5 Steps to Better SEO for Nonprofits
We know that search engine optimization (SEO) can be a bit intimidating for non-profits, especially if it’s a new concept. This post is designed to clarify the basics of SEO as well as to share how to work with Media Cause and our volunteers when you’re ready to dive in. Before getting started, I thought I’d answer the inevitable question…
Does my website need SEO?
If you want people to find your organization online, the answer is YES!
There are over 3 billion searches that take place each day and 90% of the clicks are in the organic search results (As opposed to the ads on the top and right of the page). While it’s not possible to manipulate the search rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing in order to show your website wherever you’d like, it is possible to ensure that your website is properly included in the search index and is recognized for certain keywords related to your organization.
5 Steps to Improving Your SEO
At Media Cause we separate larger SEO projects into shorter challenges. This approach makes it easier for volunteers to contribute. However, working with multiple people to improve your sites natural search ranking can add to the complexity. Here are 5 steps you can take to improve your SEO, each represents a Media Cause challenge which you should post in the order described here.
1. Technical Website Audit —
Search engines use programs or “bots” in order to crawl your website and determine where it should rank. Before getting to the content itself it’s important that you’re not doing anything to make it difficult for these bots to review your site. This challenge asks a volunteer to review your website and ensure that it is easy for bots to crawl.
It’s important to point out that we do not advise giving access to your website to anyone unless you explicitly trust them. Media Cause volunteers are asked to make recommended updates to your site that you will need to implement. This approach ensures the safety of your site but also means that your organization will need to play an active role in the SEO process by making all of the changes on your own.
A technical website audit is the first challenge that you will need to post on Media Cause, along with a keyword research challenge. They are independent of each other so there is nothing wrong with running them simultaneously and having different volunteers complete each.
2. Keyword Research —
Any online marketing professional worth their weight in salt will agree that good SEO starts with keyword research. It’s a mistake to change content on your site until you have a good understanding of what keywords people use when they search. Many non-profit and for profit companies skip this step because they mistakenly think it only applies to massive websites with a ton of content.
Here’s an example of why this step is so important. Media Cause provides “online marketing services to non-profits” so those are the keywords we use to describe what we do on our website. It’s important to point out that those words are carefully chosen. The term “non-profit” has 2.2 million searches each month while “nonprofit” only has 1.8 million. If we were to target the wrong one and are lucky enough to rank on the first page we would be missing out on reaching hundreds of thousands of people each month.
Your keyword research project on its own provides you with interesting data but it will not improve your website’s ranking. It needs to be shared with your next set of volunteers who take on the challenge to update the website and meta content of your site.
3/4. Website Content & Meta Content Updates —
These challenge can both be completed at the same time, by separate volunteers or by the same person, however they cannot be started until you’ve completed a keyword research project. You will need to share your keyword research with the volunteers that update the content on your site. This will give them the data needed to choose the best keywords to target by matching the visible website content and not-so-visible meta content (what the search engines see) on each page with the appropriate keywords.
5. Link Building —
To be successful with SEO, link building needs to be an ongoing initiative rather than a one-time project. Google looks at how many websites link to yours in order to judge its popularity and your content’s quality. The assumption is that high quality sites will have more inbound links than sites with poor quality content because people will naturally share content that they find to be useful. While it’s true that sites with great content will attract links organically, it’s important that you also take a proactive approach to finding more places on the web to place links that lead back to your site.
By posting a link building challenge on Media Cause, you task our volunteers with finding websites and directories where links can be placed on your website’s behalf. This challenge should be repeated over and over again: the more links that you’re able to generate for your site the better.
Getting Started with SEO on Media Cause
Media Cause can jump start your organization’s SEO, however the more you learn about SEO the more you’ll realize that in order to take full advantage of it you’ll need to make this an ongoing effort. By completing all of the challenges above, we hope to improve your websites natural rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, for keywords that are relevant to your organization. We also hope that you’ll see the value in SEO and wind up hiring an agency or consultant to monitor your rankings and continuously improve your website’s visibility.
Working with volunteers is a great way to get started with SEO but it can also present a challenge in that your project is typically a secondary priority behind their job that pays the bills. Please be patient when connecting with volunteers on Media Cause. If we aren’t able to connect you with a volunteer within the first 21 days, please repost your challenge. We won’t stop trying to help you until we’ve matched you will a great volunteers. If a volunteer commits to a project but isn’t delivering the work as promised don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can intervene.
We look forward to helping your non-profit get started with SEO. If you’re not already signed up with Media Cause, please register today and begin by posting the 5 challenges listed above.