How to Optimize Content for SEO Across Channels
If you want supporters to find you, you need a good website—and it needs to be optimized for search engines (SEO). While it can be confusing and hard to understand, ensuring you know how to optimize content for search will set you up for success. With over 5.6 billion Google searches a day (skai.org), search is a great way to gain new supporters. It’s also important to note that SEO for nonprofits is a crucial aspect in your marketing strategy (it’s not meant for just for-profit organizations)!
And it doesn’t stop at your website—many social media platforms are adjusting their algorithms so that hashtags are no longer king—instead, users can search and be found based on copy in the captions. There is a big tie between social and search engine optimization (SEO), which most companies don’t think about. YouTube is considered the second largest search engine after Google and has 2.6 billion users. (oberlo.com). Instagram is 4th most popular social platform with 2.9 billion visits per month (blog.hootsuite), and AdEspresso reports that 200 million people visit an Instagram business profile everyday, with 66% of those visits coming from users that do not yet follow them.
While keeping this top of mind, you should ensure you give your audience what they want and need. This means including clear content on your site and helpful resources like blogs, case studies, and whitepapers to inform your supporters. Writing strong content and copy can affect your readers, social, and search.
The best-optimized SEO content comes from a mix of:
- Topical knowledge/expertise – Google calls this EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
- Deep knowledge of writing well
- SEO best practices
- Understanding user intent and your audience
Here are some ideas to help guide your content strategy and ensure your content is written well and optimized for search—no matter where it lives.
Getting Set Up for Success
If you don’t already have them, create brand guidelines to show how you communicate to your supporters. This should include personality, voice, tone, style, and formatting items (for example—is your nonprofit pro or against the oxford comma?). This resource is helpful for anyone creating copy or content for your nonprofit and will help keep a consistent style and tone of voice.
Make sure your content is both clear and relevant. Keep it concise, and ensure your sentences aren’t too long. Add explanations throughout where needed—not everyone is an expert on the topic you are writing about (ie. not everyone knows what SEO stands for, so it’s helpful to explain it and share the acronym after). Make sure the grammar and spelling are correct with tools like Grammarly and that you aren’t pulling too many words from other sources by using tools like EasyBib.
Ensure the topics you are writing about are the ones that you are most knowledgeable on. Don’t try writing just for search engines—it won’t work anymore. What is the purpose of the content? Is it to inform about your nonprofit? Think of what your supporters want to find in your content and write about it!
Develop Your Keyword Strategy
Come up with dynamic content ideas. Do you have any old posts that need updating? Look at your key traffic drivers and work from there to decide what content works best for your nonprofit and where to focus your time. Take the time to look at any gaps in content that you could write about and rank for but might not have created anything on just yet.
Think keyword first, and always include one focus keyword per piece. If you need help deciding on one, check out sites like answerthepublic.com, SpyFu, or search Google for ideas on topics and keywords!
Research what ranks for your chosen keyword. How can you make your content stand out? Check out what your company or similar nonprofits have published before—how can you write something different? Create an original piece to rank and gain new traffic.
Keywords are important on social media as well. We’ll dive into this deeper in the social SEO section, but it is worth noting here that keywords can be used in both hashtags and captions on social media. A similar keyword strategy for organic visibility on search can be rolled out on social media.
Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar will help ensure you have new content in the pipeline and are publishing at the most relevant times. Create a focus by month or by quarter.
Will you be pushing for fundraising at year-end? Line up some blogs on the topic or create a new page.
Do you have a new service? Promote it on the home page and consider building out a new one—or simply write a blog or social post to promote it.
SEO Best Practices for Web Content Writing
Once your topic and keyword are ready, it’s time to start writing. But, there’s still SEO work to be done. Here’s what should be included in your content:
- Incorporate the Keyword
- Use the Keyword or a Variation in the Title and Header Tags
- Use the keyword at least 3-4 times naturally throughout the content
- The longer the content, the more the keyword needs to appear
- Use Bold + Bullet Points Where Applicable
- Not everything needs to be a heading! Bold and bullet points are noticed by Google and can help increase the odds of ranking in the featured snippets at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
- Utilize Heading Tags Properly
- Include sections and subheaders
- Write a minimum of 500 words.
- Try to keep both paragraphs and sentences short and concise
- Break up the content into sections
- Include Internal Links
- Try to include a call to action at the end, i.e., check out our other related resources
- Link to other blog posts, case studies, or service pages whenever possible
Social SEO Best Practices
SEO is quickly evolving and moving past Google and other search engines. Where hashtags once ruled search and trends, SEO is becoming increasingly important in social media as well. One Hootsuite experiment found that following SEO best practices for captions, rather than a hashtag strategy, proved to bring in more engagement. Social media algorithms are smart—and hashtags are not always necessary for audiences to find your content on platforms like Instagram.
A few best practices and tips for social:
- Think about more than just the image or video itself—in your area of expertise, what questions are you answering or value are you providing for the viewer?
- Create clear captions that describe what the content is and why it may be relevant in search.
- Research your keywords on the platforms. Search for the keyword you want to be ranking for, and see what other content is out there and what’s ranking.
- Like content writing for longer form, follow the same best practices to stand out.
- If you still want to include hashtags, put them at the end, and always use #CamelCase.
- Take the extra time to add alt text and accurate image descriptions, not only to keep your content accessible but also to help social platforms understand if your image is what a user is looking for based on SEO.
Following these guidelines and tips will ultimately help you and your readers. You’ll give them a better experience with more engaging content, and make it easier for them to find you. To learn more about our SEO services for nonprofits, contact a member of our team today.