Search engine optimization, or SEO, has been a vital component of online visibility for as long as there have been search engines crawling the web. No doubt you’re at least somewhat familiar with the idea of how SEO techniques and strategies help to make websites visible through organic search results, particularly when it comes to businesses. However, did you know that SEO is just as important for nonprofit organizations and municipalities? It’s true. If you’re not entirely sure how SEO applies to your situation, this guide will break things down for you.
Search engine optimization is all about visibility at heart. Whether we’re talking about keyword implementation within your site content, backlinks, the extension type of your website (.gov, for instance), meta tags and titles, or something else, they’re all designed to help make your website more visible to human beings through a web search. There are over 200 different factors that play into how well your site ranks in an organic search.
You want your target audience to be able to find your website online, and that’s only possible in one of a few ways. First, you could assume that they are going to know your web address off the top of their head, type it into the browser bar and pay you a visit. Sadly, that’s not usually the case.
Second, you could assume that they’re going to find you through social media sites like Facebook. While that’s true to an extent, only a small fraction of your audience will go this route.
Most people will turn to Google, Bing, or some other search engine. When they do, you need to ensure that your website is at or near the top of the first page of search results. Otherwise, they’ll skip you in favor of a competitor simply because they never saw your site listed.
SEO, whether we’re talking about your nonprofit’s website or the site of a municipality, is all about reach. When someone searches for a keyword related to your organization, or your city or town, you want to be as close to that top search result as possible.
For instance, suppose you ran a nonprofit that focused on helping rural residents ensure they have access to clean water through free or low-cost well water testing. You would need to target keywords that these individuals would use in an organic search and then use them throughout your website content. Examples of related keywords might be:
Well water testing.
Free water testing.
Well water test kit.
Is my well water safe.
Cheap well testing.
Keywords and phrases similar to these should form the foundation of your website content, from your site’s homepage to the about content. It also needs to play a role in other elements that work more behind the scenes, such as image alt tags, navigation links, meta tags and descriptions, and more.
By creating content based around keywords that your audience actually uses to search, you increase your online reach and help ensure that your site ranks as well as possible for the people you’re trying to attract – rural homeowners with wells in the above example.
You might not realize it, but SEO matters just as much for city, town, and county websites as it does for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Again, it all comes down to visibility in the search results and expanding your reach with your target audience.
If you operate a municipal website, chances are good that you need to ensure it is visible and easily accessible for people who need vital information about a wide range of things, including city or county park access and use, water and sewer information, specific events, and even communication with city or county government officials.
You may think that because you’re operating a municipal website, that you have few or no competitors that might outrank you in the SERPs. That’s untrue. You’ll find a wide range of companies and organizations that target the same or similar keywords that you do, which can muddy the waters when it comes to organic search results.
For instance, take Sarasota, Florida as an example. A quick Google search with just the city and state gives you several different results. Wikipedia is the top search result, followed by the city’s .gov homepage, then the official visitors’ website (.com), followed by TripAdvisor, the VisitFlorida™ website, and numerous others. If the searcher did not notice the .gov website in second position, and instead clicked on the visitor’s site, or the VisitFlorida website, they would be unable to access any of the city services, government links, or other important information provided through the actual municipality website.
Depending on the municipality, there may be many organizations targeting your city, town, or county name in an effort to drive traffic to their own websites, and the only way to defeat them and ensure your citizens can easily access your site is through SEO.
As you can see, SEO is of significant importance for both nonprofit organizations and for municipalities. However, it can be enormously challenging to pull off correctly, particularly with a tight budget and little time and expertise for keyword research. Add to that the importance of quality content creation, and the need for SEO tactics in behind-the-scenes on-page tactics like image alt tags, and the situation becomes even more difficult.
How do you ensure that you not only identify the right keywords and phrases to use, but that you’re able to implement them correctly? How do you make certain that you’re following Google’s requirements in terms of content quality, originality, and readability? How do you conduct competitive research to ensure that you’re able to outrank other websites?
It can seem like an insurmountable hurdle, but there is a solution. At Job Hub Group, we deliver essential SEO solutions for nonprofit organizations and municipalities, giving you the ability to compete on even footing with for-profit organizations and expand your reach and success. Contact us today to learn more.