The Reality of SEO for Nonprofits
Articles,  Blog

The Reality of SEO for Nonprofits

Steven: Jay, are you with us? Jay: I am with you, Steven. I was on the other
side of the building, and had to sprint over to my phone to take it
off mute, but I am here. Steven: You are a fox. You’re a sprinting
fox. Jay: A sprinting fox. Steven: All right. Well, I’ve got 2:30. You
want to get started? Jay: I am ready to roll whenever you are. Steven: Cool, let’s do it. Well, good afternoon to everyone there on
the East Coast, and good morning. Just barely good morning if you’re
on the West Coast. Thanks for joining us for today’s webinar,
“The Reality of SEO for Nonprofits.” My name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the VP
of Marketing here at Bloomerang. I’ll be moderating today’s discussion.
Today I’m just really excited to be joined by Jay Wilkinson.
He’s the founder and CEO over at Firespring. Hey there,
Jay. Jay: Great to be here. Steven: Yeah, thanks for joining us. And for those of you who don’t know Jay, Jay
is considered to be a leading authority on the proper use of the
web as a tool to enhance the core mission of any enterprise.
Jay serves on the board of several nonprofits, and he’s appeared
on CNN and other news programs, discussing how emerging technologies
can affect nonprofits. His company Firespring is a Nebraska-based
marketing and Internet services company with over 3,000
clients on five clients. So, this is just a real treat to
have someone of Jay’s caliber on the Bloomerang webinar here to
talk about websites and web design and SEO. So, thanks again for
joining us for the afternoon, Jay. Jay: It is my pleasure. Steven: So, what we’re going to do today is
Jay’s going to run through his presentation. He’s got a really great
presentation. It’s one that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live
in person. He’s going to talk about search engine optimization,
a topic he’s a really big expert on. So he’s going to be spending
the next 60 to 90 minutes just sharing his knowledge, and hopefully
everyone listening will get a lot of takeaways from
it. So I’m going to turn it over to him. And then
what’s going to happen at the end of his presentation is we’ll jump
right into a Q&A session. So, while he’s speaking, feel free
to send any questions or comments through the chat window
right there on the webinar screen. I’ll see those, and I’ll be able to field
those to Jay when it comes time for the Q&A session. So, don’t be shy
at all in using that, and we’ll get to as many questions as we can
before the 4pm Eastern hour. So, I’m not going to waste any
more time. I’m going to hand it over to Jay to get us started.
So, Jay, go for it. Jay: Thank you so much, Steven. I am really,
really, really happy to be here for today’s session. This relationship
Firespring has had with Bloomerang in trying to shake up and
make a huge difference in the way that nonprofits manage their donor
data and integrate with their web presence is just something
that we’re very excited about. And I’m really, really happy to share this
information with you today. Everything that we talk about – we
will be able to provide a copy of the session, the information
you see on the screen, and Steven is also running a recorded
version of the session that you may be able to share with
others in your office or others maybe even outside of the organization
that you may want to share the information with. So, that
will be available after the session. You just need to request
it. If you’re tweeting today, if you’re on Twitter
and want to make your information palatable and salient for everyone
else and create a conversation online, I would encourage you
to use the hashtag #Firespring just for the course of the session.
That way, other people can track what you’re saying, as well.
My handle on Twitter, by the way, is @JayWilk. This topic of leveraging search engines and
optimizing search for nonprofits is something that’s very near and
dear to my heart. It’s all about being found and giving yourself
a presence when people are looking for you online. And it’s
a really important facet in the arsenal of things that we need
to be considering when we’re talking about branding, promoting,
and expanding our organization. So I’m really excited to share
this information. We have been researching not only this area,
but all facets of how nonprofits brand and market themselves for
over 10 years. At this point, we’ve put more than a thousand
constituents into focus groups, and we’ve asked them the question,
“If we were to build the perfect website for your organization,
what would need to be built into that website for the end-user
to really have an optimal experience?” And then how do you optimize
your website so that people can find you, so that it’s
searchable? And I have the answers to those questions for you today.
We’ll be sharing some of the best practices we’ve learned over
the years. Before search engine optimization, though,
we have to start with the great website. So I’m going to start by setting
the foundational elements of how to build a great search strategy,
which is having a website that has a payoff once they
land on it after doing the search. What search engines are
and why they matter. We’ll talk about the five fundamentals for
SEO success, which include keyword research, website optimization,
link building, fresh content, and analytics. We’re going
to dig into each one of those and kind of dip our toe into the
rabbit hole in each one. And then as we’re wrapping up, we’ll
talk a little bit about the tools of the trade and finish up
with action steps. One other thing that we’ll touch on at the
very end of the session, something we’re excited about at Firespring,
is a partnership we’ve created with an independent organization
called the Digital Community Foundation that’s providing
grants for nonprofit organizations to help take their
website to a new level. So, we’re excited to share that with
you as well. Before we roll on search engine optimization
and dig deep into that, as I said a moment ago, I want to start with
the foundational elements of our website, where nonprofits
tend to struggle more than nearly anywhere else. Of the 88% of nonprofits
today who have a website, nearly three quarters of those
design their own website or use something donated by a volunteer
or public agency. And herein lies the issue that causes
so many challenges for nonprofit organizations. It goes to the
heart of how nonprofit organizations are wired. And so, ask yourself, how many times inside
the walls of your organization have you heard people say the
words, “We’ve got to do more with less. We have to figure out how
to do more with less”? We hear that almost spoken as a mantra
in so many organizations, and I think we should just
abolish that phrase completely, because it ends up wreaking so
much havoc on nonprofit organizations in terms of how they
think about things when it comes to search, when it comes to
the website, when it comes to branding and marketing and fundraising
– in general, really leveraging the organization for greater
success. The biggest downfall that most of us have
is we’re so focused on what things cost – “How much is it going to cost
me to do that?” – rather than what’s the return on investment
going to be. If I had a great donor database tool, for example.
So many of us are thinking, “Well, that’s going to cost X amount
per month or year,” instead of “If we put this in, what’s
the return on investment going to be? If we spend $1,000
a year, are we going to get $2,000 back in increased donations,
increased efficiency, decreased expenses, whatever?” And that’s
where we need to be focused. But the reason we’re struggling on this website
thing is we’re trying to do DIY it – do it yourself. And we’re trying
to bring in resident geeks, which exist in every organization
on the planet, whether it’s an official position or an unofficial
title that someone carries as a badge of honor. We all
have go-to geeks in our organization. Sometimes they’re paid professionals that
we bring in. Sometimes they’re the executive director’s really smart
nephew with a computer, just now graduating from middle
school, and so he’s got this figured out. And we slide over and
we say, “Why don’t you guys take the website? You take this and
deal with it.” And that’s where the problems come. And in the last couple of years, the biggest
challenges we’ve seen with nonprofit organizations that are trying
to build a powerful presence online is this proliferation of WordPress,
which was intended to be a blogging platform. Now we’re
using it as a way to build out our websites, and it’s created
so much frustration, because in WordPress, it’s really difficult
to build in the functional tools that we need to do business
as an organization for people to engage with us. Things like
event registration tools, where people can connect with us and
the ability for volunteers to come and connect and engage. These kinds of tools, when we plug them in
as widgets that we get basically free from WordPress, and when they
don’t work – even if we’re paying someone in our community to
build it for us in WordPress and then turning the keys over to
us – there’s no one to point your finger at when something doesn’t
work. “Well, it was a free utility. They said it would work.
I don’t know why it’s not working.” There’s no one to take
accountability for it, so it’s really frustrating for a lot of nonprofits.
So, be careful as you’re navigating this realm. But focus in on the important thing. The important
things are the five required elements of a viable website.
I’m going to share those with you right now. This is the foundation.
Again, it doesn’t matter how great of a job we do being
found, how much work we do with social media and search engine
optimization. It doesn’t matter if when people land on our
website, there’s really no payoff for them. There’s nothing
there that’s going to grab their attention and compel them to take
some kind of action with our organization. And that’s really what
SEO is all about. It’s about driving action to our website,
where they can take action. And if you follow these five elements that
I’m going to share with you now, you’ll knock it out of the park.
