Many nonprofit organizations know about search engine optimization (SEO), but do they fully grasp why it is necessary? Your organization might say, “We want to be on page one for Google” or “I want my site optimized.” This indicates that you have an idea of the value of SEO, but you might not know the idea or strategy behind it. Before you dive into optimizing your nonprofit’s website, let’s go over why it is necessary.
The internet is a level playing field when it comes to visibility in search. As long as competitive analysis is done, any size nonprofit can be on the top of the search results in their field—including your nonprofit. Think about what added value your organization has to offer. Are you helping a specific demographic? Are you offering something unique? This can set you apart from the rest when it comes to ranking for SEO.
Want more local search value? There are tools both on and apart from your website that you can use to gain more visibility. Generally, many organizations rank better locally and build out their web presence from there. It’s a good starting point when trying to expand your outreach.
If you can’t be found in the search results, you are likely missing out on valuable donations that can help advance your nonprofit’s mission. Always keep in mind who you would like to target. Of course, this may change throughout the year, so having a plan or schedule will help you stay in front of the right audience.
We’ve all visited websites that were confusing and hard to figure out. Most of the time, users will not put in the effort and will click out immediately. To avoid that outcome and to engage your audience, your message and content should be clear. All of the following should be front and center: this is what our nonprofit does, these are our values, this is who we help, and here is how you can support us.
If your website does not load quickly, if it’s not structured well, or if it isn’t ADA/accessibility compliant, you will probably lose visitors and have poor engagement. Luckily, there are various tools to check your website load speed. If someone has a hard time finding what they are looking for and their experience is subpar, Google won’t rank your website well. Make sure you also think about who is visiting your website. It should be inclusive and accessible for anyone who comes to your page.
Social media platforms can support your website if you use them effectively. Social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have the clout to help you rank well for your branded keywords. With a targeted use of these platforms, you can build your audience following. Social media sites often have added features that can help support engagement with your website, such as a donate now button.
It’s a good idea to leverage your network by writing guest blog posts or providing valuable information on related sites that link back to your website. This tells Google that these sites trust and support the added value that you provided for them. Plus, the added value for the guest poster is that a link back to the writer’s website is usually given—hence the term “backlink.”
By now, it should be clear why SEO is necessary for your site. But it’s important to note that the goal should be to touch on all these points to optimize your website, not simply rank well for a couple keywords. Of course, SEO can be a topic that’s challenging to grasp. There are many factors involved, and Google continues to update its algorithm so users can find more relevant results from their searches. However, understanding SEO can be a huge help for spreading the word about the good work your organization does.
The next time your nonprofit is considering a drive, educational outreach, or brand awareness campaign, consider your goals and strategy. Being on page one on Google is great. But, having broader knowledge of how SEO works will put you at an advantage for furthering your mission.
Tom Damitio is a Partner at Corporate Conversions, a web development and digital marketing agency in Grand Rapids, MI. His journey in SEM and SEO started in 2012. Currently, he primarily works on SEO and digital marketing strategy to help businesses and nonprofits reach their short term and long term goals.