SEO – Search Engine Optimization – (if you don’t already know) is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. Chances are you are on this page as a result of doing searches for SEO basics or intros to the topic and now you’re here! Basically, it’s about ranking higher in the search engine results for keywords related to your site. After all, how many people click on a link on the 4th page of a Google search (less than 1% FYI!)? In this training video we give nonprofits the most useful tips on improving their SEO strategy.
1. Research What People Are Looking For (not just what you have)
When we start creating our websites, we think about the content that we already have. Instead, we should focus more on what people need and are searching for. A great tool for this is the Google Keyword Planner – part of the AdWords toolset. The keyword planner makes it easy to find places which your audience is likely to visit and suggests new ways to connect with them using all of the targeting options available on the Google Display Network. The other useful tool for exploring new keyword ideas is the Keywords Everywhere plugin.
2. Study Seasonal Trends
Another fantastic tool is Google Trends. This can tell you a popularity of a specific searched term, based on time of year. For example – let’s say you want to make content about “Christmas”, but can’t decide whether you should make it “Christmas gift ideas” or “Christmas present ideas”. If you used Google Trends, you would see that twice as many people search for the term “gift,” so that’s what you ultimately should go with if you want to raise your chances of being discovered through the web.
Whole Whale does this with many terms including “Giving Tuesday” which comes up seasonally every fall. Below you can see how this shows up in our annual traffic in Google Analytics:
3. Build Evergreen Resources
Find useful content that your audience may use as an ongoing reference. For example: history, facts, glossary, background, how-to, tips are all the kinds of things that will still be relevant in a year (if written correctly). When making something (video, blog post, article) ask yourself if this is something that would also be interesting and useful a year from now. More on content marketing here.
4. Think About Quality Over Quantity Of Links
Every link is like a vote, and in Google’s world, the number of links coming back to you determines how authoritative you are. However, all links are not equal. High reputation or authority of a specific site matters a lot so think about your strategy. The more the better? No. The better, the better. Guest blogging can be a great way to build up backlinks to your content while also reaching new audiences. For example, Whole Whale regularly writes for Nonprofit Times, Huffington Post, TechSoup, Ad Libbing (Ad Council), and other publications to build reputation and links.
5. Use A Proper CMS With Tags
CMS stands for content management system. Good examples are WordPress and Drupal. A good content management system makes sure that your code is in the right format for search. Also, it makes it easy to add tags, which help organize your content so Google can index it better.
6. Mobile Matters
Can’t emphasize this one enough. Make sure your mobile content is responsive. Pages that aren’t responsive get dinged…Don’t get dinged. You can use tools like Google mobile friendly test and Pingdom to test your site speed. Consider setting up accelerated mobile pages (AMP) around main content.
7. Pay Attention To Google For Your Business And Staff
Create a Google+ page for your organization and connect it to your site. While author rank and ties to Google+ have been largely deprecated, there is still a huge benefit for organziations with a physical location to register their sites. You can manage how your businesses are showing up on Google or you can monitor your local search ranking with this MOZ local tool.
8. Use the Power of Pillar Pages
Create main theme pages that are then supported and link to supporting sub topics. Think about it as organizing content into buckets and then creating a descriptive table of contents around that page. An example on this site is our Online Fundraising page, notice how we break it into sections, descripe each one and then link to the supporting article. For more on this tactic, listen to our inhouse SEO expert talk about pillar page strategy.