As I’m going through these, think about your own website. Grade
yourself. Evaluate your website – see how you’re doing. Number one on the list of the five is site
structure. Structure refers to the way your website is built so
that people can find their way around. And a lot of us refer to
this as “navigation,” where we’re thinking about, “Okay, how do
you get from Point A to Point Z.” And here’s an example of a website that does
a really good job with this. First of all, there’s a high-level hierarchy
where you’re clicking on the buttons. You like the “About
Us,” the issues, all the different high level hierarchy things
that we’re focused on first out of the gate. And then in addition
to that, in this particular website, they have this foot map,
this thing at the bottom that has a list of keywords – and we’re
going to dig into this today and talk about the importance of
those keywords – so you can navigate you way around this site. And they also have a search tool. You type
in a keyword and you search on this page or on this website and
it’ll deliver all the results, the different places where you can
go on this particular website to navigate your way around. And the thing that this website does really
well is they have options – different ways to navigate. All of us should
build our website so that if I go to your website, I should
be able to get from where I am to wherever it is that I want to
go in three or fewer clicks. If we can’t get there in three or
fewer clicks, then it’s not built properly and we need to go
back and start over and figure out how to do it. So that’s the
first of the five – structure – making sure that we provide these
ways to navigate and make it simple and seamless for people
to do that. Number two refers to the design of our web
presence. Now, design is all about telling the story of your organization.
You should be able to look in the mirror and it should reflect
your mission, your purpose, your passion as an organization. The example that I’m putting on the screen
for us here – I’m very deliberately sharing an example that doesn’t
make you gasp for air and say, “Wow, that’s beautiful.” This
is not a particularly beautiful website – too many colors going
on – there’s some competing things. But when we put this particular
website in front of focus group recipients, and they’re
telling us, and we watch them and we track their eyeballs and
where they look, the first thing people see when they come to this
website is this graphic, the children holding the fruit to
their eyes. And then they’ll either look at this headline
on the right, “Providing Early Care and Education for Children,”
or the one right underneath, “Ensuring Children in Childcare
Receive Nutritious Meals,” and instantly they’re going
to know who this organization is and what they’re about. The
combination of the photo and the headline tell the story of the
organization. And that’s what good design will do. Every page
on your website should tell the story of your organization. Number three refers to content. And as they’ve
said since the early days of the Internet, content is king. It
really is all about the content we provide on our website. Here’s an organization that does a great job
with content – You click on their
“Issues + Resources” page, and it has deep, diverse information
on child abuse and neglect and foster care, reunification, and
kinship here. Everything that you could possibly want to
know, and it’s organized in a way that makes it really easy
to find what you’re looking for. This organization does a great
job with their content, but the most important thing as it
relates to content isn’t the actual content itself. It’s how
do we get that content into the website in the first place. In today’s world – we’re almost to 2014 – nonprofit
organizations -every one of us – should have a content management
system that we build our website on top of. And not just
any content management system, but one that makes it possible
for us to update and modify the information on our website,
on our own time, on our own schedule, without having
to go through our resident go-to geeks. And I say this with
all the love and admiration I can muster up, because I’ve been
the go-to-geek in many organizations in my lifetime. That’s
kind of the role that I’ve served in the organizations I’ve connected
with and been involved with. And I’ll tell you straight out that it always
starts out great in the beginning. For the first couple of months,
I’m able to make the updates really seamlessly. After maybe six
months to a year, I’m busy, so it may take me a week. It may take
me two weeks. And some of us get to the point where it takes
a year. I’ve heard stories where it’s taken over a year for someone
to make an update when we wanted to make a content change
or just add a simple page on a website. It’s very frustrating.
And what are we going to say? These people are donating their
time. It’s free. We can’t really get upset with them when they’re
helping us out. So, it’s very frustrating for many organizations
that go through this cycle, where the average nonprofit organization
has to restart the development of their web presence every
two to two and a half years because we’re dealing with this
kind of cycle where it’s starting over. But having a website and
a content management system like this, makes it so easy
to come in and say, “This is the page that I want to update
right here.” And I click on the section that I want to update
and copy and paste the text out of a Word document or out of
an email, and boom, it’s done. It’s updated. Point and click,
drop and drag – simple. I have the opinion that every nonprofit organization
should have a minimum of three people in our organization
that have the ability and the access to update and modify
information on our website, including the ability to add a page. The single most important thing for nonprofits
today, as it relates to all the things we’re talking about today
with search engines and websites, are something called landing
pages – having pages where people land when they come to your website,
that makes it possible for them to take action on something.
And we’re going to talk more about that as we move forward.
And the ability, with the content management system, to add
a landing page is critical so that we can constantly keep our
website evolving and make sure we’re focused on the right things. The fourth element is functionality. Functionality
refers to the tools that are available on our website that
not only make it possible, but in some cases actually make
it necessary for constituents to engage with us, using these
tools on our website. So, this is simple. These are things
like a place where you can go and sign up to volunteer, because
I want to get involved in your organization. I can access
the program for the event calendar and see all that’s going on. Online registration is the most important
tool of all the functional tools. It’s the one that in time after time,
study after study, the ability for constituents to come and actually
register for events right on your website by going to the
pages or pages they want to interact with is critical. And I want to be clear on this, too. Having
a PDF file on your website that allows people to download that
PDF file, fill it out, scan it, and email or fax it to you – that
is not online registration. That’s providing a PDF form
online that they can manually use to register. Online registration means I can come to your
website, I can enter my credit card information, and all the details
that you need, and I can register for the event. I get an instant
email and feedback on the website or response that says
“Thank you for registering.” It provides me with the venue
details and a timeframe of all the things that I need to
know. And then, automatically, your system is going to send
them an update a day before or two days before, saying, “Here’s
a map to the event,” etc. It’s that system we build in to do event registration
that’s so critical for us. That’s a really important
tool. We’re going to be digging in and talking about some of these
other important things as we move forward, but functionality
is critical. Number five is vitality. Simply put, vitality
is the perception of the freshness of content. So, what we’re saying
here is that the information on the website needs to give the
perception that the content on the entire website is constantly
evolving and changing. Here’s a great example of that. You go to Right there on the front page he has a blog, and
at least once every week – never longer than every 7 days – they
post content. And it shows three recurrences, and you can see
that the content is constantly evolving. My brain tells me when
I see this, “Wow, this entire website must be updated all the
time.” You know, when you and I visit a website,
we make a decision in less than five seconds if we’re going to a) click
past the “Favorites” menu and never come back to it,
or b) bookmark this to our “Favorites” menu and come back to it.
We make that decision in five seconds or less, and it’s
based almost entirely upon the perception of the freshness of content.
So, having this dated content on our front page is critical,
and it’s also critical for search. As we dig into search and start talking about
it more today, one of the things that is really important is having
this dated content that shows repeated posts on the front page.
It carries a lot of what they refer to as “search juice.” And
it creates this image from the search engines. The headers stuff
change in here all the time, and that’s a good sign. It creates
a vitality component in terms of the way that the search
algorithms work. So, wrapping up on the website, think of these
five elements, structure, design, content, functionality,
vitality, serving right at the core center. It’s your website.
You do all five of these things well, and you build a website
so that no matter what we’re doing and how we’re thinking about
this – if we’re talking about Facebook or blogs or maybe your
appeal letters – any direct mail, postcards, LinkedIn, newsfeeds,
Twitter, email marketed newsletter, and then of course search
engines, which we’re talking about today – all of these things
ultimately point back to your website. They all lead people back to your website.
It is the core center of your brand, the core center of your marketing
universe, and we need to put our time and attention there first.
If we don’t start with this foundational layer, it’s a
fruitless endeavor. So, that’s laid out. Let’s talk a little bit
about search engines, and starting with what is a search engine.
Well, first of all, a search engine has three components. The first
part of it is that it kind of serves as a spider. It’s out there
crawling around the web, and the algorithms that they built
are proactive algorithms. They go out and find websites
that are housed on servers that are connected to the backbone
of the Internet, and it’s just searching and finding everything. Once it finds it, it puts it in an index,
like a big filing cabinet in the sky. So, every website that the search
engine finds, it takes them and it indexes them and puts it
in its place, wherever it is it thinks it belongs. And then the third part of that is the query
that we type in to find the information that’s in the index. So you
type in a keyword and it pulls up all of the references, the
result about that particular search term. It’s really that simple.
