In the last years, over 10.000 sign language alphabets were downloaded from this site.
I am really happy about this – that is what this site was originally made for.
BUT (and there is always a but, right?) Fingeralphabet.org is still difficult to find in online searches. This is no surprise, because:
- by targeting the final consumers, the website is not getting any backlinks
- by offering single products for differnt countries, there is no added benefit for the visitor (unless s/he is researching). So there is no reason for them to come back here and little benefit in telling others about it
It would not be a problem. I never expected anybody to come here over and over again. I wanted to provide help and information and not a forum – a forum would have needed a completely different setup and many more resources than I had. I even had the comment section removed for the most part of the last years – people who want to contact me, resort to eMail anyway.
Fingeralphabet.org was supposed to hand out reliable information to those who needed it: schools, organisations, families, churches, theatres, groups of friends, cultural institutions etc. Fingeralphabet.org was not expecting anything back.
In the world of search engines…
…an isolated website with few backlinks and a name that mosltly makes sense in German (Fingeralphabet is how you say “sign language alphabet” in German) gets knocked down on online searches by more commercial sites with plenty of backlinks. It is just how search engines work – and yes, I admit it is my own mistake that I have not delved into the topic of SEO earlier.
Not being found is a problem if you only exist online.
What to do about it?
Fingeralphabet.org is still only a pro bono project. I have no extra resources than my expertise in illustration and my spare time.
I started to experiment, using facebook to see how well different offers were accepted:
– Free coloring images with ILY signs.
– sign comparisons
– passing on interesting information from other countries – things I found on Facebook, mainly
The ILY illustrations did not really do much. People passed the links around, and the cuter the child on the illustration, the more people saw it (hundreds and thousands of views on Facebook), but it apparently was more for the novelty. Not many illustrations actually got downloaded from the site.
(They are still up, have a look)
The sign comparisons got a lot of response, but the interest was obviously only restricted to specific countries. So comparing the Brazilian with the Portuguese sign languae alphabet was a huge hit in Brazil (with thousands of shares and views on Facebook), but it obvioulsy did not interest anyone in Russia. And it did not generate any more visits on the site. People were just passing on the sign comparisons on Facebook and that was it.
A while ago Facebook has changed its algorithm, and now only very few of your friends/fans see what you are putting up – unless you pay Facebook to show it to a larger group of people. This is not a feature I can use … so I am turning away from Facebook for now. Looking for new possibilities. Twitter maybe? I have so far not been a fan – I have not really felt comfortable using it. But I think I might try again. It might be a good tool to reach out to specific people more effectively.
Another thing I am doing now, is investing a bit more research into each country and putting up a list of useful links for each. These are links I collected while doing the individual national research, which is necessary for each fingeralphabet. The links I ended up programming into the page, where of the people who actually stopped to help me with the project, and links of huge and more neutral organisations, like the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).
- I wanted to keep the site neutral
- I wanted to avoid to have to do the constant link maintenance for each and every country
I still want that. But now I also need the backlinks to make sure people find this site. So I am changing tactics. Instead of writing on Facebook, I will be researching and putting up more useful links for each country.
- Neutrality: by putting up alternative links (if I find alternatives), I hope to keep up the neutrality. It is more about offering choices.
- I found that there are several link-checker tools available now. So at least I can make sure to sort out the 404 errors once in a while.
It takes some time to prepare. I started at random while I was preparing the approval site for New Zealand’s sign language alphabet. So NZ has already many more links on the page – even before it has a downloadable version of the fingeralphabet.
It will take time to do this for all the other countries, but I hope that it will help.
And if you have a useful link or information, let me know!