What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know Today About SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that everyone is using these days, but a lot of people in the nonprofit sector don’t know what it means. There are a whole lot of SEO experts out there claiming they can get your site to the top of the rankings, but sometimes the results don’t bear out. Having basic knowledge about SEO can go a long way for you as the executive director of an organization.

As much as you rely on your tech people, SEO is something all leaders can and should know.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is easy to understand conceptually. SEO is the process of getting eyeballs to your website through organic (i.e. not paid) and editorial content (e.g. a blog on your site). To get traffic to your site, you have to appear high, the first page preferably, in the rankings of search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Search engines are continually changing their digital algorithms that affect rankings. It’s done so the quality of what people see is high. In other words, search engines, place a premium on high-quality content and they don’t want end users to have results full of spam. And, you don’t want your content to be flagged as created for the search engines-and not humans-full of keywords, for example, or pages with unrelated content.

Why is SEO Important?

Providing content for humans and the human experience is what search engines want on the Internet. And, as humans we don’t want to read articles and visit sites with poor grammar, misspellings and irrelevant or incoherent information.

Ensuring good, or “white hat SEO,” which means content that delivers quality for humans and adheres to search engine rules and guidelines, is essential to having a high ranking. Google’s digital “bots” or “spiders” are continually searching the Internet making sure the best sites and pages rank at the top of any search. They are also indexing content and websites. The spiders are crawling the Internet and indexing it in the Google, Yahoo, or Bing “directory.” That indexing then causes the most relevant and high-quality results to appear when someone does a search.

How Can I Improve My Site’s SEO?

There are some ways to ensure that your organization’s website or blog is search engine optimized.

  • Your site and your content have to be mobile ready. If you’re site still hasn’t been designed for mobile, you might want to get on that right about now.
  • As search engines and social media platforms rely ever-increasingly on visuals, you should make certain great videos and photography accompany your copy.
  • The digital age is all about sharing. Improving your SEO rankings is helped by having compelling content that people want to: a) read; and, b) share. Integrate website share plug-ins and buttons.
  • Believe it or not, the security of your site affects your search engine rankings. Make sure your site is using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). The HTTPS protocol protects the data between a visitor on your site through the Internet and your website.

Finally, if you’re looking for SEO success, there are two metrics that you want to use to help you measure success:

  1. You want to see that your website appears high in the rankings on the first page of the most popular search engines, especially Google.
  2. You want high conversion rates for your website. If people are not buying what you’re selling, or signing up, you have a deeper problem than SEO.

Understanding these essential aspects of search engine optimization will go a long way toward making sure that you and your tech support team are communicating with the same understanding of SEO. And, this basic knowledge will help your nonprofit or social enterprise website or blog achieve digital success.

Nonprofit Board of Directors – Is Yours Apathetic? 5 Common Problems and How to Solve Them

Despite varying sizes, maturities, and purposes, many nonprofit organizations suffer from boards that are too passive or disengaged. If your Nonprofit Board of Directors isn’t enthusiastic about their role and the work of the organization, the organization cannot possibly reach its full potential.

Often board members witness the symptoms of their malaise but can’t articulate the root causes and are unable to offer solutions. Step back from your board of directors for a moment and read through the list of problems, below. Are you familiar with these complaints? Can you imagine stepping through the solutions provided? Are there other steps you could take to invigorate your passive board?

Send this article to members of your board today and start talking about possible solutions.

PROBLEM ONE Mission Scope Creep Over time, we’ve started to do too much for too many people. We aren’t sure any more what our priorities are and where we should focus our time. Things fall through the cracks and the staff is overloaded.

RECOMMENDATION Chances are that you are spread too thin. Maybe some of your programs are not being well-managed. Conversations need to take place with key board and staff personnel. Make a complete list of all of your programs. Decide on the focus of your organization. Make sure you have the resources to manage these programs well. Drop some projects or programs if necessary.

PROBLEM TWO Staff and Board are Out of Synch The board is working on some things, the staff is working on other things, but one hand doesn’t really know what the other is doing. Sometimes we just seem out of control.

RECOMMENDATION Stop and assess what the staff is doing and what each of the board committees is doing. Assign staff members to appropriate board committees. Design an Executive Director Board Report that highlights the measurable results from the organization’s key programs and projects. Focus the staff and board committee efforts on the top priorities of the organization.

PROBLEM THREE Executive Committee Does It All It’s just easier with fewer people. The Executive Committee can have a meeting before the board meeting and discuss, digest and make recommendations to the rest of the board about most issues. Some board members are doing all of the work, others don’t seem to be interested or involved.

RECOMMENDATION Slowly phase out the Executive Committee over time and ask the board committees to come to the board meetings with crisp, direct recommendations to the entire board. Expect more from every board member and empower board committees so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

PROBLEM FOUR No Clear Sense of Where the Organization is Going It seems like the organization is just treading water. We have no annual objectives for the staff and no actions for the board. We just come to board meetings and hear the same thing each month. And we always seem to be worried about money.

