SEO and Keywords are vital to help your nonprofit website be found | Miratel Solutions

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Online fundraising requires balance between SEO & Social Media (part 2)

Last week I wrote the first of a three-part series about how nonprofits need to use Social Media and SEO to help build their online audience and ultimately develop their online fundraising strategies. In the previous blog post we explored the value of social media in assisting with the generation of your online audience and today we’ll begin to look at some SEO concepts that will help to improve the likelihood of your website being found by those who will be interested in your cause and your efforts.

How do people find your website?

In North America more than 96% of all online searches are conducted either via Google, Bing or Yahoo. Incidentally Yahoo uses the same search engine as Bing although the rankings for searches are not always identical between the two search engines. Each search engine company operates a complex set of metrics that determine which results (rankings) show up for any given keyword search and do note that these metrics and the rankings are constantly changing. A keyword search can be a single word or a ‘string’ which can be two, three, four or more words all typed together.

There are many factors that determine how a search engine results will be displayed including where the person searches from however the most important factors for deciding where a website shows up (or doesn’t) in a search include content, site speed, inbound links, overall traffic and the authority that the search engine gives to your site. ‘Authority’ is based on many factors too, but essentially relates how useful visitors have found your site in the past – again based on metrics.

Content is King & Keywords are the Foundation

All website content is ultimately crawled and indexed by the search engines which allows them to determine what your website is about. The content whether it be written or images all holds value that should be built around the understanding of keywords. The focus keywords for each page throughout your site will help to determine whether it shows up when someone performs a keyword search. There is a huge amount online written about selecting keywords but here are some important considerations.

You should pay very close attention to your keyword research. If you choose the wrong keywords i.e. keywords that no one searches for, then any ranking you manage to achieve won’t translate into visitor traffic. At the other end of the spectrum a keyword that is too popular will often be so competitive that your chances of ranking become very difficult. Take the time to consider that a search engine user is likely to type into a search that should bring them to your nonprofit – experiment with different variations and similar phrases – even various spelling variations can make an impact.

Ultimately you’re looking to rank for keywords that are the very definition of what your organization does. Don’t always get lost in what is historically popular but consider fresh keyword combinations that help to define your focus as clearly as possible and also remember that adding a city, state or province can also make a huge difference (if your nonprofit is geographically specific as opposed to being national/international).

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Conducting Keyword Research

Space precludes me from sharing everything I know about keywords and SEO but I must say this, spend a good amount of time reading about both as there are numerous opinions and approaches online, much of the information is very valuable but I believe a blend of different tactics and ideas creates the most powerful approach to developing your website content and selecting the best keywords.

What you do need is a method to decide which keywords have value – and there is the perfect Google tool available to help you with this. There are many videos to assist if you’ve never used it before in addition to built-in help on the site itself. All you need is a Google account to login and then visit Google Keyword Planner/AdWords to get started.

Developing Content

Many get distracted by how search engines operate but write your content to be properly understood by a human, not a web spider from the search engines. Your content should be written in normal language with proper spelling and syntax. It’s very important to organize your content fully before getting started. Consider your website like a office complex or a set of encyclopedias, your content needs to be organized, easy to find and naturally linked from one area to the next. Logical layout and flow is a critical part of content and website development which can get overlooked all too often. Imagine how a user is likely to use the site and ask yourself where they would expect to find certain parcels of information.

Explain everything in detail – extensive detail – it helps your visitors and the search engines. Don’t write content with an assumption of your audience having extensive knowledge or experience about what you do. Stong, good, deep content which clearly outlines as much as possible holds the most value.

Proper Keyword Use

When you’ve determined all of your primary keywords they should be used to create the framework of your website. Pages should be labeled like doors in an office complex or school, your keywords should be used as a guide to help them explore the site in full. Ensure you take the time to fully understand ‘Metas’ within your content, again there are many great resources online.

Metas are phrases or sentences of a specific length that are used to create your meta-title, your meta description, your actual title for your article, sun-article or blog post, and then withing the actual copy/content of the page. Search engines will penalize you for what is called ‘keyword-stuffing’ using the keywords at an extreme rate of frequency.

Next week we’ll look at some other factors of SEO that need to be considered and also have a large impact on your search engine ranking and how your nonprofit website will be found. If you have any questions or comments at all please ask.
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including PCI compliant inbound telephone fundraising, outbound telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery fundraising services, donation processing and receipting and direct mail fundraising services. We are committed to our CSR business

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