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However slowly, the paradigm for Nonprofits is shifting.
Many visionaries in the sector have been working for years to shine a light into the unfair double standards applied to Nonprofits. They have shown how the whole system – and general views of the public for what a Nonprofit should and shouldn’t do – puts unnecessary hamstrings on these organizations.
This renders Nonprofits in clear disadvantage when wrestling the general public’s attention and support from the massive advertisement strategies the for-profit sector has on a regular basis.
With the advent of the internet, social media and the interconnectedness of most aspects of people’s lives, the way people interact, view and involve themselves with charity and Nonprofits is evolving. This in turn, influences the way we make effective decisions. This changes what strategies we take to run our Nonprofits efficiently, how we best designate the precious limited resources we have. And we do all this while trying to deliver the largest possible impact in our chosen causes, and how we communicate our achievements to the public.
And make no mistake, outreach and integration are as essential as the other two.
The people who’re already supporting you, should always feel like relevant pieces for your cause. At the same time, it is important to make sure your activities, messages, and accomplishments are constantly reaching new eyes! But for many years, the public would frown upon organizations that designated funds to advertising campaigns.
But, as I said at the beginning, the landscape of the Nonprofit sector is considerably different now than it was ten, or even as little as five years ago. Now we understand that the implementation of things like investments, longer timeframe planning, and advertisement is nothing more than a powerful tool that Nonprofits must use to be effective.
Of course, even though that attitude shift brings great opportunities with it, it also comes attached with new challenges and potential pitfalls. Which strategy can serve best your particular goal? What allotment of resources (time, money, volunteers) can be considered too little to have any real effect or too much to become a waste?
I’ve come to the realization that the answer is being implemented already, with great success, on the for-profit arena, and that’s SEO.
In the world we live in, a powerful SEO for Nonprofit strategy can accomplish a great many things, not the least of which is to get a product, service or message across its intended audience.
Think of it this way, Nonprofits depend more than any other type of organization on their involvement with the people who would support them. You need to reach them, share your vision with them and make them feel part of process of solving a problem and helping a cause.
SEO can help you do all of that effectively, and at lower costs than traditional marketing strategies implemented in the past. This makes it the perfect tool to have a broader outreach and have passive systems proactively pulling in potential donors while keeping costs at a minimum.
But no matter how good SEO for Nonprofits is, implementing a tool you have little or no previous knowledge about can be challenging. To help with that, we decided to put together a short How-to guide of a few SEO tools and strategies you can, and should, implement for your Nonprofit immediately, for it will benefit your cause greatly.
Google AdWords Grants
We are starting our list of SEO for Nonprofit tools with Google’s AdWords Grants, which I’m frankly surprised not many people in the industry take advantage of.
Let me start by hitting you with a few statistics in case you are not familiar with Google’s searches and AdWords system. Around 720 Billion searches are made on Google every day. Of those, around 60% end up with the user clicking on an advertisement. You should be reminded that AdWords ads appear at the top of the results page.
So, we know that Google’s AdWords system works very well. But how can this help your Nonprofit? Around 2003, Google introduced their new AdWords platform model built around pay per click ads. Knowing the problem faced by nonprofit organization, they also created the ad grant program in an effort to help eligible groups.
While the end goal of any Nonprofit marketing campaign is to attract donations – and this tool can certainly help you do that – there are many other benefits your Nonprofit can gain from it. You can create awareness to your cause through exposure, recruit volunteers, publicize upcoming events, and even increase your email database. These are all beneficial consequences of running an effective AdWords Grant campaign.
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So, how do you apply?
Unlike traditional grants that can take months to write up to and apply for, Google’s AdWords Grant can be applied for in minutes. However, there is a couple of things to do before jumping into the Google bandwagon.
You will need the EIN number (also known as Federal Tax Identification Number) related to your Nonprofit, and you will have to register/validate with your local TechSoup partner. This is a Nonprofit that provides technical support and tools for other Nonprofits around the world; Google requires their validation token as proof that your Nonprofit is eligible.
