Category Archives: Marketing

How to publicise your new website

So you have got a shiny new website. How do you go about letting people know it’s there and building up your numbers of visitors?

The first thing is to make sure it is appearing in Google when you search for your town or parish council name. We’ve written an article about how to optimise your content so that you get a prominent listing in Google (and other search engines) that you can read here: How to improve your search engine ranking

The next step would be publicising it to your parishioners who may not even know that you have a website. Ways to do this is include:

  • adding the web address to your email signature so that it appears at the bottom of each email you send out
  • putting posters in your village noticeboard, shop and/or pub
  • including the web address on all council documents such as minutes or notices
  • you could also deliver flyers around your village advertising the site

Another way to keep visitors coming back it to keep publishing lots of news items and useful information.

Other councils publicise their site or information on social media – usually Facebook or Twitter. We’ve published a series of guides about setting up social media here:

It is also good to get incoming links to your site. This will have the effect of bringing more visitors to your site and will also help with your search engine ranking. These could come from your local and district council, neighbouring parish councils or local institutions such as the church or the WI. If you set up links to them, you can ask them to return the favour and set up a link back to you.

Social Media

How to set up a Twitter Account

Twitter is a very good way to keep in touch with your local community. It enables to you post messages to your followers and keep them informed about what is happening in your town, parish or community council.

These messages are called ‘Tweets‘ and are limited to 280 characters. You can also post pictures or short videos.

To set up a Twitter account, go to and click the blue button on the right of the screen that says ‘Sign up‘.

On the next screen you will be asked for your name and phone number. You should use the name of your council as the Name. If you don’t want to add your phone number, you can use your email instead. Don’t worry these won’t be displayed publicly.

The next screen ‘Customize your experience‘ has some options that are optional.

Step 3: Create your account – just click the blue ‘Sign up ‘ button at the bottom of this screen to set up your account. You will be sent a verification code, either to your phone or email, depending on which one you used to register in step 2. Enter the verification code and click the ‘Next’ blue button at the top right of the screen.

Note: if you copy and paste the verification code, be careful not to pick up any spaces at the end of the code – if you do, you will get a messages saying the code was incorrect.

On the next screen you will be asked to add a Password.

The following screens will let you pick a profile picture and add a short description. You can click the ‘skip for now’ link you don’t have one and add this later.

The screen asking ‘What are you interested in‘ will show different options you can select. Twitter will show you suggestions of accounts to follow based on your choice here. Again you can click the ‘Skip for now‘ link.

The ‘Suggestions for you to follow‘ screen will show popular accounts that you may wish to follow. If there are any that interest you, just click the ‘Follow‘ button next to the account. Don’t worry, you can add more people/accounts to follow at a later date, or can ‘unfollow’ accounts you have followed. Click the ‘Next‘ button when you are ready to move on.

The next screen allows you to turn on notifications. This will allow Twitter to send you an email or phone notification when certain events happen, such as when someone follows you or comments on you tweets. You have the option to ‘Allow notifications’ or ‘Skip for now‘. Again, you can change these settings at a later date.

Finally you will be directed to your home screen. This has Home at the top and a box that says ‘What’s Happening‘. To write you first tweet, just click in the box. When you are happy with your tween, click the blue ‘Tweet‘ button.

In the next couple of months we’ll go into more detail about how to optimise your account and how to grow your following.

How to improve your search engine ranking

Decide on what your keywords/phrases should be

Your keywords/phrases should be what you think users would search for when looking for your website online.

Key-phrases work better than single keywords such as just your town or village name as they are more specific. Most people search using a phrase rather than a single word. Using a phrase will make your site stand out against the likes of Rightmove or Trip Advisor, who will often rank more highly for your town or village name as they are large commercial sites.

A good starting point would be the name of your council followed by town council or parish council eg ‘[yourcouncil] parish council’.  If there are several town, parish or community councils with the same name, you would probably want to include the name of your county to differentiate from the other ones eg ‘[yourcouncil] town/parish/community council, Staffordshire’.

Optimise your homepage for your keywords

When you are writing the content for your homepage you should include your keywords or phrases. You should always use your key phrase at least once on your homepage.

