This blog post is part of our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) series for the month of November. To find other blogs in the series, visit our list of SEO resources for nonprofits.
Let’s say you work at an organization that provides shelter to abused women and their children. A women named Katie is being abused by her husband and is looking for help. Katie doesn’t know where to turn, so she goes on her computer and searches for women’s shelters in her city. But she never finds out about your shelter, because it doesn’t come up in the Google search results.
Who is searching for you on the internet? It may be potential clients like Katie, who are in need of your services. It may be people who want to volunteer with an organization like yours, or who want to donate to your cause. It may be journalists who want to talk about your work in the media. It may be organizations that want to partner with you, or students doing research for a school project. And the question is: when they look for you, are they finding you?
It turns out there’s actually a fair amount you can do to make sure your website turns up in search results. There’s even a fancy technical term for it - Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Ever since search engines became a popular way of finding information on the internet, businesses have been using SEO to boost their brand and increase sales - and as a result there are a large number of companies and consultants dedicated to helping with SEO. Of course the motivations are a bit different for nonprofits, but bringing traffic to your site is still an important part of marketing.
Sounds like black magic? It’s not - in fact, the kind of things you do as part of SEO will actually help you to make a better, focused, easier to use, more relevant website. For example, Google’s guidelines for improving your SEO include:
- Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
- Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
The good news is that SEO doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour (though if you do want to pay a consultant to help, there are lots of options). There are a range of things you can do both right now and on an ongoing basis to improve your rankings in search engines - from rewriting content to fixing broken links to giving images an accurate text description.
We will be exploring some of the basic SEO approaches in blog posts throughout the month, so make sure to subscribe to this blog to get updates. If you’re eager to dive in, here are some good resources to get you started:
- Grassroots.org’s Guide to SEO for nonprofits introduces SEO and provides some basic information on how you can get started with SEO
- SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a very in-depth yet easy to read place to learn about SEO and common approaches used in business
- Nonprofit SEO - a list of SEO tips, some which are specific to WordPress sites
- SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site