SEO for the non-profit organization
If you are a non-profit organization, you may have a very low marketing budget and be highly dependent on your web site to reach your audience. This is a very distressing situation. Plus, you have a director who doesn’t even know what a PageRank is, but she heard that it is important. She keeps bringing it up at every staff meeting. Furthermore, you are reliant on volunteer energy. Your volunteers are very dedicated but so overtaxed that they are wandering around with one sock hanging from their ear, mumbling to themselves. You know that SEO is an investment, but you just can’t spare the cash. What are you going to do?
You have a couple of tricks up your sleeve.
Let’s take the Puppy Mills Example. You are an animal rights organization working to ban puppy mills. You have written very passionate copy about Puppy Mills and legislation that you are working to have passed in your state. But no one is coming to your web site.
First, I highly recommend blogging. Having a blog can personalize whatever message you are trying to convey. In this case, you could show pictures of animals that are suffering and animal that your organization has rescued from Puppy Mills. This helps create trust in the web users mind. Also, blogging is a good way to increase web traffic to your site. Since the blog pages are so easy to update, it is a good way to keep your content fresh.
The next advantage that you have is linking opportunities. People who believe in your cause are going to want to link to you. The may even consider one way links when in most cases, that request meets with a cold steely (virtual) silence. If you have done any work with government agencies or civic organizations, email them and ask for a link. Be professional and polite for sure, but try and appeal to their altruistic side. Also, find like minded web sites and ask for links. This will increase your page rank and your showing in the search engines. Neither technique cost much money, and can really help your visibility.
So now what?
You have done your homework and you have a great keyword list. The keywords represent a balance between bringing in traffic and being specific to your web site. You feel good about the words. Now what?
If you are working with a consultant, she will take the keywords and recalibrate your web site so that the content is key word rich. Also, she will she will make changes to the HTML so that your web site is W3C compliant. Optimization will also include making sure your Title tags, Header Tags, Alt Tags, Hyperlinks and possibly File names all make the most strategic use of your key words.
If you decide to optimize the web site yourself, you are going to want to an offline guide, i.e. a book. Personally, I recommend Search Engine Optimization, An Hour a Day
. The writers have a very sane approach to SEO and their guidelines will serve you well.
You will also want to embark on a link campaign. Links are one of the factors that Google uses to decide your PageRank and ultimately where you end up on their natural or organic results. For reason that we will get into later, you will want text links back to your site to be keyword rich, so hold onto that list.
Whittling down the key words
Here is where you are going to need a real strategy, and a good sense of your overall marketing plan. Even if you are working with a consultant, you need to have a hand in this process. You are the expert on your business, and in the end, only you know the real relevance of key words to your web site.Click on this link
to see a chart that Joe Shmo put together after looking up his key words in Overture, Yahoo’s Search Marketing Tool. Also, next to the keywords is the price that the top bidder paid to be number one on Yahoo. The price is not important, it is really just an indicator of how competitive each key word is.
The key words are listed by popularity.
What are we to make of these numbers? When choosing keywords, the objective is to strike a balance between key words that are the most relevant to your site and key words that will bring traffic. Remember, traffic in itself isn’t the goal. You want the right people to come to your site, the ones who will call you or buy from you.
In Joe Shmo’s case, he may be tempted by the most popular key word, Home Improvement. It is fairly competitive, but it does accurately describe what he does. However, home improvement is a pretty general term. It may be a web searcher who wants to retile their floor or someone who is looking for the HGTV network. He crosses this off the list.
Contractor is the most competitive, and it does describe Joe, but it is still a pretty general term. He rules it out.
Nurseries seems promising. It is not terribly competitive, and there are a lot searches. However, a nursery can also be a plant nursery, and for sure, a lot of those web users are looking for a place to buy plants.
House painter and house painting are both pretty competitive words, but they exactly describe Joe’s business. If coupled with geo targeting, it may be worth taking on the competition. After all, someone looking for House Painting, Boston, probably wants their house painted in Boston. He chooses these two keywords.
Another promising key word is Nursery Mural. It is not one of the most heavily searched terms. But, there is a good chance that a searcher looking for Nursery Murals wants their child’s room painted. Geo targeting is important here too.
