What You Will Learn
Non-profits don’t share many traits with for-profit organizations.
Your mission–as a non-profit– is a matter of altruism. Your philosophy is rooted in making the world a better place. In contrast, companies focused solely on their bottom-line are about the almighty dollar.
However, just because non-profit and for-profit companies exist on different ends of the money-making spectrum doesn’t mean they don’t share similarities.
Case in point, SEO for non profits is as crucial as SEO tips for profit-based companies. Whether your goals are charitable and philanthropic or more focused on generating revenue, you need to be visible on search engine results pages.
SEO For Non Profits is Non-Negotiable in the 2020s
Learning how to improve SEO for non profits is a must these days. General internet usage statistics speak for themselves, with nearly 70% of online experiences starting with a search engine.
Moreover, 97% of users searched online when seeking local businesses. So, if your non-profit is locally based, SEO for non profits is even more crucial to you.
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re still running a business, whether you’re for-profit or not. And the same principles for marketing exist as any other company out there. You need eyes on your brand to accomplish your goals.
Of course, there are different nuances involved in what you do than with selling shoes, cars, food, or any other products or services.
Fundraising is a unique ballgame, but you still need to get the word out there to spread your message and enact positive change to make the world a better place. None of that can happen in today’s landscape without learning how to improve SEO for non profits.
What is SEO?
SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. It revolves around drawing traffic to your website through organic means. In other words, SEO isn’t paid like Google Ads or other sponsored content that lands your company in visible online positions on search engines and elsewhere.
Each search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo) has a set of best practices and guidelines they prioritize.
The better you’re able to follow those rules (which can be quite difficult to pin down), the higher you’ll get ranked for relevant, organic search terms. In short, your goal is to end up on the first page of results, but ending up in the top 3 should be your foremost aim.
The Nuts and Bolts of SEO
Whether SEO for non profits or for-profits, the ins and outs strongly resemble one another.
The long and short of it? At its most high performing, search engine optimization conveys your value to search engines. From there, search engines become your number-one ally, helping drive audiences to your website.
(Note: Given that Google dominates the space, this landing page will focus primarily on Google.)
The algorithm on Google assesses multiple factors to decide which results are generated for various search queries, such as:
- Query meaning
- Web page relevance
- Conte quality
- Web page usability
- Settings and context
Of the five factors above, you’ll find that webpage usability stands out most. That’s what Google’s algorithm tends to value most, prioritizing the user experience (UX) and its many optimizations.
The downside of Google’s focus on UX is when your website happens to have pain points for users. Then, it’ll dwindle down the search page rankings compared to pages with superior UX.
Factors such as on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO for non profits can improve your site’s visibility. More specifically included in these determining factors are:
- Social media strategy
- Guest blogging
- Influencer marketing
- A quality backlink profile
There are plenty of insights that go into SEO for non profits. As such, we’ll delve further into why learning how to improve your SEO can make a tremendous difference in growing your organization and spreading your message:
What Are Some More Reasons That SEO For Non Profits is So Critical?
Okay. Let’s hypothetically imagine you just made your website for your not-for-profit company. The design suits your branding, and it’s well-written, conveying your message powerfully and concisely.
Is that enough on its own? In the digital age, probably not.
Simply existing on the internet without a strategy amounts to madness without a method.
Sure, referrals, email campaigns, newsletters, and direct mail can help market your organization and get the word out. The same goes for various fundraising events. Even then, you’re still limiting the impact of those multiple efforts without learning the core principles of SEO for non profits.
But doesn’t your website automatically end up on Google just by its existence alone? Well, sort of.
Still, a website lacking SEO embodies the old adage about the tree falling in the woods when nobody’s around to hear–it won’t truly make any noise.
The same notion applies to your visibility on search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and most importantly, Google. Provided your non-profit isn’t on the first page of search results, nobody’s going to be able to “hear” your proverbial tree falling in the woods. It’ll exist in the ether, but not as much else.
To the above point, 3/4ths of all search engine users don’t go past the first page for their results.
Now, you probably look at that stat and think to yourself, “well–guess I better get my non profit on the first page for results.”
That sounds simple enough. Yet, getting listed on the first page for relevant organic search results is anything but straightforward. There’s a specific skill-set required and insights needed about your target audience to give you lucrative positions on search queries.
Learning How to Improve SEO for Non Profits in an Increasingly Competitive Space
Not only does the non-profit sector keep growing, according to Forbes, but the competition is necessary to keep the industry moving forward.
That’s mostly a good thing for you. A growing non-profit industry is conducive to wide-sweeping positive changes. And it proves people want to help one another survive and thrive, no matter their circumstances.
There’s a caveat in the notions highlighted above. You’re now going toe-to-toe with other non-profits for people’s attention and contributions.
The problem? You know all too well, as a non-profit, money doesn’t grow on trees. Even upper-middle earners are living paycheck to paycheck in the US.
Thus, your target donors only have so much money to spare. That obstacle exists on top of your non-profit facing increasingly stiff competition to earn their donations.
