A charity’s website is one of its biggest assets. It should be a place to engage and delight community members — a place to share memories and stories; acting as a hub for donations and awareness raising. Here’s how you can run a charity website that delivers the right messages, acting as a central digital hub for the community.
Loads of user-friendly content
SEO success is reliant on plenty of engaging and thoughtful content.
As a charity you can leverage your knowledge, and the collective knowledge of community around you, to create amazing web pages.
- Experiment with different content formats. Data-driven infographics, FAQ pages, research articles, beginner guides, personal stories, video blogs…the list goes on! Invest in sharing your work in a variety of exciting content formats — it will help improve key engagement metrics like time on page and social shares.
- Don’t forget to invest in good writing. Use your charity’s knowledge base of expert advisers and researchers to gather useful information, but remember to ‘translate’ these insights into online-friendly language. You want the information to be clear, but the language to be emotive.
- Think about what people really want to know. Hang out on social media, talk to your supporters and try to engage people by writing content that addresses their needs. Asking people to share their own experiences is a great way to open a dialogue with your online audience and make sure that you have a good grasp of what they need.
- A blog is a great (and easy) way to keep your website updated and fresh. Search engines like frequent website updates — it encourages them to crawl your site more, and people to visit it more too!
- The best ranking charity websites take online content seriously and really commit to it. Make it part of your charity’s mission to serve people online, as well as in person. Designing a new leaflet to help raise awareness? Invest in an online whitepaper at the same time.
Video and visual content
Website success is measured by how engaging a page is — and a picture can be worth a thousand words! Don’t get stuck in a rut of pushing out new blog posts — could video be the answer to your prayers?
- Already creating videos on your charity’s channel? Always optimize your videos for SEO by using keywords in video titles and descriptions. Conduct keyword research to make sure that you are delivering videos that people are already interested in finding. Experiment with different video formats and lengths to make sure that you get the balance right — track the amount of views and shares to help you analyze what people are engaging with.
- Always include a transcript with any videos embedded on your site because search engines can’t ‘read’ video content (and people might prefer to ‘read’ it too).
- Running video ads? Focus on the opening of the video — it has to have a ‘hook’ to pull people in and keep them watching (not skipping). Think hard about whether a positive tone might do more for your video, or whether you need to hit people with a serious message instead?
- Videos are great for social media sharing and have been the driving force of many recently successful charity campaigns. Videos with a ‘twist’ often perform well because they encourage people to share.
Social media integration
Social media sites are becoming today’s search engines — make sure your charity is found with frequent social media updates and seasonal campaigns.
- Don’t feel like you have to be ‘everywhere’ – pick channels that work for you and focus on quality. Here are some great social media campaigns from 2015. You can see how carefully thought-out the messaging is, and how it’s perfectly aligned with the platform in question. You are better off investing in a few core platforms at first, rather than trying to focus on everything at once and running off with the latest fads.
- Combine hard-hitting visuals with hard-hitting copy, and use humor to your advantage when it’s needed.
- Social media advertising is a good investment — you can keep costs down by targeting your ads and making them relevant in the first place. Paid traffic is a great way to supplement organic traffic as it helps drive brand awareness.
- Social media is all about listening and engaging. See how these 6 E’s of engagement have helped drive other nonprofits to online success (and beyond).
Luckily for nonprofits, people are (usually) more likely to link back to your website. Leverage your press-worthy status to build some powerful links back to the site.
- Use the power of regional press and local sites (as well as big national publications) to help you raise awareness. Cultivate good online relationships with media outlets and get to know local journalists. Share newsworthy stories with the media — human interest stories or success stories against the odds are always popular. Invest in writing good press releases, then send them out to people who might be interested.
- Approach editors courteously and always offer content with value. Find websites and publications whose mission statement is in alignment with yours.
- Make sure your own website is something people will be happy to link to — keep content updated and make sure your web copy is to a high standard. Here are some charity websites to aspire to.
SEO auditing & strategy
Charity websites tend to historically have good SEO authority, thanks to their age (search engines ‘trust’ older domains more) and their proximity to trusted sites like .gov or .edu domains. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by the fluctuations of SEO — you need to frequently have large scale site audits.
- Don’t just run and off and ‘do SEO’. You need to have a solid plan and strategy in place in order to succeed online. Learn more about the discipline and speak to experts if you get stuck. Always be wary of people who seem to keen to sell you a ‘SEO package’ that will help you immediately rank. SEO just doesn’t work like that.
- Make SEO part of the overall organization strategy. SEO works best when it’s integrated as part of the conversation at all levels.
While you focus on driving web traffic to your site, why not focus on making the most out of visitors to your site too?
- Make sure that you have a proper lead-generation or prospect funnel to help you drive online donations and signups. You have to give people a compelling reason to spend time and money supporting your cause. Here are some lead generation ideas to get you started. Make sure that your website spends enough time building a relationship with visitors, and doesn’t just jump in straight with a hard sell.
- More charities are embracing e-commerce on their websites as a secondary revenue stream. Some nonprofit software systems (like Neon) offer built-in online store and e-commerce functionality. But if you don’t want a CRM, you could go for a dedicated e-commerce solution like Shopify. You could also sign up for the AmazonSmile program which donates a percentage of their sales revenue to charity.
At the end of the day, running an SEO-friendly charity website is something anyone can do with the proper planning. If you’re ready to get started, head to Gareth’s site for a free SEO audit.
Hopefully these ideas will help your nonprofit succeed online! How are you planning to ignite your online profile in 2017?