Once that’s done, jump into Google’s Nonprofits site and click on the Start Now Button. This will send you to a short questionnaire where you will answer a few questions and certify a few things about your Nonprofit. This should only take a few minutes. After that, you’ll hear back from Google in about 3 to 5 business days, telling you whether you have been accepted into the program or not.
Once you are accepted, you’ll be able to dive into your AdWords account and start creating campaigns for your Nonprofit!
Now, for these Ad campaigns to be effective you need to apply every known SEO strategy to them. That means proper niche keyword research, compelling copy of the ad text itself, as well as any other AdWords tweak, of which we have talked in the past.
It’s a process that can pay off beyond your expectations but will take some time and effort, especially if you are handling the SEO side of it yourself. Keep in mind though that it is a process, and even if you are not reaching your desired conversion rate at the beginning, the Google Ads platform will give you mountains of actionable data you can use to refine your campaigns and reach their full potential, a little more of this on my next point.
Tailor your Website’s content for better ranking
This is a generalized point that by itself will give you little clue where to begin. So, instead of covering the myriad of possible ramifications, I’m going to limit the scope, both for the tools you will use and the mindset with which you’ll use them.
Say you are committed to implementing SEO for Nonprofit in your specific corner of the internet, your Nonprofit’s website, with the primary goal being to rank up in search engine results. The goal is creating more awareness to your cause, increasing the visits to your site, attracting potential donors to your activities, and the whole enchilada. If you try to rank for things like “Nonprofit” or “Donation”, chances are you are not going to be able to make a huge impact.
Think of it this way, how does a small business rank up on “computer” against the giant companies already advertising on that market for decades? The answer is, you don’t. You never go head to head with a giant. Rather, you find your own little niche. This will effectively bring in more people to your cause.
The first step is to start thinking on longtail keywords. Instead of trying to rank just for “Nonprofit,” you should come up with a longer string of word that is both relevant and highly used in related searches.
Google, once more, gives us the perfect tools to accomplish this. One is Google Keyword Planner, and the other is Google trends.
There’s a less well-known google tool that can help you amazingly when trying to tweak your web content to attract people, and that’s Google’s Trend Analyzer.
This tool allows you to analyze keywords search incidence based on the time of year you plan to launch your campaign. Almost every single keyword you look for has some aspect of seasonality to it.
If you are adjusting your website’s content to specific keywords while they are “in season” you’ll boost their potential to attract more views to it. Furthermore, if you have more than one potentially useful keyword, the trend planner can help you pick the best one since it has a built-in keyword comparison feature.
The tool is pretty intuitive.
You can see a graph showing you the “interest” for a given keyword. For example, interest for keyword “Gardening” spiked during the week between April 30 to May 6. It also shows the interest by region, related topics, and queries.
Doing a proper keyword research and pairing it with seasonal trending can help you optimize your Nonprofit’s website content to reach higher levels of exposure and engagement.
The Keyword Planner
The first window helps you refine your search in order to target your keyword hunt more accurately.
The section marked as [1 – Keywords] is where you start with your initial words.
Keep in mind that most often than not you’ll move on to use keywords suggested by the app, and this first one is your referential starting point; try different keywords related to your cause and your nonprofit goals to get a wide picture of potential usable keywords.
Type keywords related to your topic, things that you think people might be interested in and also relate directly to your Nonprofit’s activities.
The section marked as [2 – Search Parameters] can help you significantly improve the quality of your search. By limiting language, location, and filters, you narrow down the search and focus on results that are likely to be useful to you.
Say that your Nonprofit’s activities relate to bringing drinkable water to third world countries. You might start your search with things like “Water”, “Donation”, “Third World”, “Water Crisis.” If, instead, you want to create a campaign to promote a charity run or any other activity in your city, you might try things like “Marathon”, “Race”, “Charity Event”, and limit those results geographically. This will significantly improve the quality of results you’ll get.
This is an app you’ll grow very fond of in your efforts to do SEO for Nonprofit or any other type of business. The reason is that it is such a powerful and easy to use tool. It’s also free, which is a plus for any charitable organization. When you create an ad campaign, it will show you extremely detailed data about the keywords aim for. If you took the first step and were admitted at the AdWords Grant program, you’ll have that feature when you go to the keyword planner through your AdWords account.
