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Nonprofit SEO (search engine optimization) can feel hopelessly confusing, but in a sector that increasingly relies on digital outreach, optimized pages are more important than ever.

The journey to effective SEO begins with strategic Google keywords for nonprofits that form a necessary link between what potential supporters want to know and what your nonprofit’s web content has to offer.

In this guide, we will explain which nonprofit keywords will produce the most traffic as you seek donors or strive to accomplish other goals.

Top keywords for nonprofits

When choosing keywords for your nonprofit, you need to straddle the fine line between using terms that are broad enough to attract a wide audience and those that are narrow enough to appeal to the targeted users who are most likely to convert. In the context of a nonprofit, converting could mean donating to or sponsoring your organization. It could also involve sponsoring an event, signing up to participate in an event, or volunteering to help.

What, exactly, constitutes a desirable nonprofit keyword differs based on the type of organization, its mission, and the types of donors being targeted. The keyword needs of business leagues and chambers of commerce, for example, may not match those of civic or humanitarian organizations. To that end, you’ll find the best results if your keywords incorporate specific descriptors. Examples of excellent descriptive Google keywords for nonprofits include:

Depending on the size of your nonprofit, location may play heavily into keyword selection. Geographic searches are increasingly common, particularly among those who intend to visit physical premises. To incorporate a regional emphasis, try keywords such as:

Alternate keywords for nonprofits

While the terms highlighted above are excellent when search engine users act as expected, not all potential donors or partners will behave as you anticipate.

Many people use alternate words or phrases to describe nonprofits, even when, technically speaking, the terms may not be correct. Still, it’s important to find ways to incorporate this language, as you might otherwise neglect to reach a significant share of searchers.

Common alternatives that reference or are associated with nonprofits include the following.

Not-for-profit

Nonprofits and not-for-profits have many similarities, to the point that even people familiar with the nonprofit sector sometimes use these terms interchangeably. Their distinctions may appear small, but they matter.

The term “nonprofit” references the status of the organization, while “not-for-profit” highlights activities pursued by a particular group. In many cases, not-for-profits exist to achieve a narrow set of goals, rather than promote the public good as is required of nonprofits.

Regardless of how searchers perceive such terms, it’s imperative that you proceed with caution.

Misleading those who do understand the differences between nonprofits and not-for-profits could be problematic. You risk losing not only immediate contributions but also causing damage to your carefully cultivated reputation.

Should you choose to incorporate the keyword “not-for-profit” despite actually running a nonprofit, consider doing so in the context of explaining your organization’s purpose, as well as the basics of how it runs and how resources secured through fundraising are used. This will clarify any misconceptions visitors may have about your nonprofit — and keep you in the clear with those who understand such terminology.

Nongovernmental organization

Sometimes described as a nonprofit working across borders, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) operates independently of government agencies with the goal of supporting global humanitarian efforts. This term is often used interchangeably with “nonprofit,” but it is best left for highlighting international efforts.

Keep in mind that people conducting searches outside of the United States may be more inclined to search for NGOs, as the term was developed during the creation of the United Nations and remains the more common phrase in many countries to this day.

Charity

Some — but certainly not all — nonprofits are charities. To truly qualify as a charity, your organization must be dedicated to serving the larger community. Your goals should be informed by philanthropy, rather than objectives that serve only a small group of individuals.

SEO keywords including “charity” are best avoided if your nonprofit does not serve a charitable purpose. This designation can hold huge implications for donors and even with the IRS, so it’s critical that you represent your organization accurately.

If your nonprofit truly qualities as a charity, feel free to weave this term into your content where appropriate. Many people specifically seek charities to support, rather than relying on general terms such as nonprofit. Appeal to their desire to make a difference with Google keywords for nonprofits such as “best charities near me” or “charities to support.”

How to choose the best Google keywords for your nonprofit

With so many potential keywords available, how do you choose Google keywords for nonprofits that will reach your target audience and sound natural?

First, it’s important to understand your audience and their search intent. What do people who visit your website want to achieve? How can your content deliver on these expectations? Visitors who encounter irrelevant terms are less likely to stick around or show support for your cause.

Once you’ve determined how your goals and audience align, use a keyword tool to give you greater insight into how, exactly, your target market searches. Constant Contact offers excellent SEO tools to help you optimize your page based on the most effective keywords available.

How to use nonprofit keywords effectively

After you’ve chosen the right nonprofit keywords, you’ll need to determine where to include them and how to make the most of them. Remember, Google’s algorithm rewards high-quality content while demoting pages that clearly rely on the outdated strategy of keyword stuffing, which involves overusing keywords to try to gain a better position in search results.

Sounding natural is necessary, but an effective nonprofit keyword strategy goes beyond this to deliver a genuinely valuable experience. Individuals who express interest in your nonprofit’s online presence are far more likely to support your cause if your content conveys why it’s important and how they can get involved.

While no one specific approach is ideal for every nonprofit website, the following are among the best opportunities for incorporating Google keywords for nonprofits.

About page

The about page is one of the most important aspects of your online presence. This is your opportunity to share your nonprofit’s story and connect with followers on an emotional level. Here, they will discover what you aim to accomplish, why your mission matters, and what supporters can do to further your cause.

Use evocative language that captures the essence of your nonprofit. What, exactly, sets your organization apart? The right keywords can serve as a blueprint, making your purpose and function abundantly clear.

Blog posts

Continue to weave the story of your nonprofit through blog posts. Your posts should provide both time-sensitive updates and evergreen content that highlights your organization’s level of authority.

Keyword research can help you determine what your target audience wants to know. Your findings may inspire some of your most interesting and useful blog topics.

FAQ page

When website visitors have questions about your nonprofit, they turn to your FAQ page.

Your FAQ (frequently asked questions) page provides an easy and direct means of conveying essential information. It’s also ideal for integrating question-based keywords, which, although crucial for success with today’s popular voice searches, can otherwise be difficult to incorporate naturally.

Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is not, as its name suggests, only meant for businesses. This resource can also be valuable in the nonprofit sector — particularly for organizations that maintain a physical presence. This tool encourages you to interact with and keep tabs on donors, partners, and anyone else who might get involved with your organization.

GMB provides an excellent opportunity for integrating keywords outside of your nonprofit’s official website. Once you’ve claimed your page and completed your Google My Business profile, you can add keywords to key sections such as the description, FAQ, and updates.

Take the next step to improve nonprofit SEO

Now that you know the basics of SEO keywords for nonprofits, you’re ready to take an important step forward by optimizing your website and GMB page. Find additional suggestions for effective nonprofit SEO when you download Constant Contact’s The Download — your guide to all things digital marketing.

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