Over the years, we’ve done LOTS of association web sites, and we’ve looked at the traffic results very regularly for all of them, and there are some very obvious association web site content areas that tend to lead all secondary pages in traffic on the public side:
Membership Listing Pages
These aren’t absolutes, and associations can have many other public side pages that can be leaders in traffic on their site – your mileage may vary. But there are some very good reasons – and impacts – to why the three areas listed above are useful for associations to retain on their site.
Let’s start with Membership Listing Pages. These can be static or dynamic but you may want there to be a static version maintained somewhere on the site. Why? Because people search Google or Bing for their own name and the names of others they know, and if that person is a member of your association, your association is likely to be one of the early links shown by the search engine. If the person searching has similar interests to the person they’re searching for, it’s possible they may want to know about your association as well.
If you have an online membership database on the public side, you should establish a full-membership results URL based on such a search and make sure that URL is seeded into the major search engines. You want that traffic.
Next: RFP/RFQ Pages. If your membership is institutional – meaning your members are organizations and not just individuals – then this can be a very popular section of your site. Whether this section should be in the public or the members-only section of your site depends on a lot of different factors; such as are your members posting the RFPs/RFQs or are they responding to them? Is this a membership benefit or an add-on purchase, similar to advertising?
But regardless, you can make SOME of it public. Just the general description of what categories the RFP/RFQs are currently listed for can generate traffic from the search engines. The more information provided, the more traffic you will get. The same points about dynamic versus static pages apply.
Finally, Career Listings. There’s a LOT of ways these can be provided, but if your association is going to provide a career page, it would be hard for us to recommend using a third-party provider to deliver those employment opportunities. There can be reasons, such as increased visibility of the ad (which can be bought directly by the advertiser without the association if so desired) but the reason SHOULDN’T be a lack of time by the association to update the site with ad changes. Figure out a revenue line to pay for that work or to pay for it to be a member feature that can be managed directly by members through a database, but don’t give away (or even worse: buy) the space where you may end up getting your most public site traffic. That’s too high of a cost.