Social Media Integration
Most people learn about and interact with new content through social media.
When working on doing the best possible SEO for Nonprofits, it is essential to have your presence there. However, the subject of effectively managing and using Social Media to boost awareness for your cause can be daunting.
So again, to give you clear, actionable intel you can implement right now and make a positive impact to your Nonprofit, I’ll just focus on a few general principles that will guide you through an effective social media SEO implementation.
Focus on the Big three:
At least for starters.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have the wider reach/Easier Upkeep of all relevant social media out there. What I mean by that is that keeping up, say, a YouTube channel is quite an endeavor (generating content for it is prohibitely time-consuming). It is way easier to work on these three. But they have their specific uses.
Facebook should primarily be used as a community builder. People who find and like your cause will join and hopefully discuss and bring more awareness. The easiest way to maintain your Nonprofit’s Facebook page with updated content is to just post snippets or shortened versions of your optimized website content. Of course, it should always be accompanied with a link. The more relevant, interesting and eye-catching it is, the more people will visit your FB profile and share the content.
Twitter is an excellent diffusion mechanism. Every time you write a new article, host an event, or have relevant news breaks related to your cause, tweet about it. Always remember that tweets live or die by the hashtags. Using the proper one will have your tweet read by those interested in the subject, giving you instant exposure.
I’d consider Instagram the more complex of the three, but also the one with the greatest potential. The secret to Instagram is producing pictures and images that will showcase your Nonprofit in a way people will find compelling, likable and shareable. For example, uploading a picture of volunteers working on your latest events can motivate more people to join your cause. Uploading a thank you image and tagging/naming your donors or contributors can spur more people to follow suit.
Basic Marketing principles apply
The more marketing strategies you apply, the healthier your social media campaign will become. This isn’t necessarily something you should learn and do one day. Rather, it is something you should try to cultivate organically as your social media follower count grows.
Give people something they’d feel inclined to share, pique their interest, and most importantly: provide a service. If you post quality content (interesting/ informative pieces, impactful images, etc.) that people find valuable – and value can be anything, from information, to entertainment, to humor – your Nonprofit’s social media exposure is bound to grow.
Consistency is Key
Probably the most important point in this section.
It doesn’t matter if you upload the most amazing Instagram pictures, or write up fantastic copy showcasing your latest charity run. If you are only uploading on your social media once every few weeks, it won’t have the intended effect.
An active account is the only way to ensure social media exposure growth, and there are amazing tools out there that can help you manage everything from a central hub and do things like program future uploads and posts.
SEO for Nonprofits
Doing Search Engine Optimization for any organism can be both an incredibly powerful tool that can boost your exposure and have a direct benefit for your activities, and a massive undertaking.
What we covered here is just the tip of the Iceberg as far as SEO for Nonprofits go. But combined, they can be the powerful lynchpin where you build your Nonprofit’s online presence. You’ll notice that enacting just a few of these changes will impact your nonprofit almost immediately. That is the power of SEO.
However, with so many things already on your plate, handling the primary activities of your organization, planning out, and executing SEO methods might easily overwhelm you.
Yes, the points discussed in this guide can be applied by most people, but it is undeniable that a significant commitment of time has to be made to do it properly. If that’s your case, always keep in mind that experts in the SEO field can help you in your efforts, cutting the time it would take for you to learn the ropes and rather start benefiting your Nonprofit immediately through professional SEO conceived specifically for your cause.
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But we’d be happy to show you specific SEO case studies based on your industry. That way, you can decide for yourself …
What to do now?
Take the next step. Request a Free SEO Diagnostic Review.
During your private 30-minute meeting by phone or Skype, an SEO expert will perform a live analysis of your website to uncover lost opportunities in your search rankings. You’ll see exactly what your website does well, what it doesn’t, and what to do next.
There’s no cost, no obligation, and you’ll receive a Surprise Gift to thank you for your time.