Essential SEO Elements for Non-Profits

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    Companies want to make their digital presences felt. Most have heard about search engine optimization (SEO), but they don’t always know how to start managing their own. In addition, smaller firms may not have the time or resources to dedicate to proper SEO, meaning their online efforts might not be seen by the people they could impact most.

    There are a few essential SEO items that will boost a company’s results — even for nonprofits with smaller marketing budgets. Read on for a quick guide to vital SEO that won’t break the bank.

    Search Engine Optimization plays an important role in getting found online.

    SEO is the tactics that’ll make it possible to appear on the 1st page of Google. And as we know, people tend to click the first couple of links in search results. Not being on the 1st page is like not being present online at all!

    SEO for non-profit organizations is no different than applying tactics to a for-profit. Except, you’ll need to get crafty considering you don’t have the same budget.

    The following guide shares everything needed to begin ranking a non-profit organization’s site. It also shares helpful resources to further explore SEO. And, an incredible offer and opportunity to making an impact, today.

    What is SEO and How Does It Work?

    SEO is a digital marketing strategy with a collection of best practices aimed at helping an online property rank higher in search. The goal is to increase brand awareness and hopefully converting people visiting the page. It aims to reward reliable sources by displaying their materials higher up in search results. This works best for companies that do their due diligence, utilize search engines’ algorithmic rules, and provide content users will find helpful. It includes an evolving process of keyword research, site and article formatting, regular content releases, and more.

    Some of the main SEO tactics include:

    • Keyword research
    • Content creation
    • On-page optimization
    • Link building and outreach
    • Local citations and placement
    • Technical practices and factors

    The big difference is found in the tone and intent.

    A non-profit isn’t aggressive so the tone is often more emotional and personalized. The intent shifts from making a sale/subscription to bringing in donations. These small changes can and will change how you do SEO.

    In all, non profit SEO is as much getting your message out there as for-profits. There’s not a huge difference in what you’ll do. Just know that it’s important.

    This brings us to…

    Why Non-Profits Should Embrace SEO

    Americans are very generous, frequently donating to charities and non-profits. Their preferred way of doing so is now through a website or online campaign. In fact, non-profits raised $0.83 per site visitor in 2018.

    Consider the $0.83 per visitor for a moment…

    …it’s telling how increased search placement has a direct impact on fundraising.

    There are secondary benefits of better search rankings:

    • Branding — People donate to the non-profit from prior years because they’re recognized. Likewise, social campaigns reach more people because they’ve heard good things about it. SEO is great for building credibility, among several other branding benefits.
    • Targeting — Reaching different demographics produce variable fundraising returns. Ranking in desirable locations reaches more charitable people, meaning more (and higher) donations.
    • Costs — Organic rankings decrease ad and marketing spend. This lets the non-profit reinvest more of their intake into their goals and mission.

    In all, SEO lets a non-profit do more good. It attracts more charitable people and makes for lasting growth potential.

    Need more convincing? Let these SEO stats wow you.

    Improving a Non-Profit Organization’s Organic Search Rankings

    We learned the “what” and “why”, now let’s learn the “how” of non-profit SEO.

    You’ll soon notice that there are many ways to improve a site’s rankings, with each viable for your goals. But, should you do every SEO tactic you come across? Certainly not!

    You’ll want to find a balance in your time, energy, and resources. Let’s get started with tactics that’ll make an impact (no matter the non-profit’s size). Here are three ways your non-profit can affordably improve its search rankings.

    1. On-Site Technical Factors

    There are a few items you’ll want taken care of before going further. These are technical items that’ll improve SEO tactics from behind-the-scenes.

    Your technical tasks include:

    1. Create and submit a sitemap to Google
    2. Configure your Robots.txt file to accept Google crawlers
    3. Set up the site’s foundation with a proper URL structure
    4. Subscribe and use the best web hosting you can afford
    5. Apply a flexible, mobile-ready theme
    6. Add an SSL certificate so the site is safe and secured

    Now is a great time to install analytic tools, like Google Analytics, too. This lets you monitor site traffic but also do a data analysis to improve your efforts!

    You’ll apply on-page SEO before publishing content — this would include:

    1. Selecting a primary and set of secondary keywords for the post
    2. Forming an eye-catching headline and engaging sub-headings
    3. Applying the keywords in the title, description, URL, and headings
    4. Using the keywords as direction for the content and its sub-topics

    An easy-to-scan structure can make a huge difference in both SEO and readership. Use keywords in headings to organize your thoughts, put them in image files names to give your content an extra algorithmic boost, and link to reputable sources to provide readers additional information.

