Search Engine Marketing Guide

Search Engine Marketing for Associations and Nonprofits

What you need to know before integrating SEM into your marketing mix

Search Engine Marketing Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Search Engine Marketing?
  3. It's all about keywords
  4. Traditional Search Engine Marketing
  5. Beyond SEM
  6. How to get to know your audience better
    • Know what your audience is thinking
    • Know your audience's behavior
    • Monitor your audience's behavior
  7. Conclusion

Beyond SEM 

Of course, getting qualified visitors to your site is only a part of the story. You have to engage those visitors long enough to get them to “put up their hand” and give you permission to market to them further, prompt them to join or support your cause, or at least be convinced to come back later. If you can’t achieve one of these goals, all of the time, money and effort you invested to get them there is lost.

How to get to know your audience better

Regardless of how much optimization you do on your website, or how great it is, visitors will not stay unless they find the content they’re looking for. In order to offer the right information, it’s important to know your audience.

When people want to know something, the first place they’re heading is a search engine. With the words they type in, they’ll either find you, or your competition. It’s key to find out which keywords your targeted audience is using so you can rank higher than your competition and convert more sales, grow your membership or supporter base .

Know what your audience is thinking

It’s important for you to do some research into what your audience is thinking when they want to conduct a search. Key things to consider are:

  • Your organization's name
  • Your association/non-profit sector or category
  • Your organization's mission or your association's programs
  • A solution to a problem
  • Solutions to a related problem

Know your audience’s behavior

Another important piece of information to consider is how your audience members might be differentiated from one another. Segmenting your audience into groups that have different wants and needs will help you to build a website that is useful for all of your visitors (not just your “average” visitor). A simple way to tailor your website to each potential audience is to create personas. Your site isn’t just visited by one type of individual. They all have different backgrounds, mindsets, needs and wants. Personas develop archetypes that represent larger groups of users. When creating personas, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Needs
  • Wants
  • Backgrounds
  • Roles
  • Demographics
  • Words and Phrases
  • Decision Styles
  • Queues

Monitor your audience’s behavior

Gaining insight into user behavior from personas is great, but monitoring that behavior while on your site is important for achieving results.

You have to ask yourself, will people participate, join or donate with one term more than another term? Does one term bring you more traffic over another one? Or, does one term cost you more, but gets more conversion in the end? Consistently monitoring and reviewing search terms will increase your success in search engine marketing.


Ensuring your website is SEM ready is essential for any organization doing business online, no matter how big or well known. Today, SEM should be an important part of any organization’s overall marketing strategy for online success. 


Search Engine Marketing Guide by Keith Holloway at Envoke

About the Author

Keith Holloway is a founding partner of Envoke, an engagement campaign software company that operates a consulting division completely focused on search marketing. Wild Apricot is a (happy!) client of Envoke. He can be followed on Twitter @TorontoSEO.

Creative Commons Licence

Search Engine Marketing Guide by Wild Apricot and Envoke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

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