Not surprisingly, no one is looking for Joe Shmo House Painting. However, you will want to add your company’s name to the list of key words. This is for the customer who knows your name, but not your web address.
Enough with the key words already
We are almost done with our list. Before we move onto the imperative task of refining your key words list, there are still a couple of places to look. Before you start any SEO project, you will want to make sure that you have a solid web tracking program. Your ISP should be able to provide you with site statistics, where the visitors came from, and what key words, if any, were placed in the search engines to find you. Obviously, this is valuable information. Also, if you have an internal search engine, you will want to know what search terms people are using. This gives you a good idea what users to your site are looking for.
There are a few commercial tools that can be really useful in expanding your list. They will also be important when you are whittling down your key words. The first is Yahoo’s Keyword Selector Tool. It is a free program. When you put in your keywords, it will create a list of related terms, and give you the frequency that the keywords were searched on last month:Overture
Another really important tool is Wordtracker
. Its costs a little bit of money, but it is well worth it in your keyword generating efforts.
You will also want to have discussions with people in your business, your employees and co-workers. Even people unrelated to your industry such as your spouse or neighbor might be able to provide you with a perspective (and some choice key words) that you wouldn’t have thought of.
And more keywords yet...
So far, our house painter has done a pretty good job. His brainstorming has covered all of the basics. He has also thought about updating his web site with new ideas that have come from his SEO activities. How else can he expand upon his list?
He can check out what the competition is doing. When you look at your competitors web sites, feel free to define “competitor” broadly. It can be another local shop just like yours, or it can be a national chain. The idea is to have an understanding about what key words people are using in your industry.
Joe Shmo decides to look up a local competitor’s web site. One way to see what keywords they are using is to look at the Title of the page. He sees that they are using “House Painting, Contractor, Massachusetts” in their tags. He hadn’t thought to mention that he was a contractor, so he puts that on his key word list.
Another way is to look at the meta tags in the source code. To do that in Explorer, go to the top navigational bar and click on View, then scroll down to Source. A notepad will open up with the web site’s source code. If you have never worked in HTML before, it may look a little confusing, but don’t be intimidated. Once you know your way around, it is easy to find what you want. First you will see the HTML tag and then a HEAD tag. Then there will be the TITLE tag. Under that is where the META tags are. Meta tags are one way a web site talks to search engines and to browsers. He sees this tag:
META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="House, Painting, wall paper, wallpapering, painter, painters, boston, massachusetts, ma , Home improvement"
Joe looks at the keywords. He doesn’t actually do wallpapering, so he ignores those. However, he sees the words “Home Improvement”. That is a pretty good keyword so he adds that to his list.
Here is his current key word list:
Aged Look Faux Finishes
Specialty Paint Finishes
Joe Shmo House Painting
When our house painter returns to his list, he may feel that he has done a pretty complete job. He has covered the basics, the fact that he does specialty painting, and he even made sure to include his location. But then he may think about his work a little bit more. The last couple of jobs he has done have been painting nurseries. He painted murals on the nursery walls, and he enjoyed it very much. Another recent job was creating a faux aged look in a dining room. When he thinks about it, nowhere on his web site are these specialties mentioned.
Its back to his list. He adds:
Aged Look Faux Finishes
And he makes a note to expand his web site to include examples these specialty finishes.
Here is an example of how SEO can update your entire marketing campaign. Tomorrow, we will have more ideas for Joe on how to expand his list.
Choosing Key Words
Whether you are hiring a consultant to optimize your site, or you are doing it yourself, you are going to want to be intimately involved in developing a keyword list. That is because nobody knows your business like you do.
Your keyword choices will drive the rest of the optimization process. There are many ways to develop a keyword list. The first thing you are going to want to do is brainstorm.
The answers to the questions above are a good place to start. Let us take the example of Joe Schmo House Painting. His business is in the Boston area and he specializes in specialty textured finishes. His initial brainstorming list may look something like this:Keywords
Specialty Paint Finishes
Joe Shmo House Painting
In the next post, we will look at other avenues to expand this initial list.