Ayima Helps New York Non-Profit into the Digital Age

David Burgess
Reading time: 4 minutes
22nd May 2012

Ayima are proud to announce that yesterday saw the launch of the newly re-developed Nazareth Housing website as part of their journey back into online visibility. Founded in the 80’s to solve a housing crisis in New York’s Lower East Side, Nazareth Housing helped low-income residents organize and renovate abandoned buildings through a process that became known as “urban homesteading”. Their new look as part of a wider re-branding exercise and online marketing overhaul was made possible by their partnership with Ayima.

The partnership was established after Ayima was invited to speak on an “Extreme Makeover” SEO panel at the annual Search Marketing Expo conference in New York in September 2011. Ayima entered a challenge to provide a non-profit with pro-bono Search Engine Optimization services and then to present their strategy and findings at the conference.

Ayima worked relentlessly with Nazareth’s administrators, making modifications to the website and building the non-profit’s online presence. “We made alterations to both the content and structure of Nazareth’s website, to make it more understandable to search engines such as Google”, explained David Burgess, head of Ayima’s New York office. A marketing outreach campaign was also developed to attract links from relevant websites and partners, which increased the non-profit’s perceived popularity in the eyes of search engines.

Using Ayima’s own proprietary tools Ayima could analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the backlink profiles of competing sites in the sector before the outreach began

SEO citation conversion tools

Our tools allowed us to identify a large number of existing citations of [Nazareth Housing] across the Internet that could then be contacted to convert into valuable backlinks

One considerable hurdle faced by both Ayima and Nazareth Housing, was the amount of resources required to make even the most basic of changes to the existing website.  According to James Saracini, Assistant for Development and Mission at Nazareth Housing, “adding a single new page to our site and linking it in correctly could take over 2 hours.”

The non-profit could barely afford to continue wasting precious resources maintaining their website, but it was vital to keep their donors and beneficiaries informed and connected. It was also clear to Nazareth Housing’s more tech-savvy Junior Board, that their website was beginning to look extremely out-dated. Ayima decided to go beyond their initial “SEO” remit and to extend the project beyond online marketing, commissioning a website overhaul. Following consultation with Michael Callaghan, Executive Director of Nazareth, Ayima’s in-house web design agency DesignBuzz, got to work on a fresh new look for the non-profit.

“We decided to power the new website using WordPress the popular blogging and content management system. The software is free and open source, so future changes and updates will be extremely easy and cost effective for the non-profit,” noted DesignBuzz’s Creative Director, Jay Galsworthy. The new design not only provided a clean, contemporary and professional public face for Nazareth Housing, but also resolved the issue of resource time taken up by maintaining the site. This saving was estimated at over 200 man-hours every year.

The SEO campaign was also a huge success. Ayima’s work resulted in the non-profit ranking on the first page of Google.com and Bing.com for searches such as [homeless charity NYC], [emergency family shelters NYC] and [furniture donation NYC].

As a result of the SEO work, Nazareth Housing rank well for many of their most relevant key terms and phrases

Discussing the project, David Burgess commented “It’s now over 6 months since we’ve been working with Michael and James at Nazareth Housing. It gives me great pleasure to see the huge strides forward that have been made in such a short space of time. I’m a big fan of the digital community in New York City, driven by Mayor Bloomberg and his Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Sterne. By embracing the latest outreach and communication platforms, they are connecting with New Yorkers and the wider Internet community in ways other cities could only dream of with the Road Map For The Digital City

Michael Callaghan outlined the importance of the work to his organization “New York is a complex and dynamic market. As Nazareth Housing grows from a small to midsize nonprofit, the technical assistance Ayima offers to our organization is incredibly important and we believe has the potential to be enormously effective. Your partnership has saved us months of work in-house and helped us jump-start our social media focus. Before our partnership, a search for [homeless services in NYC] left us in the digital dust – we weren’t even in the top six or seven pages. I just ran the search again and we’re in the middle of the first page. Again, my thanks for your pro-bono work and the quality manner in which Ayima operates across the board.

Ayima co-founder, Rob Kerry, added “We’re proud to know that the work carried out will enable Nazareth Housing to connect with and assist more vulnerable individuals in New York, to drive donations and to support activities in the future. It has been a hugely rewarding project for our team and we look forward to continuing our support of Nazareth Housing in the foreseeable future.

You can check out the old Nazareth Housing website here: http://ayi.ma/nazareth to see just how far Nazareth have come. We all look forward to continuing to work with Nazareth as their organization develops.

Written By David Burgess
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