RECOMMENDATION As a board, sit down with your executive staff and decide the three most critical changes that need to take place in the next year. Decide how the board can support those activities (including fundraising) and how the board of directors can oversee and support the progress and the results you want to achieve.

PROBLEM FIVE The Board of Directors Provides no Oversight for the Organization It seems that the staff is doing fine without us. We’re not really sure what we should be doing. It’s hard to know what the staff is doing, and we don’t want to interrupt their work when they’re so busy.

RECOMMENDATION Think about the organization’s 4 or 5 key programs or projects. Decide what facts, figures, and trends the board needs to review at each board meeting to provide oversight and support for the top priorities of your organization. Ask the Executive Director to come to board meetings armed with this information. At the same time, work more closely with the staff to start discussing the future. Describe where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and determine how you can work together to make that future a reality.

How to Use Social Listening for Your Nonprofit Brand

By now, you’re steeped in social media, which is an essential ingredient of your digital marketing for your nonprofit. But as with everything in life, you have to get a little deeper into the details.

The paramount rule for nonprofit fundraisers is to create and develop relationships with their donors and supporters. As the adage goes, people give to people.

So, how does social listening factor into helping you develop and expand your brand, which ultimately leads to increased community engagement and funding?

What is Social Listening?

It’s fundamental to understand that social media is social networking. Meaning, that for your nonprofit brand to have the greatest success in engaging with your audience, you must be an active participant, and that means also listening. You can’t possibly provide to your supporters the content they want to see if you’re not listening to their interests and motivations. We know that we live in an era where a lot of the power has shifted from the brands themselves to the consumers.

Imagine for a moment a conversation between you and someone else over the course of dinner. Let’s say you like this person whom you’ve recently met, and you have looked forward to the dinner. Now, let’s say that this person has spent the entire dinner talking about himself. He hasn’t stopped to ask you a question; he’s blathered on and on about whatever has come into his mind. You might have gotten in a word or two, but that’s about it.

So, how does that little story relate to social listening?

Simple, if you’re not actively tracking–and understanding the context and meaning–of the comments and engagements by your supporters, you’re missing out on opportunities to develop content and have conversations that are relevant to them.

Why Should I Develop Content Relevant to Donors?

You may be asking yourself, why should you produce content that your donors want to see? Shouldn’t they be interested in your cause and give because you’re making an impact in your community?

The short answer is no; they shouldn’t just give to you because of your mission.

Think about it for a moment. Think about yourself and every person you know that’s younger than you. What’s the one device that it seems everyone seems to have on their person? If you’ve guessed the ubiquitous cell phone, you would be correct.

Practically everyone has a cell phone. In fact, most people own a mobile phone, even if they don’t have a computer. And, within those cell phones are countless apps, messages, emails, articles, pictures, video, etc. We live in a connected and wired world, and all day long, people are tapping away on their phones.

What Should You Understand About Social Listening?

Social listening goes beyond the mentions. Seeing the alerts in your social media accounts or management platforms only touch the surface of what you’re supposed to be doing. You have to go deeper.

Let’s go back to that restaurant and that dinner to understand what you should be doing with social listening. Again, you’re excited to be meeting this individual for dinner. Now, instead of a blowhard, he’s speaking about topics you both enjoy, and he also pauses and listens to what you have to say. In addition, he also asks questions and gets deeper into issues that you are both discussing. As you’re talking about an interesting topic, you’re both gaining more insight and understanding, and there’s context to relevant areas of the subject-matter.

That’s social listening at work.

When you’re doing social listening well, you’re not only getting feedback or connecting with someone, but you’re creating a deeper and more meaningful relationship. If someone is complaining about your brand (and in today’s world, people will take to social media to air their disappointments), by being actively engaged and understanding the issues, you’re listening.

Alternately, let’s say someone makes a comment on social media about an event your organization held and that they loved attending. Instead of giving a generic “thank you” on social media, getting involved in a dialogue with a thoughtful response–especially if remember them from the event and can mention something that resonates personally–that type of engagement only helps you to leverage and expand your social networking.

When people understand that you are an active and engaged participant and listener, they care more about your brand and the work you do. When you take the time to personalize responses, understand the context and dig deeper for meaningful dialogue, you separate yourself from the competition.

If you take the time to do social listening, in time, you will be able to track useful social media and community engagements, which will lead to increased brand awareness and, ultimately, funding. You can talk about areas in your nonprofit that people may want to understand more, and people will know that when they reach out and comment about you or to you, there’s a living person who cares about what they have to say. It matters. People want to be heard and, more importantly, listened to; so, move away from the generic replies, and see your mentions and comments as an opportunity to build relationships with supporters and your community.