Guest Blogger: Ashley Dortch, Co-Founder, Meridian Interactive
Last week, I had the opportunity to podcast with Neesha Rahim. We had a great discussion on how nonprofits might use the SEO process to build strategic major donor relationships. I hope you got to listen! Neesha said many of you have put incredible effort into building a website. Some of you have perhaps even installed your Google Analytics and figured out the basic way to use it. But increasingly, we hear that some of you are finding that — gulp! — only a few people were actually visiting those great sites. Whether you see yourself in those words or not, if you’ve launched a website and have started to look at analytics on how visitors interact with that site, this post is for you. It’s time to start thinking about increasing traffic and upping your game. There are options out there that can be expensive, like purchasing advertising. However, another option that all website owners should take advantage of is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization, by definition, is the process of increasing traffic to your website organically, or within the free (non-paid) results on the search engines. Understanding the process of SEO and educating your organization on what search engines consider when ranking websites will provide the measurable benefits of increased traffic at minimal cost AND this process presents you with an opportunity to build out your major donor relationships. (More on how exactly how to do that in this podcast…)
Here I want to provide you with three detailed, simple steps utilizing three free tools that I referred to in that podcast on taking your SEO game-plan to the next level:
1) Decipher the Competition and See Where They Stand using “PR Checker” –
Understanding your competition and where other organizations in your niche rank is important to your SEO strategy. Think of search terms that donors, philanthropists, and other potentially interested parties may be looking for – for a youth development organization, say: “Giving to Children’s Education”. Type “Giving to Children’s Education” into Google and make a list of who appears in the search results. These are the players you want to be mindful of, analyze, and eventually appear next to (if you already don’t). Using the PR Checker
, you can see what Google thinks of your competitors as well. This gives a nice gauge as to where they stand and what you should strive for. Google ranks sites on a 0 to 10 basis.
2) Competitive Keyword Research using the “SEO Book Page Analyzer” –
Once you decipher the top competitors and high-rankers in your industry, it’s time to see what keywords they are using. Find the exact page that is showing up in the results (for example, www.yourcompetition.com/the-exact-page
, as opposed to www.yourcompetition.com
). Next, plug the page into the SEO Book Page Analyzer
. This will show you the top keyword strings that appear on that page. Pay more attention to the two and three keyword strings, as opposed to the single-word keywords, as longer strings may produce more exact results. Once you have this list of keywords, start blogging, producing articles, and creating content using these keywords
. Putting content out there on the web that is relevant to what your competitors are writing about is a great way to be found amongst them in search results.
3) Link Building using BackLinkWatch –
Relevant inbound links from high ranking sites are key for improving your search rank for SEO. Think of it as the credit game. A teenager starts out with no credit, and her parent decides to help her build credit by adding them to their credit card (with a $250 limit, of course!). Google and the other search engines rank your site in the same way. The goal is to know your page rank, and get sites with higher page ranks to link to you, therefore boosting your ranking.
So how do we go about this? Using your list of competitors (those organizations you admire who are doing work like yours), drop their websites into the BacklinkWatch tool.
Now, see who is linking to them, and find creative ways to get those other sites to link to you too! Remember to be mindful of the rank for these sites (use the PR Checker tool
above). If the site who is linking to your competitor has a #1 rank, and you have a #3, it may not be worth your effort.
But why will they link to you? Because you are offering them something of value… Ask to contribute to their articles, see if they will allow you to introduce yourself to their audience, if they have a directory, see what it takes to get listed… it’s that simple. This not only increases your website rank, but it gets you in front of interested eyes and relevant readers. Syndication across the web is key… Think of the web as your “keyword highway” and you want to be on every billboard along the way.