Search engine optimization (or SEO) is more important this year for your nonprofit’s website than ever. Of course, we all want to appear on the “first page of Google,” but what does it take to get there? And more specifically, what algorithms have changed this year?
SEO is the active, ever evolving practice of optimizing your website’s pages to increase its visibility organically in related search engine result pages (otherwise known as SERPs). It takes time and effort (if done well). While it may feel intimidating, it’s actually not too bad to learn some basics that can improve your nonproft’s webpages instantly.
Our list of things to keep in mind as you improve your nonprofit’s SEO:
Content is king.
To rank well in Google’s results, you must create high-quality content people want to read. Content marketing is becoming more and more the standard. You can plan for this by maintaining a blog, news, or articles section on your site. If you know your target audience, create a content plan that answers questions and issues they deal with in daily life. (This blog post is an excellent example of that.) Use the words they would use. Show that you deeply understand your industry. If you help people, you build more trust and create advocates for your brand.
Focus on humans over bots.
Google’s August 2022 “helpful content update” was released to, as they said, “ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.” This means that Google will use AI and Machine learning to rank pages based on content quality and relevance. So focus on writing valuable pages over keyword stuffing for bots.
Ranking one keyword phrase per page.
You will still want to choose one keyword phrase per page or post to rank well. If you reuse the same keyword phrase on all pages, you will be competing against yourself for high-ranking spots in the search results. Use your primary and secondary keyword phrase per page, and add that keyword to (ideally):
- In the URL itself
- The page’s meta title (50-65 characters)
- Page description (120-160 characters)
- The H1 title
- Once more in a headline somewhere
- At least once in the content, ideally bolded
- At least once in alt-tags in images on the page
High results with low competition.
Unfortunately, any keyword phrases with “medium” competition will be hard to rank on. Aim for keyword phrases (even if they are niched down) that have high results and low competition.
Avoid AI writing tools.
When AI writing tools came out, we were excited too. But this goes against Google’s “helpful content update” standards. Content automatically generated with AI writing tools will now be considered spam in Google’s eyes, so spend the extra time writing real content from your mind.
Target Google’s zero-click pages.
This is Google’s zero-click page when you search in Google and immediately find the answer without opening any web pages. If your target keyword phrase is already associated with a Search Engine Results Page (or SERP, for short) feature, you may want to emphasize other SEO areas. But if not, try adding content to the page that answers specific user needs.
Discover trending keyword phrases.
Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool informs you of trending keyword phrases. These can be great insights to tell how to build blog posts, landing pages, or campaigns.
Link building means getting quality backlinks from other websites. A (quality) backlink tells search engines how your content relates to other websites and the quality of your content. Be careful of link farms or people selling links for cheap. These will usually be low-quality sites or blacklisted sites that can harm your website’s reputation. To build healthy links, try to build relationships with similar sites in your industry, be a guest on other sites, or offer a link exchange within your blog and theirs.
And remember, it is a slow race.
SEO optimization is something that is going to take months. It’s going to shift as time goes on. You may be #1 one month and #10 the next. Consistently work to improve and adjust your pages, and know that it will take time. As you improve your nonprofit’s website’s SEO optimization, you should start seeing more traffic, making a greater impact for your cause!