How familiar are you with the Search Engine Optimization setup of your website?
What keywords does your website rank for? On average, how many visitors visit your website from Google search results? What is the average bounce rate on your website?
These are a few of the many questions you should be able to answer about your organization's website. It's ok if you're not sure. SEO just takes a little preparation. However, before you can gain this level of knowledge, your website must be in top SEO shape.
Your website must be set up correctly for SEO, for 2 key reasons:
- Search Engines "read" your website: Your website's SEO needs to be set up correctly for search engine robots to understand your website.
- Constituents need easy interaction: The content and presentation of your website should communicate and function easily for your visitors.
So let's get to it. Check out our top 9 checklist tips for your nonprofit Website.
Top 9 tips for nonprofit SEO success.
1. Content is still Supreme.
The largest factor behind SEO is the quality–and sometimes the quantity–of your content. Websites with more insightful and unique content about a particular topic tends to out-rank smaller websites with less content. Many factors go into where your website ranks in search engine results, but you must always start by providing extremely helpful and insightful content to your users.
2. Use Keywords Appropriately.
Let's say you're writing about a topic for "volunteer dog walking"". You'll want to use those keywords in various parts throughout your content. It should be in your url link, your meta title tag, your meta description, within the title of your H1, and throughout your content with variations. So how does Google know this phrase is about people volunteering to walk dogs instead of a dog volunteering to walk? Context. Make sure to add variations to your keywords to help explain your content. For example you would use additional phrases throughout your content such as "help walk dogs", "donate your dog walking skills", "walking dogs for charity", etc.
3. Structure Your URLs
Make sure your urls contain your target keywords and are structured by topic. For example your "About" section would have a main page url of "/about" and all pages under about would be structured under the about page. A "Team" page under your "About" section would have a url like this: /about/team. Same goes for your services. And please, don't create a page with a url of /services. It has very little SEO meaning. If your services are specific to land conservation, then rename your service url to "land-conservation-services". If you have a land monitoring service, the url of that page would look something like this: /land-conservation-services/monitoring. Notice I didn't repeat the word "land" for the land-monitoring service page. Try to reduce duplicate words as this could be seen by search engines as "keyword" stuffing.
4. Add Custom Meta Data
Rather this should be titled, don't forget about meta data! This is the data that tells search engines the name of your page and a brief description about your page. If you don't currently have this capability on your website, get in touch with us. This is a critical first step that search engines look for on your page. The title should include keywords that best represent to the overarching topic of the page. I recommend using a form of that keyword in your page description as well.
5. Avoid thin content pages
Go big or go home. The minimum is 300 words per page, but pages that outperform competitive pages are well beyond 300 words. If there's an important content subject on your website, it will perform the best if you break out all the stops. Write creative, unique, and insightful content for all your important pages. Any pages that have weak or thin content will likely be pushed down in the search results or removed all together.
6. Add links to relevant information
The top results pages in Google have 1 thing in common: links to high quality content. This means that not only should the content you produce be high quality and provide in-depth information, but should also link to additional pages (internal and external) that contain high quality content. High quality content must be 100% unique, extremely relvant, and highly trustworthy.
7. Fix crawl errors
I'm sure you'e seen the occasional 404 Not Found errors on sites you've visited before, or worse, a 500 error that fails to load anything. These types of errors are also signals to Google and your users that something has gone wrong. You need to keep an eye out for these errors and mitigate the issues right away. With a verified Google Search Console account, you can easily spot these issues.
8. Load only secure (https) pages
Secure website pages are required for all websites, not just ecommerce and privacy-related websites. If your website does not have an ssl certificate and does not display correctly on https, get that set up correctly. Brad DeForest provides more detail about these requirements Google has been making in his article last year about https for nonprofits.
9. Write descriptive alt tags for all images
Search robots are getting better at "reading" the content of images with the use of facial and other subject recognition technology, but you still need to use alt tags for every image. Alt text, more importantly, helps describe images to visually impared users using screen reading devices. First of all, any image you use on a page should be used to support the topic of that page and reinforce the user's visit. The image should be obvious, and an overstatement on the topic. If you have an image that contains text, include that text in the alt tag. Likewise the alt text for the image should contain a relevant keyword variation, while accurately describing what is happening in the image. Alt text for bullets, icons, etc. can be left blank.
BONUS Tip: Offsite SEO Marketing
Offsite SEO marketing means you get to spread the word in creative ways! Ultimately what you want, is for people to love your website content so much that they want to add links on their website to yours. This is done through social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, through blog articles on other websites, and even through press release articles or news sites. As an organization, adopting a charitable frame of mind with your marketing is an easy leap. After creating meaningful and useful content on your website, reach out to other like-minded website owners, telling them about your great content. You're bound to create friendships, build links, and ultimately increase your organic (non-paid) search traffic.
BackOffice provides ongoing SEO configuration support for your WordPress or Drupal website as an option under our Proactive Support services. Reach out to us with questions or concerns around your organization's SEO setup on your website.