Search Engine Optimization Primer for Nonprofits

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Search engines use a secret algorithm, a set of rule-based actions, to determine the most relevant webpages (or other content) to return in response to a search query. Generally, the higher you rank in the search results for these terms, the more traffic you’ll attract to your website.

Search engine optimization or SEO is about getting your website to the top ranks in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for specific keyword phrases related to your nonprofit’s services, events, issues, etc. In other words, the goal of SEO is to align your website with the search engine’s algorithm as best as possible in order to increase the probability of your site appearing in the search results for pertinent keyword searches. Top rankings can be accomplished by changing the structure, code, and content of your website in ways that facilitate search engines in discovering all the pages on your site and give it a clearer understanding of what your website is all about. SEO also seeks to increase the number of other sites linking to your website as this is an important factor search engines use in determining your rankings for keywords. Lastly, SEO is a long term online marketing strategy and it may take several weeks to see the payoff, but the return-on-investment can be very high. Below is an example of SEO at work for Amnesty International for the keyword “arms trade”.


SEO is designed to increase the volume and quality of organic traffic coming into your website.

The Opportunity for Nonprofits:

Search engines do not charge a fee to list your website among organic search results, so this is a great opportunity for nonprofit organizations to expand their reach online.

Many search engines incorporate images, videos, press releases, books and shopping feeds in their search results which may represent a tremendous opportunity to create an engaging user experience for your nonprofit within the search engine results.

How to get started:

1. Identify keywords that are related to your nonprofit using the Google Keyword Tool.

2. Assign a keyword to each page on your website. You will optimize the page for this keyword.

3. Add the keyword to the title tag, meta description tag, meta keyword tag, header tag, alt attributes, main site navigation, and URL to its respective allocated page when feasible, being careful not to overdo it and sacrifice user experience.

4. As best as possible, incorporate each keyword into the main body of content of its assigned webpage. The main page content should have between 300 – 500 words of copy.

5. Ask partners, donors, and members to link from their website to your nonprofit site using the keywords you selected as link text. Identify blogs, forums, and website directories and install links to your site using your keywords as link text according to any stated guidelines. In some cases, you may want to send a friendly email to the owner of related websites politely requesting a link to your site.

Are You A Nonprofit Organizations Who Wants To Know More About Internet Marketing?

The proceeding was an excerpt from A Nonprofit’s Guide to Internet Marketing: Cost-Effective Opportunities to Accelerate Online Marketing Success for Your Nonprofit.  This is my FREE 15-page guide designed to help nonprofit organizations activate or to accelerate their online marketing efforts.  Download it instantly by clicking the button below.

redidIf you have any questions about the content of this document, please feel free to comment to this post and I reply there.  If you are looking to retain my services for any of the online marketing programs mentioned, please use this form to contact me.

Thank You For Reading!

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Digital Sapien Interactive Team

Digital Sapien Interactive Team

A team of writers who are dedicated to providing visitors to our blog with insightful information into the world of SEO and digital marketing.