It’s crawling the Web, indexing everything that it finds,
and then you can access that information by typing a query,
and it will return the results to you in the order that it thinks
that they are relevant to the query that you typed in. So, why should nonprofits care about SEO,
and what kind of nonprofits should? Well, if your organization has any
one or more of the following characteristics, then you should
care about search engines. Number one, if you have a regional, national,
or international reach. It’s more important to people that fall into
those categories, rather than the really hyper local small community
nonprofits. If your organization provides information
or research or has data that helps people, whether it’s research
or specific information on helping them cope with an illness
or an issue or a challenge they have. If your organization is naturally wired for
web engagement. There are some organizations that simply support a cause
and revolve around a cause that’s more engaging to people,
where people are talking about it even if they’re at the office
or at the ice cream store or over a table. Those kinds of
organizations really need to focus on SEO, because they’re heavily
engaging topics that people are searching for information
on. If you raise money for a cause, you need to
care about search engines. If you raise money, especially if
you have an online component. We have an entire session built
around online fundraising and digging into email marketing,
which are some really fascinating things that are going on
in that space. And if you want to be found online and then raise
money for a cause, it’s really important that you’re focused
on those things. But that’s the last one – wanting to be found.
If you just simply want people to find you online, it’s important
that you focus on search engine optimization, at least a little
bit. So, there are five fundamentals here: keyword
research, website optimization, link building, providing fresh
content to your website, and the analytics. And we’re going
to dig into each of those. We’ll start with keyword research.
And keyword research is basically about taking a word that people
use when they think of the challenges they have, the services
you might offer, or the issues you support, and they tie those
words to things that they’re searching for as a way to connect
with your organization. And to illustrate the challenge and the issue
that so many nonprofits have with keywords. I’m going to use a very
common example of a product that most of us are aware of and are
familiar with. When most people see a picture of what is on the
screen here on the left, they would say, “Well, that’s a marker.
That’s a pen. It’s a pink pen. It’s a Sharpie.” Those are the
words that people would use when they see that photograph of
what that is. They would call it a pink Sharpie, a pink pen,
pen, marker, whatever it is. Those are the words that come to mind. Well, if you go to a search engine and you
search for “pink Sharpie,” there are 7.3 million results that come back.
A lot of those are totally non-relevant or people who were writing
a blog post in 1999, and they happened to say something about
a pink sharpie, and it has really nothing to do with the product.
And some people are talking about “Sharpie” and then
the word “pink,” and they both appear in the same text, so that’s
showing up. So there’s a lot of non-relevant stuff here,
but that’s a lot of results for the word “pink Sharpie” that have
built up over time. So, think about the word “pink Sharpie” here
and about all of the different things that are available online
and the way people can find it. And then let’s look at the lineup
of all the different things that Sharpie offers – the
purple marker, pen, markers, pink pens, pink Sharpie fine point.
These are the words that people use when they think of the Sharpie,
when they’re thinking about what are those tools. And here’s where the disconnect happens with
nonprofits. I’m using this example because it’s really easy to track
and understand. Think about what would happen if Sharpie were
to promote and optimize for search, instead of using words
like “pink Sharpie,” that they used the words that they actually
use inside the company when they’re internally discussing
their products. We were curious about this, so we actually
called and talked to a marketing director at Sharpie and asked them
a lot of questions. And what she shared with me was, “The way
we refer to everything internally is by tips and then by style.”
So, the tips can be ultrafine, chisel, a fine point, micro. There’s
all these different types of tips. And then the barrel
or body of the pen is referred to as barrel, accent, button,
whatever it is. So, the marker we see on the screen here is
fine point barrel pen. So, how many hits do you think Sharpie would
get if instead of referring to this as a pink Sharpie, they
called this a pink fine point barrel? Obviously, no one would
find it. There’s no one searching for “pink fine point barrel
pens” on the marketplace. They’re searching for “pink Sharpie.” And this is exactly what nonprofit organizations
do, is they tend to identify things and choose their keywords
based on how they see their world internally, based on how they’re
extending their concepts and their challenges and their departments.
So, they might have a marketing team or a development
fund coordinator and all these things, and then they think
of all their services. They have this internal language that they
use when they’re referring to the things that they do for the
community, the way that they’re making a difference. And if we focus on optimizing those terms,
oftentimes we’ll end up getting nowhere. We need to focus on optimizing
the terms that people on the outside use when they look into
our organization, rather than the terms we use from the inside
out. And that’s the key discerning factor that I wanted to make
sure was very clear – focusing on good keywords that make it possible
for us to focus in the right ways on the things that
really matter and that people are searching for. So, there’s a great tool online. I’ve included
the link to it here.
Now, this is possibly changing. Google has made announcements
that they’re no longer going to make their keyword tool available
in the future. Because they want to make more money, they’re
going to get people to pay to use these tools. So, right now, these are all free. They haven’t
announced any timelines or dates. We don’t know when this
is going to change. But for right now, you can still go and use
this keyword tool. So I would recommend you jump on this soon,
because it may only be a couple more months, maybe even a couple
more weeks before they take some of these tools away from us
that are free of charge. So, when you come to this link – you go to – and you come here,
click on this button that says “Search for a new keyword and add
group ideas.” Click on that, and type in something like, for
example, “feeding hungry children.” That’s the term that I’m
going to use as my example today – “feeding hungry children.”
So, we’re going to search for that. And when we come down here and we say, “Let’s
get ideas on feeding hungry children,” it’s going to share with
us all of the keywords that are related to that keyword.
It’s going to tell us exactly how many monthly searches are being
made for each of those terms and what the suggested bid price
on each one is in terms of how much do you have to pay if someone
clicks on that word. Is it three dollars a click? Is it one
dollar? Is it ten cents? How much is it? And that’s really how Google works, is you
pay per click. So, when someone comes in and they’re searching for
a keyword, you can bid on that, and it will tell you how much
it’s going to cost to really optimize that key term. Now, if you’re currently not using Google
Grants – and we’re going to talk about that here in a minute – you can
use that to pay this. So, instead of paying $2.51 for a keyword
like “starving,” or maybe if you want to use the “child poverty,”
which has 1,800 searches a month, that costs $2.31 every time
someone clicks on that link for your ad to show up. You don’t have to pay cash for that. You can
get that free if you’re a 501c3 by using Google Grants, and I’m going
to come back to that here in just a moment. But it’s really
important that we use these tools to understand what are the
options and the opportunities and the ideas to create and
use these keywords. Also, consider – before we go to Google Grants
– consider using negative keywords, as well. And what a negative
keyword is is to say which words we don’t want to come up.
I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Firespring
– that’s the name of our company. What we do is we provide websites, donor tools
for nonprofit organizations. We have more than 3,000 clients
all over the world that use our product. So, when someone
looks for Firespring, we want to know what they’re looking
for us. We want them to find us when they look for that term
or when they have anything that has “Firespring” in it. But we found out that there’s a church – I
think it’s North Carolina – that’s called the Firespring Church. And
we found it in all of our search results. We were using things like
Google Alerts to be alerted every time someone was blogging
and saying something about Firespring. We noticed all this stuff
showing up for Firespring Church. So, we used a negative keyword for the word
“church,” because we don’t necessarily want those results to come
to our website. So, what we’re saying is, if someone’s searching
for “Firespring,” we want them to find us. But if they include
the word “church” in their search, then exclude those results.
So that’s what a negative keyword would be. There’s lots of
different options and ways to use those. So, let’s talk about Google Grants. This is
really important. If you’re a 501c3, and you’re currently not signed
up for Google Grants, shame on you. There’s no good reason
not to be signed up for this program. It’s absolutely free. It’s
a little bit arduous to go through the process. It takes
a couple of weeks. You have to get one of your go-to geeks on
it and someone with patience who’s going to follow the guidelines
and rules, but once it’s setup, it gives you $10,000 per
month in in-kind ad words. And that’s really important. Here’s what we mean by ad words. Say you’re
searching for Alzheimer’s support – all of these ads at the top are
ads paid for by paid advertisers. The stuff down here below that
is referred to as organic search results. So, without paying
for it, these are the people that have optimized the keywords on
their website, created a lot of inbound links for their website,
and they rate really high in the search engines and the
algorithms that they use. When you type in the words “Alzheimer’s
support,” these guys have done the best job of optimizing
they’re content so that they’re found. But the ones over here on the right, this
is where you have an opportunity. These ones on the right – those
are all AdWords participants. So, for example, this one here
– “Memory Care Communities –”
The ad says “Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care. Sunrise Senior
Living Official Site.” So, these people – every time someone
types “Alzheimer’s support,” and they see this over here, and
they click on this link, they’re probably paying somewhere around
$2 per click. But they’re not actually paying for it. It
comes out of their $10,000 in free Google AdWords, and it’s driving traffic
to their website. So it’s a way to get pay-per-click,
or PPC advertising, paid for for nonprofit organizations. And
again, there’s no good reason not to do this if you’re a nonprofit
organization. It has a huge upside and very little downside. Let’s talk about website optimization. Once
we identify what those keywords are – part one is the keyword research
– we need to make sure that we optimize our website to
accommodate these keywords in a way that drives results to our
website. So this goes back to the things we talked about – structure,
design, content, functionality, vitality – having
all of that built out properly. And you use keywords in text all
over your website. So you have words like “adopt” and “pet” and
“adoption program” and “animal in need.” So, they’re using keywords
throughout this website to make sure that – this is the Capital
Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, by the way – and it’s
those keywords that are really critical, used in context and as
part of the website, that optimizes the results when, again, the
algorithms are applied. It’s important that you don’t overuse Flash
or animated GIFs. First of all, there’s really no way for the search
engine to catalog and characterize Flash. I don’t see this being
as much of a problem as it used to be. Most nonprofits
have figured out that they don’t want to just do a whole bunch of
fancy pomp and circumstance on their website without a lot
of real, true structure and a lot of substance. So, don’t
overuse Flash and GIFs. Avoid pages that are loaded with little or
no content. So, for example, here’s one of the page from the Capital
Humane Society that isn’t done well. They actually have a
link to their brochure, and it links off to a PDF file.
