10 SEO tips for charities and non-profits

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an important tool for any organisation’s digital marketing strategy in order to attract targeted traffic to their site. Simply put, SEO is the process of optimising your website’s design and content to help boost your page ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Without a successful SEO strategy, chances are you won’t be ranking very highly in the SERPs. Your website may have great content, but no-one will see it if they cannot find you. The same goes for charities and non-profit organisations. These organisations will tend to rely heavily on SEO to promote their content and work, as they may not have the budget or resources to develop paid advertising campaigns. As a result, charities and non-profit organisations will need tactics that are readily available to them to boost their visibility. Fortunately, SEO is an effective way to accomplish just that. In this guide, we outline 10 SEO tips for charities and non-profits that will boost their rankings.

SEO tips for charities and non-profits

Fundamentally, SEO is built around 3 core areas: trust, authority, and relevance (sometimes referred to as expertise). Google uses these core areas to determine the ranking of webpages. Developing SEO for charities is not so different to developing SEO for any other business and is still subject to these 3 areas. The methods of gaining that higher ranking in the SERPs is mostly the same, but charities and non-profits can benefit from a little extra support to help boost awareness, increase donors, and attract volunteers. We have picked 10 tips that can help build and develop your content around the 3 core areas of SEO outlined above, and help charities and non-profit organisations improve their search engine ranking.

While these tips will focus on Google, it is important to remember modifying your SEO strategy for other search engines too.

1.      Relevant and quality content

Creating and developing content is one of the key factors in order to boost your SEO ranking, especially creating high quality and relevant content. Creating high quality content shows Google and other search engines that your content is authoritative, which will help boost rankings. Charities can create high quality and relevant content in the following ways:

  • Create individual pages for each niche topic on the website, including sub-pages.
  • Ensure the information you provide is extensive, detailed, and accurate to show you are the experts (but avoid using complicated terminology – tip 5).
  • Regularly create a variety of new content including videos, blog posts and infographics, but keep in mind quality over quantity.
  • Use the right keywords and phrases within your content.
  • Focus each page on one primary keyword (see tip 5).
  • Do not make it difficult for users to find information.
  • Create and maintain a blog – if you have something good to share, let people know about.
  • Obtain experts or guest writers to create content for you.
  • Avoid thin content that adds little or no value to readers.

The biggest thing to remember when creating content is that it must be relevant to your audience. Create content based on what your site users most want to hear about.

Individual pages for niche topicsThe Children In Need website creates individual pages for each niche topic relating to fundraising.

2.      On-page optimisation

Not only do you need to create relevant and quality content, but you also need to make this content friendly for search engines. There are a few things you need to consider:

Title and heading tags

When publishing content online, you should make use of titles and heading tags. Not only does implementing titles and headings make it clearer and easier for users reading the site to find information quickly, but it also tells search engines the keywords that are important in your article. Use your target keyword in the page heading and in the title. Primary headings should make use of H1 tag, with H2 and H3 tags being used for supportive content.

Website using heading tagsThe Alzheimer’s blog makes use of heading tags

Meta-descriptions

Create a meta-description for every page you publish. The purpose of a meta-description is to encourage users to click-through to your website from a SERP. The more people who click-through to your page after seeing the result will have a greater influence on your search ranking. Create a meta-description that compels the user and creates enough interest for them to click-through to learn more.

Descriptive alt image text

Another tip for on-page optimisation is alt text for images. When inserting images into your content, you need to add a descriptive alt text for the image, to tell exactly what the image includes or contains. Alt text is usually displayed when images do not load or when someone is using a screen reader. Alt text is also used by search engines when crawling your content to help determine the relevancy of your page. So make sure you include a keyword or relevant phrase in your descriptive text.

Tell Google to crawl your content

One more thing to point out is that you should create a robot.txt file to tell Google’s web crawlers to index your website pages. Otherwise, the crawlers may be missing valuable content in your that could otherwise positively influence your ranking position!

3.      Links

Links are important for Google to determine the authority of your content. Links can come in three different ways; internal, outbound, and inbound. While you can easily create internal and outbound links (which have some influence on your ranking), inbound links are the most beneficial.

Obtain quality backlinks

An Inbound link, or backlink, is when another website creates a link through to your content. While you could just hope that people will create a link through to your page if your content is authoritative enough, you can actively obtain inbound links yourself. Searching for guest blogging opportunities, asking news websites to feature your website link in a featured story, or collaborating and building relationships with other non-profit organisations can also help obtaining backlinks. Creating these backlinks shows to Google that people trust your content.

Remember, always use anchor texts (the visible text a link shows) on links that clearly state the contents of the link. Don’t use phrases such as “click here” or “available here” as this will not have as positive an impact on your ranking.

