5 Reasons Google Webmaster Tools are Essential for Conference Websites

Take a moment and think about how many times a day you use a search engine.

Do you Google? According to Experian, out of approximately 15 billion searches done every month, 65% of those are done on the search engine powerhouse, Google. That’s fewer than 10 billion searches every month that Google processes and puts in front of searchers.

Google Webmaster Tools are essential tools you must use in order to give your conference website the best chance to rank highly (other than good SEO practices, of course). All you need to do is simply install a small piece of code or upload a small file to your site, and Google is handing over some extremely important information.

Here is some of the great information Google Webmaster Tools provides:

  1. Search Query Stats
    Ever wonder how well your conference website is doing on Google? Webmaster Tools tell you how many impressions your site gets, as well as how many clicks those impressions generated. You can also see which keywords are generating the most traffic to your site.
  2. Sitemap Submitter
    You can submit a sitemap directly to Google. This means you’re giving the “boss” of search engines all of your information and asking them to “take a look.”
  3. Crawl Errors and Stats
    Webmaster Tools supplies you with in-depth information about the errors on your conference or annual meeting website, such as “Not Found” errors. It also gives you helpful graphs showing how many pages the Googlebots have been active on in the last 90 days.
  4. Links to Your Site
    This great tool allows you to see where you are getting links from and how many exist. In SEO, this is huge because incoming links from well-respected sources are a must for high rankings.
  5. HTML Improvements
    Webmaster Tools will allow you to see improvements you should make in accordance to SEO rankings. In other words, Google is actually telling you what it wants you to do to increase your search engine rankings.

Using Google Webmaster Tools will help your organization better understand your website and its search engine rankings. To help your website get in front of as many potential members as possible, try these tools out for yourself!

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How to Create an Active Online Community

Wondering how to create an online event community where attendees, sponsors and exhibitors are logging into (and actively involved with) as much as their email accounts?

As a meeting or event planner, you understand creating a networking opportunity is critical for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors of your conferences. And as your conference participants become more engaged in online networking and social media sites, it is critical to create an online hub where your conference participants can network before, during and after your events.

3 Ways to Create a Successful Online Event Community

  1. Have a strategic plan.
    This is probably the most important aspect of having a successful community. What is the goal of the community? What will deem it successful? You need to be sure your online event community is in alignment with your bigger picture goals and objective. Write down these objectives as it provides you with a basis for measurement. Some core objectives might include: Visitors to the site, repeat visitors, number joined vs. total attendees, activity within the site. Who will manage and run the community? What will the technology be? How will you incorporate this with your other event marketing initiatives? What content or topics will draw people into the community and engage participants. By having a plan, you have a much greater chance for success. Plus, you’ll have something to measure against as you go.
  2. Assign a leader.
    Someone must own the community and make it theirs. It can’t be owned by everyone or a group of people, it really needs a leader who is passionate and unselfish. Someone who knows and understands relationships and social media. Giving this responsibility to someone because they have the time or because they are in marketing doesn’t cut it. They must have solid project management skills, excellent communication skills. They must understand the big picture and have the authority to drive the community. Failure to have the right person lead your community usually results in a stale, unused web site and a poor representation of your efforts.
  3. Outline your communications plan.
    This is essential to knowing who’s doing what, what’s being created and when it’s being shared. It will involve formal communications, promotional content as well as informal and just informational content. This plan will involve many different participants in your community. For example, you will want the speakers to create content and engage attendees by asking questions and providing insights to their sessions a few weeks out from the event. The key is to know the members of the community expect action and communications. They didn’t sign up to the community to just create a profile and never come back to the site again. Your plan should address how you and others will engage all participants.

What other ways can you think of to create an active community?

How to Share Information from a Conference

The chairs are folded. The hum of the fluorescent lights has come to a halt. And your conference is over.

Wait… (If this is what your most recent conference was like, stop reading.  Please see: Five Meeting Design Principles: Inviting Innovation and Intellect.)

Moving along… Your conference is over. Attendees, sponsors, and speakers alike have scattered in their own directions back to their associations and offices, and just like that, nothing remains of the conference which took so long to prepare for.

Are you missing an opportunity here?

Once your conference or event is over, what are you doing with your valuable conference materials? How do you keep your conference at the front of your attendees’ minds for months after the event?

Four Creative Ways to Share Conference Materials AFTER the Event:

Online Event Communities

Continuing conference discussions through online communities is a simple way to share conference materials after an event. Include informal content such as pictures, video snippets and slides, as well as more formal content like technical papers and session handouts.  You can have specific conversations around sessions and point to your online handouts or knowledge centers.

Password-Protected Websites or Knowledge Centers

Like online communities, conference websites can be a place to share both formal and informal content from the event like handouts and recorded sessions, but password-protecting the website make it easier to control who sees what information. Communicate via email bi-monthly in your member newsletters or to your attendee list including just a few topics in each message to keep everyone thinking about your event.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

The biggest advantage of placing content (particularly more formal content) into an LMS is that it can then be tracked and credit can be awarded. In an LMS, you can take your recorded content or technical papers and create a resource that is relevant to your members.

Blogs

“When in doubt, blog it out!” Blogs can easily be used to post transcripts, video or audio of the conference, or even just takeaway points from the speakers. Blogging is great for marketing your event, as well. Those who didn’t attend can read about what happened to give them some insight on what they missed. Don’t have a blog? Ask industry bloggers to do it for you!

The most important thing to remember is to think and plan ahead! Before your event even begins, you should have a plan for sharing content after the event is over.  You don’t have to do it all at once. Even if you start small, sharing a little bit more each year adds up and will bring extra value to your event that members and attendees are looking for.

What are the best ways you have discovered for sharing content after an event that brings the most value to your event, its attendees and your members?