A similar point can be made for attracting volunteers.
As the market gets oversaturated with organizations like yours promoting kindness, philanthropy, and altruism, they’re also attracting more people to join the cause. Time is just as valuable–and more scarce–than money. Therefore, you must stand out from the pack to attract the people who’ll drive your fundraising campaigns and make a lasting impact for your non-profit.
Whether donors or volunteers, SEO for non profits can be a huge difference-maker. How? Well– organizations similar to yours, who might otherwise muddle up your fundraising efforts, will end up on page 3 of relevant search results. All while your organization is featured prominently on page 1…if you execute your SEO correctly.
Discover How to Improve SEO for Non Profits and Make Your Team’s Life Easier
On average, you’ll find that a volunteer works 4 to 8 hours a week for your non-profit. Depending on how dedicated someone is to the cause, it might even be more than that.
Whether it’s 1 hour or 500 hours, a volunteer is putting in the effort to help your organization make a positive impact free of charge. You owe it to them to increase their impact by bolstering your knowledge of SEO for non profits.
Consider the example of volunteers knocking door-to-door for donations. Now, with that in mind, here are just a few benefits of well-executed SEO campaigns:
- Increased brand recognition
- Heightened reputation
- More people are aware of your message
The above list only scratches the surface of the benefits of improving SEO for non profits. But the main message still stands. With successful SEO strategies, more people will know your organization before anyone knocks on their door asking for donations. That means far less legwork for your team of volunteer fundraisers.
Undoubtedly, other fundraising fundamentals must be followed to effectively gather donations. However, soundly executing SEO for non profits beforehand will lay the necessary groundwork for your volunteers, so they’re better equipped to take the ball and run with it.
As such, it is absolutely vital for the long-term health of your organization that you read on and learn these tips on how to improve SEO for non profits.
Use The Following SEO Tips to Drive Growth and Spread Your Non-Profit’s Message
The SEO tips offered below are integral to any SEO for non profits strategy. Read on to further enhance your search engine optimization knowledge base:
Tip #1: Target Keywords Will Lay Your Foundation for Success
Relevancy and SEO tips go hand in hand. You must write specifically based on what terms and phrases your target audience will use during search queries.
How do you achieve that level of relevancy? By figuring out related, specific keywords that align with your non-profit company.
Apply the above principle to blogs, landing pages, and general web/information pages alike, using main keywords to inspire the subject of any piece of writing.
This way, Google’s crawlers and algorithms will better grasp your content’s primary focus. They’ll then have a better understanding of what queries you’re aiming to rank for.
While it might seem like you’re writing to appease a piece of technology, you’re actually choosing keywords for a human audience. So don’t cram keywords just to please the crawlers and algorithms. Instead, figure out how to incorporate target keywords naturally.
Here are some keyword SEO tips of what you don’t want to do with your content:
- Avoid repeating phrases or words for no reason.
- You shouldn’t add phrases/words out of context.
- It’s a mistake to insert blocks with the same keyword.
- Don’t use keywords that aren’t relevant to the page topic.
The foundation of a successful keyword strategy for SEO for non profits begins with your high-value keywords. These will be the search terms and phrases most associated with your organization, its donors, and its volunteers.
Furthermore, you must grasp the nuances of search volume (i.e., the average number of searches keywords get monthly). You also must mull over a keyword’s difficulty and how competitive it is.
All the information highlighted above can be learned via keyword reporting tools:
Tools that Bolster SEO for Non Profits
What factors should be involved in deciding the ideal SEO keyword tool for your non-profit?
First, you’ve got to weigh price tags. Then you must research the features that will best serve you. These would likely be intensive features and are not available on free platforms.
The industry standards are SEMRush and Moz. Both offer free trials, so you’ll know what you’re getting before shelling out a chunk of your budget and investing in these tools.
Provided you are strapped for cash, you could use a free SEO platform more permanently, or–at least–until you have the financial room for a paid tool.
With these tools, you’ll have a far easier time finding target keywords and their search volumes than without. These platforms assess your website’s present-day rankings then analyze the websites that are ranking the highest for your specific keywords.
Better yet, SEO tools monitor your performance and rankings, so you have the full picture of your overall performance.
What Are the Best Keywords for Your Non-Profit?
Target keywords that best describe your non-profit’s cause (e.g., building low-income housing). Center your strategy around phrases rooted in your mission. Don’t get too stuck on keywords with high search volumes that lack an association with your main message.
Tip #2: Making Useful, Valuable Content
Google prioritizes websites (non-profit-based or otherwise) that provide users with the helpful information they want. What’s more, that info must be delivered quickly and efficiently without the need to scour complicated navigational layouts or clunky blocks of text.
Instead, the algorithms and crawlers on Google want easily-digestible, highly-engaging information that speaks directly to the reader.
Publishing these days is more seamless than ever, meaning you’re dealing with more competition (as we previously discussed). So, you need to ensure your content really pops and grabs your audience’s (and the algorithm’s) attention.
