SEO is not only essential for businesses, it is also beneficial for non-profit organisations. In fact, it is a practical and extremely cost-effective way of obtaining online traffic. Although optimising a website can take a lot of time and effort, it is still a lot cheaper than using any other marketing strategies.
What is SEO and how can it help non-profit organisations?
Search engine optimisation is a strategy that organisations use to boost their search engine ranking. Appearing at the top of the search results can make it easy for:
- Donors to provide financial support
- Volunteers to offer their time and labour
- Potential members to find out more about membership opportunities and benefits
Relevant content can also help convince people to invest in your cause. For these reasons, you could argue that non-profit organisations need SEO more than any other business. This article will outline the most suitable optimisation strategies to generate online traffic.
What SEO strategies are suitable for non-profits?
- Identify and use the right keywords
Keywords can help you:
- Write content that is relevant to your target audience
- Find inspiration for your article topics
The target keyword or phrase informs search engines such as Google about the main topic of your content. By identifying the right keywords, you will be able to generate the type of queries that you are ranking for.
Keywords are essential, but you need to remember that you are creating content for people not search engines. Don’t force the keywords; instead, make it a natural process.
You should start collecting high-value keywords by identifying the words and phrases that are significant to your organisation, supporters and donors. In addition:
- Understand the search volume – the average number of searches for your target keyword every month
- Find out how competitive your target keyword is – do other sites use the exact same keywords?
You can determine the search volume and level of competition by utilising keyword reporting tools.
What SEO keyword tools are suitable for my non-profit organisation?
If you take advantage of tools and software (such as SEMrush) that offer free trials or free versions, you will be able to determine:
- Your keywords and their search volume
- Your site’s ranking
- Which websites are ranking for your keywords
These software tools can also monitor your ranking and progress.
Understanding your keyword search volume
A low search volume can be misleading. The keywords that non-profits use are often based on a specific niche. As a result, it is likely that the software may report a zero or low monthly search volume.
It is essential that you optimise the words and phrases that explain who you are and your cause. For example, if you run an animal shelter or a dog adoption service a professional membership organisation, make sure your keywords are relevant to the searcher as this will boost your online traffic.
Don’t focus on keywords with the sole purpose of targeting high search volumes. Pick the words or phrases that embody your mission and goals.
2. Incorporate engaging content that targets your readers and provide an excellent user experience
Google tends to give higher rankings to sites that give people fast and accurate information. It is not a good idea to force your visitors to navigate through endless pages or huge swathes of text. Providing high-quality content involves giving something valuable to your readers. However, you also need to present the information in a format that is easy to follow. Make it appealing so it will have an instant impact on the hearts and minds of your target audience.
It is quite easy to publish and share content online, but there is also intense competition. In a saturated market, it is vital that you publish distinct and focused content.
How to create focused content
Before drafting your content, you need to understand what your target audience may be interested in. Try to identify what the readers will consider valuable from their perspective. How can you inspire them to support your cause? Incorporate concise and tailored information that is designed to grab their attention.
High-quality content should be:
- Written in easy-to-understand language
- Always on topic and well-organised
- Presented from a different perspective
- Created for a specific audience and purpose
Your content can take various forms, such as:
- Blog posts
- Video posts (for example, YouTube)
- Visuals – infographics, photos or screenshots
It is also vital that you provide the best user experience possible as this will enable you to obtain a higher ranking. Google prefers websites that:
- Are quick to load
- Use intuitive navigation
- Provide easy-to-locate content
- Are mobile-friendly
This last point is crucial as Google follows a mobile-first index. This means that mobile-friendly sites are often listed on the first results page.
Many websites offer a beginner’s guide to search engine optimisation. Most if not all experts agree that eye-catching content and an excellent user experience are the most important SEO factors.
3. Apply on-page and off-page tactics to your website
‘On-page’ refers to everything directly affecting your website and its impact on:
- How Google and users understand your content
- The types of keywords you are ranking for
Here are the on-page elements you should utilise:
- Title Tag – This is the clickable blue text in the search results. You can optimise title tags by creating a unique but engaging title. Don’t forget to include a keyword for the page. If possible, place the target keyword at the very left-hand side of the title tag. Google may only display 55 or 60 characters so you need to keep the title tag within the limit.
- Meta description – This is the text located below the title tag. Although meta descriptions may not directly affect your site’s ranking, they can boost the number of clicks. Make sure that each page contains a unique meta description that is relevant to your readers. Also, include a call-to-action to encourage users to click on your other pages.
- Headings – The titles and headings give structure to your writing and manage your readers’ expectations. When keywords are added to the headers, Google can evaluate your page’s relevance to a search query.
- Search engines cannot read an image. This is why you need to include alternative or ALT texts. They will appear if visitors cannot see the image. You can also include keywords in the ALT texts to optimise your pages and increase their relevance.
- Internal linking – Linking internally to your other pages can help visitors discover new content on your site. You can link sections which detail your past events to upcoming activities.
Meanwhile, off-page refers to ranking factors outside your website. The most effective off-site strategy involves creating backlinks. The more backlinks the better as Google considers them to be a sign of a website’s authority and credibility.
You can gather these links by reaching out to online publishers and news sites. Ask for them to be included in their upcoming articles and enquire as to whether they will incorporate a link to your website. You can also provide a link to your campaign page that will help readers to:
- Learn more about your non-profit organisation
- Make a donation
- Purchase a ticket
4. Use local SEO to increase awareness
Local SEO is a specialised strategy that is designed to increase awareness within your community. The best method is to obtain a Google My Business (GMB) listing for your non-profit organisation. You can also include branded keywords that you are associated with, such as:
- ‘Home for Pets adoption’
- ‘Pet adoption, England’
You should think of SEO as working out to get in shape; it is beneficial every time you do it, but it may take some time before you and your target audience notice the difference. Nevertheless, if you want to succeed, you need to implement an SEO strategy that is suitable for your non-profit group. This will help you increase your site’s organic traffic, donations and visitor engagement. Tools such as Moz and Google Search Console can provide helpful hints for your SEO efforts.