SEO For Nonprofits

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and is used to refer to how high a website ranks on search engines like Google. Here at Phil we often hear SEO spoken about as if it’s a physical product that can be purchased off the shelf: if only it were that easy.

To keep things simple, you can think of SEO as a website popularity contest.

Although we have a general idea of what factors contribute to how high a website ranks on search engines, the “secret sauce” for exactly how much emphasis Google puts on certain aspects of SEO is a mystery. Google keeps its’ ranking requirements under wraps to prevent SEO specialists (like Phil) from quickly and easily getting sites to rank highly. Luckily, there are proven strategies that you can implement to boost the organic ranking of your site.

Broadly speaking, SEO can be broken down into two parts: On-Page and Off-Page SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is the structure of your site itself. This relates to how efficiently and effectively your web pages are constructed and how easily Google can index the pages of your site. Google wants to identify what content they contain and, thus, how highly your pages should rank.

Some of the factors that contribute to On-Page SEO are…

  • Title Tags
  • Page Content
  • URL Structure
  • Image Alt Text

Getting Google to recognize your site is a bit like playing the lottery – you can never be sure of the outcome, but you have to buy a ticket to play. Think of the following strategies as your “tickets” – the more you implement, the better chance your site will have of being indexed favorably by Google.

Install AIO SEO:
If your site is built on WordPress, install the All in One SEO plugin which adds basic on-page SEO functionality to your website.

Audit Headlines:
Google only allows 60 characters for the headline of a page. Make sure that you’re telling Google your page is about in those 60 characters! For example, the title of the Phil homepage lets users know exactly what we do: Nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and strategy. This gives users & Google much more information vs. titling a page “Home”.

Auditing Your Content:
Google’s goal is to provide the most accurate, helpful results to organic search queries. Thus, the quality of the content that you create is critical to the success of an ongoing SEO strategy. Within your web content, we recommend:

  • Using you and your to personalize your content
  • Capturing “window shoppers” by providing distinct value in the opening and concluding paragraphs of your content
  • Writing long form, valuable content (ideally >2000 words)

  • Use subheadings and headings frequently to break up content and improve the readability of the page
  • Use images with alt tags to break up content every 500-800 words
  • Link to relevant research, references, or influencers where possible: aim for ten external links per 1000 words of content
  • Write killer headlines: High quality headlines increase the shareability & clickability of your content. We’ve found this tool to be particularly helpful.


Off-Page SEO

Off Page SEO is the part of the popularity contest that you have less control over – how other websites feel about your website and your content. The main component of Off-Page SEO is backlinks.

What is a backlink?
A backlink is a hyperlink from one web page to another. When someone links to your web page, this signifies to Google that the content on the page provides value, and thus they index your page more favorably. Google also takes into account the authority of the site that is linking to your site when it determines how “valuable” that link is for SEO. For example, a link to your website from the New York Times will be more valuable than a link from Buy An Ancestor Online. Interested in diving deeper into off-page SEO? Check out this article.

Why is SEO important?
A sound SEO strategy can help relevant donors find your organization or help volunteers connect with your team. Although seeing results from a long term SEO strategy can take time, incorporating an SEO strategy into your 2019 marketing plan can reap big rewards over time.

I’m ready to start. Now what?
In addition to ensuring that your site is SEO optimized, start a blog! We won’t go into detail here, but maintaining a consistent, high-quality blog is one of the most effective ways to improve your SEO ranking. By posting quality content to your site, you’re showing Google that your site is “worth” the organic traffic they’re considering sending your direction. Another option is to give us a call to discuss your specific SEO needs.

Feeling Overwhelmed?
We’re here to help. Contact us to find out how to optimize your website for organic search results and improve your online presence.