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What is Search Engine Optimization?

Posted By Kyle Noland, Software Engineer, FIRM, Inc. , Friday, November 14, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 7, 2014

Have you ever noticed that when searching for your association or perhaps another company on a search engine such as Google that it quite possibly is the first result on the page? Many search engines have a way of determining which websites are displayed first when you search for a specific term, such as a company name. Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the process of manipulating website elements and content in order to raise the position of a website in search engine results such as on Google or Bing.

There are two types of search result listings – organic and paid. Paid listings require a special fee to be paid to the search engine company for heightened results in their listings. You may see this on Google as “Sponsored Links”, which are usually the first two or three links on a page. More information on this can be found at  Obtaining higher organic listings are what SEO usually focuses on as it requires no payment to the search engine provider. Research by Thorsten Joachims, Laura Granka, Bing Pan, Helene Hembrooke, and Geri Gay found that approximately 80% of the clicks on any search engine listing page were for the sites listed in the first three spots. A website listed in the first few spots on a search engine is definitely a very valuable asset! Some companies will pay thousands upon thousands of dollars a year for SEO just to reach or maintain that position on a page.

In my opinion, the most important steps to search engine optimization are – keywords, indexing, and site optimization. Keywords are words, or phrases that people might use to search for your site on a search engine. As an example, if your site was related to pets – someone may search for dog, cat, bird, animal, etc. and you may want your site to show in the search result listings. Google has a great tool for planning keywords and more information is available here: Indexing is the ability to have search engine bots crawl your website and hopefully giving your page a high rank, which corresponds to higher result listings on the search engine. It doesn’t matter how many websites you link to, the main idea behind indexing is to have other high ranking sites link to your site, which will then boost your own rank. How can one do this? The use of blogs, RSS feeds, forums, or wikis may help you to have new and interesting content that others can link to. This is also a good idea because search engine bots tend to visit sites with fresh content more often that website pages that are not newly updated. Finally, site optimizations can be made to perform better at SEO. Having things such as a Title, Description, and Keyword meta-tag on each webpage help the search engine bots to more accurately get an idea of what content is on your website which may translate to heightened rankings. Making your website mobile-friendly, although not necessarily translating to a higher page rank on a search engine, may also help to attract more users to your website and keep them there for a longer period of time. I think it’s also worth noting that although your website can be promoted online through blogs and social media, they can also be promoted offline through other sorts of media such as print. It doesn’t matter where a person hears about your website, as long as they go to it they may end up posting a link to your website on theirs!

According to a Moz industry survey, Analytics, Content Marketing, and Keyword Research are the Top 3 marketing activities in the industry. If you’re not doing any Analytics or SEO, there is no better time to start than now!

In closing, I wanted to add a link to an image I found online titled “The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors”. I think this chart does a fantastic job of showing what is important for SEO. It can be found here: This post is only the start of what you could do with SEO and I am hopeful that you and your association are able to benefit from this knowledge.


At the ISAE October Roundtable, I spoke about Analytics and a little on SEO. In an effort to get more of this information out to each of you here is a list of interesting website links that may help you to achieve a better online presence for your association:










"2014 Industry Survey." Moz. Web. 7 Nov. 2014. .

Joachims, Thorsten, Laura Granka, Bing Pan, Helene Hembrooke, and Geri Gay. "Accurately Interpreting Clickthrough Data as Implicit Feedback." Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (2005). Web. 7 Nov. 2014. .

Tags:  browser  engine  google  optimization  search  seo  technology 

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Eight Keys to Success When Creating a Technology Strategy

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Thursday, November 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014

Associations typically have an organizational strategic plan. But there is often a lack of strategy when it comes to technology, even though it is needed in order to implement successful marketing and membership initiatives. 

Your association’s technology strategy must be more than a patchwork of IT systems and digital solutions. Each component should align with your organization’s overall mission and goals. An effective digital or technology strategy is both a communications and management tool. It demonstrates IT’s understanding of the association’s objectives, establishes a methodology that facilitates the accomplishment of those objectives and provides a suite of metrics to determine how effectively those objectives have been met.

Do you want to increase operational efficiency? Take a 360-degree view of your members? Extend your reach to non-members? Ensure you don’t get left behind during the mobile revolution? Having a technology strategy can help you do that. 

Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and .orgSource founder, recently teamed with other experts to develop a strategic technology planning practice statement for the Association Forum of Chicagoland. It concluded:

“To be successful over the long-term, (an) organization must develop strategic technology goals that support an organization’s business goals in every other functional area. …. Understanding the centrality of IT to an association’s strategic initiatives is more important now than ever before.”

