I’ve come to the conclusion that more associations should offer a “Member of” icon on their website for members to post on their own sites and link back to the association. Most associations do not. There are plenty of examples of associations online doing so, a simple search online can find members of associations displaying prominently their association’s membership image with a link back to the association. Such associations include:
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
Financial Planning Association
National Association of Legal Assistants
Colorado Technology Association
National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
Renewable Fuels Association
of course, you can find more with a Google Images search as well.
This is clearly not a new idea. Associations have been doing this for a long time, before the web days. We’ve all seen “Member of” placards and signs in many businesses.
But… creating a “member of” image is relatively easy to do for an association, and it is relatively easy to provide options and code for members to include the image and link on their own site. And with such a low cost, and obvious marketing benefits, you’d think you would see more of it on the web. And an important benefit I want to comment on is PageRank, and search engine algorithms. (If you want to know more about PageRank, check out the Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank ). PageRank is how Google determines the display priority on a search, and links to a site plays a big part in determining that priority. More links – particularly quality links – will increase PageRank value. And the benefit of the provision of links then can be reciprocated by the associations, whether it be by links to members’ sites, or the pages and links to content and issues of importance to members (such as public policy goals, conference promotion, etc.).
If an association can move its organization from being 111th in results for a specific search term to something that’s within the first page of results, and that term is important to the association, then it should make a point of improving its PageRank in general, and for the specific term. And in the general, association member links have value. More associations should make the effort to provide an attractive, small seal or icon for members to use, and get to the work of getting members to add it to their site.