Search Engine Optimization. You’ve heard many (many) times that all your nonprofit’s blog and site content should be optimized to drive traffic. But when you’re lean on resources and human power, just producing blog posts and updating your website feels like a miracle, never mind SEO or a content strategy. However, without taking that crucial SEO step, you are kind of shouting into the void. Yes, you’ll get found other ways, like by sharing posts on your social accounts. But why not try to make every inch of your online presence count?
It’s true SEO can be a frustratingly long play since the process of getting indexed by search engines can take weeks or even months. But it’s worth it, because when you optimize your content, it acts as a kind of sleeper agent working to bring more awareness and support your way.
A word on content and AI
Search for SEO tips and you’ll read a lot about creating good content that people will want to read. This is definitely a factor and something to consider when you use AI to write for you.
While it can be hugely helpful, AI doesn’t do an amazing job writing for the searcher’s intent or your audience. So, if someone lands on your blog post looking for an answer your keywords, title, and headers all claim to support and yet they don’t get what they need from the actual content, they likely will exit. Over time, a high exit rate signals to search engines that your content is not helpful to visitors, which can negatively affect your ranking.
Human-Centered SEO for Nonprofits in 2024
Good (optimized) content has a better chance of working for you and getting your nonprofit found online. In 2024, it’ll be even more about providing actual value to the reader.
From an article on 2024’s SEO trends by Rosey Bowring:
“Angie Nikoleychuk, Content Marketing Manager at Search Engine Journal says that we can partially blame AI for the sudden surge of low-effort and low-value content online. AI has allowed brands to pump out lifeless (yet still SEO optimised) content in quick succession with minimal human input. Nikoleychuk predicts that search engines will release more spam and useful content updates in 2024 to try and weed out low-value content.”
So, what kind of content is that, exactly? More than likely, it’s the kind of helpful, interesting stuff you’re already writing. But, just in case, here’s a couple pointers.
- Tailor content to your audience: For instance, Eventgroove enables nonprofits to easily run online raffles. To make sure people searching for that find us and the relevant page on our site and our article detailing how to combine an in-person and online raffle, the post includes common search queries like ‘selling raffle tickets online’ and ‘how to do an online raffle.’ So, if your nonprofit works in environmental conservation, use a keyword research tool to identify common questions like “how to support local environmental initiatives.” Then, create content that guides users through steps they can take, such as participating in local clean-up events or educational workshops your organization offers. Or, you can optimize existing content you have with your keywords in mind.
- Highlight authentic stories: Share real-life examples of the impact your nonprofit has made. Stories of individuals or communities that have benefited from your work can be powerful in connecting with your audience. (You’ve heard this one a million times about social media, too!)
4 Straightforward SEO Strategies for Nonprofits
1) Image optimization
Images tell your nonprofit’s story and evoke emotion. They can also be a major boost to your next blog post’s SEO. When a search engine crawls your site, it sees words and code—not the image. But you can change that. You can tell Google or whomever what the image is about, which in turn will help your content get found. So, the next time you write an article, make it your mission to do the following.
- Name your images: A generic name like “IMG_1234.jpg” means nothing to search engines. Give them names that reflect the content and your keywords. So, for example, good old IMG_1234.jpg could be “children-learning-to-grow-food-community-garden-seattle.jpg.” This name helps search engines understand and index your images more effectively, improving your site’s SEO. Please, please do not go bonkers and stuff the heck out of your images with random keywords. Only use keywords relevant to the content of your post or site.
- Do not ignore image alt text and accessibility: The little alt text box you see when you insert an image into your post is not to be ignored. It serves the purpose of both SEO and accessibility. For example, alt text like “Kids joyfully nurturing vegetables in a Seattle community garden, fostering healthy food access for all” not only provides context to search engines but also makes the image accessible to visually impaired users through screen readers. Effective alt text should be concise yet descriptive (around 120 characters), but remember that its primary purpose is to help the vision impaired understand your content.
2) Anchor text
While you might hear “Ahoy!” every time you read the phrase “anchor text,” it has nothing to do with the sea. Anchor text is the clickable words in a hyperlink, and it’s vital for both user experience and SEO.
- Use Descriptive Anchor Text: Use anchor text that clearly indicates the content of the link. For example, replace “click here” with specific descriptions like “affordable housing initiatives in Seattle.” This not only aids user navigation but also helps search engines understand the context of your links. When creating a link, your HTML might look like this: <a href=”https://example.com/housing-initiatives”>Explore our comprehensive guide on affordable housing initiatives in Seattle</a>. This anchor text is descriptive, providing both users and search engines with clear information about the content of the linked page.
- Avoid Over-Optimization: While it’s good to include relevant keywords, ensure your anchor text sounds natural and avoid keyword stuffing.
- Make It Diverse and Contextual: Vary your anchor text across different links and ensure it is contextually relevant to the linked content.
3) Long-Tail Keywords
Sure, “dog rescue” is a keyword, but every dog rescue everywhere is going for that one. Think of niche phrases like “volunteer opportunities for animal shelters in Seattle with kids” instead of “volunteer opportunities for animal shelters.” The longer keyword targets your audience more precisely, leading to better engagement and conversion. Plus, since it includes the phrase “volunteer opportunities for animal shelters,” you’re throwing your hat into the ring for that term, too. If you’re not sure where to start with long-tailed keywords, ask ChatGPT. You can prompt it with something like, “Please list long-tailed keywords for my Seattle animal rescue.”
4) Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Compelling page titles and meta descriptions with relevant keywords directly influence how search engines present your pages to searchers. This, in turn, impacts click-through rate (CTR). A high CTR and ‘dwell time’ (that is how long someone spends reading said page) signals to search engines that your content is relevant and valuable. Over time, that can improve your organic ranking.
- Page Titles: These are the clickable headlines you see in search results. Take a moment to make them engaging and include primary keywords. Keep your titles under 60 characters, or use a tool like this title tag and meta description length tool on To The Web to see how your title looks in search.
- Meta Descriptions: A well-crafted meta description of around 155-160 characters featuring relevant keywords can entice users to click on your link, indirectly benefiting your SEO through improved click-through rates. Semrush’s What is a Meta Description and How to Write One does a deep dive into all things meta descriptions and title tags.
Bonus Nonprofit SEO Resources
- Free keyword research tools: Google Keyword Planner, AHREFs’ Keyword Generator, and Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.
- You can learn more about SEO in AHREFs’ SEO guide for nonprofits and Semrush’s SEO tips for nonprofits.
- A mobile-friendly site is crucial to SEO and a good experience for supporters accessing your site and donation pages! That’s why the Eventgroove fundraising platform is built to be mobile-first. Test your website’s mobile friendliness with page speed insights and mobiReady.
By optimizing your nonprofit’s content to maximize SEO, you’ll reach more potential new donors, helping you to do more good!