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SEO for nonprofits: 6 tips to increase your website traffic

Learn how to level up your nonprofit SEO strategy to bring in more organic traffic (and donations!).

Kara McCartney
September 27, 2023
February 15, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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Every organization—whether it's a nonprofit organization or a for-profit enterprise—wants to see its website at the top of Google search. Landing a coveted first-page spot would mean a spike in traffic to your site, which could, in turn, lead to a spike in donations.

But how do you get there?

SEO, just like social media or email marketing, should play a central role in your content strategy—otherwise, you risk leaving potential donor dollars on the table. Below, we provide an overview of SEO for nonprofits, including steps you can take today to boost your online presence.

SEO for nonprofits, defined

Search engine optimization (SEO) for nonprofits is the process of creating web experiences that search engines like Google want to expose to searchers. There are anywhere from 100-200+ key indicators that can influence how well a page will "rank." 

Your audience is searching for solutions that you provide. With SEO, you create content that provides the answers to those questions, exposing your website to more people in Google search results.

SEO for charities, just like social media or email marketing, should play a central role in any content strategy—otherwise, you risk leaving potential donor dollars on the table. 

6 steps to succeeding at SEO for nonprofits 

Though Google continuously tweaks its algorithm to provide a better online experience, there are a few essential tried-and-true nonprofit SEO tips for landing that top spot in search engines.

1. Make great content ✏️

A search engine's ultimate objective is to help a searcher find and answer a query as fast and confidently as possible. Remember that what’s best for your reader is also best for SEO.

To create content that Google recognizes as accurate and well-informed, create copy that is:

  • Free of errors ✅
  • Conversational in tone ✅
  • Clear and concise ✅
  • Easy to read ✅
  • On brand ✅
  • Not stuffed with keywords and jargon ✅

2. Improve your site speed 🏃

Content isn't the only ranking factor when it comes to improving your nonprofit SEO. 

In fact, Google's Core Web Vitals states that your site speed is directly correlated to the overall user experience of your website and, therefore, will have an impact on your rankings. 

To improve your site speed:

  • Resize images to the spec of your CMS
  • Compress images to under 100kb
  • Assess issues related to plugins, ads, and even custom fonts
  • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly

💡 Pro tip: To quickly identify issues that might be negatively impacting your site’s user-friendliness, use the PageSpeed Insights tool to surface any performance issues.

2. Do your keyword research 🔍

Though every charity wants to rank for a target keyword like “nonprofit,” that search term is way too in demand.

So, what SEO keywords for nonprofits should you be targeting, and how do you find them?

Longer-tail keywords, such as "volunteer opportunities in Kansas City" or "medical volunteer opportunities near me," are often a better bet for nonprofits. 

Screenshot of Google Keyword Planner recommendations for "volunteer opportunities in kansas city"

Use the Google Keyword Planner to discover the right keywords for your organization. Then you can:

  • Click "Discover new keywords" 🔍
  • Enter a phrase you want to target 🎯
  • Receive an entire spreadsheet of related keyword phrases 🚀

💡 Pro tip: Check out the “competition” (low, medium, or high) that Google shows for each phrase on the spreadsheet. The easiest, top keywords for nonprofits to target will have a lower competition ranking, meaning these might be the best for your organization to focus on.

3. Follow the right formatting ✍

While keyword research and user-friendliness are important, specific formatting techniques can also make or break whether your content ranks on Google

Follow these technical SEO guidelines:

  • Word count 💬 Focus on unpacking an important topic in its entirety, whether that's 400 words or 1400.
  • Linking 🖇️ Always link to the source when using a stat or direct quote.
  • Alt text 🖼 Add alternative text for all images, which is a brief description of the image that is shown to visitors using screen readers or when an image is broken.
  • Descriptions and titles 📚 Add a custom meta description and SEO title for every blog post to entice readers to click on your link on the Google search results page.
  • Headings 🔢 Include headings and subheadings to break up paragraph text and guide the reader. Remember to maintain the heading hierarchy (H1 > H2 > H3) for clarity.
  • Layout 🎨 Avoid including long, dense paragraphs. Instead, use bullets, whitespace, and even emojis to break up text.

4. Invest in a link-building strategy 🔗

Google rewards websites that have high "authority," meaning they're known to publish high-quality content and are trusted by other websites on the internet. 

Over time, continuously publishing high-quality, educational content will organically help you earn backlinks to your nonprofit website. However, there are a few ways you can help speed up the process: 

  • Guest blogging ✍️ Invite industry colleagues or thought leaders to write guest blogs for your website and then encourage them to share them on their own channels.
  • Internal links 🤝 Add links to your own website's content within every blog post you write. Be sure the anchor text—the words that are linked—adequately describe where the user is going.
  • Outreach 👋 Reach out to related websites and politely ask them to mention and link to your organization.

5. Claim your business on Google 🌍

When it comes to search results, Google takes geographical location into account. For example, if your nonprofit is based in Des Moines, Iowa, you are more likely to appear in search results if the person searching lives in Iowa. 

Screenshot of Google search results for "nonprofits in des moines iowa"

One of the easiest ways to boost your local SEO results is to claim your business on Google. With a Google My Business Profile, you can increase your visibility on Google Maps, search, and other Google directories. 

Plus, it offers additional advantages, including:

  • Having your nonprofit location appear in local search results as part of the "places" results (listed before websites, blog posts, and other URLs). 📍
  • Publicizing your business hours. ⏰
  • Offering quick links to your website and an address for your physical location. 👀

6. Track your progress 📈

In order to discover which content is ranking well, it's essential to track your success. While there are lots of SEO tools that nonprofits can use to analyze their progress, one of the most popular platforms is Google Analytics.

With Google, organizations can track the source of traffic, the number of times a piece of content has been clicked on, and even what action a user is taking once they're on your website.

Tackle all things SEO fundraising with Givebutter 🚀

SEO is a powerful tool for attracting more supporters to your website. But, just like any nonprofit marketing strategy, no one channel should exist in a silo.

To maximize your impact, complement your SEO strategy with social media outreach, email campaigns, and mobile-optimized donation forms. By utilizing these additional channels, you can achieve even greater results.

With Givebutter, you gain access to top-rated fundraising features, a built-in CRM, and nonprofit marketing tools that can help you launch your digital marketing strategy and generate organic awareness for your organization—all completely free.

Engage supporters every step of the way

Ready to take your SEO efforts to the next level? Sign up for a free Givebutter account today to get started.

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