Running a charity is one of the noblest activities. Focusing on helping the most vulnerable of us is a laudable endeavour and it should receive every support possible from businesses, public authorities and regular citizens. However, things are not as simple as they should. Without SEO for nonprofits, your organisation will remain obscure, underfunded and with few chances of making a difference.
Why Do You Need to Consider a SEO Strategy for Your Nonprofit Organisation?
Nonprofits face two main challenges. One is competition with the big names, such as UNICEF, World Food Programme or Doctors Without Borders.
The second challenge is winning donors’ trusts. Unfortunately, the internet and various donation platforms, such as Go Fund Me, has encouraged a lot of unscrupulous people to take advantage of others’ generosity and willingness to help. In some cases, they even used real-life stories of people supported by charities.
Thus, right now, the average person is wary when they hear about a new charity collecting funds, food or clothes for the needy. Their first thought is – “what if this is another scam?”
SEO for nonprofits is the best tactic you can use to establish the good reputation of your charity organisation and win people’s trust. And this is the main reason why we encourage you to keep reading. You will learn how to help your charity stand out from other organisations and manage your SEO strategy with ease.
The Most Important Thing to Know: SEO Is an Ongoing Effort
Once you start on this journey, you must know that it is not a short sprint, but rather an endurance marathon. SEO for nonprofits does not show results as soon as you’ve started the work.
You have to be patient. You must also be willing to work constantly on your SEO strategy and make sure that it is up to date and in line with the latest Google ranking requirements.
However, once it starts working, SEO for nonprofits will generate constant results. You will see a steadily increasing flow of traffic to your website, resulting in more donations and more people willing to volunteer their time and talents for your cause.
Now that we cleared up this important issue, let us get started.
SEO for Nonprofits – a Step by Step Guide
Where do you start with SEO for nonprofits? If you are a new charity, things are simpler – in the sense that you can optimise your website for SEO as you build it.
However, with patience and dedication, you can optimise an existing website if you follow these tips:
1. Start with Keyword Research
You may read various articles by so-called SEO experts stating that keywords are no longer as important as they used to be. While they are no longer the ONLY ranking factor, they remain very important.
What kind of keywords would bring people to your site? It is important to consider not what you want to obtain, but what would persuade people to visit your site. Thus, many nonprofits do not even try to rank for keywords like “donate”. Instead they target:
- Educational keywords – “facts about poverty”
- Statistical keywords – “how many children go to bed without dinner”
- Empathic keywords – “the struggle to live with an invisible illness”.
You have several free tools available to research keywords:
2. Choose a SEO Friendly CMS
Since you will most likely manage your website on your own, a SEO friendly CMS like WordPress is our number one recommendation. Why? You will learn how to use it to add or modify content on your site very quickly.
Also, by adding the YOAST SEO plugin, you will be able to do your SEO for nonprofits with ease. This plugin will add relevant text boxes for SEO optimisation to all site elements. Also, it will show you how well each web page is optimised using a simple colour coded notification: red for poor, yellow for good, green for very good.
3. Create Lots of Valuable Content
Content is king in any form – written, video, audio, static image. At the present, it is possible to optimise any kind of content for SEO purposes. Thus, any kind of content you create may show up on Google search results.
Here are a few rules:
You must avoid stuffing texts with keywords. Google recommends one keyword per 100 words. Of course, you can use both a main keyword and 2-3 secondary keywords. In a standard blog post (600 words), the main keyword should appear six times, wile each secondary keyword should appear twice.
You can include videos in your strategy for SEO for nonprofits. Make sure to add a keyword to the video title and description. You should not stop at publishing videos on your own site. Take advantage of popular platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
All images published on your site should be keyword optimised. There are several elements of a photo you should optimise:
- Title – the file name of the photo
- ALT – a description which appears on the site if the image does not load (it should be as descriptive as possible)
- Caption – a short text appearing under the photo.
4. Leverage Local SEO
Local SEO is extremely important for small nonprofits. Realistically, you cannot support people everywhere, but within your local area. Also, you are more likely to find volunteers and people willing to make donations close to your offices.
For this reason, you should make sure that your charity has:
- Google Business Profile listing
- Location of your offices pinned on Google Maps
- Citations on relevant local directories.
Also, get involved in community events, which give you the chance of getting a mention on the organiser’s website and in local news articles. All these together will help you rank higher for relevant searches in your area of service.
5. Build Your Reputation with Focused Content
We are not done talking about content in relation to SEO for nonprofits. The fact is that not all content is good content. Some of the most effective content strategies for SEO purposes are:
- Create topic pillars, which allow you to create internal linking between related pages
- Focus on evergreen content – it remains relevant for a long time and can earn you high quality backlinks
- Focus on original research and topics demonstrating your expertise
- Find guest posting opportunities to increase your reach to new audiences.
6. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly and User Friendly
There is nothing more frustrating for someone trying to do a good deed than not being able to reach the page where they can make a donation. They won’t spend a lot of time navigating a confusing website before they leave it.
Also, remember that most of your potential donors and volunteers use a mobile phone to browse your website. Thus, SEO for nonprofits extends to checking how your site looks and works.
You must offer a great browsing experience on any device and keep your navigational structure simple and easy to understand.
7. Use Your Own Photos instead of Stock Images
It is easy to purchase a dozen high quality photos to add to your site. But these are standard images that people see on other sites, as well. Instead, make sure to take lots of photos at all the events you participate in and charity actions you organise.
These are the photos that show your work and the change you manage to create within vulnerable communities. People can discern between authentic and staged photos. When they see real life photos of your staff, volunteers and work you do, they will trust you and will start donating.
As a charity, you have a hard work winning people’s trust and start getting donations and volunteers. SEO for nonprofits is the most efficient and cost effective method of gaining exposure in your local community and establishing your reputation.
The good thing about this strategy is that you can do it on your own, with minimum expenses and lots of work. But, as a charity manager, this is what you know to do best!