I recently set up my independent minyan’s website to use WordPress, the current
king queen monarch of blogging and content management system software. Doing so made it easy to track website traffic statistics (which we had never done before) with the Jetpack plugin. Unfortunately, those statistics reveal that only a small number of people visit the site—fewer than fifty visitors a day on average. Ouch. Since people typically find synagogues (or independent minyanim) through online searches these days, our website traffic implies that people aren’t finding us at all. I’ve done a little bit of what I call “Jewish SEO” to improve where we rank for various Google search results, but our website needs more content and inbound links to rank higher.
(To be honest, “Jewish SEO” at this point amounts to little more than following some of the basic recommendations offered by Yoast’s WordPress SEO program and using terms like “davening” as focus keywords. It’s still a great deal more than what most synagogue website designers do, though.)
So, how can we add content and convince visitors to link to our site? The most obvious response is to solicit and add interesting content from the community like divrei Torah, learning materials from workshops, and the like. At the same time, however, I suspect that such content will appeal more to current members than visitors—not that appealing to members is bad, of course!—and that it won’t greatly increase website traffic. We need to participate more in online Jewish spaces before anyone will notice us. We’re a lay-led group and lack an official rabbi or spokesperson, which makes participating—or publicizing ourselves—a little difficult. Something like a group Tumblr might offer a creative solution, though: we can make clear that people’s postings do not necessarily represent the minyan, yet still engage with others and show that we’re a unique group of people with a unique vision for a Jewish community.
Failing that, I don’t believe that any synagogue has produced a Harlem Shake video yet.
Edit: I was wrong about that last part. The videos are as awkward and cringe-inducing as you’d expect.