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Marketing Your User Group Using Search Engines

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by Ash Nallawalla. Marketing Your User Group Using Search Engines . About the Presenter. Ash Nallawalla BCom (Hons), GradDipComp Certified Google Advertising Professional 26+ years in marketing, sales, product management, writing and editing, mainly in multinational Web-economy companies

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about the presenter
About the Presenter
  • Ash Nallawalla
    • BCom (Hons), GradDipComp
    • Certified Google Advertising Professional
    • 26+ years in marketing, sales, product management, writing and editing, mainly in multinational Web-economy companies
    • Consulting and training delivery to small and big business on search marketing topics –
    • Blog:
why use search engines
Why Use Search Engines?
  • Easier for new members to find you – they already use search engines to find answers to computing problems.
  • Staying ahead of the competition (if any) – your competitors are usually online forums, not user groups.
  • Increasing the number of visitors
main search engines
Main Search Engines
  • Google
  • The Rest:
    • Yahoo
    • Live Search (was MSN)
    • Altavista (Yahoo)
    • AOL (powered by Google)
    • Alltheweb (Yahoo)
main directories
Main Directories
  • Open Directory Project (
  • Yahoo Directory(
  • Specialist Directoriese.g. APCUG list of usergroups, Ash’s List
google pagerank pr
A ranking system based on popularity:

Popularity = links:

More links are good

Links from topical pages are better, e.g. Ash’s list of PC User Groups, from APCUG, from vendor pages

Reciprocal links as not as good as one-way links, esp. From off-topic sites – don’t bother.

Links to “bad” sites are very bad

Use Google Toolbar to view PR

Don’t read too much into the rank # e.g. PR5

Google PageRank (PR)
google toolbar
Google Toolbar
  • Download free from and Add-Ons exist for Firefox
how search engines work spiders
How Search Engines Work: Spiders
  • Three stages of search engine visibility:
    • Get crawled by spider
    • Get indexed into the search index
    • Get positioned for a specific phrase (lots of phrases, in fact) – you must know what phrases a searcher will use to find you, even if they have never heard of the concept of a user group – e.g. “help with excel”.
  • Above takes 1-3 months if you do everything “right”
  • Search engines deploy spiders (crawlers) to jump from link to link and index the Web.
  • Frequently changing pages are visited more often.
  • Easiest way to set up a “web site” – you can build your first within minutes!
  • Encourage each SIG to set up their own blog!
  • Link to one another.
  • Invite members to subscribe.
  • Encourage members to promote URLs responsibly.
press releases
Press Releases
  • Prepare regular press releases
  • Always have a human story angle:
    • Not “Podunk User Group Meeting” as a heading for the press release
    • “Local computer group saves the hospital!”
    • “12-year old genius wins scholarship”
    • “Never too old to learn, says 99-year-old Tulsa resident”
  • Include quotes from various people
  • Mention contact number and photo opportunity
press releases mostly free
Press Releases (mostly free)
  • 1888
  • EcommWire:
  • Express Press Release:
  • Free News Release:
  • Free Press Release Center:
  • FreePressRelease:
  • Malebits:
  • Media Press Release:
  • MediaSyndicate:
  • PowerHomeBiz:
  • PR Leap:
  • PR Newswire:
  • PR9:
  • PressExposure:
  • Pressmethod:
  • PRLog:
  • PRweb:
  • PRZoom:
  • The Open Press:
  • Xtvworld.Com:
apcug toolbar
APCUG Toolbar
  • Free promotion tool
  • Get it from (not
  • Get your own UG toolbar from
  • Add your group’s RSSfeed to the APCUGtoolbar
seo factors
SEO “Factors”
  • On-Page Factors:
    • Invisible (HTML, headers)
    • Visible (readable content) – the key is to have unique content.
  • Off-Page Factors
    • Backlinks (PR) from best (most relevant) sites, e.g. APCUG, ODP, Yahoo
    • Anchor text (actual words used to link to you)
    • Choice of web host – fast connection to the web, not too many others on shared server, more RAM, etc
best on page factors
Best On-Page Factors
  • <TITLE> - Keyword at starte.g. <title>Kentucky Macintosh User Group, Louisville, KY</title>
  • Anchor Text in linkse.g. <a href=“”>Atlanta PC User Group</a>better than <a href=“”>Click Here</a>
  • H1 tag – only one per page – use relevant texte.g. <h1>New Jersey PC User Group</h1>
  • Path/File namese.g. /training/excel-training-in-Dayton.html
  • Keyword prominenceJudicious use of important keywords at the top of the page, at the start of a sentence or heading, as long as it reads natural. Vary the words a little.
less important factors
Less Important Factors
  • Keywords at start of sentences
  • Bold/Italic text
  • Keywords in body text
  • Alt tags
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords
keyword research
Keyword Research
  • Study log files
  • Try keywords on search engines to see who comes up on top and why
  • Keyword suggestion tools, e.g.
    • Wordtracker (paid)
    • Adwords tool (free)
    • Overture tool (free)
directories easy links
Directories = Easy Links
  • You submit to a category, e.g. Business > Computers > Organizations > User Groups
  • Link to only one of your pages, usually the home page
  • No crawling of whole site (other than to confirm that link is still alive)
  • Some are free e.g. ODP, Yahoo (free for noncommercial)
  • Some are specialist directories, e.g. APCUG, Ash’s List
  • Avoid “free for all” directories (test = no editorial control; all welcome)
linking strategy
Linking Strategy
  • Choose directories wisely – must be same niche, e.g. computers, user groups, else very little benefit
  • Give others keyword-rich, cut-and-paste HTML for their link to you e.g.

<a href=“”>Cleveland PC User Group</a>

  • Don’t offer a link back to them unless you have to. Only do it if both of you are in the same niche.
page architecture
Page Architecture
  • Use clean, valid (W3C standards compliant) HTML
  • Keep page size down
    • Use CSS in an external file
    • Move JS to external files
  • Use text, not graphical text for headings
  • Spiders cannot easily index framed sites and those using JS links.
  • Don’t link every page to every other page.
site architecture
Site Architecture
  • Themed “pyramid” (inverted tree) design

Home Page

About Us





Course 1

Course 2


Main Meeting


Board of Directors



Hardware SIG

Other SIGs

  • Melb PC ranks #1 when someone searches for a user group in Melbourne.
results 2
Results 2
  • Melb PC’s training courses needed more visibility.
  • Optimised pages made this happen.
results 3 local search
Results 3 – Local Search
  • Submit to Google Local Search.
  • You get a map reference.
make them stay
Make Them Stay
  • Once someone arrives at your user group website, grab their attention within the first five seconds!
  • They must know what the site is about – a user group
  • They must see something that will arouse their interest to explore the site. No stale info!
  • Display a call to action prominently – Join Now button
thank you

URLs for links: (article on Google SEO)’s UG list) Newsletters) (APCUG List of UGs)

Thank You