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SEO in the charity space by Nancy Scott

SEO in the charity space – how to be successful (without driving yourself crazy!)

For most organisations, organic search traffic is the main driver of visitors to their site, and for charities, it’s critical to nail down your SEO strategy. Whether you want to speak to supporters or the people impacted by your cause, you need to be where your audience is. While succeeding in a crowded landscape can be a challenge, neglect your SEO strategy at your peril – your competitors aren’t!

Many organisations, no matter their size, can be daunted by SEO. Unlike marketing campaigns and paid for channels, organic search is where people go when they are actively looking for something, so rather than marketing “at” users, you can tap into their intent while they’re actively engaged. Good SEO takes time, it can be difficult to know what to focus on – especially if you’re a small organisation with limited time and other priorities to manage. But SEO is critical for charities, so don’t let it fall by the wayside!

Know how people are finding you (or not)

The easiest way to figure out where to start is by Googling the space that you operate in – if you search for “children’s charity”, who comes up? If it isn’t you, there’s work to be done. It’s important to balance creating great content with hygiene and housekeeping, as for every great new idea you have to promote the organisation, that may not be the way that people are finding your site at the moment. Google Analytics is your friend – a quick scan of your most visited pages will make it clear how people are coming in to your organisation’s site, and just how much of your content rarely gets visited!

Knowing what search terms are driving visits to your site at the moment will help you identify opportunities for the future, and is a useful reality check for your organisation – do you actually rank for all of the topics you think you do? Probably not, but knowledge is power! There are various third party tools that do this, and don’t just rely on your analytics, they definitely don’t tell the whole story.

Location, location, location

Do a quick search for “volunteering” – what do you see? If you’re in London, the results are all focused on London, if you’re in Swindon, they’re all based on your current location. Localisation is a major part of a good SEO strategy, with searchers being surfaced personalized results based on where they are. If your charity has physical locations, like shops, and your head office, make sure you have up to date map listings for all your places, and think about creating some localized content to attract people who are searching in different locations – a generic landing page for volunteering simply won’t rank in the search results in 2016, you need to do more!

download our local seo cheat sheet

Leverage who you are

Even small organisations do some form of press and promotion, and if you’re a bigger charity, the PR machine is your friend! Press releases should be going out with clear calls to action and links back to the website – even if the site promoting your brand does not provide “follow” links, you’ll still benefit from more visits, and if they do give “follow” links, your SEO visibility will improve. Link reclamation should also be a key part of your SEO strategy. A simple search of your brand name should bring up lots of links mentioning your organisation – open these pages and look for the link back. If there isn’t one, get on the phone or email those sites, you’d be amazed how much more amenable to putting a link back into an old article a writer or editor is if it’s for a good cause.

While this is by no means a comprehensive SEO strategy for a charity, getting into the mindset where you’re thinking about organic search, and so are your colleagues, is a great first step to SEO success! Don’t neglect your search strategy, if done right, it can be one of the most valuable channels for your organisation.

Nancy will be speaking at our one-day Benchmark Search Conference on 12th July 2016 at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, which also features industry experts from Google, Microsoft, LateRooms and icelolly.com.

Last year’s event was awesome, but we’re confident this year will be even better. It’s free to attend, so sign-up today!

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