Three letters that will change your non-profit website — SEO

How visible is your agency’s website?

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1Happy Monday, everyone! This week, we look at Chapter 18 of Lon Safko’s “The Social Media Bible” focusing on Search Engine Optimization. This week’s chapter resonated with me greatly because I had just dealt with it at work!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated practice, but a very simple concept. In a nutshell, SEO is the way to impact the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine, in a natural, unpaid way. The benefits are obvious . . . when someone searches for you or what you do, you want to be on the list and on the first page.
I experienced this first-hand!
Over a year ago, I started as the Community Outreach Liaison for an area non-profit serving the medical and dental needs of all, regardless of the ability to pay. Our website had a lot of heart behind it, but it was clear we could use a make-over!
So, we did just that.
We discovered, if you jumped on Google or Yahoo and typed in, “pediatric dental Medicaid” that our site we would not pop up! Why? Because we had not a one page dedicated to our dental clinic.
It is still an ongoing process as we continue to focus on our content (e.g. the words we use and how we would want to have people find us).
If you want people to find your website, start by looking at your website and seeing what is in the content. Include key phrases that describe your organization and what you do. The best way to impact your SEO is to pay attention to your content and ensure it is current.
If you want to learn more about SEO, you will want to pick-up a copy of  The Social Media Bible and devour chapter 18. Here are a few additional resources I suggest checking out online:

What has been your non-profit experience with SEO? What phrases do you use to optimize your SEO? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
rose draft sig

Is your non-profit website using pictures to tell a story?

Last week, my friends at Network for Good sent me their weekly eNewsletter with links to all sorts of good things. One of the links took me to an article by Caryn Stein titled “10 Amazing Nonprofit Websites“. With a few free minutes on my hands, the headline was like a fishing lure, and I was hooked. I wanted to know:

  • Who are those agencies?
  • What made their websites “amazing”?
  • What do those sites look like?

The following images are the front pages from three of the ten non-profit webpages highlighted by Caryn. As you scroll down, I encourage you to take a good look because I think there is a common thread running through all these home pages.




What did you see? As you scrolled through these three website homepages, what went running through your head?

For me, it was the pictures that captured my attention. I found myself thinking:

  • Who are those people?
  • What is their story?
  • How did the agency help them?
  • Is there a happy ending?

It has been said millions of times that a picture is worth a thousand words. Since a webpage packed with lots of verbiage has been proven by SEO experts to chase people away, then why wouldn’t you use as many pictures as possible to pull people into your agency’s story?

Last week, I introduced you to Christopher Davenport’s storytelling resources and his book “Nonprofit Storytelling for Board Members“.  Starting on page 10, Christopher introduces the concept of “The 4 C’s of Storytelling,” which are:

  1. Character
  2. Connection
  3. Conflict
  4. Conquest

I won’t expound on these ideas because you’re really supposed to go buy his book. (Disclaimer — I am not affiliated with Christopher Davenport and do not profit from your purchase of his products.)

However, I bring up the 4 C’s because the three websites from the Network for Good eNewsletter article remind me of how much one picture on your website can do when it comes to the four elements of storytelling. After all, doesn’t the picture essentially introduce the character? Doesn’t the image also initially create a connection and get you wondering about the conflict and potential resolution?

Of course, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology. So, the moral to today’s story isn’t as simple as “go add some pictures to your agency’s website“.

Lenka Istvanova wrote a great post titled “How to Increase Traffic To Your Website With The Help Of Images” at Koozai blog. She goes into great detail about:

  • Alt Tag
  • File Name
  • Image Size
  • XML and Image Sitemap

As I said, nothing is ever easy when it comes to technology, online marketing and ePhilanthropy. My best advice to non-techie people is to: 1) fight through the urge to give up and 2) hire employees and recruit volunteers who are techies to help you.

One final note . . . a few months ago a non-profit executive director friend of mine was contacted by a company claiming that her agency used a picture on their website that didn’t belong to them. Not only did it not belong to them, but there was no photo credit. This honest mistake by an employee cost the agency thousands of dollars in fines.

Does your non-profit organization make effective use of images on your website? Are you pulling people into your agency’s story? After capturing their attention, where are you taking them and how are you telling your story (e.g. YouTube video, article with more pictures, etc)? How are you using images on your website to enhance SEO? Where are you finding your images and ensuring you aren’t violating copyright laws?

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Have you “Googled” yourself lately? You’d be amazed at what you find!

How do people get to your website?  A lot of people are going to use a search engine to find a website. They simply type what they are looking for into a search bar. Most of the time, the website they are looking for is at the top of the list.

I say “most of the time” because there are instances where this is not true. The top result might be an article written by the local newspaper about your organization in which case your website might be listed second or even third. The order of search results when a user types the name of your organization into a search engine can tell you a lot about the quality of your website and interactions on social media sites.

Note: For the purpose of this post I will be talking about Google as the default search engine as it widely recognized as a leader in search.

Google is constantly changing and perfecting the algorithm they use to determine how pages are listed when a user searches for something. For example, recently they added “Search Plus Your World” which personalizes results based on your social network connections. The good news about this new feature is that you can help Google figure out how your site gets listed.

Before any of that can happen, you have to find out where your nonprofit agency currently stands in the rankings. Here’s how:

  • Make sure you’re signed out of your  Google account
  • Go to
  • Type the name of your organization (or other search term associated with your mission) into the search box
  • Record the top ten results

What came up? Was your site first? Maybe it was your Facebook site. Or your Twitter feed. Maybe it was a Yelp review of an event you held. Was a third-party site listed where you were mentioned?

Make sure you pay attention to the order as they are listed in popularity. A study in 2011 found that the site listed at the top of the Google search results was clicked on 36% of the time. The site listed second was only clicked on 12.5%.  The tenth site on the list was only clicked on 2.2% of the time. If your site is not listed at the top of the page, you’re going to want to change that.

Now, how can you improve the Google results standings for your website?

  1.  Tell Google about it. Google wants to tell people about you, but first they need to know you exist. You can tell them by submitting your content. This will ensure that Google has your site in their index. In most cases they already do, but you want to make sure.
  2. Describe things in detail on your page. The crawlers that Google sends out to the internet can only read text. Every word on your page can be used in the algorithm to send a person to your page. If you have wonderful photo on your site that includes words, Google is not going to know about it. Make sure all photos have captions or use ALT text when posting a photo.
  3. Create quality content for your users. If you do this, people will want to visit your site again and again. This is the main basis of the rankings on the results page. Yes, putting words on your website that are associated with what you think a user might enter into a search engine to find your website will help people find your site once, but will it make people want to come back?

That’s it. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Just kidding! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge business and a very complicated subject. For more information you can check out Google’s guidelines by clicking here.

Ok, so we’ve talked about what you can do for your agency’s website, but what about all of those other results. In a perfect world, I would like to see my organization’s website listed first followed by all of the associated social media sites.

How does that happen? Again, the key is to get people to visit your sites, and being active on your social media sites will do exactly that. Also, make sure that all of your social media sites are listed everywhere you can. The description section in most social media sites is a great place to list your other sites if you are not given any other options.

Implementing changes to ensure that your site is at the top of the results list can dramatically increase the number of people (aka prospective donors) that know about your organization. Schedule time to Google yourself from time-to-time and stay on top of it!