You already know your organization has to be able to be found in search engines. And not just when someone is looking for your organization by name, but also when they’re looking for information or events related to the programs, services, and activities related to your nonprofit. This is where your search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. There are some basic tactics you can implement on your website that will help your nonprofit improve visibility in search engines so you can be found by potential volunteers, donors, and members.
Working with nonprofits has always been a passion project of mine. I’ve worked directly with the Marion-Grant County Humane Society, The Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Project Leadership, and VoteRunLead to help them increase traffic and raise visibility for their organizations.
I’ll also show you how your nonprofit can get a free actionable site audit from me to help with your SEO efforts.
1. Page Title Keywords
Put your target keyword for each website page (i.e. About Us, Ways to Give, Volunteer Opportunities, etc.) in the page title. Since the maximum page title length is 70 characters, you’ll need to keep it short and focused.
2. Keywords in the Link
You’ll want to make sure your keyword or phrase is used in the URL of the webpage. So for example, since I want this page to rank for nonprofit search, I am going to make sure that phrase is part of the link for this post. Keep your most valuable keywords close to the backslash.
3. Meta Data Keywords
Let’s be clear about metadata: it’s really not that important. Yes, it used to be about a decade ago, but that’s no the case anymore. In fact, how the search engines decide to preview your page in search results has more to do with the quality and content more than it does the hidden bits of metadata.
That said, they do still count for something. It’s a best practice to have this information available since it makes the search engine robots happy. And the happier they are, the more likely you are to be seen by real humans. Take some time to fill out the description (max 150 characters) and the page keywords.
4. Keywords in Header Text
Header text are those H1 and H2 tags. It is usually the title of the blog, article, or some other big bold text at the top of the page. Setting the header tags helps search engines to understand what that particular page is all about which helps indexing. The combination of having the title tag and header tags used correctly will give you an incremental advantage. So rather than making your text be 20 points, go ahead and set it as a heading.
5. Content Keywords
I’ve talked to a lot of “experts” and read a lot of articles that advise you to use your keyword or phrase anywhere from as little to 4-6 times to as much as 10-12 times. My advice? Just write naturally. The concept of “keyword stuffing” is a real thing that search engines know how to detect. As they get smarter, so do their algorithms. The artificial intelligence engines used by search engines pick up on stuffing and makes them unhappy. And remember, we want happy search bots. Don’t try to insert your keywords into places on the page where it doesn’t make sense so you can avoid receiving a penalty.
6. ALT Image Text Keywords
There are a few reasons to add text to the ALT tag area of a picture. One is for accessibility in case a page doesn’t load and the person can read what the image should be, and the second is so that search engines can easily index the image. This is the best way to ensure the bots will be able to “read” the image. I like to also include a little branding in my alt tags. For example, if i have an image about buyer personas, I would make the ALT tag read “buyer personas | Selina Bradley | Digital Marketing Strategy.”
7. Add a Call-to-Action (CTA)
Always ask yourself this important question before writing anything: “what’s the point?”
Why are you writing this? What do you want people to do with the information you’re giving them? If you want them to them to stay longer on your site and read another article, be sure to include related articles and links throughout the piece.
- Do you want them to fill out a contact form? Then you should include a link for them to click that takes them there.
- If you want them to sign up for something, show them how.
- Every page, including blogs, should have at least one call to action above the fold (so they don’t have to scroll to see it).
While most CTAs are linked images, I’ve received some of my best clicks on standard links. CTAs can be anything from “download” to a more elaborate image like the one at the end of this post. If you need some help with CTAs, you can either click here to download 76 ready to go buttons or check out Canva to create your own (it’s totally free).
8. You Need Inbound Links (backlinks)
Google uses signals from other quality websites that are linking back to you. These are called backlinks. Sharing your content on social media can be a big help here, but there’s more you can do since social sites typically place “nofollow” tags with shared links meaning they are telling the search engines not to assign a backlink signal. Not good! But, using social to distribute your content means it can be seen by others and possibly shared on someone else’s blog. The more people sharing your content on their sites equals more inbound links for you. Try reaching out to some sites or blogs that you value and request to guest post or offer insights on a topic. Neil Patel (creator of CrazyEgg, QuickSprout, and KISSmetrics) has a great write-up on some tools to get you more backlinks.
9. Create Interesting & Relevant Content
Create compelling and valuable content that’s relevant to your audience. The best way to know what your audience wants is through your buyer personas.
Your content needs to be informative, inspiring and tell a story. Again, write for your target audience. How can you inspire them to support your organization? Engaging content should be error-free and have at least 500 words per page. Longer content is better, but 500 is the absolute minimum. Use bullets, headings, and pictures to make the blocks of text easy to digest.
10. Guest Blog On Similar Industry Sites
I already mentioned guest blogging to help build inbound links, but that’s not the only benefit (although it is the biggest). To start, make a list of other niche blogs in the nonprofit world that help raise awareness for different causes. Comment on those blog posts with insightful comments consistently for at least a month. Once you’ve established a baseline of familiarity and thought leadership, reach out to them and ask if you can write one guest post for them.
Hopefully they accept. When they do, write something brand new for them and their readers. They probably already browsed your site to see the type of content you’re pumping out and will not appreciate it if you give them something that already exists on your site. Make sure to include 2-3 links in your post that link back to your site.