Your nonprofit has made a concerted effort to build an online presence and community. So, now that your web property is live, why should you care about ranking on those search engines (SEO)?
Depending upon the circles you run in, the concept of SEO can be a hot topic. Is it keyword research? Site optimization? Your host? A metabox in the dashboard? The quality of your posts? Frequency of posting? Google Webmaster tools?
What makes good SEO?
The answer is yes.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that means search engine optimization. In laymen’s terms it means making your content easy to find.
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘earned’ results.” Wikipedia
Sometimes unfamiliar terms, jargon, and acronyms provoke fear. But anyone can understand the basics of SEO. The video below by Search Engine Land does a great job explaining the basics if you need a refresher.
Google’s Webmaster Tools or Search Console
Google’s Webmaster Tools allows you to access the search console, get support, and learn about how to improve your site. You can access Google’s Webmaster Tools here. A great primer on how to get set up on Google Search Console is from Moz. It starts with adding and verifying your site.
“Google’s Webmaster Tools are essential for any strong SEO effort. To understand their full potential, it’s helpful to think about what Google Webmaster Tools’ role is for webmasters: it helps you see your website as Google sees it. “ Jayson DeMers, Search Engine Watch
You can learn more about Google’s Webmaster Tools from this video as well.
SEO Tools and Resources
There are plenty of great resources, tools, and ways to learn about optimizing your web property.
Google has a great resource called “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” for your reference.
Another great tool is Moz SEO. It’s a premium product but may be useful if you’re not contracted with an agency for this work.
Start with Keyword Research. Then, never forget about keyword research. This kind of information can help you plot and schedule your editorial calendar. True, you’re not selling wares; rather, you’re educating your donor base on your cause, your stories, and your work.
Webmaster tools and Google Analytics will give you insight into the keywords people are using to find you. Those can often inspire blog posts. Answering questions is a great way to educate your audience.
As a nonprofit, your mission relies upon online donations. Besides creating your online donation form and ensuring your sidebar isn’t distracting, it’s important that people can find you. Your donation form is your call to action. People who are aligned with your cause should be able to find you.
WordPress Plugins that help with SEO
We’re big fans of Yoast SEO plugin because, along with WordPress, it guides you to complete (or auto completes) things that are considered best practices for on-site and on-page SEO.
Along with title tags and sitemaps as well as plenty of other features, a meta box appears in the WordPress Editor. This meta box will guide you to optimize title (keyword and length), keyword, and meta description for each page and post. It will also guide you with readability which is an important ranking factor.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights is another WordPress plugin that you’ll need for the Universal Analytics Tracking Code. This will help with the verification of Google Webmaster Tools.
Of course, there are others like All in One SEO and SEO Ultimate, but Yoast SEO is our favorite.
There is no magic from any of these SEO technology tools. They work upon and give you insight from the content you provide. Yoast SEO will analyze the readability of your text, but it won’t write it for you. Moz will crawl to find errors, but you have to fix them. There is no way to get around writing and the technical optimization needed on your website, ongoing.
We wrote about the reasons why your nonprofit should blog previously. It’s important to keep a regular flow of these posts. Regular publishing is an indicator to Google and a ranking factor. So, maybe wait until you have three posts, schedule them all to publish on a Tuesday, and then keep that schedule going. Publishing once a week is achievable for most organizations.
In their WordCamp Europe talk, Joost de Valk — Founder of Yoast — and his wife Marieke van de Rakt discussed “sustainable SEO.” It’s no longer just about good keywords or long content. Your whole site needs to be optimized for best results. Good, quality content will always rank well. Answering questions about your audience’s concerns in terms they use, is good SEO. Write well. Publish regularly.
That said, HubSpot did some interesting research that noted publishing 11-16 times a month helped with both traffic and leads.
“B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0 – 1 times per month… Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.” Lindsay Kolowich, HubSpot
Do you have to start that aggressively? No. But having that in mind should shape your editorial calendar and publishing schedule. Traffic and Leads (for nonprofits this means donations) will be impacted positively.
What is your publishing schedule? Have you plotted out an editorial calendar? Setting achievable goals just outside of your comfort zone is bound to help your nonprofit organization grow its audience, support, and donor base — with good, clean SEO.