Broken links

Any broken links on your site also need to be fixed or removed. Removing content from a site will no doubt affect links across all your other content too. Not fixing or removing broken links can lead to 404 errors, which will negatively impact your ranking position. Platforms, such as Google Search Console, can provide lists of error 404 pages. You can then simply go and remove the broken link, or if the content has moved, create a 301 redirect.

4.      User experience

User experience (or page experience) is a new ranking factor introduced by Google in August 2021. It is now important for websites to have a good user experience on both desktop and mobile. Tips to consider for creating a better user experience include:

  • Optimise the speed of your website and maintain a low loading time of 3 seconds or less.
  • Maintain a consistent design across your desktop and mobile site.
  • Ensure that navigation is easy on both desktop and mobile.
  • Content can be easily read and understood.
  • Create a web design that is both visually pleasing and consistent with your branding.
  • Provide interactive features, if possible and relevant.
  • Add alt text to images and maintain a balance between low file size and image quality.
  • Remove or fix broken links.
  • Consider whitespace. Do not congest the page with text in one or two paragraphs.
  • Include call-to-actions which lead users to do something.
  • Create a balance between imagery and text.

Website with a image and test balanceThe British Red Cross website creates a balance between imagery and text

Page Speed Insights can check the speed of your webpages.

5.      Speak the same language

While creating content is important, using the same language as your audience is just as important. flooding your content with terminology that people do not use or understand will make it difficult for them find your content in the search results. Adopting the same language as your audience can provide benefits.

Featured snippets appear in SERPs right at the top, above the number 1 ranked listing, so obtaining a featured snippets status is something of a ‘holy grail’ for SEO. As an authority in your area, charities and non-profits are in a good position to gain these feature snippets as Google wants content from authoritative sources. As these featured snippets are chosen by Google’s automated systems, you need to optimise your content and keyword usage to best match the keywords and queries users are searching for. This will increase the chances of your content being chosen for a featured snippet.

Keyword research helps for both using jargon-free terminology in your content and gaining that coveted featured snippet. Keyword research can either be done using an online tool, such as SEMrush, or by using the search suggestions and recommendations provided by Google. Once you have obtained these keywords, optimise your current content, and create new content using the keywords you have found. Using the right keywords will help to improve your ranking but remember not to overstuff your content with keywords!

6.      Use a content management system platform

Using a content management system (CMS) platform can make it easier for implementing some of the tips we have mentioned. CMS platforms are used to allow users to create and manage websites without the need for building one from scratch with code. CMS platforms instead allow you to create content and websites from a design perspective, with no code required. Platforms like WordPress or Hubspot CMS Hub offer a range of features that can help in developing your SEO, including on-page optimisation (tip 2), and creating links (tip 3). And the best thing is you can install plug-ins like Yoast which makes it even easier to implement good SEO practices to your pages by providing recommendations for better improving your content.

WordPress homeCreating a website using WordPress

7.      Fix or remove duplicate content

Duplicate content is an issue that occurs when identical content is used across different pages in your site. Identifying duplicate content, and then fixing or removing it will help search engines better index your site and improve your website traffic. Free tools, such as Siteliner, can help in identifying duplicate content.

8.      Return the favour

Did you know that Google gives ranking priority to websites that incorporate or use Google platforms? Implementing these features into your site can be a great way to help boost your ranking:

  • Create terms of use and privacy policy pages as Google can use these when determining a sites trustworthiness.
  • Google values sites with a good contact page that provides multiple methods of contact, including phone, email, and address.
  • Create a YouTube account and upload whatever videos you can. Create a social link on your website, and where relevant, in your content.
  • Add a Google Maps location to your contact’s page.
  • Create an XML sitemap to give Google a better understanding of your websites structure.
  • Create or maintain a Google My Business profile.
  • Use the Google Search Console.
  • Make use of Ad Grants for non-profits.
  • Adapt HTTPs to tell Google your site is secure and increases trustworthiness.

9.      Local SEO

Local SEO is used to help increase the visibility of businesses in local and localised searches. Like SEO, local SEO is also built around 3 areas: proximity, prominence, and relevance. While local SEO is not too different from normal SEO, there is a different set of ranking factors used to determine local search results, including whether you appear in the 3-pack search. Factors can include the location of where the search took place, presence of your businesses listing, and review star rating. Find out more about local SEO and how to develop a local SEO strategy in our no-nonsense guide.

10.  Social media

Using social media platforms can be a great way for charities and non-profits to improve their SEO. Social media does not play a significant part in SEO, but the general rule of thumb is the more content that gets shared on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the more relevant your content will appear to Google. Find ways you can make an impact with little budget using social media.

Using the 10 tips outlined here will help boost your charities or non-profits SEO to better improve and boost your ranking within SERPs. It is important to remember that developing your SEO is not a one-off and should be continually developed and worked at to ensure your pages become more visible to searchers, thereby helping to increase the number of visitors to your site.

Want to find out more about search engine optimisation and how it can help your business? Get in touch to speak to a friendly member of our team.