a recent article advises nonprofits not to worry too much about search optimization. I think it’s bad advice. in his guest post about seo in fundraising success magazine, willis turner correctly describes ongoing changes in the seo landscape. however, those changes have little to no impact on the value of basic optimization. turner’s recommendation that organizations can or should allocate resources away from SEO mis-characterizes both the cost and benefit of search optimization activities.
two kinds of search optimization
search optimization comes in two flavors: “on-page” and “off-page” seo. the elements in turner’s post are called on-page seo because they are under the control of the site owner. by now, on-page seo should be baked into the organization’s content creation process, with at least one edit round focused on elevating important keywords and phrases in title and body (no keyword stuffing!). The person or team in charge of posting to the website should already be trained in title optimization and identifying or requesting snippets for meta descriptions.
changes in off-page seo
“Off-page” SEO is the other side of the coin and is really the one that has changed. Off-page SEO used to consist of getting links to your site from other sites by any means possible. As search engines got smarter, they began to weight these external links for context and by who was linking to _them_. Social media mentions and location also rose as context-setting signals to help the search engines present results that were more likely than not to match the searcher’s intent.
the best thing about the changes in off-page SEO is that it’s gotten hella cheaper, because there’s is market for purchased links has collapsed. the worst thing is that it’s still hard. the easiest, cheapest way for nonprofit organizations to build off-page SEO is to leverage their professional network. google doesn’t care what your mom thinks about your content. but if you are a conservation group and other groups in the field link to your blog posts or quote you in their content, the algorithm takes note and gives some love.
give love to get love
on-page seo is as important as ever to help search engines figure out who you are and why you matter. I question whether there are any resources specific to search optimization available to reallocate. seo not a campaign or a piece of hardware, it’s a teachable process.
help the people with whom you want to engage to find you
when they arrive, provide useful information and insights to demonstrate your unique value
hold their attention by showing how that information connects to other resources on your site
build the relationship to the point where visitors want to support you with a donation or a purchase.
who would want to impede this beautiful process by not optimizing content for search?