When did you last Google your organization’s name or check to see if your website is among the top search results for relevant terms? Many nonprofits optimize their websites for search engines when they first launch and never again revisit their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for online obscurity.
Search engines regularly change their search result metrics, and your nonprofit needs to keep up with such trends. Pay particular attention to the following issues:
Keywords. Search engines rank Web pages, not entire websites, so you need to distribute relevant keywords throughout your headlines, content, titles and heading tags and meta descriptions. You can check the popularity of certain keywords using Google Trends. Also check your competitors’ websites to see which keywords they use.
Mobile considerations. To get the most mileage with search engines, your website content must be mobile-friendly. Since the spring of 2015, Google has expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor (and now offers a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that can show how Google analyzes your pages). Search engine considerations aside, users increasingly access websites via mobile devices. If your site isn’t easy to read and use on such devices, they’ll quickly leave it.
Social media promotion. Whether you primarily use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platforms, social media is instrumental in boosting the visibility of your nonprofit’s website and, indirectly, your SEO. Include links to your site in social media posts so the links are shared when readers repost your content. The number of links to a website is an important ranking factor, but links from other sources are rated more highly than links from your own postings.
Links. Quality matters when it comes to incoming links to your website. A few links from sources with strong reputations in the relevant areas will be ranked higher than dozens from less credible sources.
Content. Substantive material, preferably not available elsewhere, draws high-value incoming links. If your staff isn’t qualified to produce such content, SEO consultants can help.
Remember that Google isn’t the only search engine out there, and different engines use different ranking algorithms. On Yahoo, for example, your ranking improves based on longevity — the longer your site has been online, the better its ranking.
Other countries may favor home-grown search engines. So if you’re trying to reach an international audience, consider your targets’ search engine preferences and tailor your site accordingly.