Many marketing channels are inherently disruptive to divert attention from a task, whether it be reading and replying to emails, reading articles online, browsing social feeds, listening to the radio, watching TV – the list continues. SEO is one of the few marketing channels (the only one?) That is designed to deliver something first instead of asking before delivery. At its core, SEO is used to provide helpful content to people who are actively looking for it. And it can (and should!) Be used to reach target audiences at local and national levels.
According to Google, searching for local places without using "near me" has increased 150% over the past two years. This shows that when searching, people increasingly expect local results. This creates a powerful opportunity for those organizations prepared to benefit from it. The "Search and Deliver" dynamic of SEO gives nonprofit marketers the opportunity to reach local audiences who show their interest and commitment through their search behavior. Nonprofit marketers can use this to attract supporters, raise funds, and share their nonprofit's mission with the world.
How can you get the most out of local search engine optimization? Read on for local SEO tactics to try today.
Before we dive into it, it's important to first understand what are the main factors influencing your nonprofit's local search engine rankings. This can be broken down into four main areas: relevance, distance, trust and awareness.
relevance: How well your website matches the search term a user is looking for. If Google determines that your business is a nonprofit education institution, your website is more likely to qualify for a nonprofit education institution than any other company that Google identifies as a health nonprofit .
distance: The proximity of your company to the searcher. Since Google learns more about you and your whereabouts from the ubiquitous target signal in your pocket – your smartphone – distance has become a top ranking factor (if not a top ranking factor). Essentially, the search engine results page (SERP) for Health Nonprofit in Portland, Oregon is completely different from the result in Seattle, Washington. Heck, the SERP in the Portland zip code of 97219 is different from the Portland zip code of 97209.
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trust: How trustworthy Google considers your business depends on its reputation. This can be determined by your amount of reviews and ratings, or the number of high authority websites linking to your website. The quantity and quality of ratings, quality and quantity of linking domains, age of the domain, and quality of website content are some of the ways Google can determine trustworthiness.
meaning: How often does your company appear on the Internet? Examples could be a mention of your nonprofit online (e.g. from a local news agency) or a business listing on directory sites like Great Nonprofits or Charity Navigator.
Some of these are easier to influence than others – you can't change how far your business is from the searcher. So, let's learn about five local SEO tactics that you can implement today.
1. Create or Claim a Google My Business Page – For Free!
88% of all online searches come from Google. Hence, in developing a strong online presence for nonprofits, making the most of Google is critical. Google has also reported that 46% of online searches are local in intent. So if you do everything you can to improve your nonprofit's local search exposure, it can have a huge impact on your business.
Are you convinced? Hopefully. Creating and / or claiming a GMB (Google My Business) page is a great first step towards using Google – and it's completely free. When you create a GMB page, your nonprofit will be listed on Google Maps, your chances of getting into Google's local 3 pack will improve, and you will be more likely to improve your overall local search rankings, which will ensure that More people looking for your side will find non-profit organizations (or non-profit organizations like yours).
By creating a GMB (Google My Business) page, you can take into account all four of the ranking factors described above. So, if you can only do any of the tactics outlined in this blog post, go ahead and do them.
If you've already claimed and filled out GMB pages for all of your company locations, high five! Go ahead and go to step 2.
Before claiming GMB sites, you must first collect and organize accurate location data or "NAP" (name, address, phone number) for all of your non-profit locations. A few things to keep in mind about the NAP:
- Always use your real company name. The name you list here should match the sign on your door, your marketing materials, etc.
- Always use your real address. Do not include any information in the address bar to describe the location. Stick to your postal address.
- Use a local phone number whenever possible against a call center hotline.
Bonus tip: Depending on how many locations you have, it can quickly become unwieldy to keep track of location data. If you have more than a couple of locations, I strongly recommend that you (or someone in your company) create and maintain a single source like a spreadsheet that centralizes and organizes all of your company's location data in one place.
Now that you've got your location data organized, you'll want to search and / or update the Google My Business pages for all of your locations. You can find step-by-step guides from Google here. Things to keep in mind when filling out your GMB list:
- Include a primary business category to describe what your company is doing to Google and the searchers. If there are multiple categories describing your business, select the category that most closely matches your ranking goals as the primary category. You can then add up to 9 additional categories for a total of 10. For more information on choosing categories, see our blog post on Choosing a Google My Business Category.
- Select attributes for your company. There are a variety of attributes that can be used to learn more about your company, such as: B. Accessibility attributes, whether your nonprofit is black-owned or women-run, LGTBQ + friendly, etc. identified. The list of available attributes is quite extensive, but choose only those that are applicable, relevant, and accurate.
- Write a thoughtful business description. You have 750 characters to describe what your nonprofit does and what makes it unique.
- Include keywords in the business description. Focus on 1-2 high quality keywords that are relevant to your nonprofit organization and avoid keyword stuffing (the unnecessary repetition of keywords in all on-page SEO elements).
- Add photos! According to Google, businesses with photos get 42% more requests for directions and 35% more website clicks. When choosing photos, choose authentic, high-quality photos that showcase your nonprofit.
- Choose a profile photo to record your preferred photo choices for search results. This isn't foolproof – there is no guarantee that your profile photo will appear first – but it will tell Google which photo you prefer.
