Published: 8 January 2010

Can anybody find your charity’s website?

Make your website easier to find, says developer Sue Fidler 

Much of the time, visitors to your website will find it through either typing in a guessed URL or via an internet search engine and you need to ensure that any search engine can find your site without problems.

The first thing to think about is your URL. A search engine will list any page, but it's better to make the URL something meaningful when it comes up in a listing, so it is definitely worth trying to have a domain name which represents your organisation. If you are known by an acronym as well as your name then it is best to have both URL’s pointing at the same site so that people will find you with either.

Search engines 

You can also point other domains to specific pages on your site, so if you have a special campaign or appeal buy a URL and point it to the lading page so that people – and search engines – can find it easily and it will stand out in a list.

Search engines also look for "meta tags" – simple pieces of code that sit in the header of your web page and contain details of your site. These are crucial because they determine what title is shown in the taskbar menu and what title and description the search engine will display. The most important meta tags are title, which sets the taskbar and search results, and the description is used in search results.

These may seem daunting, but it is easy to check them by right-clicking on your home page and selecting "view source". The meta tags sit in a block near the top of the page. Once you have found them, check what they say, whether it is correct, and whether they will help people to known what your site is about.

If they aren't there, ask your web manager or agency to add them. If you manage your site manually, copy and paste the meta tags from another web page and change the details to suit your own site. It is worth checking that you have good titles and descriptions on you most important web pages as well as your homepage. If you want search engines to list pages on your site that you think people will search for then make sure they have relevant tiles and good descriptions.

Header tags

Pages about your services, work, how to volunteer, get involved and those special campaigns and appeals should have page specific meta tags. Make sure that you website uses header tags,  just like using word styles to format the text, the title on the top of the page should always be in header 1 – and the search engines read the header tags.

Then the easiest and least technical bit of all, make sure the header is highly relevant to the page – it will help the search ranking.

Finally, make sure the most important phrases for each page are repeated at least three times in the text. Search engines read your pages and judge the search keywords by the title and phrases used. If your page is about street kids in Thailand, for example, make sure those words are repeated several times so that the search engines register it.If you search for you charity on the main search engine do you come up above the fold and on the first page?

If not, you need to do some work – or get some help.


Sue Fidler, Sue Fidler Ltd

Sue Fidler runs Sue Fidler Ltd, an e-consultancy which provides high quality, reasonably priced web development and ICT consultancy for the not for profit sector. Follow them on Twitter @suefidler or on facebook.com/suefidler.