It’s no understatement to say that 2020 has been a wild ride. Those of us who build and manage association websites had to quickly react, adapt, and reinvent how we manage our web presence.
An organization’s website is still their most visible, and most important asset. In fact, your web presence is more important than ever, because it’s currently the only way for many audiences to interact with your organization.
With that in mind, here are some association website trends that we observed in 2020 and their implications for 2021.
Traffic is down. Engagement is Up.
When COVID first hit and everyone started working from home, the first thing we saw was an immediate change in traffic across all of our clients’ websites.
- On average, traffic dropped an average of 22 – 25% as the pandemic set in.
- However, some of that traffic has returned – and, critically, we’ve seen an increase in on-site engagement.
- We saw improvements in bounce rate (10% average improvement), increased time on site (up about 30 seconds per site) and more pages per visit (up an average of 1.5 to 2 pages per visit).
- While articles and news traffic is up, so are revenue drivers such as continued education, career training and more.
People are diving deeper into content, and paying more attention to high value resources, as they look for ways to engage with your organization during the pandemic. By surfacing the right content and optimizing your delivery, you can significantly increase your impact.
Organic search impressions are up. But many click-thrus are down.
Google constantly updates its algorithm, presenting a game of whack-a-mole for many organizations as they move to react.
- In August 2020, we saw a dramatic increase in search impressions for many of our clients – some of them more than doubled.
- However, not all of the impressions on a search engine results page converted into website traffic.
- While one of our clients saw their organic traffic almost double due to this algorithm change, many of our clients saw minimal to no bump in traffic.
The key reason? Ignoring SEO basics and best practices.
Optimize your content for search.
One of the most impactful things you can do to increase your Google click-through rate is to make sure that the right information is being presented on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This information comes from the metadata and content on your website, including title and description tags.
Common errors we see include:
- Not providing a targeted description tag
- Using the same title tag on multiple pages
- Not Properly coding pages with H1 and H2 headers
- Not linking to other relevant SEO targeted Pages within the site.
Our clients that are doing this are seeing the benefits of their improved search presence.
The takeaway: Make an effort in 2021 to improve your on-page SEO end give Google the relevant data that will increase click-through rates to your site. Since association websites are so large, this is a massive opportunity.
Long form content rules. And how it’s delivered matters.
With people stuck at home, they’re spending more time on their devices. This means that your audience is spending more time with your content and more time reading it (see the stat above about engagement).
- Statistics have shown that, throughout the pandemic, users have been gravitating towards desktop computers to access content, rather than their mobile phones.
- While all content must be mobile-friendly, it may not be necessary for it to be mobile-first in certain circumstances.
- Pre-pandemic web browsing was very much “on the go,” but we have actually seen mobile traffic drop across almost all of our clients’ sites since the start of COVID-19.
- Long for content drives more engagement – and more SEO. Here is a good example which explains about EMDR therapy from EMDRIA.org.
- New forms of content delivery are becoming more important, like video and podcasts such as the Endo Voices Podcast from the American Association of Endodontists.
The takeaway: Think about how you’re delivering your content. Does it align with the changing way it’s being accessed? It’s time to optimize in response to new browsing patterns.
It’s time to invest in your web presence.
A survey from a webinar I did for The Presidential Forum in October titled “5 Keys to Association Website Success in 2020 (and Beyond)” found that 53% of organizations are planning to increase their spending on their web presence in 2021, including improvements to content delivery, new features and integrations, and increased web staffing. There has also been an abrupt shift to virtual events, which makes the web presence for marketing and delivering the content for these events even more important.
Whether you just went through an association website redesign, or have an older website with limited capabilities, know that in 2021, it’s more important than ever to invest in and maximize your organization’s web presence. In fact, many of your competing associations and organizations are doing just that.
The association website trends are a great starting point for your journey as you embrace 2021.
Let's start 2021 off right.
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