It would be far more effective from both a search strategy perspective,
as well as a design strategy in terms of just how easy
it is to interact with this content. It would be far more effective
to actually take the content from the PDF file and post it
in the body of this message rather than posting a PDF file that
I have to download. So, avoid those kinds of pages that just have
a PDF attached to it and say, “Okay, good luck if you want to download
this.” Put the actual content on the website where possible. And then you have your search engine titles.
So, when you go to a website, there’s this page at the top. Right
up here it says “How much does it cost to start a nonprofit?
Nonprofit Hub.” So we went to our friends at the Nonprofit Hub,
and said, “How do you do really good search title tags?” So,
this is how they’re doing it. So when you see in the name,,
the name of this particular website is “How much does it cost
to start a nonprofit?” That’s the actual name of the
article, and that’s the way they titled that page. So, they’ve
actually named the page that. And then up here at the top, the title tag
itself reflects the same as the headline, the same name as the domain
structure they used. You want to keep those title tags to
70 or fewer characters and fewer than three keywords in
each title tag to really optimize how that works. So, in pretty much any content management
system, I’m going to share with you the way that you would title that
title tag. And I’m going to use Firespring as an example because
it’s the one that I have access to and that I know, but pretty
much every content management system you would use works in almost
the same identical way. You would come in, go to where it says “Manage
content,” you click on the page or pages that you want to update
the details of. In this case, it’s going to be the introduction
of the “About Us” page, and you say “I want to configure this
page.” You click on that, and right there, there we have the search
engine title. You enter that search engine title so that
now it will be updated on your website. You can also here
add a search engine description so that you can actually use relevant
keywords to optimize the page that this content shows
up on. I think most people have no problem understanding
how to go in and update the content in terms of the page. But
how do you update the title tag and the search information that
lies underneath that? This is where you would go to do that.
So there’s a way to do that. And every time you update a new article
or a landing page or you build a page or add a page onto
your website, you need to update these tags on the backside
to make sure that it’s optimized for search and you’re really focusing
on that. Also, make sure that your images are named
with a graphic description of what the picture is, rather than whatever
name your camera gave the photograph when you took it. You
know, Picture 1, 2, 3, 4 or today’s date or whatever. This particular
picture should be named whatever – Leo the dog or whatever descriptive
words to describe the photograph. This is also important in terms of building
in ADA requirements of your websites from the American Disabilities
Act, to make sure that sight-impaired visitors that come to
our website have a really great experience. When they’re scrolling
around the page and they scroll over this photograph, rather
than hearing read to them to the device they have on their computer,
“Picture 1, 2, 3 4,” it’ll say “Leo the dog.” So, it’s
really important to make sure that all of the visitors have a
really nice experience on our website when they come to it. Also, make sure you include a site map or
a footer map of some sort at the bottom of the page or as a separate
page with all of the keywords, because it really helps optimize
the findability so that when this page is indexed and the spider
comes across it and finds everything to throw it into the
index, everything is there. And use navigation links that are comprised
of keywords, not “Click here.” For example, if I click on this button, this
“Adoption Cats” button, and I right-click on it, it pulls up a window
that says “Open link in a new window,” “New tab,” so I can
go directly to that website. Like, if you’re writing your text,
instead of saying “Thank you for considering to adopt a shelter
animal. If you would like to find out more about shelter
animals, click here.” If you optimize and you actually put the hyperlink
that goes to the website underneath the words “Click here,”
you’re going to get downgraded in terms of how the algorithms
work, when it’s assessing the ability for your site to be
found. So, actually optimize and put the hyperlink under the words
that describe what it is you’re linking to. Don’t use the
words “Click here” – which we see a lot of nonprofits do. So, all this really great stuff, but don’t
get carried away. Don’t get to the point where you’ve got so many
keywords built into your text, and it just sounds unnatural if
you’re trying to read it. If someone comes to the website, they
should be able to read through the text like a human would read the
text and feel like it’s contextually relevant to them. If you
just try to load up 40 keywords in a paragraph, it’s going to
sound awkward and the search engines will definitely pick that out. They’ve become really good at figuring out
how to program the algorithms and the search engines to exclude
people that are just loading up a bunch of text links in their
copy without really having it say much. Don’t get carried
away with all of that. That’s two – website optimization. Let’s move on to number three, which is all
about link building. Now, link building is essentially just getting
websites to link to yours. Simple as that. You want other websites
to link people back to your website, and in return, you’ll
reciprocate and link from your website to others. I mean, that’s
just the way it works. A few basic principles here – choose
quality over quantity. It’s always more important. If you can get one really good link from,
say the local university, which would have a really high search credit
or a big company or a news source like the local television station
or the newspaper, it’s much better to have that one
link than it is to have a hundred links from websites that get
very little to no traffic. And anchor text matters. Again, this goes
back to what I just talked about a moment ago. The anchor text is the
text that you click on when you’re linking. So, in other words,
if someone else, let’s say one of your board members, agrees
to let their company link back to your nonprofit website, you want
them to link from a keyword. What is the core mission of your organization?
What is the cause or the challenge that you’re solving? What are
you solving? What are you fixing in the community? What is it
that you do? And focus on those keywords and have them use
those keywords. So: “To learn more about how to get help with
Alzheimer’s, visit Alzheimer Support Center.” And when they click,
they can build the anchor text under the words “help with
Alzheimer’s.” So then if someone searches for “help with Alzheimer’s,”
that link is going to help maximize the return on where
it links to. So, again, the anchor text is the actual word
used that people click on that link back to your website. And topicality
is key. It’s all about topicality. And by topicality, if
links come from sites that are not related to yours, they’re
not going to carry much weight. So, your brother’s electronics
website linking to your organization’s website doesn’t seem really
relevant to search engines, so it’s not going to get as
much credibility. It’s a link, sure, but the quality is questionable.
It’s not necessarily a topical connection. So, it doesn’t
hurt to have them. You’re not going to get downgraded because
you have a link from your brother’s electronic store, but
you’re going to get a lot more credit if another Alzheimer’s group
links to you, for example, because the topicality is in alignment. And lastly, the diversity of linking domains
is what counts. Again, if you have 30 different links from the same
website even though they’re spanned across different pages and
linked to different pages all over your website, the search engines
really don’t care. It’s considered basically one link that
comes from a website. So it’s really more diversity. And
it kind of goes back to the quality over quantity. You want more
powerful websites rather than less powerful websites. And when
it comes to diversity of linking, you want as many different
websites to link to yours as possible. So, let’s jump into a few things that I really
think will help you do this. There are some really good tips here
that we’ve learned from years and years of helping nonprofits
really optimize these links, and I would encourage you to take some
notes on these and take some action on some of the things I’m
about to share with you as soon as possible. It will make a profound
and immediate impact on your findability as a company if
you follow even five of these eleven that I’m going to share with
you. The first of the eleven is the Yahoo! Business
Directory. Most directories, to be blunt about this, are a
total waste of your time. This one is not. Unfortunately, you
need to pay for this one. The Yahoo! Business Directory is one
of the only that requires you to pay. It’s a couple hundred
dollars one time, but the link you get from Yahoo is mighty powerful,
and it will impact your website’s authority and your search
engine rankings to a great extent. So, this is the one that’s
worth it, the Yahoo! Business Directory. Number two, see if you can get the Local Chamber
of Commerce to refer to you. Chamber of Commerce websites have
tremendous value in the hierarchy of the way search engines work.
