Top of the Heap
I have a love/hate relationship with my own stupidity. I love it when I learn something that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. But I hate it when I have to acknowledge, even to myself, that I didn’t know it.
Case in point: I was tickled pink to explore, this very afternoon, the wonderful world of meta tags. I knew they existed. I knew there was a reason that when you google “green Jello” the first link you get is not the JELL-O gelatin site, but rather The Church of the Gerbil’s dissertation on “The Truth Behind Lime Jello,” followed by guitar tabs for songs by the band Green Jello. Jello.com doesn’t even appear on the first five pages of a “green Jello” Google.com search.
If I were the JELL-O folks, I would want my site to be the first thing people see when they google anything even remotely related to gelatin, Technicolor foods, desserts that wiggle or — most importantly — the brand name.
Now, I’m not picking on JELL-O. (Hell, this magazine is guilty of poor meta tagging itself, but we’re working on it.)
It was just a random search. However, in a related but alarmingly unscientific test, I googled some philanthropic mission-related key words — both general and specific — and was pretty surprised by the results. Organizations that I thought would — or should — be showing up in the top three unpaid results often didn’t make an appearance until Page 2. Some didn’t show up at all.
Do yourself a favor: Google your organization’s name, mission and parts of each. If someone’s looking for information about what you do, will she get it from someone perhaps less reliable and dedicated than you, who just happens to have better meta tags? How hard will someone have to work to get — and possibly give — to your organization?
There are consultants who can help you create tags that pull your organization to the top of any search-engine query that falls within a thousand miles of your mission. We’ll cover it in these pages soon, but the reason I bring it up today is that, once again, I was surprised to learn something that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. And that’s OK for me. And for you, too, as an individual.
But as a development professional, you owe it to your constituents to stay on top of what’s new in terms of development strategy. And if you do find yourself surprised by something you didn’t know you didn’t know, get to know it — and fast.