Search engines read through huge volumes of information on the Web with software programs called “robots” or “spiders” (because they navigate, or “crawl,” through the Web). These spiders create an index which contains, essentially, all the pages they’ve found and the words that are contained on them.
You need to make sure your Web site is included in those indexes. You can easily check to see if your site has been indexed by Google’s index by searching “site:www.yourdomain.org” i.e. site:www.idealware.org. This search will show a list of all the pages from your site that are included in Google’s index (ideally, every page on your site).
If you’re not included in the indexes for instance, if you have a new Web site, or one without much traffic none of the steps below will do much good until you are. How do you get included? You can submit your site to the search engines to Google, or Yahoo for instance but experts are divided on how useful this is. It’s certainly not a quick way to be included.
A better way is to get other indexed sites to link to yours. You can start this effort with huge, general-interest directories like the DMOZ directory, but you’re likely to have as much or more success with directories or listings related to your field. Is there an online directory of children’s service organizations? Does your United Way have a listing of local organizations? Do your funders have a list of grantees online? Any of these could provide the link you need to be indexed.
Some online services say they’ll submit you to a lot of directories and search engines automatically. These generally aren’t worth the money, as indiscriminate listings aren’t nearly as useful as ones targeted to your sector.