It ranks them pretty high in terms of credibility. So, it’s
a powerful link. See if you can get your chamber. And most
chambers have a nonprofit membership available. Sometimes
they’re free, but they’re almost always lower cost than for-profit
businesses. Most chambers offer membership to nonprofit
organizations to some extent. Try to get a link from your chamber.
That’s a really good link. Number three, local and/or association directories.
So, if you’re part of a network in the nonprofit realm,
and you’re one of the members of this particular organization, ask
them if they’ll provide a link to you and offer to link back
to them. Most people will be all over that. It’s about reciprocating
links. And we’ll talk more about that here in a few
minutes. But these association directories can be very helpful. And local directories – all you have to do
to find those is just go to the search bar – to Google, Bing, or whatever
you want to use – type in your city name and the various terms
that people would use to search for your organization. What
words would they use to search for your organization or organizations
like yours? And you’ll see tons of these random compilation
lists – local directories that have search results in them. Make sure you’re listed on them. Just send
an email. Usually there’s a link – “Contact Us” or some kind of link
on the directory. Send them a note. That’s what they’re trying
to do. They’re trying to create credibility by having as
many links as possible and get listed on those local directories. Number four – this is interesting. We had
a nonprofit organization that tested this out where they just made
a reciprocal agreement. I thought it was a fascinating
experiment, and it was amazing how much of an impact it made. There
was a group of nonprofits that were kind of working together
in a group to just really optimize their fundraising efforts,
share best practices, to learn from each other, and to grow and
make an impact in the community and help each other do that. And I believe there were 10 or 12 members
in the group. So, what they did is all, say 10 of them made a commitment
to donate $100 from their organization to the other. And they
all did it for each other. So, it cost each group $1,000, just
using an example. So, 10 is an easy number. I think it was actually
11 or 12 that did this. And they donated, but each of those
organizations donated right back to them. So at the end of the day,
it was a wash. They had a few percentage points in credit
card transaction fees or processing fees, depending on whether they
wrote a check or used a credit card or whatever, but for the
most part it was a wash. And the interesting thing is, once they did
that, they added a page. “We are proud to support fellow nonprofit
organizations in our community.” And they would list the organization
that they donated to. And each of the other organizations
did that. The organizations in whole had upwards of 16%
increase in findability based on keywords that they were
optimizing within a week of doing that. It was fascinating. So,
just donating to another nonprofit and asking for a reciprocal
donation, and then asking for a good link that stems from those
causes – it was pretty interesting to see how much of an impact
that made. Number five is to spotlight a donor or a board
member. In terms of becoming a thought leader, in writing a blog,
in creating content, once you’ve created that content,
make sure that some of the content focuses on a person – a donor
or a board member or some other person that contributes to your
organization – a volunteer, perhaps. Why is that? Because what happens if you write
an article where it highlights a person? What do they do with
that information? Most of them will share it. Most of them are going
to say, “Hey, this is really cool. The St. Baldric’s Foundation”
– in this example – “just did an article about my pushups” – whatever
it was. So, this person’s idea was to do 270,000 pushups
in one year. He raised $100,000 to cure childhood cancer.
And of course, this kid, Derek Eyler, the person who did this,
you know exactly what he did. He posted this on Facebook. He probably
tweeted about it, and so did his mother and his girlfriend
and other people that he was connected to. So, when you spotlight
volunteers, donors, board members, whomever, they will
typically spread and perpetuate that message, and that optimizes
search, because the more places it appears, the more credit the
search engines are going to give it. Number six – write guest blog articles. Have
an arrangement with other organizations where you contribute a
blog post for them and let them contribute a blog post to your
organization. And on the footer of the post, say your name and
the organization you’re with, with a link back to your website.
So, you end up with a reciprocal link on their blog, and
they’ll end up with one on yours. It’s a really great way to perpetuate
those links. Number seven – find people that have mentioned
you. If you have 30 minutes over lunch, grab a cup of coffee,
sit down at your desk with a sandwich, and start searching on Google
for your name and your organization and/or names of people on
your leadership team – your Executive Director of Development,
professionals, whomever. Just start searching, and if someone has mentioned
you, mentioned your organization, then send them a note and
say, “Hey, I noticed you were writing about the Capital
Humane Society. Would you be able to put a link to the Humane Society
on your website? We would appreciate that.” And the reason this makes sense is, if they’re
already talking about you, if they’re already engaged – of course,
in a good way – if they’re saying bad things, then you don’t
want to reach out to them, but that will never be the case, right?
But if they’re saying good things about you, if they’re mentioning
you in a blog post or in a posting that they made on
Twitter, whatever, reach out to them, and ask them if they’ll
add a link from whatever their website is back into your website.
It’s a great way to find people who will connect back to
your organization. Number eight – send out a press release. If
you’ve got exciting news, make sure you send it out to local journalists.
This continues to fascinate me over the years. Most of us
have given up on press releases, sending stuff to the newspaper.
I have lots and lots of stories about organizations who thought
years ago or a month ago, “I’m never going to send another
press release out, because no one will ever do anything with
it. If you want to post something in a newspaper, they want you
to pay for it. They want you to pay for the article and pay for
the information, because they’re desperate for money. They
don’t have subscriptions anymore. They want you to pay
for publishing news.” But then, the ones who stick to it, that hold
out, and send out 7, 8, 10 things, never get a mention, never get
a post – the 11th or 12th – I’ve heard about the 30th or 40th time
that they send a press release out about a new employee they
just hired or a new cause that they’re supporting, whatever it
is, a reporter has a really slow day. They’re looking through the
pile of stuff of options and things to write about. And they
pick up the phone and they make a phone call, and they choose
your organization and they write something about it. I’ve heard
time after time after time these stories, so don’t give up
on them. Don’t give up on press releases as a way to propagate
your message and get the word out. Number nine – if there are awards that are
out there. Your organization is awesome. I have no doubt.
Well, there are regional organizations. There are foundations.
There are consortiums and associations all over the
place that give awards for things and grant money and things. It’s
kind of the same concept. The sponsors of these awards, even
if you aren’t selected will oftentimes post the finalists
or the people that are being considered to win this award. And
it will give you a reciprocal link. It will give you a great
link into your website. So, if there are opportunities to
nominate your organization to be recognized in whatever
way, consider nominating your organization because it will
be a good way to get the word out and to get those links. Number ten – ask your local university or
college to promote your next event, to post something. The next time
you have an event, a gala, a walk for whatever, or anything that’s
going on where you’ve got something going on in the community,
ask someone from the university – send a note to the webmaster
or to the “Contact Us” form on the university’s website – and
ask if they would be willing to just make a mention somewhere on
their website. This is another fascinating thing to me. The
credibility that comes from an .edu domain from an institution that
has a lot of students is remarkable. Get your local college
or university to get a link sent back to your website, and
it will have a big impact on the way that the algorithms work
and categorize you. It’s a really cool, easy thing to do. And the last one, number eleven – participate
in online discussions and blogs. Don’t just go out and find a whole
bunch of conversations that are going on on LinkedIn
or whatever and just post random words and then post a link back
to your website. That’s going to end up penalizing you, and
the search engines will recognize that. But the search engines are really good at
recognizing if there’s a conversation going on somewhere online about,
using my example again, Alzheimer’s, and you’re participating
in the discussion, and in a natural way, not just “Hey, if you
want to learn more about this discussion, visit XYZ website”
and link people back, but say, “Here’s something that we found.
We have a story about this, by the way, on our website. And if you
just go to read more about Julie Smith…” And the anchor
text leads you back to an article or blog post that you wrote about
that person or about their challenge or their issue. So, figure out ways to implement links back
to your blog and your website through these online discussions.
It’s magical in terms of creating these juicy and low hanging links,
as we’re talking about them. Really cool stuff. Lastly, don’t partner with link spammers.
There are companies out there who will say, “Pay us a couple hundred
dollars a month for a year, and we will get you tons of links.
We will get you all kinds of links.” Well, avoid those at all
cost. It’s not worth it. They’re almost always going to hurt you
more than they’ll help you. So, defer to the wise. Now that you know about
links and the importance of creating these inbound links,
don’t partner with link spammers, the people who say you can
pay them and they’ll give you tons of links. It’s better to build
these organically one at a time and build them through a really
concentrated effort on behalf of your team to go out and
find these. And remember that link building is not a one-night
stand. It’s an ongoing event. You have to continue building
over time. It’s never going to stop. You’re never going to
get to the point where you say, “Well, there we go. We’re done.
We got enough links.” As your organization grows, your credibility
grows, your findability expands, you’re going to want
to continue adding more and more links. The more, the better.