There are certain places where your keywords are given more weight. These are:

Headings (always format your page using Heading 1, Heading 2 etc, rather than manually setting the sizes of text eg Bold, 14pt), as search engines prioritise the content of your web pages using the headings. If you are using WordPress you can find the heading settings under the Paragraph drop-down menu in the editing buttons along the top of your page.

The first words on the page – search engines such as Google give more weight to the very first words on the page, so it is a good idea to begin your homepage ‘[yourcouncil] is….’ .

Images – when you add images to your site you need to add an ‘alt tag’. This has a number of purposes, for example it will be shown to anyone who has images turned off in their browser or for visually impaired people using your site with screen readers, so it should be a description of the picture. It is also used by search engines, so it is a good idea to also include your keywords. A good alt tag description that works for accessibility and for search engines would be something like ‘[yourcouncil] parish council village fete’.

Optimise each page on your site for your keywords

You can optimise different pages on your site for different keywords – for example if you have a page about your village hall, you can optimise that page with the key phrase ‘[yourcouncil] village hall’.

Keep your content fresh with new posts

Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” Google, 2017

It’s a good idea to add new content to your site as often as you have time. This not only helps with your search engine ranking, you will find that your visitors also like to find new information on the site and it will keep your visitors coming back.

Get incoming links to your site

Make sure your district and county council websites have a link to your site. You should also make sure that your local association for local councils adds a link to you.

If you have social media accounts you should have a link to your website as part of your profile. It’s also a good idea to link back to specific articles your publish. If you publish a post about your village fete, write something about it on your Facebook or Twitter page and include a link that goes back to your website.

If you have a page of links to other local businesses or organisations, you can get in touch with them and ask them to link back to your site.


How to promote your Facebook page

Continuing our guides on setting up and using Facebook to engage with your community. This article covers how to get people to like and follow your Facebook page for your town, parish or community council.

  • It’s a good idea to create a username for your page. You’re username will mean that you get a facebook address like this:[mylocalcoucnilpage]. This will be easier to share with people who you want to visit your page and publicise on your page. To create a username, click the ‘See more‘ link on the left of your Facebook page (just under where your council name appears), then select About from the list that appears when you have clicked. You can change the page username by clicking on the link next to Username (will probably be @username the default). This will launch a new window where you can add your username. It will need to be unique to Facebook – as you type it in, any errors will appear in red. Once Facebook is happy with your username you will see a green tick at the right of the window. Once you have added it, click the ‘Create Username’ button to save your changes. If you are new to Facebook and haven’t added a phone number to your main account, you may get an error message when doing this. To fix it, simply add your phone number to your main account and it should work perfectly.

  • Invite all your Facebook friends to like your new page.

  • Publish posts and invite your local community to like the posts. That way their friends and other people in your community will see you posts and may well like your page too.

  • Publicise your new page in your minutes, newsletters or other information you send out to your local community.
  • Put a poster on your noticeboard with the address of your Facebook page.

  • Use and ‘email signature‘ that includes the address of your Facebook page. An email signature is information that you set up to appear at the end of email messages you send. It can include contact information. For how to to set these up just Google ‘set up email signature’ and the name of the email program that you use eg gmail.

How to optimise your Facebook page

This follows on from our easy guide to setting up your Faceboook page.

In this article we’ll be covering how to add a logo and cover picture, a short description and invite friends to like you page. We’ve highlighted and numbered the relevant parts of the page in the diagram above.

