How to improve your charity's SEO

Digital expert Jason Woodford describes how to make sure search engine optimisation brings the right kind of traffic to your website

Jason Woodford
Jason Woodford

During the recession, many charities have been unable to achieve their goals because of funding restrictions and a drop in donations. Many charities are only just starting to explore the opportunities available through search engine optimisation.

There are certain secrets to the success of an SEO campaign for a charity: performing well on the major search engines means competing with other websites for keywords. A keyword means a phrase that people use when they are using a search engine, such as Google. The higher your website ranks on Google for your keywords or phrases, the more traffic you are likely to receive.

However, getting traffic is only half the battle because you want to ensure this traffic is relevant to your charity. Are they interested in your cause? Will they want to donate? The term for when a visitor to your website becomes a donor, a member or a sponsor, is a ‘conversion’.

Here are my top tips to ensuring your SEO campaign fulfills your objectives:

- Install Google Analytics on your website. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides information on how visitors find and interact with your site. Among many other things, you’ll be able to review what keywords people are using to find your site. Are the keywords what you’d expected? For each keyword, check out how long people stayed on your site. This is a good indication of how relevant they thought it was. You can also see what are the most popular pages on your site; this is where you get a feel for how people find your site through natural search.

- Take time to blog. One effective way to create more content is to write a blog. Blogs are often written in a less formal, more conversational tone of voice and this can be a great way to communicate the values and activities of your charity – not to mention the inclusion of your keywords and messages.

- Make your content search engine friendly. Write enough content to give the search engine a decent clue as to the subject matter of the page. Don’t force this, remember you’re writing for a human audience, not the search engine itself.

- Build links onto your site. This is where SEO really takes effect. When Google is trying to figure out what webpages are most relevant to someone’s search term, relevance on its own is just not enough; it’s quite easy to optimise your pages for relevance, so what else do they look at? Authority is another big area that they try to assess and there are lots you can do to demonstrate authority. One of the biggies here is the number and ‘quality’ of other websites that ‘point to’ or ‘link to’ your website.

- What are your competitors up to? As simple as it sounds, when planning your SEO strategy, you must be aware of what other charities are up to. You have to able to separate your own objectives and targets from the rest.

Jason Woodford is chief executive of digital marketing agency SiteVisibility

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