2. Get your local business listings
The places to post a business listing online are growing exponentially, from social networking sites to specialized, vertically-specific directory pages where people can research, compare, and share reviews, companies, and services. These online goals provide marketers with local citations – ways to get your nonprofit in front of more people.
In the past, collecting large numbers of citations was a preferred tactic in increasing local search rankings. As factors are now developing that affect the local search ranking, the judgment as to whether the local citation volume remains so important is open. Claiming and managing your online business listings can help your nonprofit rank higher in local searches and it will help more people discover your nonprofit online. You reach a wider audience by creating complete, accurate, and engaging experiences wherever your target audience looks.
Not sure how you show up? You can use Moz's free Check Presence tool to see how your nonprofit is showing up on the web.
3. Develop an online screening strategy
Reputation is a valuable asset to any business, and this is especially true of nonprofits, where donations and sponsorships are made based on the organization's reputation for doing good.
The more people turn to digital media to find, research, and rate charities based on the causes that matter to them, the more important your online reputation becomes. Online reviews are a facet of your nonprofit's overall branding and should be managed accordingly.
In addition to brand benefits, an active review strategy has the added value of increasing your nonprofit's online visibility. The quantity, timeliness, and quality of the review are all factors that will help Google determine how trustworthy your website is. This is one of the ranking factors discussed earlier. According to Google, high quality, positive reviews can improve your company's visibility. A few things to keep in mind when making reviews:
- Make it easy for people to leave reviews. You can create and share a short URL so customers can share reviews of your nonprofit organization.
- Ask for honest reviews. Sometimes you just have to ask! According to a 2019 study, this is what 76% of people asked to leave a review do.
- Do not request reviews in bulk – This is against Google's guidelines. Google does not provide a definition of what they mean by "bulk". Usually, however, this refers to sending many requests at the same time through an automated platform versus sending a single request.
- Don't pay for reviews. This practice also violates Google's guidelines.
- Respond to reviews, including negative ones. When you respond to a review, it shows that you value the feedback. Plus, conversion rates (clicks to call, clicks to get directions, etc.) increase as businesses interact with and respond to reviews.
- Don't let negative reviews put you off. 90% of people are open to negative reviews if the problem is fixed. Sometimes you just have to ask.
4. Choose the right keywords to target
Keyword research, or choosing the “right” keywords for targeting, is a fundamental aspect of search engine optimization as it provides a roadmap that you can use to optimize existing content and create new content to rank higher in SERPs. It requires an understanding of your target audience and how they search for content online. The ultimate goal is to determine:
- The specific terms your target audience will use to search online.
- The number of searches for a particular keyword over a period of time or the search volume.
- What to expect when your target audience searches for that term, or the searcher's intent.
When targeting keywords, you want to focus on high volume, high intent keywords that are relevant to your nonprofit and that you could rank realistically for. This just scratches the surface – keyword research is a BIG topic! – So when you are ready to dive into keyword research, I highly recommend reading the Keyword Research Master's Guide.
Then, once you've identified your target keywords, be sure to pick terms that best describe your nonprofit and include them in the business descriptions of your Google My Business and other local business listings.
5. Perform an on-page optimization
With on-page optimization, certain pages of a website are optimized for the keywords for which you want to rank. This includes on-page SEO ranking factors like the content of the page itself or the source code like the page title and meta description. With on-page SEO, you can help Google determine exactly what your business is and what it does, and how relevant your website is to user searches.
For example, if you have the term "global education" in a page url, page title, description, and content of the page, then Google is more likely to determine that the page is global education and your page will do this rather rank for this term.
A few tips to keep in mind with on-page SEO:
- Develop E-A-T content. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Google uses this framework to identify high quality content. High quality content correlates with higher search engine rankings. There are a variety of E-A-T tactics you can use – for an overview, I recommend you check out E-A-T and the Quality Assessor Guidelines – but ultimately it will lead to you showing Google the expertise and legitimacy of your business.
- Intentional use of keywords. It's also important to include a target keyword in the title tag, description, headings, and content of the page while avoiding keyword filling.
- Page titles and descriptions are not just for ranking. Creating a compelling page title and description can result in better SERP click-through rates – more people will click your site on the search engine results page. You want to combine an attention-grabbing headline with a description that is specific, relevant, and (most importantly) helpful.
- Don't forget about the page loading speed. Page speed is a search engine ranking factor and it is how fast your page loads for a user. See how your web pages stack up using Google's free PageSpeed Insights tool.
- Avoid keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on your website compete for the same keyword. You put yourself in the position of competing with yourself for rankings! Not only is this inefficient, but it can also have negative effects such as: For example, that it is difficult for Google to identify the "best" or most relevant page on your website for your target keyword, to water down backlinks or to reduce page authority.
These are just a few tips for the many, many ways you can use SEO to grow your nonprofit organization. It may seem daunting at first, but SEO is well worth investing in. And it's okay if you need help on the go!
If you are at the stage where you are currently evaluating a partner or tool for your SEO needs, ask the following:
- Does the partner meet your value standards?
- Do you support programs for social welfare?
- Do you have special rates for nonprofits? For example, Moz is offering discounted prices for Moz Pro and a limited time discount for Moz Local, available now through December 31, 2020.
- Will the partner make your life easier?
There is no time like the present: dive into SEO now to reach more people with your message, improve conversion rates, find more sponsors, volunteers, and donors, and connect with more people who need you most.