And you’ll find all kinds of really exciting results as a result
of it. So, that’s number three of the fundamentals of link building. Let’s move to number four, which revolves
around fresh content. This one is a lot quicker. We’re not going to spend
a lot of time on this, because it’s pretty clear and obvious
what we need to do with fresh content. It starts with having
people on your staff who understand how to become a thought leader,
who are out there building content, and you have a strategy
behind it. And it’s pretty simple. You write exceptional
content, content that stands out, that allows your organization
to part ways from the crowd. It’s maybe a little bit provocative,
a little bit interesting. It can’t be the same old boring
drivel that people can find and go to everywhere. Be interesting,
be exceptional, and just put content out there. We have an entire session that I lead that’s
dedicated to social media and blogging, which is basically becoming
a thought leader, creating a blog, how to blog, because
most organizations screw it up. We don’t write, because we’re
having the wrong people blog in our organizations. And I walk
you through the step-by-step process of setting up a blog
that’s sustainable, that actually works, and then how to share
that information through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and
grow your content strategy. We have an entire session dedicated
to that. But postdated content, as we talked about
earlier with our website discussion, once a week on your website, and
it has a big impact on that freshness of how things feel when
people come to your website. And remember, think from the mindset of your
constituent and write for people, not for search engines. I’m talking
over and over about getting keywords and making sure that
the algorithms can find you. You’re still writing for people,
not for the search engines. The minute you start trying to write
for search, your content will lose its validity and will lose
its edge, and the search engines will sense that. So write for
people and attract people so that when they read it, it’s interesting
and comfortable for them. And we’re going to finish this section up
by talking about landing pages. As I said earlier, it’s the most important
thing that nonprofits should be thinking about today,
and most of us don’t even know what landing pages are. Landing
pages are very simple. It’s a page that once you click on a keyword
in a search tool like Google, and you click on that link, and
you go to that organization’s website, where do you land?
We don’t want to dump you off on the front page and make you fend
for yourself and find your way to the article that you’re interested
in. we want you to go to a page that allows you to take
action right there. So, here’s an example of a really good landing
page. It’s from the International research Center. The question
posed: “Do you have mild to moderate persistent asthma? Find out
about a clinical research study.” Name, number, email, and
best way to contact you. “Do I qualify” is the question. So, you
know what the call to action is, right? Very clear. The call
to action is “Do I qualify?” And you know what information they’re
asking for. It’s easy to understand. Here’s a good landing page from St. Baldrick’s.
“Be a shavee.” The action step is “Find an event near you.” That’s
a really good example of a good call to action. The Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition. We’re
just going to randomly add this. I read an article about this organization.
This landing page, they had more than a hundred
thousand people come and fill this out. Fascinating how simple
the landing page is. Join the coalition. Email address, join. A
very simple call to action and a very simple message. It has a
strong anchor graphic, minimal text, minimal copy, no other
ways to take action, nothing else that’s distracting you,
just join. So, really well done. And lastly here, for our landing page examples,
you can also build landing pages out in Facebook. Very simple
to add a landing page in Facebook. You can simply build it out in
the Tab structure. I’m going to go in and click back over to
this one and see if that’ll take us so we can see. So, if you’re on the No Kid Hungry Facebook
page, you see there are 131,000 people who are connected to this organization
on Facebook. And they have these tabs, these
landing pages built right into their Facebook structure. So, I
can take the pledge to dine out by clicking on this tab, for example,
and it will ask for my name, my email, and zip. So, they
have a landing page built right into Facebook. And that can be
a really useful way to extend the usefulness of Facebook and social
media as a way to build landing pages through social media
tools. So, here’s some ideas on landing pages in
action. These are the kinds of things that you can build in. Different
calls to action – how you get people to take action, it shouldn’t
always be about “give us money,” which for a lot of nonprofits,
that’s the only call they have. It could be donate a good
or service, show your support, sign our petition, take the pledge,
sign up for our email list, sign up to volunteer, register
for our event, learn more, connect with us, join our team – all
of these different things that you can build landing pages. And every nonprofit organization should have
a minimum of five. If you don’t have at least five landing pages,
all with separate and distinct calls to action, you’re missing
the boat. You’re causing yourself some structural harm in SEO,
in search engine optimization, because you’re not building
enough landing pages. So, you should build these out on your website
and then keep adding them. If you add a new page every time you
have a new opportunity, the more of these you can add,
the more structure and credibility, and again, link juice you’re
going to build back to your website. In the fifth and final fundamental of SEO
is the analytics. Analytics are all about assessing and understanding
how people are using your website and how they’re accessing your
website through search and just other things. It’s really
understanding how analytics work. And with analytics, I’m going to go ahead
and use an example from the Capital Humane Society. We’ve gotten their
permission to share some information with you. On the Capital
Humane Society, they’re a Firespring client, so it was easy
for me to ask them for permission and get them to agree to – shoot,
I’m not going to have my link here. I’m going to break this for just a second.
Sorry about doing this on you, but my link’s not coming through loud
and clear, so I’m going to go in here and see if I can manually
key this in and get that to work. One moment. There we go.
Now we’re in. So, now we can see the analytics for their
particular website, for the Capital Humane Society. And this is a
wide look. What we’re looking at is live online right now as it’s
happening. And as we scroll down, we can see – well, let’s just
click over here to “Visitors” first of all. You can see right
now it’s 2:35 Central Time. And at 2:33 Central Time, these were
the people that were logged in, and these are the five actions
they took. So, we can see real-time interaction, how
people are interacting with the content right now on the website, but
here’s the thing that I wanted to share with you. If you scroll
down here and you look at searches, these are the keywords that people
are keying in to look for the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln,
Nebraska. And you can see that the vast majority of all
the searches, if we click over here on keywords, they’re using
the word “Capital Humane Society” or “Lincoln,” a geographic
identifier, nearly every time. Yet when you go down that list, the word “animal,”
“adoption,” and then misspelled “capitol,” which is kind of
interesting, that they’re misspelling the word. It’s good to
know how people are misspelling the word. But the ones that are
most key would be the words “animal” and “adoption.” Those are
the keywords that people are using to find this organization
outside of the name of the organization and the geographic location
of the organization. But it has very few – seven in the last month
and five for adoption – so, you have 12 people who searched for the
word either “animal” or “adoption” who ended up landing on this
page. But it’s a really good way to know how people are looking
for you and what they’re looking for when they come. And you
can learn how long they’re staying on what page, but it’s a really
good indicator of understanding how people are searching. And it’s a really good lesson to learn, too,
that the average nonprofit organization across the company
– in fact, I would even drop the average and say the vast majority
– the vast majority of every nonprofit organization is
found almost indefinitely and primarily by the name and
the geographic location. So, if you go back to my example that I used
earlier, they’re typing in “Alzheimer’s Association of Lincoln, Nebraska,”
or in this case, “the Capital Humane Society Lincoln,
Nebraska.” That’s what they’re typing in when they’re looking
for you. They’re probably not as much looking for you by other
names and by other words. It’s really important to remember that, because
when we’re optimizing all of the text, the content, the links, and
everything on our website, we want to make sure that we’ve optimized
our name and our geographic location as much as possible
on our website so that people can find us when they type those
things in. And I just wanted to share with you one more
thing. There is a couple of tools before we go down our action steps,
and I’m not going to go in and dig into each one of these separately,
but there are links here that you can use. After the
session, we’ll send you a copy of these and you can go and research
these on your own. It’s the Google AdWords Keyword Planner
that we’ve talked about already. There’s another one called,, and then
These are all really good tools. We also have a relationship and affiliation
with the Nonprofit Hub. We’ve provided a lot of content to the Hub
over the years. They have a really great resource that, again,
is a clickable link in the presentation that you can click on and
go see all of the SEO tools the nonprofits need in order to be found.
Some great resources here, and I would highly recommend
you check them out to really dig in and learn more about applying
search engine strategies for your nonprofit. Now, let’s talk about a few action steps before
we take any questions here. Use Google AdWords to learn keywords
and research those. Optimize your website with your keywords.
Make sure you’re focused on building in those keywords throughout
all the text. Work with others to build links back to your
website. Continue adding fresh content to your website. The best way to do that, without question,
is a blog post, if you can build in a sustainable blogging strategy.
Monitor your analytics and adjust your strategy based on what you
learn along the way. Optimize and maintain a team blog for your
organization. It is by far the best way for you to develop a great
content strategy. And sign up for the Google Grants program.
It’s free. There’s no reason a 501c3 should not go through and sign
up for that process unless you simply don’t really care
about search engine optimization at all. And if you’re on this
session today, there’s a reason you’re learning about search.
