SEO for the uninitiated
Your website is your calling card. Without one, your organisation doesn’t exist – at least as far as the digital world is concerned. You’ve got the Board to sign-off the investment, and the go-live date is set. But what do you do if six months later your site is still hidden away in the depths of Google’s search results? You can’t give up (although you might feel like you want to!). The internet is a noisy place, and if you really want to change the world you need to turn the volume up. How? By getting to grips with SEO. That’s how.
But people do degrees in it. Agreed. It’s a minefield. That’s why I teamed up with charity web design agency, Charity Box, to shed some light on the basics. Like what you read? You can sign-up to one of Charity Box’s free webinars to find out more. And of course, if you need copy writing, then give me a call!
Let’s start at the beginning...
Essentially, SEO is all about making sure your organisation can be found online. It’s a process – one that will help boost the visibility of your charity’s website by raising its profile in search engines. Boosting brand recognition, good SEO will increase the volume (and quality) of your website’s traffic. Not only does this mean you can reach more people, it will also help build the online support you need to drive your charity’s mission forward.
When thinking about SEO, it is best to split it into two camps: ‘On-page’ and ‘Off-page’. Just like it says on the tin, ‘On-page’ SEO is all about optimising your website for when search engines index it. There are some simple steps you can take here. Page titles and content should all be keyword driven (more on that later) and are two of the easiest ways to help boost your ranking. Contact information, website security and quality coding also help drive your status upwards – proving to the likes of Google that your site represents an authentic and professional organisation its users will benefit from seeing.
‘Off-page’ processes can be a little harder, but they hold more sway than ‘On-page’ features. This type of SEO refers to the level of buzz surrounding your organisation. That means backlinks from other websites, supporter blogs, press and social media coverage. Basically, every time someone talks about your website, Google is listening. This data is processed by their page ranking algorithms and is by far the best way to climb the listings ladder. Again, it all comes back to authenticity and proving to Google that your website is a must-see. The number and ranking of the sites that link back to you all help build this authority. It’s great if you have a PR and comms team to help create this environment. But there are other things you can do too – like making sure your charity features on business listings and encouraging partners, funders and supporters to publish a link to your site. Afterall, it is great PR for them!
Before you action any of this, it is important to take some time out and strategise around keywords and phrases. In fact, you shouldn’t really write a word of content without them. To do this, you need to work out the everyday terms people will use to find you. There’s plenty of choice, and it can be tempting for charities to hone-in on top-level terminology. Charity. Web design. Copywriting. These are pretty vague keywords and phrases. They have their place, but competition is fierce. How many charities, web design agencies and copywriters do you think are out there, vying for top spot?
Your organisation will make very little headway if it optimises its site to these kinds of terms. It’s better to dig into your service offering and focus on what the industry calls ‘long-tail’ keywords and phrases. This means you to need to create a narrower and more specific description of your service. Charity web design Leeds, Freelance charity copywriter [ed: see what we did there?]. The terms might be less frequently searched, but conversion rates are much higher. Why? Because people know what they want and are more likely to act. What’s more, because you decided to work with long-tail terms, there’s less competition for top spot!
There are various websites you can use to help you choose the right keywords for your organisation. Once you’ve got them, they should form the basis of all core content – from titles to paragraph content and even alt text (the text used to describe images for partially-sighted readers). Be careful not to sound robotic though. Using too many keywords sounds false and you’ll find yourself alienating your supporters. Google’s wise to it too. They know all the tips and tricks (like planting keywords on the background of your site) so these don’t work anymore! Again, it is all about authenticity and being real.
Well optimised content is well written content that uses the right tone and language for your audience – dropping just enough keywords to let Google know you’re there.
So what next? Hopefully this blog has helped demystify some of the basics around SEO. If you want to find out more about how you can optimise your charity’s website, you can join one of Charity Box's free online Webinars, or talk to them about how they can support your marketing. Or, if you know what you want but just can't find the words, give Written by Jen a call!