    2. Content Creation and Marketing

    Your website should be a hub where clients can find information about the things they need, like services offered, products, community, and social events, helpful tips, contact information, fundraising information, and more.

    Tap Into Keyword Research

    Keywords are the most-discussed SEO element. A keyword tool will help you find the terms your clients are searching, helping you know which phrasing to use in your content to help search engines sort it.

    There’s a lot that goes into keywords, though, and SEO can quickly become a quagmire. Companies pay to use certain keywords, giving them an advantage in rankings.

    Some phrases are so common that there’s too much competition involved, too, making it important to stay focused on your goal: providing content using the keywords your clients are searching to get them the information they need.

    Content Should Be Easily Digestible

    Your customers are on the go or in need of quick guidance, so simple and concise language written specifically for them will be best.

    Provide Helpful Information

    Random content is not particularly useful, create items that will give readers what they need: guidance and information.

    If your content is about services, name the service, describe what is offered, and provide who/how to contact for information. For a fundraiser, offer event details — who, what, when, where, costs — as well as how to get involved.

    Content Organization Is a Must

    Put yourself in readers’ shoes and write information to serve their needs. Group like thoughts, stay focused on your topic, provide clear and concise information, and remember that quality is important.

    People are visiting the non-profit website for a few reasons:

    • To learn about the organization
    • To get contact information
    • To donate or participate in fundraising
    • To find informational and entertaining pieces

    Google loves when you answer questions and solve problems with content. As a reward for the content’s excellence, you’ll see it placed higher in search results.

    What type of content should you create for the non-profit? Try:

    • News updates and behind-the-scenes
    • Fundraisers and media from the event(s)
    • Missions and goals, and the people making it happen
    • Informative articles about the industry and interesting topics
    • Fun and entertaining pieces, something with personality

    You can use different formats with the content. Written blog posts are the most popular but you could also explore video and graphics. Audio, interactive media, PDFs, polls, and embedded games are all forms of content, too.

    Your goal is creating the best piece you can. If possible, make it lengthy; anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 words so you can cover more of the topic and get more relevant keywords on the page.

    3. Link Building and Outreach

    Backlinks are signals telling Google your website is trustworthy and valuable. Links are among the biggest SEO factors — so don’t skip out on them!

    The best links come from reputable sites but it’s good practice to diversify. You’ll want to build a link portfolio where the site has backlinks from dozens of sites.

    How do you build links to your site? Try:

    Links are easier to get once you’ve built a great brand.

    Besides doing great work, you can boost these efforts by reaching out and building connections. Over time, the non-profit site gets links because people want to see it succeed.

    You can also outsource link building if you’re busy or not the type to do outreach. These services usually leverage guest blogging to build links. It offers a sustainable way to get more SEO value while building up the brand.

    Leveraging Proven Organic Ranking Strategies

    Doing the SEO for non-profit organizations in-house is a great idea to save money. But, there will come a time when you’ll hit a skill and campaign ceiling. Breaking through this is possible with the help of proven SEO professionals.

    Raise Awareness & Get the Most from Your Fundraising

    As a charitable organization, your mission is crucial to your everyday business interactions. Those interactions are most powerful when they’re reaching people who need your cause, and SEO can help them find you.

    SEO may be intricate, but there are plenty of things a non-profit can do to help improve its search results rankings on a budget. If you’re looking for help managing SEO, or if you have questions you would like to discuss with a digital marketing expert, contact Direction to set up a consultation.

    We’d love to be the SEO pros that take your non-profit SEO to the next level.

    Contact us to see how we can put your non-profit on the map. Our proven strategies are perfect for boosting organic traffic and, with it, donations.

    Learn more: See our complete list of SEO services.

    About The Author:

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey is the CEO of Direction, a digital marketing agency reflecting the culmination of a 15+ year obsession with digital marketing. It all started with an eBay business at 9 years old, then transitioning from domain investing and website building. After a 6-year US Army career leading intelligence collection teams both in the US and overseas, Chris now brings a sophisticated approach from cryptologic language and adversary data intelligence to digital marketing intelligence. His precision and planning of military campaigns, now reflected in digital marketing campaigns, have proven successful for clients in industries ranging from law firms to technology startups.