Jordan Gottlieb runs go-green-fundraising.com, offering fundraisers feature products and ideas that are earth friendly and healthier than any fundraiser done before. He selected a hyphenated domain for his business and it is working to his advantage from an SEO perspective.
Mike: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your business. What is green fundraising?
Jordan: I received a degree in Management from Texas A&M in College Station, TX in December 2005 and started work at IBM in January 2006. Corporate life is good and interesting but just wasn’t right for me at the time so I decided to start a business of my own.
I knew some people who worked in the fundraising industry and noticed that there weren’t many, if any, healthy or environmentally friendly options. I’d be a mini-environmentalist all my life; always want to recycle and take care of animals even when I was very young. And as part of the first generation to grow up with the environment a major issue our entire lives, I knew that I could do something to make a difference.
I define green fundraising as raising money for an organization in a way that is healthier or more environmentally friendly. We work with schools, churches, sports leagues, and even individuals raising money so there really is no set demographic for green fundraisers. Some examples of programs that people can use are the flower bulb fundraiser, natural trail mix fundraiser, and even a live tree fundraiser that is exclusive to Go Green Fundraising.
Mike: I notice that you are using a hyphenated domain with “go-green-fundraising.com.” I took a look and see that someone owns the non-hyphenated version and is currently parking it and does not have a developed website on it. Do you have any concerns with possible future competition with that name?
Jordan:I honestly don’t know who owns the non-hyphenated version but it’s been there since before I bought my domain. At this point, 2+ years after getting started, we are far enough ahead and have a strong enough site that I’m not really worried about someone beating me for our name. Google giving more strength to older sites can be frustrating at first, but there is definitely some security as time goes on.
I had done some web work on the side before I started Go Green Fundraising and knew that a hyphenated domain could be stronger in search than the non-hyphenated version. So I probably would have taken the domain I have even if the other was still available.
Mike: Your site is ranked number one in Google for the search term “go green fundraising” and number two for “green fundraising.” Tell me what it took to get this high of a ranking for these terms. Do you rank well for any other search terms?
Jordan:I firmly believe that your domain name is a huge factor in how well you rank. And going back to the last point of having the hyphenated domain www.go-green-fundraising.com, we get to hit a number of strong keywords with our domain name.
When I started out, I wanted to first attack the green fundraising terms. We rank well for any iteration of “green” and “fundraising/er/ers” that you can think of. I recently noticed that we weren’t ranking well for the term “eco friendly fundraisers” or any iteration of that term so I began focusing on it and we were fifth the last time I checked it.
There are quite a few searches for green fundraising related terms, a couple of thousand a month in total. About 6 months after we launched the site, we were ranking fairly well for most of those terms and I started looking to more standard fundraising keywords like “school fundraisers” and “sports fundraisers”. We’ve really started ranking well for some of those terms as well. For example, we rank as high as 4th for “band fundraisers”, 12th for “school fundraisers”, 5th for “student council fundraising”, etc.
I’ve really tried to stick with the very basic SEO strategies. I see people try and take shortcuts and get fancy with their websites and it hurt them in the past. By just continuing to write legitimately helpful and unique fundraising content, manage a strong inventory of links, and promoting my site, I’ve experienced a fairly steady rise in traffic over time.
Mike: What marketing efforts have you used to promote the business, if any?
Jordan: I rely 100% on search marketing for my business. I have a $0 marketing budget. When the ultimate goal is to help groups raise as much money as possible, I just can’t justify paying as much as $7 for a click on adwords for some of the more competitive terms. Spending nothing on advertising really helps us offer higher fundraiser profit percentages to the groups we work with which is a great way to build business.
Mike: What challenges have you faced while building and maintaining a business online? What hurdles have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Jordan:I’ve never been accused of being a patient person and patience is a huge part of developing a website if you are going to rely on organic search for your traffic. A lot of this stuff just takes time. Other than that though, we do everything as cleanly and white-hat as we possibly can so there really haven’t been any setbacks.
Mike: What would you tell someone who is currently searching for a domain name for their business. What do you advise them to look for?
Jordan:I got some great advice a long time ago – name your business so that anyone who sees it will know right away what it is that you do. There should be no question about the purpose of your business and I think Go Green Fundraising is a great example of that.
I’d also recommend that you name your business based on availability of domain names if at all possible. We originally wanted to be just Green Fundraising but the domain wasn’t available.