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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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