Ethical SEO for Nonprofits | Search Engine Optimization for Churches and Charities

SEO for Non-Profits and Faith Based Organizations

Whether you’re a web developer for a non-profit, a communications guru for a faith-based organization, or an online pr and marketer for a foundation you probably already know that search engine ranking is critical to the success of your online marketing efforts. Why is search engine optimization so important? Well most users, or about 75 to 80% stop on the first page, so if you aren’t there you’re competition is flat-out husking your gourd.

Non-profit Marketing: We’re All on the Same Team
In the non-profit space there is one very important caveat: we’re all on the same team. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. Being human and community oriented is your goal, not winning some pointless race. Win/win strategies of collaboration are critical to non-profit success and non-profit seo campaign success.

Your Goal: Search Engine Relevance and User Centric Design
The ultimate goal of search engines is to deliver useful, accurate, and relevant content to the search queries of their customers–the end user. If you can help them in that goal by providing relevant info–you’re one step in the right direction. The focus on relevance is critical–as with the pre-Thanksgiving launch of the Google search wiki has customized and personalized search. And in the future, the personalization, localization, and customization of search will increase in order to better serve the needs and wants of individual users. For Google, a tailored user experience is a better user experience.

Organizational Guide to Implementing Search Engine Optimization In Your Organization for Your Nonprofit Website:

When you start out you its important to recognize the search engine ranking factors and Googles algorithm. After familiarizing yourself with the Google algo, this SEM for Nonprofits Guide from Aaron Wall is a fantastic for nonprofit SEO.

• Its important to recognize that strategic community building with social media and blogs is a fantastic first step in your overall seo strategy.
• The second step is creating a learning organization around your online communication and marketing strategy by investing in affordable training.
• The third step is setting up metrics on Google analytics to track your campaign success.
• The fourth step is creating a keyword and content strategy for your organization
• The fifth step is going through your website and deciding which pages are most important and focusing your links on them, so Google knows they are most important.
• The sixth step is outreach via blogger relations, online pr, and your email list to drive links.
• Remember to always practice ethical seo strategies and techniques

Questions You May Want to Ask If you Hire an SEO/SEM Company for Your Nonprofit Marketing:
There are seven areas of questions you will want to ask your prospective SEO firm in order to get a better idea if they are the right fit for your organization.

• Can you provide SEO training for a reasonable fee?
• What is your experience? What is your SEO skillset? What results can you deliver?
• What services do you provide beyond SEO?
• What type of budgets do you work with?
• What type of strategies are you going to use?
• Are you going to use paid links? Are you going to outsource any of the labor?
• What kinds of results can we expect?

Non-Profit SEO Buyer Beware:
The infamous non-profit blog Corporate Dollar suggests avoiding these black hat seo tactics and the types of seo companies that deploy them in campaigns:

Link Farms – Search engine results are influenced the number of inbound links. The assumption here is that users have placed such a high value on the relevance and quality of a website, they they create a link to it on their own website. Daisy-chaining websites together to artificially inflate search engine rankings is a short-term strategy doomed to fail.

Keyword Stuffing -Overpopulating certain portions of a Web page with particular keywords in the hopes of influencing search engine results will also fail. Google is very good at parsing out ”natural” content from computer-generated gibberish.

Cloaking – This practice involves delivering different (high-ranking) website content to the search engine spiders than is delivered to human users.

Not only do these tactics do a disservice to your customers, but they also risk harming your brand if you are outed and Google is getting better and better at penalizing or otherwise demonizing websites that practice black hat tactics.

These are not reasons to avoid SEO altogether, which would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Are you not going to bank or invest due to the recent issues in the financial sector? Is the corrupt government official going to keep you from participating in the democratic process? There are small segments of each industry that are unethical–thats why the phrase buyer beware was invented in the first place. Dave Chakrabarti points out the unique advantages SEO offers non-profits:

Nonprofits typically have advantages in several areas crucial to search engine optimization work, including value of content, value of inbound linking and references to their sites, and the ability to promote their online presence on a variety of high-value website partners, including fellow nonprofits, newspapers and other online publications, and university / college websites.

Colleges, university, print publications, and advocacy organizations all have unique advantages in terms of scope and expertise of content. Now is a unique time to seize this opportunity to connect with donors for fundraising, passionistas for advocacy, as well as related nonprofit organizations in your philanthropic niche. So if you’re re-vising your online strategy or ramping up with a new social media time, now is a fantastic time to integrate the principles of search engine optimization. Because if you don’t speak the language of the search engine, all your online work may be relegated to the silence of the third page of Google along with millions of other lonely web pages.

Search Engine Optimization Tools for Nonprofit Fundraisers and Communicators
There are tons of search engine tools, but most aren’t useful for the non-profit organization and may skew your perception of your online efforts.

Website Grader– the Website grader tool can give you a report card of your SEO efforts. While its not perfect, its one of the quickest ways to get an overview analysis of your website’s SEO
Google Keyword Tool– Great because most SEO campaigns are focused on Google
SEO Book Keyword Tool- Great because it shows results in spreadsheets. It also aggregates basic search data from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search, Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery. However, the likely focus of your campaign will likely be Google, so the big bonus is the spreadsheet function. Downside: this tool doesn’t reflect the full diversity of keywords that only the Google keyword tool can provide. It does help provide some long tail keywords.
Spy Fu– Great because you can see your competitions keywords.
SEO Quake– Great way to check your competition in the search engine results
Google Grants for In-kind Donation for Advertising and Marketing
• You can use iStockphotos, Dreamstime, or Stockxchange for photos. Alternativelye, you may want to find free photos for your nonprofit seo and social media. You will probably want to supplement these with photos you take of your clients (depending on privacy issues), donors, speakers, events, and collaborators. You can post these photos on flickr and make a slideshow with Rock You.
• You creating great content, you building and facilitating a community, and organizing your content so Google’s search engine robots can easily read it.

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3 responses to “Ethical SEO for Nonprofits | Search Engine Optimization for Churches and Charities

  1. One of the secrets of successful SEO is to be affiliated with popular and good sites.

  2. Pingback: My Favorite and Best Ethical SEO Blog Posts of 2008 and 2009 | 16 Awesome-tastic Guides for Marketing Your Small Business and Blog « Nashville SEO | Ethical SEO | Christian SEO and Social Media Agency

  3. Pingback: SEO for Schools, Universities, and Educational Institutions: Link bait 101 « Nashville SEO | Ethical SEO | Christian SEO and Social Media Agency

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