You must think that there’s some relevancy to the organization,
so you should be on Google Grants. Use free or low-cost web tools to be more
effective, the tools to use to search. And I’ve provided you several examples
in the clickable links that you can go back and dig
into those and learn about those tools on your own. And use a content management system on your
website. If you want to add landing pages with point-and-click simplicity
and build out title tags and search structures, you have
to have a content management system. If you rely on your go-to
geek to make those pages for you, I’ve seen it time and time
and time and time and time again at nonprofit organizations. What happens? Eventually the go-to geeks are
affected by life. Life happens. They have a third child or maybe
they just had their first child, maybe they graduated from college
and now they have a real job, or maybe their job is really busy
and they just don’t have time, or maybe their spouse has
relocated, and then we have to go find someone new to plug in
and figure all this out. It’s far more effective if you have a
really professional content management system that your website
is built upon and you have three or more people in your organization
who have access to updating and modifying that content
with point-and- click simplicity, you’ll be far more effective
in your strategy if you do that. I would also encourage you to attend other
free webinars that we do at Firespring. We have sessions specifically
on landing pages, specifically on email marketing strategies,
on fundraising, on social media and blogging strategies, and
the one that I think is most important is the one where we dig
in – we do a deep dive on how to build a powerful and engaging website,
which again is the foundation of all these other things.
Everything points back there. So, I would encourage you to attend
some of those sessions. And visit the Nonprofit Hub. Love this organization
and everything that they’re doing. The curators at Hub have
my dream job. They sit around on the computer all day, searching
Google and finding really cool stuff that they can share with
other nonprofits. That’s what they do. And they organize everything into categories.
So, they take the best of the best, the best bloggers, the thought
leaders throughout the nonprofit industry, and they optimize
that content into sections that we can use then to go in and
learn more about fundraising or grant writing or search engine
optimization, these kinds of things. It makes it really
simple to find information, so I would encourage you to check
out the Hub. And by the way, the Hub has the best email
marketing newsletter. If you want an example of how to do email marketing
right, go and subscribe to the Hubcap. It’s an organization.
They’ve taken a pledge to not share your information with
anyone else. They’re not going to sell your name or your list,
but they’ll send you one email a week with a digest of the best
information and articles that they’ve curated over the last
week. So, it’s really good stuff. I would encourage you to
take a look at that. I get asked all the time, how much should
all of this be? How much time and effort do we need to put into search
engine optimization? Well, it depends. I hate those
answers, but it really does. It depends on how far do you
want it to take you? How much do you want it to be found? You’re
going to get out of it what you put into it. And I’ve shared with
you several strategies today that you can literally put
into deployment tomorrow or this afternoon, even. These are
things that you can go start doing right now, especially with
some of the link building strategies. Simple to get started
and it’s straightforward, and I would encourage you
to do that. Before we pause for questions, I’m just going
to take about two minutes here, and I’m going to tell you a
little more about Firespring so you know what it is that we
do. And I’m really excited as part of this to share information
about what’s going on with the Digital Trinity Foundation. It’s
a private 501c3 organization. They’re based here in Nebraska,
in our home state where Firespring is located. And they have
a mission to educate and empower nonprofits on technology. They have a philosophy that aligns itself
a lot with ours. We have a mantra to “educate without expectation,” where
we put our best stuff out there, we share our best practices,
all the good stuff, and don’t try to hide behind a wall
and say, “We’ll share it with you if you become a customer.” We
share it with everyone, knowing that, in the end, hopefully
all the good that we’re doing to help will turn around and people
will want to do business with us as well. So, what we do for a living is we build websites
that are powerful and on point with exactly what nonprofits
need. They’re all built on a content management system. They
have donor pages, landing pages built right in so you can add
your own by clicking a button, and it brings up a template. And
you can put the graphic here, put the call to action here
– it’s really cool. Email marketing tools built right in, newsfeeds,
the ability to manage all of your events, and of course,
what we’re talking about today – search engine optimization tools
and tricks built right into the website so you can manage it
yourself. And it’s very, very simple. We provide all
of the support necessary. You can call a toll-free number or watch a
three-minute or five- minute video to learn how to do things. To start, it’s a matter of choosing the level
of service that best suits your organization. We’ve already pre-developed
all of these event management tools and the event
calendars and all of this stuff, and then we totally customize
that for as low as $1,600. You can take your existing website
and evolve it to something incredibly powerful by putting it
on the Firespring content management system and our platform. You choose the theme. That’s basically the
site structure that best suits your organization. It’s not a template.
It’s essentially a structure, and then we totally customize that
and build a design on top of that that best suits your organization. And one of the really cool parts about this
is that everything is optimized for mobile. So, if somebody logs
in through a smartphone or through a tablet, it’s going
to optimize their experience based on how they’re logging in.
You don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s all done for
you and all built part of the same platform. So, that’s the Digital Community initiative
and the program. Through the foundation, we provide a very simple one-page
application process that you sign up, and they give a
20% grant for nonprofits who partner with Firespring to
build their web presence. It’s a really cool program, and
it helps pay for it and get it done as well. So, we’re going to go on ahead and pause here
for questions. Before we do, I want to make sure I get this said
before we go to this next session. I wanted to say thank you, thank
you, thank you to Steven. And Jay Love is a very, very good
friend. I can’t even tell you how excited we are at
Firespring to be part of an organization like Bloomerang. We did our
research for no less than five years on trying to understand how
to build the best donor database tool in the world. And we had
actually set our sights on building one. We had our programmers
developed and everyone rallied in a room, and we were ready
to start building a donor database tool. And then we came across
Bloomerang and what Jay and Steven and their crew has built,
and it’s nothing short of remarkable. The fact that they have constituent intelligence
built right into it, where if someone registers for an event on
the website, boom, it tags it as an engagement with that client.
If they go to Facebook and like something on the page, boom,
it tags it as an engagement. So, it makes it possible to minimize
those attritions and then to marry it all together
with the website so that there’s no redundant entry going on.
You’re not manually entering things in several places. It’s been really an awesome opportunity and
relationship. So, we’re really excited to be working with and partnering
with Bloomerang on a lot of really great stuff and more exciting
things to come. But thank you to Bloomerang and major kudos
to what you’ve built and the contributions you’re making to our
industry, making a difference by helping so many nonprofits manage
their donors. So, Steven, I’m going to turn it back over
to you, and see what questions might be out there. Steven: Thanks, Jay. I feel like it’s us that
should be thanking you. You just spent 90 minutes sharing a ton of
information, and there’s lots of chatter in the chat box. I’m
not sure if you could see that, but lots of questions, lots
of discussion. And it looks like we’ve got maybe 10 or 12 minutes
for Q&A, so we’ll try to get to as many as possible before the
4:00 hour here. And, Jay, there was one topic that was getting
a lot of discussion during your presentation, and that’s landing
pages. And that’s sort of a tough concept to get one’s mind
around. Would you mind diving into that a little bit more and maybe
explaining how a landing page is different than someone’s homepage,
and how a landing page can help an organization? Jay: Of course. One of the primary and fundamental
differences between a homepage, or any page on a website, a landing
page – there’s three different components that you’ll be
able to pick out on a good landing page. One I’ve already dug into
and talked about it, and that’s a call to action. It has a singular purpose. And there’s not
four or five different things that you can do – five different things
you can take action on. There’s one thing. A landing page
that’s done well will always have a singular and very specific
call to action. This is what we want you to do as a result
of landing on this page, and it’s not always “give us money.”
And that’s the key. I shared a slide earlier, and there’s a copy
that everyone will get of all the different kinds of things.
You can sign a petition or a survey or engage or volunteer,
whatever, but have different action items. So, the first of the three things that will
be present on every landing page is a call to action. The second
thing is something where there’s a lead graphic or message that’s
very clear. In addition to the call to action being clear,
there will be a graph or maybe even a video with an image
tag where you can see what the video is going to be about. Something
that’s distinct and provocative and engaging, that catches
the eye of the person that landed on that page and is saying, “Hey,
I want to know more about this.” That’s going to capture
their attention. On a good landing page, there’s always going to
be an anchor graphic or image of some sort that captures their
attention. And the third thing that’s really unique about
landing pages is a good landing page will always strip all the
external navigation out. So, when you’re typically on a page that’s
nested inside of another page – so you have the homepage of
your website, and then you have all these interior pages. You
click on “About Us” or “Contact Us” or whatever, it takes you
to an interior page. In the typical website page, all of the topline
navigation and the footer navigation will still be present.
