Jeffrey Killeen, Chairman & CEO of GlobalSpec spoke this morning at the CESSE conference about Internet search and what knowledge workers want and need in their Internet searches. His firm specializes in engineering fields, a true pool of knowledge workers.
Killeen focused his conversation on how associations, and in this case scientific associations, can focus their websites to better serve their members. Here are some key points.
- The user community is in charge. Users know what they want and where they want to find it.
- Specialized (vs. general) information providers & search engines will be the user choice
- Association's knowledge products need to be easily and fully discoverable. (If not, you go from a strong brand position to a weak one.)
- You must be present where your audience is aggregating online materials
- Develop a keyword, indexing, and discovery strategy
Indexing Online Content. Killeen suggests that regardless of whether your information is free or for-a-fee, you must get your content indexed so it shows up at the top of Internet search engines.
Some suggestions for maximizing your searchability...
- Optimize your content & your site to enable easy crawling and deep indexing
- Know the differences between mass market engines and specialized vertical engines
- Have a keyword strategy and manage it.
For association education and knowledge products, you must develop a marketing strategy that doesn't just include putting your content on the Web. We assume that if a member searches your website (using a search capability) that they will find the relevant knowledge product immediately. But you will want to focus this same marketing principle where anyone searching the Internet can find your course or program.
Put yourself in your member's shoes. Here is an example that may be relevant for you. Let's say you want to find information and a course (either face-to-face or online) that focuses on how to build your dream home. Where would you go to find this information? Google? Amazon? Yahoo Search?
Let's try it...and I'm making this up on the fly. I'll use Google and search on "building a home". As of today, http://www.builderonline.com/ is the first site that pops up. This is the website for Builder magazine - a publication from a for-profit publishing company in Washington, DC. Several of their pages show up at the beginning of the search. Now, if I were NAHB (Natl. Assn. of Home Builders) I would be a bit concerned. A deep page within their site doesn't show up until #5 on the initial search.
I'm not picking on NAHB at all, but it is a great example of Killeen's point. If your association is THE place to go for your industry or profession, you had better think hard about how your information presents itself on a global Internet search. And here is a great tip - social media tools like blogs for example, get searched by engines very often. If you use keywords to index your blog postings, these keywords get picked up by search engines quickly and will help launch your association's knowledge products to the top of the search list.
As you develop your eLearning programs, face-to-face conferences, and other knowledge products, think about how anyone on the planet can find that information quickly and easily.