SEO is important component of online marketing success for any organization, non-profits included. Whatever the mission of your non-profit website, you're likely looking to find as many people as possible to contribute in meaningful ways. That's where SEO enters the picture.
When a person is looking to volunteer, donate, or just learn more about a cause, search engines are the most popular choice for finding that information. Your search ranking determines how likely you are to be found. The good news is that you can improve your SEO, regardless of budget. Start by putting these simple nonprofit SEO tips into action.
Local SEO for Non-profits
Local search is certainly a key component for non-profits’ SEO efforts, especially if you accept non-cash donations or need to continually recruit hands-on volunteers. Here are some basics for establishing a local online presence that can be a good foundation for an expanded local SEO strategy:
- Start by displaying your organization's full name, address, and phone number in HTML text on your organization’s website. Depending on your site’s architecture, suggested site real estate for displaying this information is the website footer, contact page, left/right sidebar.
- Optimize your site's title tags by including your organization's location and full name. An optimized title tag will help your site appeal to search users, and it also shows up on the user's browser tab, so make it count.
- Set up Google My Business, Bing Places for Business for business maps listings.
- List your site on local business directories, such as Superpages, online Yellowpages, Manta, etc. This helps drive traffic, and it provides valuable citations that will boost your search ranking. While not free, BBB and Chamber of Commerce are also trusted citations for local SEO.
- Don't forget local SEO in your site's meta description. Ideally, you want to keep it short, sweet, and on point. Your meta description may often be the first information snippet search users see about your organization in their search results, so make sure it’s not only optimized, but enticing for click through.
Basic SEO for Non-profits
Don't forget about keywords as you work to enhance your basic SEO. Mention that you're a charitable organization, explain what you do, and place keywords where they fit naturally. Be sure to mention your tax-exempt status, too. Put yourself in the search user's shoes. What terms would you search if you were trying to find your organization?
- Know your audience and their search terms. With some fundamental keyword research, you can begin the process of implementing on-page optimization elements specific to all your site pages, such as optimized title tags, meta descriptions, use of Header headlines (H1) and sub-headlines (H2), SEO content copy, internal linking and more.
- Social media can be especially useful as an inexpensive internet marketing ‘reach’ for donors, volunteers, subscribers, members, etc. And using social media optimization is another key to basic SEO for nonprofits!
- LinkedIn is an especially useful social site for non-profits. Create a group for your organization on LinkedIn, and encourage donors, volunteers, and others to join. Be sure to mention your group on your Company Page.
- Photos are among the most frequently shared content on the Web. Encourage people to take photos at events, or when they're just visiting your organization. Then direct them to your social media channels so they know where to share their favorite shots.
- Don't go cheap on hosting your domain. Good hosting can support SEO efforts, such as, site speed.
Optimize Your Blog for Nonprofit SEO
Blogging is a great way to encourage donors, recruit volunteers, and spread your message to an interested audience. Your blog can also provide a boost to your SEO efforts. You just need to follow a few simple steps to optimize it, first.
- Make sure that your blog is hosted on your domain. This step is vital in ensuring that your site receives the positive SEO benefits that your blog generates. The address should look something like this: www.yourdomainname.com/blog.
- You can also take basic SEO tactics to your blog and make them strategic and purposeful! Implement blog optimization - both on-page SEO elements and proper SEO plugins to manage the blog. Use targeted, and long-tail keywords, link to other pages of your website, include social buttons to make sharing easy.
- Use your blog as your ‘homebase’ social media channel. Integrate your social audience with your blog.
- Blogs are a great content marketing medium for building brand authority, community, and targeted traffic.
- Optimize your blog for social media interaction to ensure it's generating maximum reach. Facebook and Twitter, for example, each offer simple code you can include in your site's headers to improve the appearance of your site in social links.
Free Tools for Non-profit SEO
There are a number of free tools available to aid your SEO efforts. Sample the available tools, and decide which work best for your unique goals. Here are a few options to get you started:
- Google Analytics can track most all your digital efforts.
- Google Webmaster Tools can help you monitor your website’s health. Google will communicate any site issues through Webmaster Tools.
- Free SEO tools listings here, here, here, and here.
- Free PPC ads with Google Grants for Adwords
There are certainly good free SEO tools, but most will likely have some limitations simply because they are free. But free is always a good place to learn and get started!
In summary, SEO is a powerful marketing channel your non-profit organization. It's a lot to take in, and an SEO consultant is a great resource in helping you and your organization grow its online presence. Why wait? It's time to enlist the help of SEO in accomplishing your non-profit mission.