by Maria Lahiffe
“Blogging is as essential to marketing [your organization] as the yellow pages once were. If you haven’t adopted the practice yet, you may be at a serious disadvantage.” 
A blog is a valuable way to tell your story and get noticed online. Over 90% of adults use online searches to find information.  If you want your organization to be found – by a potential client, by a potential funder, by a potential collaborator – you need to have a strong online presence.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Optimized sites show up at the top of the results page when someone types in a relevant search term. For example, Volunteer Ottawa’s page is usually at the top when you type in “Volunteering in Ottawa”. We are working hard to move up in the rankings when people search for topics which we teach. The VOices blog (which you are reading right now) helps with that.
Content is one of the most important things which will lift your site to the top of a search. It used to be all about keywords in title tags, but search engines are getting smarter now. They reward relevant content which is written in natural language,  like what you are reading right now.
Not everyone subscribes to a blog, but many people read blog posts when they are doing online research. If you have a message to get out, and you can express it clearly in writing, then say it in a blog.
Over time, you can build up a storehouse of content, which, taken as a whole, tells the story of your cause and your organization. You can help people to understand the nuances of what you do by gradually explaining them one by one, to help others see why your cause is so important.
Here are characteristics of the most successful blogs:
By all means, use a free blogging platform like WordPress or HubSpot, but do a bit of work to move away from the default theme
Successful blogs know what they are about, and don’t try to be all things to all people. The VOices blog, for example, is intended for Non-Profit professionals. Our aim is that you will be able to read a post during a hurried coffee break, and take away one or two nuggets of actionable information each time you read.
You can get just about anyone to visit your blog once. To get people coming back, and referring their friends, you need to say something worthwhile. Stick with what you know. Don’t sacrifice quality over quantity. It is better to write two high-quality posts a month rather than daily garbage.
People respond to images. Visuals are memorable and effective because they help people process, understand, and retain information more quickly. Online content which includes images receives 650% higher engagement than text-only content. 
Please stay away from that old stock photo of a bunch of people in a boardroom or a close-up of two hands shaking. You can find all sorts of high-quality stock images on free sites such as Pixabay and Pexels.
A blog is an online record of what you do and why it is important. It will be an important tool in developing your reputation. If you do not have the skills or the time to represent yourself well in writing, then wait until you have someone on your team who can do the job well and consistently.
A blog is just one of the parts of a high-quality website.
Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to organizational operations. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.
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