Here are eight keys to success when building or revising your organization's technology strategy: 

  • Involve a senior leadership “sponsor” and include strategic thinkers from across the organization. 
  • Assess current technology capabilities and determine if there are infrastructure gaps that are hindering you from meeting your organizational goals. 
  • Identify key features and benefits needed to further your objectives.
  • Interview staff, volunteers and members to gain an understanding of current and future technology needs that will help them meet their goals. 
  • Explain how the technology plan will help your organization achieve its business objectives. Sometimes it’s easier to get buy-in from your board when the pitch is jargon-free and comes from someone outside of IT.
  • Prepare a roadmap for the evaluation, acquisition, implementation and/or enhancement of systems.
  • Set realistic timelines and budgets. 
  • Ensure clear matrix are established and monitored.

Best of luck as you develop or revise your technology plans for 2015 and beyond.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  leadership  strategy  technology 

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Three Ways to Take Advantage of Opportunity Thinking

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

You don’t need to be a million-dollar organization to be innovative. You just need to be opportunity thinkers.

Members of the .orgSource team recently attended the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives Innovation Summit. Pam Henderson, Ph.D., author of “You Can Kill an Idea, but You Can't Kill an Opportunity!” was the keynote. Her presentation got me thinking. How could I (and the associations that I work with) become “opportunity thinkers”?

According to Henderson, opportunity thinking empowers us to see potential in new places—across markets, technologies, business models, brands and design. Her definition of opportunity is a convergence of needs, the ability to create the right value and the right conditions that allow it to come together. So, how can an association steer themselves into this perfect storm?

Here are a few ways I think we can harness the concept of opportunity thinking:

1. Be inclusive. A big take away from the Innovation Summit was to understand others’ perspectives and how they solve problems. Don’t assume that the best ideas will come from your board or senior team. Include as many people as possible when you’re brainstorming so that you get different points of view and a new combination of ideas. Collaborate at all levels, from your junior staff to your CEO. Mixing up those in the weeds and those at 35,000 feet might surprise you.

2. Let people fail. If people are afraid to experiment with outside the box thinking, you’ll never break free from the mundane checklists of to-dos that so many associations follow. Swap out “because we always do it that way” with “if it isn’t broke, break it.” Create a culture where it’s OK to try something as long as you learn from the success or failure.

 3. Think about tomorrow’s opportunities rather than today’s capabilities. Don’t go to the dark place of budgetary or staffing restrictions when an idea is presented. Think about your members’ future needs. Better yet, come straight out and ask them. If you can add value (a new benefit, product, service, event, etc.) before your competitors do, you’ve just created your own opportunity.

Innovation takes practice. Experts say that it can take thousands of bad ideas before coming up with a “good” one. Your association can have a 10-person staff or 200. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to thinking outside the box or capitalizing on opportunity.  Just look for potential in new places, let your teams share their ideas and don’t get bogged down with what you’re capable of today. 

Sherry Budziak is an ISAE member and is the executive lead consultant and CEO of .orgSource.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  innovation  isae  Knowledge Management & Research  Leadership  opportunity  opportunity thinking  Organizational Management  thinking  wsae 

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Why CAE?

Posted By Eric Klinner, Friday, September 12, 2014

There are several different reasons that individuals purse the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. Professional development, career planning, professional pride, dedication to their career, self-fulfillment, and commitment to a career in association management are just some of the reasons one might choose to take this additional step in their career.

 As my association management career moved forward, I realized that I was already gaining the valuable (and required) education to take the exam. The resources used and the knowledge and experiences gained through the exam process have not only benefitted me personally, but have also benefitted my association. There have been instances regarding anti-trust, best practices and legal issues that I have felt very comfortable answering (for myself and the association) because of the knowledge I gained in conjunction with the CAE experience.

 I feel that being a CAE has created connections and opened several doors for me that would not have been possible without it. From CAE only networking events and study groups, to invite only speaking engagements with nationally recognized speakers at the ASAE convention. With only 4,100 CAE’s nationwide, you will be part of an elite group of association professionals.

 Testing for the CAE occurs in May and December. For more information regarding the CAE, the ISAE CAE study group or requirements to test, please contact Destiny at ISAE at or myself at  You can also visit the ISAE website at


Eric Klinner, CAE

ISAE Board Member

AIA of Illinois 

Managing Director

Tags:  ASAE  CAE  Education  ISAE 

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Welcome to the ISAE Blog!

Posted By Destiny Nance-Evans, Monday, August 25, 2014

New to ISAE, The ISAE Blog! 

We are currently looking for potential bloggers to share their knowledge of the Association world with us. Interested in being apart of our group of "experts"? Submit your article for review here

We hope this becomes your favorite newest member benefit or gives you a reason to be the newest ISAE member! 

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