little reading about SEO and search algorithms (it’s not as boring as it sounds, I promise.) Your website is key to visibility these days, and if your association isn’t appearing at all in search engines something’s wrong and it may be seriously crippling your chances at visibility, marketing, and recruitment. Consider updating a little more regularly the things you do have control over like photo galleries and blog posts. Increase interaction on social media, if you have it, and consider exploring new platforms. If you don’t see any changes in a few weeks, it might be time for a website rework. Call your developer! Search engines like Google give big boosts to websites that are constantly maintained and regularly updated.
This isn’t something you should spend hours or days on, but search engine optimization is growing more and more relevant. Your association probably has many ways to reach potential members, but web access is convenient and getting much simpler. Be sure to pay attention to all ways to reach your members, and you’ll be celebrating record numbers of new members, event attendees, and great buzz in no time!
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