While we primarily write about tips and tactics for using social media to heighten awareness and engagement for your nonprofit fundraising activities, today I wanted to get back to some basics that sometimes get forgotten in the quest for driving donor engagement. Social media is an extremely important tool for communicating with donors and growing your audience but the root of everything you do online is the content of your website and it is that content that ultimately allows Google to allow you to rank (or not) under the keywords that are most pertinent for your cause and find fresh visitors.
image courtesy www.yahoo.com
After more than five years experience of working in web communication, SEO and brand development I always return the adage that ‘content is king’ especially when it comes to Google, Bing and Yahoo who between them represent more than 96% of all search engine users in North America. When you assess the performance of your website historically the most consistent fact that you’ll see is that stale content will, over time, result in decreasing traffic to your site and ultimately lost opportunities for potential new donors to learn about your organization.
This fact is undeniable, even for websites with huge repeat/returning visitors they will gradually and consistently see a noticeable decline in search engine results, thus a drop in new/first time visits. In finding that critical balance between donor retention and new donor acquisition your website content determines much of your long-term potential for finding your new audience and delivering your message to them. I am certain social media is not a fad that will go away but the importance and suitability of certain tools for your specific nonprofit is a constantly moving target, simultaneously the importance of your website content (and it’s freshness) never declines and must remain an equal consideration.
Over the coming months we’ll explore this in much greater depth but I’d begin with the following questions:
When was your website built and how recently was it optimized for SEO purposes?
How often is fresh content added to your site via new pages, existing page content revised or blog entries added?
Is your website mobile-ready to be viewed on tablets and phones? With somewhere between 30-45% of your audience now(and growing) visiting your site on mobile devices why wait to make that conversion?
Do you track your keyword traffic and rankings? When did you last review your focus keywords and are they as relevant as they once were? Does your site incorporate these keywords adequately?
Does your website and blog if applicable convey your current message in 2014 as accurately and clearly as it did at the time it was written?
Do you encourage your audience to feel involved; whether it be via polls and interactive pages, social media or surveys and feedback?
While there are many other considerations these initial six questions can begin your path to making your website far more likely to find new readers and ultimately donors. Blogging does not have to be a daily commitment, even a website that updates a blog twice a month is sending a message to Google and others saying ‘Look! We have fresh content, we have updated our site’ and although it sounds simplistic it’s exactly what search engines are looking for. The aim for Google and others is to deliver informative, current and relevant content (via search engine results) to the reader and there is no better way to accomplish this than by adding fresh content on a regular basis.
Even if adding a blog isn’t within your plans due to budget or time I would highly recommend a ‘news’ or ‘updates’ page on your website that allows even short three sentence bulletins to be shared with your audience on a regular basis. It’s also an ideal place to add a site registration option for updates/newsletters or RSS for those who will be interested.
Just remember that surveys keep showing us that donors feel that an organization’s lack of communication about their achievements/long-term goals/how funding is used is one of their biggest frustration with nonprofits. Your website content can resolve that frustration and much more besides. In the months ahead I’ll provide some important tips that can help you develop content and make key decisions about your site that will improve your results.