When 9 out of 10 dentists recommend a toothpaste, you can be reasonably confident that the toothpaste will provide the highest quality oral hygiene and, if you’re lucky, may additionally grace your face with a fine set of pearly whites.
Similarly, if 8 out of 10 nonprofits use special events to raise revenue, you can generally assume that it’s because they are effective.
This isn’t necessarily true though. While the debate continues on the efficacy of special events in raising revenue, many argue that they aren’t your best bet for a high return on investment. Depending on the source, the general ROI fluctuates though most seem to agree that it isn’t astronomically high. Because of this, Norman Olshansky of NFP consulting recommends that “For most organizations, events (with a few notable exceptions) should not be undertaken if they are expected to provide a good financial return on the organization’s investment of time and resources to produce the event.”
Without getting into a debate on the specifics of whether or not events actually are profitable, it’s clear that getting the most out of your special event is pretty important and when it comes to your search engine optimization, this is a crucial opportunity to earn some links, the top SEO ranking factor according to Moz’s 2015 industry survey.
Here are some opportunities to use your event to get links (in order of difficulty):
Get Links From Event Directories
In every city there are at least a few event directories. Local media outlets and newspapers jostle to differentiate themselves by having the most comprehensive events listings for the community they serve.
These will be easy pickings for anyone willing to put in some elbow grease because they can occasionally be hard to find. If you do put in the effort though, it should be fairly simple to get free listings on a half dozen to a dozen sites with links included to your event.
Get Links From Your Partners
Few events are run by only one organization, or if they are, they utilize vendors. You might hire caterers, an event venue or work with other third party vendors. It should be simple to get links from your partners.
It may require you to also give links before you can get links though. You might be more likely to get links if you have an “Our Partners” section where you link to your partners for that specific event. This may not be necessary though as businesses frequently like to brag about their social responsibility and this can work in your favor.
Get Links From Your Sponsors
If your event has sponsors, it is very likely that they would also like to promote their social responsibility (not to demean the good that they are doing socially, but it’s also likely good business).
It isn’t uncommon to have sponsors and they are frequently thanked at the event with their logos visible on many of the event materials (and on the website as well). But, you can also get a link from them based on their desire to tie themselves to your cause. Sponsors tend to be a little more savvy though, so you will be more likely to get a link if you make it easy for them.
Create a “badge” or a simple image that they can display on their site to let their customers know that they supported you. Instead of sending them the image though, host the image on your site and send them the code to embed their prize. This way, they only need to copy and paste to make themselves look good and you get a link!
Make Sure Any PR Includes Links
In the same way that local media likes to be the go-to source for events, they also tend to write articles about events and local organizations frequently. This is great for personal relations, but it’s not uncommon that they don’t link to the organizations or the events. It is a good idea to track any articles about the event and make sure that there are links included. If not, reaching out to the author would not go amiss.
Claim Links After The Event
Articles aren’t just written before the event, though. They can be written afterwards and frequently are by bloggers and if you are reusing your special events URL year after year these are worth pursuing. For instance, I have a friend who is part of a running blog group and they frequently write about events after they run at them. Once events are done, be sure to track down any articles people may have written about their time there and ensure that when your organization is mentioned, it is also linked to.
Admittedly, performing this technique will be rather advanced. Many of these bloggers may not show up on the first, second, or maybe even fifth page when you google your name. Finding these articles will require some advanced Google search operators. In particular, search your events name with -site:yourdomain.com added to the end of your query.
Additional Tip: If you do attempt this technique, I also recommend setting your search results to 100 instead of ten. This will save you a lot of time going from page one to page two and so on.
With these five techniques, you should be able to gather a large number of links for your special event no matter the size of your organization. Don’t let your hard work go to waste either! Reuse your special events URL year after year and you will see significant growth over time!