Grab Your Audience’s Attention with Streamlined, Focused Content
Whether written, filmed, designed, or otherwise, your content should adhere to the following 3 principles:
These principles are part and parcel of any list of content-based best practices, including SEO for non profits.
Each principle gets weighed on its own. Trustworthiness, expertise, and authoritativeness, respectively, have different sets of criteria. Through such scrutiny, audiences aren’t fed misleading or inaccurate information.
Show Google that you’re an authoritative and trustworthy expert by:
- Frequently updating your content.
- Creating accurate, fact-based content.
- Paying experts and/or guest writers to produce content.
Here’s one of our SEO tips that you’ll be most thankful for:
Understand the wants and needs of your target audience. You must write and create based on their perspective. Discover what your target audience values most before publishing anything. Then you’ll really produce impactful content.
Specificity is vital when publishing content. You can’t read minds, so you’re not going to know EVERYTHING about your target user. You’ll best guarantee success by focusing on tiny snippets of detailed information sure to catch your audience’s eye.
Building Your Content Framework
Productive SEO for non profits revolves around the following content framework:
- Gather audience data and use the information to define your main topics
- Your site needs structure, so categorize your content accordingly.
- Ensure your content is evergreen and always relevant.
- Keep your topics diverse by using an editorial calendar.
Start off on the right foot by writing a blog about topics most relevant to your audience, keeping them immersed and engaged in your brand messaging.
Also, share updates about the following:
- Event recaps
- Fundraiser/Volunteer tips
- Stories about beneficiaries
- Campaign performance
By frequently publishing content of all kinds on your website, it signals to Google that you’re a topic expert.
Additionally, be sure to use blog posts as calls to action that drive your audience to your donation and campaign pages.
YouTube has made itself a deciding factor with SEO for non profits.
While you may know YouTube as a video content platform, it’s also the world’s 2nd largest search engine.
Uploading videos to this powerful platform is now essential. And you must do so with the following components in mind:
- Upload videos in an organized fashion
- Use transcripts
- Write keyword-optimized descriptions
The above factors will improve your rankings, and you can share these videos across your website and social media pages. You can also leave a link to your web pages, driving audiences back there.
Tip #3: On-Page SEO for Non Profits
On-page SEO refers to your direct website, greatly influencing Google’s crawling of each page.
Here’s the best way to categorize these elements:
- Title tags appear as clickable blue text in SERPs at the top of browsers.
- Use unique, relevant title tags on each page that incorporates your keyword and branding.
- Keywords should be on the far left of title tags, while your non-profit’s name should be on the end (e.g., Support Homes for the Homeless | SheltersUp).
- Keep title tags 55 to 60 characters.
- This text appears beneath your SERPs title tag, summarizing the content on a given page.
- Keep the description between 120 and 155 characters.
- Active voice is suggested.
- Incorporate a call-to-action.
- Implement your keyword.
- Write something unique and engaging.
- Keep the description relevant to the subject matter on the webpage.
- Descriptive titles and subheadings create a well-organized content structure.
- Use main keywords in headings to highlight their importance to crawlers and algorithms.
- Primary headings are H1 tags, while supportive subheadings are H2 and H3.
- This text describes images to Google in a concise manner.
- Users see it when they can’t view an image or are on “read-only.”
- Another way to incorporate keywords.
- Adding internal links across your web pages allows users to find new content on your website.
- Internal links prove your website’s relevance to Google.
- An example of internal linking is adding a hyperlink for a fundraising campaign to a blog you wrote about increasing inner-city poverty.
- Specific words hyperlinked to another page.
- Anchor words should be relevant to the page they’re linked to.
- Successful anchor text uses descriptive language and accounts for surrounding words.
Tip #4: Optimize and Prioritize the User Experience
Keeping load times below 5 seconds is the first core principle of enhanced user experience related to SEO for non profits. You also must provide intuitive navigation, so your audience can easily find pivotal information. Additionally, content must be easy to understand and read.
Content must then be organized to be discoverable and to meet the four principles of online accessibility.
Furthermore, be mindful of the mobile experience because Google has implemented its mobile-first index. Specifically, Google uses mobile versions of websites when ranking search results.
Tip #5: Valuable SEO for Non Profits Requires Off-Page SEO
The act of another website linking to one of your web pages is called backlinking. Note that you want backlinks to come from credible sources–this way, it’ll boost your rankings, enhance your credibility, and expand your exposure.
Not sure how to get backlinks? Start by reaching out to news sites or publications to promote your events and campaigns. They might include you in event calendars and articles. Be sure that your main website link, or campaign page, is incorporated.
Bonus Tip: Align with An Expert Who Specializes in SEO for Non Profits
You’ve already got a lot on your plate as a non-profit leader.
So, how should you improve SEO for non profits like yours? Align with an expert like us! We know the ins and outs of your industry and how to develop SEO strategies that exponentially increase donations, volunteers, and recognition.
Give us a call today, so we can take your SEO–and your non-profit organization–to a whole new stratosphere of success.