I have been exploring how a church or other ministry can use existing, free “web 2.0″ tools to create a full-featured web presence. The first post focused on how to get an initial web site up and running using blogging tools such as WordPress or Blogger. The second post discussed how to get your content linked in: photos, videos, and maps. Once you have these two things set up, the next step would be to make sure people can find you. To me, there are two key components to ensuring that your web presence will be found: a good web address and showing up in search results.
A good web address is one that is easily remembered by those whom you want remembering it. This usually means that your web address, or “domain name”, has the name of your organization in it. Ideally, your web address will be www.yourorgname.com. This may not be possible, however, if your organization’s name is too long or if someone else already has that address. If it is too long, then shorten it to something that can be remembered. For example, my church (“Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar”) shortened theirs to “efreedb”. To determine if someone has your address, go over to a domain provider and see if it is taken. I would suggest, if possible, that you register both the “.org” and the “.com” for your domain so that people do not have to remember which one it is. Once you have determined the domain name you want to use, then register it at the domain provider and have it redirected back to your blog’s domain. Once you have your domain name in place, put it on all of your literature and signage to point people to your web site.
To show up in the search engine results is the next step. This could be a whole book in itself (actually, several books). The first thing I would do here is to go to Google and do some searches on my organization to see where I show up. Think through all the search terms someone would likely use to try and find you. Include some of the names of the key people in your organization, such as a pastor or founder, if appropriate. Do not be discouraged if you do not rank highly for these search terms, especially during the first few weeks of your web presence. The keys to getting ranked higher are to 1) be sure that the search terms themselves appear many different places on your web pages, including the title of your site; 2) keep fresh content coming in that includes your search terms; and 3) work to get others to post links to your site on their web sites.
It is this third piece that is not so easy: how do you get others to create links to you on their web sites? I will address this in my next post.