9 Search Engine
Ranking Essentials For Nonprofits
by Marc Lee, CFRE
The importance that nonprofit organizations should place on having
high search engine rankings depends entirely on your answer to the
question, "Who is our audience?"
If your organization seeks a national or international audience,
high search engines rankings offer an effective means of attracting
new web visitors. But the importance of high rankings can be regional
Affinity Resources Ranked #1 by Google.
Within days of being ranked
#1 on Google.com for capital campaigns, Affinity Resources
was contacted by a regional organization seeking assistance. They
found us through Google!
High search engine rankings mean great visibility. A high
ranking is when a web link to your site comes up in the first
20 results produced by a search engine. A very high ranking puts
you in the top 10.
Great visibility doesn't happen without lots of work optimizing
your site to improve your search engine ranking.
All search engine optimization begins with the following essentials.
Every nonprofit organization should take the time to perform these
basic tasks of optimizing their website.
1. Focus On Your Home Page First. Worry
about getting a higher ranking first for one key phrase (see #4)
for your home page. Later you can work other phrases for other pages
on your site. There is no point in optimizing two pages for the
same key phrase.
2. Write a Unique Title Tag. The title
tag is the most important element of your page for purposes of being
ranked by the search engines. Don't use a long company name. Begin
this tag with the most important search phrase that would be entered
at a search engine, and keep the total length under 40 characters.
3. Include a Description Meta Tag.
Describe what your site offers a web visitor in a plain English
sentence of no more than two dozen words. Begin your sentence with
the most important key words. The content of this tag is often used
by the search engine when displaying the results of a search so
it must be something that would encourage a reader to come to your
site. Don't be coy or deceptive. Just tell us what you've got!
an alert whenever a new article is released, click
4. Include a Keywords Meta Tag. These
are the words that you expect people to enter on a search engine
that would be an appropriate match for your site. Don't focus on
single words; focus on two-word phrases. Don't believe it if you're
told that you have up to 1000 characters to work with. The most
important keywords, in descending order, will be the first four
(unique words, whether individually or part of a phrase), the next
four, the next four, the next four, and anything else.
Revise your Home Page Content. Keywords
and keyword phrases must occur often (but not too often) and
near the top of the body of the page you want the search engines
Search engines look for the repetition of your keywords in the
content of your page. Remember, that content will be visible
both by the search engines and by visitors to your site. Take
great care in writing that content.
6. Get Links with Great Content. Provide
information on your website that other sites don't offer, information
that will move other webmasters to link to your site. Having many
links from other sites back to your site is an essential element
in determining search engine rankings.
7. Submit to the Search Engines Manually.
Never use an automated process that promises you will be listed
in hundreds or thousands of search engines. Cut and paste your description
and keywords for engines that request that information.
8. Spend Some Money. More and more
search engines offer higher rankings for those who are willing
pay for them -- often called "pay per click." But many nonprofits
can achieve effective search engine placement without the pay
click approach. For this reason I try to avoid the Overture search
engine which is strictly pay per click. And its user interface
isn't particularly intuitive.
9. Respect the Search Engine Arms Race. Getting
great search engine rankings is an extraordinarily competitive business.
There can only be one number one and a lot of people are working
hard at achieving number one status. If you're not doing Search
Engine Optimization professionally, it's unlikely that you'll get
that number one ranking. If your business plan requires the volume
of visitors that you will get from a top six search engine ranking,
hire a professional who has demonstrated results.