4 free things not for profits can do improve website traffic
Getting your website seen is a key part to the success of any promotional strategy, that often starts with search engines like google. Search engine optimisation (seo) is a way which helps google etc to understand what your website is about and point people in your direction. We asked Larissa Murillo from MarketGoo to write 4 tips for us....
SEO is all about raising global and local awareness of the existence of your nonprofit.
Given the context that most non-profits operate in, it makes sense that one of the main objectives they have in terms of their online presence, is that they want and need to be found online.
If you think about the people arriving to your website, it’s not only people who were looking specifically for your organisation - chances are, there are many people conducting online searches for a cause, or the type of work you’re doing but not necessarily for your non-profit (called an “unbranded search”).
Imagine someone searches for “Breast Cancer Research Foundation”; they’ll immediately get the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in their results. Now imagine they search for “breast cancer nonprofits” and see American Breast Cancer Foundation at the top of their search results - they might check it out, along with the other results on the first page.
You have to optimise your website for both these types of searches.
Let’s Start with the Basics of SEO for Non-Profits.
You should be able to do the things on this list whether or not you have resources to allocate specifically to SEO activities.
- Get an SEO audit of your site! There are a ton of online tools that generate a report of your site. Our Free SEO Report is pretty detailed (and you can download it as a PDF), and it is an incredibly powerful tool to see where your site is failing technically and what you need to fix. If you are somewhat web-savvy, this is often the first and only step you need to take to start optimising your site to make it search-engine friendly, followed by continuous content creation.
- Blog. One of the biggest mistakes we see users make, is they either don’t have a blog, or have a sporadically updated ‘news’ section in lieu of a blog. The possibility of having a blog is a gift from the digital universe and it has incredible power to help your site in search engine results, you have to take advantage of it! Fortunately, as a non-profit you have an endless stream of potential topics that can centre around your volunteers, the communities you have helped, your fundraising efforts, etc. Katy Carlisle from the Wheel Exists has written about how to make the most of your Squarespace blogging features
- Pick your keywords wisely. Keywords are part of the backbone of your SEO. If you pick the wrong ones, and then optimise for them or randomly pepper them all over your site, you’re not doing yourself any favours and may end up worse off than if you had just left your site’s online ranking to chance. I previously mentioned that you have to keep branded and unbranded searches in mind as you optimise your site, and this is where keywords play a huge role. If this is the first you’re hearing on keywords, please take a moment to look over this guide to keywords, and how to pick them. Main takeaway: don’t aim for extremely competitive or general keywords. “no-kill dog adoption and rescue shelter in Louisiana” is a much better target keyphrase than just “dog shelter”. With unbranded phrases, you will reach a point where you can’t get any more specific and that’s fine, just try to make it as focused as you can.
You will have to place your keywords strategically, including them in your URL, pagedescription, title, etc. Just as with the website title and description, most good website platforms like WordPress or Squarespace should allow you to put in descriptions for each individual blog post too (this might be called the Summary or Excerpt section). One thing to remember about your page titles is that you may be tempted to give them creative names, but remember Google doesn’t understand the reference, pun or anything other than exactly what the page is about. Be as clear as you can.
You can add a description for your whole by going to Settings > SEO and filling in the summary - this is what people will see on search engine results, so make it enticing for them to click on your site.
To update your URLs (for instance, to include a keyword in them), keep in mind the following:
● They must be between 3 and 250 characters.
● They can't include special characters other than dashes (-).
● Traffic won't automatically redirect to a new URL if you change it. Navigating to the old URL will display a 404 Page Not Found error. To prevent this, create a 301 redirect after changing a URL. How to do this will depend on the website platform you use, so check the help documentation for guides on URL Redirects
- Optimise your site’s individual pages for search engines. It’s important that your site is divided into categories, sections, or otherwise well organised. This is because each page on your site should deal with a specific topic, a topic that has its own keywords and content. For instance, the Latin-American non-profit “Techo”, has a website that may be a little cluttered, but it is well divided into different pages: Mission and Values, Contact, FAQs, How they work, Awards, Job Vacancies, Upcoming Activities, etc.
Another good example is The Marshall Project, dedicated to criminal justice journalism. You can see they have pages about Supporters, How to Donate, blog news categories, the staff, About Us, etc. Each of these pages, then will focus on something slightly different. For instance, “Supporters” can be focused around the keyphrase “supporting Non-Profits in Criminal Justice Reform”, or the How to Donatepage can focus on the keyphrase “donating to The Marshall Project”. If you didn’t have these different pages, your entire homepage would have to somehow cover all these keywords and it would be a confusing jumble to Google. You can also pick keywords to focus on in each different blog post - this is also why your blog can be so powerful for your site traffic and rankings.