Dealing with the rigors of search engine optimization (SEO) can be a trying endeavor, and it’s too often that non-profits—many of whom may be working with an in-house website built by an amateur developer or a free web-based platform—don’t give due attention to the importance of establishing their organization at the forefront of search engine results. Sadly, it’s a critical yet overlooked element of an organization’s Internet presence that can severely hamper efforts to be recognized in a big way.
Imagine this scenario: a recent transplant to an urban locale wishes to continue their previous endeavor of volunteerism at a meal center, homeless shelter or after-school reading program. They initiate a search on that most popular of search engines—Google—in an effort to find an outlet for their philanthropic leanings. Does your organization appear in the top five search results? The top ten? Depending on your answer, you may have just gained or lost a serious asset to your cause.
With that in mind—and aside from securing a qualified professional designer who can guide you through the ins and outs of SEO—there are some very simple ways to stand and be recognized on the Holy Grail of search engines. Here are a handful of ways to drive the most people—as well as the most “right people”— to your site and, ultimately, to your cause.
Speak Their Language
Your particular genre of non-profit may use a dictionary of specific jargon and catch phrases, but remember that, to be successful in attracting attention from many different arenas, you should keep your verbiage easy to read. Who is your target audience? Determine that and you can infuse such words and phrases into your headers, page names and content.
Pay Attention to Your Page Titles
Headers for pages are one main element search engines index and rank. Therefore, develop a consistent vocabulary of keywords that a potential visitor is most likely to type into Google. Make sure the title is clear and short, and free of the aforementioned jargon.
Likewise, have a strong URL, one that uses the keywords from your page title. Experts also recommend removing words like “the” or “and” whenever possible and replacing them with dashes. Ideally (and if you’re engaging the talents of a professional designer) your URL will be one of the first things that is set in stone, well before your page goes live.
Keep Updating Content
Search engines love newly published content, and having a blog component to your site is a great way to boost your rankings. Be sure to update the blog at least once a week, because the more content you have, the more content search engines have to work with in establishing a ranking.
Skip the Delete Button
When you delete pages from your website, potential visitors looking for a specific piece of information may land on a dead page, which casts a pall on your organization. Even more importantly, any search value that was contained on that page is basically being thrown away. So if you must remove a page, install a “301 redirect” and have it forward visitors to a similar page on your site.
Build Internal Links
By utilizing links from one page of your site to another, you guide visitors to relevant, connected content. You also increase SEO ranking power, as the keywords and phrases most recognized by search engines will naturally be found on multiple pages of your site. Also important is this: the text you use in your internal links, called “anchor text,” helps signal search engines as to the topic of both pages.