For most organisations, organic search is the number one source of website traffic. But search engine optimization (SEO) can be an intimidating topic: it can be very technical, take a long time to implement, and can take weeks or months to see results.
That being said, SEO is an incredible source of value to not-for-profits, and there are some simple things you can do to optimise the content on your website to get more visibility in search engines.
This guide will focus on optimising for the most popular search engine, Google. Following these instructions will also help you gain visibility in other search engines, like Bing.
“Keywords”, or “search terms”, are the words and phrases that people search for in search engines. When those search terms match the information available on one of your web pages, search users are more likely to see your website.
To make that happen, we have to clearly communicate that information to search engines, through the process of “search engine optimisation”, or SEO.
Google invests a lot of effort in developing their search ranking algorithm, and in interpreting what people are really looking for when they use a search engine. Google now not only looks at your keywords in isolation, but also:
The goal is to rank highly in search engine results: the vast majority of people click on the first or second result in Google. And to do that, we need to know how to optimise our pages for search.
Here’s a full guide for not-for-profits to optimising your page for SEO:
The first step to optimising your page for SEO is to know the keywords you want to rank for. You likely already rank highly for your organisation’s name; what are other words people might use for your organisation, your work, and your programs?
A note on keyword stuffing: An important part of SEO is clearly communicating what your page is about to both search engines and humans.
You may be tempted to add lots of your newly discovered keywords dozens of times on each page, to ensure the topic is clear. That was a common SEO tactic in the early days of Google, but the priority now is writing informative, in-depth and clear content. In fact, if your pages over-use a set of keywords, Google might penalise the page for ‘keyword stuffing’.
There are some specific elements that help search engines understand what your page is about, and contribute to higher rankings. These elements are visible in search results, and can increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your results.
Ensure your page is designed with the layout of a search result in-mind.
When creating optimised content, remember your donors and supporters come first. Google simply provides them with relevant results, so make sure you’re writing based on what they want to read.
Create content that both Google and supporters are interested in reading: Blog posts, service pages, success stories and donation pages that are relevant to your users can bolster your website’s SEO. Here are some tips to ensure content is of high quality:
Source: serpIQ. Long form content performs well on Google.
Source: ntegrity. Break your content into sections to help Google understand the structure of your content.
Build your SEO for local audiences: local SEO is the practice of optimising your page to attract more donors, volunteers or employees from relevant local searches.
If your not-for-profit operates in a specific region, local SEO is important. Here are some tips to improve local SEO for your NFP:
Link building is the practice of getting other websites to link to yours. For not-for-profits, link building is an incredibly beneficial, yet underutilised SEO tactic. Essentially, when a website links to your content, it’s a signal to Google that your website is informative and trustworthy, which increases the likelihood that your content will be visible in search engine results pages.
Fortunately for not-for-profits, there are many businesses, partners, advocates and websites that want to be associated with purpose-driven organisations. Here are a few simple recommendations to build links:
Most importantly, remember to monitor your results as you implement these changes over time. SEO is an incredibly valuable marketing channel for not-for-profits, because it’s free, but it does require some effort and patience.
Here are some of the tools we’ve used in the past to monitor results for our not-for-profit clients:
SEO can be a challenging topic for not-for-profits, but optimising your content is the first step in gaining visibility in search results.
ntegrity has helped dozens of NFPs build and implement their SEO strategy. If you’d like to see what an SEO strategy would look like for your organisation, drop us a line.
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