  1. Add a logo. If you hover your mouse over the circle with a ‘B’ in it at the top left of the screen, a black semi-circle will appear over the B, with the word Update. Click Update and select ‘Upload Photo‘ from the options that appear. This will launch a File Upload window where you can select your logo from the files on your computer. Double-click an image to upload. The next screen will give you the option to reposition the image so that it fits into the circular logo shape. Once you are happy, click Save.
  2. Add a cover picture. Even if you don’t have a logo, it’s a really good idea to at least upload a cover picture so that people know they have reached the right page, which will make them more likely to engage and follow you. Click the Add a Cover button and then select Upload photo/video. As in the instructions in number 1 choose the picture from your computer and upload it to the site. Again, click Save to save your changes.
  3. You should then add a short description. Just a few words to introduce your council. Click the Add a short description box, then enter your description in the relevant box in the window that is launched. Once you are happy with it, click the Save and Continue button.
  4. Invite friends and the local community to like your page. You’ll see a list of your friends on the right of the screen. Next to each one is an Invite button. Simply click the button and an invitation will be automatically sent. If there is someone in particular you want to invite who you can’t see on the list you can search for them by putting their name in the ‘Search for friends to invite‘ box.
  5. Write your first post. Click in the box where it says ‘Write a post‘, and write something for your audience. This will appear in the news feed of all your followers. You can add photos to your post and/or set up a link back to your website. When you are happy with your post, click the Publish button at the bottom right of the screen.

    To add a photo, just click the Photo/Video button below the box where you write your content and upload a photo, as detailed in point 1 above.

    To add a link, simply browse to the page you want to link to and copy the URL and paste it into your post. The URL is the link address that shows in the top of your browser – it begins https://…. . To copy and paste, just right-click on the address and select Copy from the drop-down menu. To paste it, right-click in your Facebook post and select Paste from the drop down menu.

How to set up a Facebook Page

First of all you will need your own Facebook account. If you don’t already have one, you can go here and register:

Once you are logged into your account, go here to create your page

On the next screen you will have the option to set up your page as a ‘Business or Brand’ or as a ‘Community or Public Figure’ – the community option is best for local councils.

You will then be asked to give your page a name – (the best option here is the name of your Town, Parish or Community Council) and a category (there isn’t a category for local council, so we’d recommend choosing ‘Government Organisation’). When you have done this, click the ‘Continue’ button.

The next screen will give you the option to upload a profile picture if you have one. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can just click the ‘Skip’ button and upload one later. If you don’t have a logo, you can use a picture of something that represents your community, such as your village sign.

Following that, you will be given the option to upload a cover picture. This will show in a banner shape across the top of your page and should be at least 400 pixels wide. Don’t worry if you don’t know how big your picture is, Facebook will check for you and give you a message if it isn’t big enough. Once you’ve uploaded it, you will be able to click and drag it to position the picture in the allotted space.

So that’s it. You will then be given the option to invite your Facebook friends to like the page. Click on the ‘Invite’ button next to the ones you would like to send a message inviting them to like the page.

Next week we’ll publish a guide to optimising your Facebook page, so follow us on Facebook to see updates.



Social Media: is it right for my Council?

If your council isn’t currently using social media, now is the time to consider why that is. These days, online presence is everything, and it is important to interact with your residents in a variety of ways. It is a particularly good way to connect with younger members of your community. Here’s our summary of the main social media platforms, and things you should think about before deciding to sign up:


Interacting with your residents on Facebook gives you the opportunity to share content, advice and opinions, entering into a conversation with people who are interested in your work. You should make sure that your posts are interesting and original, and that you respond to any communication in a timely and professional manner, as it will be seen by a wider audience. Facebook has the oldest demographic of the main social media networks and the fastest growing sign-ups are from the over 50s.


Share short 140-character messages and links with followers, enabling you to send (and receive!) instant information about what’s happening in your area, or anything else you think your residents may be interested in. Twitter is a very good way to get out short snippets of information to your residents. You can connect with, and follow, other local councils and industry bodies such as NALC to see what is going on in the wider community. It can also be an invaluable resource for finding information about funding or issues affecting your local area.


This is a business networking site that is growing extremely quickly. It is mostly used for recruiting/finding work and connecting with others. You can get by simply by creating a profile, but to really use it, you need to regularly update your status and participate in discussion groups.


This is an image-driven social network. If you have lots of pictures of your area that you would like to share with a wider audience and would like your parishioners to be able to share their pictures to your space it is a good network to use.

I Want To Give It A Go – What’s Next?

If you’re a complete beginner in the world of social media, it can be a bit daunting to know where to begin. We will be writing a series of guides on how to set up and effectively use each of the social media platforms, so watch this space…