Tips to earn search engine favor
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Strong SEO places your website or specific webpages higher in search engine queries. This increased visibility may translate to more traffic to your site, with your message reaching a larger number of potential donors, volunteers and other supporters.
Here are the ABCs of SEO for nonprofits.
Focus on your content
Search engines give admired websites higher rankings. To earn search engine favor, create high-quality content that speaks to your audience.
So, what makes web content effective?
- Speak to your audience. What do funders or other supporters want to see and learn? What does your audience need to know about your organization? Use this information to create content geared toward their needs.
- Write only once you have a concrete goal in mind. Don't write simply for the sake of writing. Effective content contributes to the dialogue on a relevant issue.
- Cut the jargon. Use straightforward, clear language.
- Think user experience. Make sure your content is easy to browse and navigate. Can users easily view, navigate and interact with the content from any device? Mobile versions and responsiveness are key.
Keep keywords in mind
The days of high rankings based on keyword density are gone — but in the context of quality content, keywords still matter. Effective keywords help bring the right audience to your website.
When you sit down to write web content, think about the most important words or phrases related to your topic. Content should focus on, and be organized around, these words or phrases. Try Google's keyword tool to identify relevant language for your topics based on how frequently users search for certain keywords.
Deploy your keywords in titles and headlines. Use keywords throughout the content copy as well, but don't overdo it. Usage in your writing should be natural, not stilted. Remember, too, that search engines are always trying to deliver the most relevant content — so you may need to update your keywords as search terms evolve.
Put links to work
It might seem counterintuitive, but you can boost SEO by linking to relevant external sites. The more connected your content is to other sites, the greater its value in search engine rankings.
When creating hyperlinks, avoid vague phrases such as "Read more" and "Click here." Instead, think action. Try "Donate now" or "Volunteer today." Use your keywords or phrases. Above all, keep it short.
Another important way to improve the quality and quantity of hyperlinks is to ask these external websites to link back to your own site. This is known as a backlink. Keeping "quality over quantity" in mind, outlets to target for backlinking might include:
- Partner organizations
- Organizations that mention your website
- Relevant government and education sites (such a .gov and .edu in the U.S. and .gov.uk and .ac.uk in the U.K.)
- Other reputable sites within your field or sector
- Supporters with large social media followings
Seek support from social media
Social media also affects the SEO bottom line. This element can basically be reduced down to a single question: Is your content shared on social media networks?
Shared content creates more buzz by driving traffic back to your website, honing in and engaging with certain audiences, and creating opportunities for further backlinks. The need for fresh social media content also requires the production of a steady stream of blog entries, news articles, videos and so on for your website — which ultimately works to boost SEO, too.
Classy: 7 SEO tips your nonprofit can't afford to ignore by Ellie Burke (2015)
Moz: The beginners guide to SEO by Rand Fishkin (2015)
Classy: SEO for nonprofits: How to take off in less than 30 minutes by Terri Harel (2014)
Nonprofit Hub: Want to get found on Google? The reality of SEO for nonprofits by Marc Koenig
Nonprofit Marketing Guide: Successful link building strategies for nonprofits by Brian Honigman (2012)
Bloomerang: SEO in 2016: What nonprofits need to know by Steven Shattuck (2015)