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Sam Davidson's blog

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Break Me Out of the Breakout

This afternoon at the GCN Summit, there was only one breakout dealing with technology/Internet/media. And yes, I did say earlier that the theme was Revolutions.

Nonetheless, I went to this workshop dealing with Search Engine Optimization. I had heard a while ago that if anyone tried to sell you an SEO service, then you should run. There is no exact science to it, and a few simple steps can have anyone a little bit better traffic ranking.

The real key, if any, is to figure out exactly what key words you want to drive folks to your site. Once you've got that, you've at least got a shot. But you've also got to offer a good product.

That'll be $1,000.

I listened anyway, because I'm looking for any legitimate way to help nonprofits get more people interested in what they're doing, and there might have been a nugget of wisdom lurking around the room somewhere. The people on the panel did know what they were talking about, but just like a meeting I went to 2 weeks ago about Web branding for nonprofits, a lot of folks out there really think that every Web site needs to be full of with Web 2.0 bells and whistles.

If I can offer every nonprofit a bit of advice, here it is. Your Web site does not need social networking capabilities.

Chances are, if someone is looking for your nonprofit's Web site, it's because they want the vitals. They want to know who your leadership is, what your mission is, how they can volunteer or donate money, and how they can learn more. They don't need to host their blog at the Red Cross. No one goes to United Way for an installment of funny videos. Nobody visits Habitat for Humanity's Web site to see what their friends are up to.

To that end, nonprofit Web sites need the basic info and it needs to be updated religiously. If the best way to do that is to have a blog, do it. If you tell a story better through video, shoot it, put it up on You Tube, and tell people how to find it. None of this should cost you money.

There are lots of Web tools out there for folks who want to make a difference. Nonprofits are in the business of helping folks and meeting needs, not pioneering technologies. Leave that to the VC firms. And then once they're developed, milk them to benefit those you serve by engaging allies and supporters.