Today’s guest is Nigel Harris-Cooksley, Secretary of North Harrow (6557) in the Province of Middlesex.
This is the second time Nigel has been on, he was first on In The Chair 12 talking about using websites and social media to attract candidates, and his efforts generated a total of 60 new candidates during a five year period. You can listen to that show at www.masonicpodcast.com/12.
That podcast has been one of the most listened to and generated many questions from others who want to set up a Lodge website, or improve the one they already have.
Nigel puts the success of attracting new members down to his Lodge’s website: www.northharrowlodge.org. Before working on social media and gaining traffic (which we’ll talking about in a future podcast) you need to have a good website. The website is a central hub where you will be directing traffic, and it is the ‘shop front’ to your Lodge.
We discuss the importance of picking a domain name. Should it be a domain name that follows a standard format, or something that is more descriptive? Or both!
Both Nigel and I purchased domains and hosting from different companies. I use TSO Host; which are giving a 10% discount for Masonic Podcast listeners, enter the code MASONIC10 when checking out. We also discuss what you need to ensure you hosting package contains, but generally agree that WordPress is the way to go for building your Lodge’s website.
WordPress lets to change the way your website looks, and enables you to install “plug-ins” to give your website functionality. Because this can be in depth more instructions can be found at the accompanying resource page www.masonicpodcast.com/websites.
WordPress also allows you to easy manage the content on your website. It’s important this content is relevant to the end user, and also to search engines such as Google. We talk about using keywords the user will likely use, where to place them on the website – this is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
The conclusion we reach is the website needs to be geared to the lay-person who may be interested in finding out more about Freemasonry and seeking answers to questions. We discuss what these questions are, and why it is important to face these questions head on and provide the answer they are seeking. (A hint: the biggest questions involves money!)
We also discuss how using plug-ins can help with SEO, and also plug-ins can track your visitors, and how you can use this data to continually improve the website.
Should you have a blog, news feed or calendar? Yes. And no. There are reasons for and against adding these to your website.
Remember, just having a website does not guarantee success – it must be opitmised. It also takes time for changes to show tangible results.
If you have questions about setting up websites, or questions for Nigel about using social media for a future podcast please comment or email [email protected].
Links from the show
Lodge Website Resources Page
North Harrow Lodge’s Twitter: twitter.com/harrowfreemason
North Harrow Lodge, 6557 Website
In The Chair Podcast’s Twitter: twitter.com/masonicpodcast
Kennet Lodge, 4414 (My Lodge) Website
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