Non-profits have a lot on their table, often their web presence comes last as compared to their other priorities. Many non-profits don’t even realize how beneficial expanding their online visibility, specifically within the search engines, can really be when it comes to increasing donations, recruiting volunteers and simply spreading word of their mission. SEO or search engine optimization is the process of making your website rank higher in the search engine, as a result coming up higher in the search results for a variety of different searches based on many factors the search engines establish. Let’s explore 5 easy steps towards making your non-profit’s website SEO friendly.
1. Choosing the Right Keywords: Choosing the right keywords to use throughout your website is vital to having your content found in search engines for relevant searches about your nonprofit. Keyword research works as a combination of the phrases you think people are using to find your website with the keywords that have an appropriate amount of monthly search volume.
For instance, the American Heart Association could make the assumption that people might search high blood pressure to find information on their website. By using a popular keyword tool, like Google’s Keyword Tool, you can search this key phrase to see how often these terms are searched monthly on a global scale. It’s important to use keywords that aren’t heavily competitive, but rather shoot for keywords with small to mid level search volume. This way you can rank for many keywords that aren’t as competitive, instead of focusing your efforts on getting results from one highly competitive key-phrase that you may never be able to rank for. The key phrase high blood pressure are highly competitive with a global month search volume of 165,000. That’s some potential for traffic, but it’s too competitive to rank for in a reasonable amount of time. Try shooting for other variations that the keyword tool gives you like signs of high blood pressure or symptoms of high blood pressure both of which have notable amounts of search traffic and the opportunity to actually rank using these phrases in the long term.
2. Title Tags: Title tags are one of the most important places on your website to include the right keywords for your nonprofit. Title tags can be seen at the top of your browser and are used to describe the topic of a particular page on your website. The title tag should contain no more than 65 characters, spaces included. Symbols such as – and | symbols are recognized; however, other special characters such as @, $, * are not recognized. The most important keywords should come first in the title tag. This means other keywords should come first, not necessarily the name of your nonprofit if at all. The only exception to this rule is on your homepage, where it makes the most sense to have the name of your nonprofit in the title tag. The title tag is taken into consideration by the search engines as an indicator of what that particular page is about. When particular pages of your nonprofit appear in Google’s results, the title tag is the first thing a searcher will see about a page. It’s highlighted in blue and in a larger font then the rest of the listing.
Below are examples of correct and incorrect non-profit title tags. Amnesty International stays true to the 65 character limit, using their non-profit name and has also included a powerful and relevant key phrase protect human rights, which accurately describes the overall subject of the non-profit’s website
Correct Title Tag Use:
Immigration Equality’s title tag below has the nonprofit name, but doesn’t correctly utilize a key phrase about their organization within the 65 character limit. Since they go over the limit, the title tag is cut off which is losing potential rankings in the search engines for this page and limiting the usability for people trying to quickly understand the topic of this web page.
Incorrect Title Tag Use:
3. The Meta Description: The meta description helps concisely describe the content of a page in 150 characters or less. This description only appears in the search engine results, but isn’t a factor to how your website is ranked. The meta description is merely for the sake of the searcher looking to quickly understand what the page is about, helping them make the decision if they’ll click on your non-profit’s website or not.
For example, the Fabretto Children’s Foundation is correctly using meta descriptions on their website below by fitting them within the 150 character limit and clearly describing what each page on their website is all about.
Correct Meta Description Use:
In this example from the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved, they don’t keep the meta description of their home page under the 150 character limit. This cuts the explanation of their non-profit short. This could be a place to help influence a person to click on your website and learn more about what you do, but in this case it leaves a searcher without vital information.
Incorrect Meta Description Use:
4. Keyword Rich URL’s: If your website allows such customization, content management systems like WordPress do, then incorporate keywords in the structure of your URL’s when possible. Separate the few keywords you use to describe your page within the URL with dashes, not underscores.
5. Using Keywords in Your Content: Content is king when it comes to SEO. The more relevant, quality blogs, articles, essays, eBooks and other types of content your non-profit has on your website the better, when it comes to driving quality traffic. The search engines will find your non-profit’s website more worthwhile when new content is consistently added, ensuring that your website is of value to people searching for your non-profit’s focus.
Incorporating keywords through the body of your text will help give the search engines a better understanding of what the article is about. Only add keywords naturally throughout your text, ensuring that only 2 – 4% of your copy is made up of keywords or phrases. Stuffing keywords throughout an article is obvious to readers and search engines alike. Keep the use of keywords natural and you’ll be one step closer to optimizing this piece of content with SEO in mind.
Looking for more insights on SEO? Register now for NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference 2012 and sign up for our SEO Training Day, taking place April 2nd at the same location. It’s a full day of SEO training, centered around nonprofits.
Brian Honigman is the Social Media Account Manager at LunaMetrics. As a Google certified partner, LunaMetrics also specializes in SEO, PPC & Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Honigman.