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Search Engine Marketing Guide for Nonprofits

Lori Halley 03 December 2008 3 comments

Search engine optimization is all about helping people to find your website when they search for information online. Search engine marketing takes SEO one step further, actively using search engine results and advertising opportunities to attract a new audience to your site.

Take a look at some recent search engine statistics:

  • 81% of people rely on search engines find the information they need;
  • 45% search by using multiple keywords or key phrases;
  • The top 30 search results get more than 90% of the traffic.

Clearly, you want your website to show up at the top of the search engine results pages when potential supporters look for information about your organization or your cause — to optimize your website so it will rank highly for the keywords and phrases that people actually use to search.

But a small nonprofit often doesn’t have the budget to hire an SEO / SEM company to help make that happen. And even if you do have a search engine consultant on board, it can only help you to have a solid understanding, yourself, of how search engine optimization and marketing works.

Many SEO and marketing tactics that work for small businesses and individuals online can also help a nonprofit organization to gain visibility. You may already be aware of SEObook’s Blogger’s Guide to SEO, which has been translated into more than 20 languages — and if your nonprofit has a blog, that’s a good starting point for self-education on how search engines work.

Nonprofits have their own specific marketing challenges, however, and often a broader range of goals for what they want to achieve with a limited budget —

Both online and off, perceptions are framed and manipulated by those with the capital and intent to do so. As much as we may like to think those who help us access information are giving us the full picture, they often have business objectives counter to our own interests.

In the current environment, the distribution of information often relies on marketing. Those with the biggest marketing budgets can get their message across, whilst those who don’t have marketing budgets risk going unheard.

So how does a non-profit compete for attention?

SEOBook has just followed up its Bloggers Guide to SEO with The Non-profit’s Guide to Search Engine Marketing, a free online how-to manual to help your nonprofit organization spread its message, cheaply and effectively, with the help of search engine marketing.

The Non-profit’s Guide to Search Engine Marketing is not simply a business guide with a facile makeover. It specifically addresses the concerns and challenges of nonprofits, with examples drawn from real nonprofits who have been effective in working online to increase their visibility, attract supporters and donations, and create awareness for their cause.

Think about ways you can turn your charity projects into brands, like the Tap Project. It helps if the brand is descriptive, as opposed to abstract, as people tend to search for generic terms. For example, “CureBlindnessNow” could be both a brand and a search term i.e. “cure for blindess”, “how to cure blindness”, etc.

The Guide’s title may actually be a little misleading — there’s more here than simply search engine marketing. Realistically, SEOBook shows the nonprofit website as just one part of your organization’s overall public presence. Social media is touched on, and community building, and free services that can help to make your organization more effective.

If you aren’t actively targeting your website to interact with people your non-profit aims to support and empower, remember they may read your website anyway. Look beyond fund raising and consider how your clients could benefit from information on your website or by interacting with it.

A linked Table of Contents at the beginning of the Guide lets you can see at a glance what’s covered — from Keyword Research, to Public Relations, to Platforms and Widgets, to tips on developing a partnership with your donors. You can jump right to the section of greatest interest to you — or start at the beginning and work through the Guide over a period of time, section by section, task by task.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 03 December 2008 at 2:56 PM


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