On a good landing page, that’s all going to be stripped out,
because you don’t want to have the end-user have options where
they can go do something else. Now, the reality is, they can always hit the
backspace, and they can go back to where they came from. And people
are smart; they know how to do that when they’re navigating a website.
But stripping out or clearing out all of it, especially
the topline navigation is really important. So, again, when somebody
lands on this page, however it is that they got here, we’re
capturing their attention. We’re not giving them all these
outs, like “Go to our About Us page,” and we’re giving them a singular
call to action. And it’s those three things working together
on one page that creates the magic. The idea is to create landing pages that optimize
your clicks. You want more people to click and take action
on whatever it is you want them to take action on. And the more
and more people you can get to take action once they land on that
page, the better you’re doing. There’s some landing pages that have a 60%
to 70% result – people will click on whatever the action item is
60% or 70% of the time. Sometimes, depending on what the call
to action is, it’s really great if you can get a 2% or a 3% click
through. It really depends on, again, what that call to
action is and what your standards are and what you want to accomplish. But the typical way to wrap this up, the typical
way that people find out about landing pages is through search,
and that’s why I bundled that into this conversation today.
They’ll click on a keyword or a string of keywords like “help
with Alzheimer’s,” and they’ll land on a page where they can
take action and download a paper, report, watch a video, whatever,
where they can get help with how to cope with this. And so the typical way that people are going
to find that landing page is not through the structure of navigating
the website, but it’s through clicking on a link on something
that they searched for online or an inbound link that someone
else has posted for you on another website that links into your
website. And based on the anchor text on that other website on
that incoming link, you’re going to give them a payoff on what
it is that they were looking for right here and let them take action
on that. Hopefully that’s helpful. Steven: We’ve got kind of a fun question from
Christina. She’s wondering, for the small nonprofit, what are
the three key things that she should do before the end of
the year to help her SEO. So, what are your top three things? Is
Google Grant maybe in your top three things? What are the three
things you would recommend to her, being a small shop? Jay: Well, if we’re talking about the end
of the year, I would probably have to strip out Google Grants, because it
takes a couple of weeks, if not sometimes five, six weeks to
go all the way through the process and get it launched. And
then we would be at year’s end. So, I would say although that’s
really important, it’s probably not one of the three things
that would give you the biggest payoff by the end of the year. The biggest payoff by the end of the year
would be to find one to three really higher profile inbound links
opportunity, like with a university, with a newspaper of some sort,
any organization that has tons of credibility in the community
or that posts a ton of information like a newspaper. So, see
if you can get one, two, or three of those to link into your website
and to your organization. And be creative in terms of
how you come up with ways to convince them to do that. And you
could pull that off by the end of the year, to get a couple of people
to agree to do that. So, I would say that’s definitely one
of them. Another one, and I’m thinking really of the
eleven juicy and low- hanging links to boost your ranking section
when I went through that section. And again, we’ll send a copy
of that to everybody so you can access that and kind of review
these. But another one that’s really attainable in
the next six weeks would be to write an article or a post or some kind
of editorial content about a volunteer, a board member,
or a donor of your organization. Have somebody do a little story.
Take a day, do an interview with them. Why are they connected
with the organization and what do they do. Find something
provocative or interesting about their relationship with
the organization and post it. And you’ll be surprised how many people in
their network will link to it. Their friends will talk about it. Their
friends will post it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and you’ll
create some chatter. That’s a really simple thing to do,
as well. And if I had to do the third that’s going
to have immediate and quick impact, it would be the very first I shared
with you, which would be to do a listing in Yahoo! If you
don’t already have your organization listed on the Yahoo! engine.
Again, there’s a link in the handout that you’re going to get
after this session where you can go and do that, but it’s simple
and straightforward. It’s going to cost a few
dollars. It’s not free. It’s one of the three things that isn’t
free. But it’s going to get really immediate results. Steven: Great. Good top three list. Very good.
Hey, Jay, we’ve got a really interesting question from our friends
over at Child and Family. They’re wondering, does it matter
if you’re a .com versus a .org? Do those things matter in terms
of SEO – what your last three letters are of your URL? Jay: No, it really doesn’t matter between
.com and .org. But it does matter if you’re something other than .com
or .org. So, for example, a .org is going to do better, generally
speaking. Now, a lot of the search engines and the experts
and the specialists that work inside the companies will tell you
it doesn’t really matter, but generally speaking, a .org is
going to have a higher level of credibility than a .net or than a
.biz or some of the other alternative domains that are available
on the marketplace. But it’s not so much a result of the fact
that you’re getting downgraded for having an extension that’s
not .org or .com. It’s that most of the organizations that have those
domain extensions are newer and have been around less time,
so generally speaking, search engines aren’t giving them as much
love. So, there’s really not a big difference, though,
between the .com and the .org extensions. It’s really a matter
of using the one that best suits the name of your organization.
I always recommend to nonprofits that if you can get the .org domain
name that perfectly fits your name – that has your entire
name in it or the prefect acronym of your name – you can
get that .org extension. By all means, that should be your
first priority. But if you can’t, a second and a very close
second is the .com. I would avoid really going down any other path
right now until there’s more evolution that happens in terms
of how we optimize for search. Again, like the .biz or .net and
things like that. Steven: Cool. Well, we’re just sort of running
out of time. We probably have time for one more question. And I know
there’s a few that we didn’t get to, but I’m sure, Jay, you’re
active on Twitter. I’m sure folks would tweet you a question,
and you would be more than happy to answer. Jay: Of course. Steven: Well, why don’t we leave it with this
last question from Tim? And he’s wondering about keyword density.
He’s wondering how many keywords should you use on one page.
I know this is a question I see a lot in SEO discussions. What
do you think about keyword density, Jay? Jay: Well, again, you want to avoid the issue
of overloading a page with too many occurrences of the same keyword.
And basically, just to make sure that everybody is clear on what
this means. What keyword density means is the percentage of
times that a keyword or a phrase of words appears on a webpage
compared to the total number of words on the page. That’s how keyword
density’s calculated. So, if you have a hundred words on a page,
and six of those words say “Alzheimer’s,” for example – to go back to
the example that I’ve been using – that’s probably an okay keyword
density, as long as it’s written in a natural style and it flows
and the average reader reading it will get a lot of that contextually.
But if 40% of the words on that page are focused
on that word, then that’s a really difficult keyword density. Now, SEO experts, when you ask the question,
the optimum keyword density – 3% or less. That’s just an optimum
across the board – all of your pages should have a 3% of less
of the same keyword being optimized on a page. That’s the optimum
density from the standpoint of the keyword specialists that
are out there. But there are occasions like the example I
just gave – if you’re an Alzheimer’s group and your name has “Alzheimer’s”
in it, it’s going to show up a little bit more than 3%.
And again, if it’s in your name, it’s okay to go a little bit
higher than that. You could go to 6% or maybe even as high as 7%
or 8% and still get by with it. But you want to try to keep it
to 3% or less as a general rule. Steven: Cool. Don’t go overboard. That’s probably
a good rule of thumb. Jay: Don’t go overboard, yeah. Steven: Well, great. Well, it’s about 4:00.
I’ll think we’ll end it there just to be respectful of everyone’s
time. And, Jay, just once again, thanks for being here. Thanks
for being here for 90 minutes and sharing all of your wisdom with
everyone. It looks like people really appreciated it based on
the chatter I saw in the chat box. So, thanks again. Jay: Well, and again, we appreciate and value
all of the great work that Bloomerang is doing, and we’re happy to participate
and provide as much of these kind of educational content
sessions as we can. So, thank you, Steven, very much. Steven: Yeah, we’re all about the education. So, for those of you who joined us, thanks
again for taking time out of your day. When we do post this webinar,
you’ll get a brief review form. Please tell us what you thought
of the webinar. You certainly won’t hurt my feelings. I don’t
think you’ll hurt Jay’s feelings. He’s a pretty tough guy. Let
us know what you thought. And look for the recording to hit your email
inbox a little later today. It might be tomorrow morning. And I
believe that Firespring will be sending out the slides
to anyone who requests them from that review form, so be sure to
fill that out. And lastly, we do these webinars once a week.
We have a webinar next week, so check out our website. I just sent
it across there in the message box. We’re going to be joined
by Larry Johnson. He’s going to share some fundraising wisdom with
us. So, register for that. And I think we’ll just call it a day
there. So, Jay, thanks again. Thanks to everyone
who listened, and we’ll all be in touch soon. So have a great rest of
your afternoon.

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