Once upon a time, getting found online meant being adept at the arts of SEO stratagem - keywords, backlinks, meta descriptions, meta tags - basically how you "marked" yourself and how many people with a high PageRank linked to your website.
While these tactics are still important, changes to how people search for and discover information have dramatically reshaped core strategies for getting found.
People now search their apps almost as often as they search via Google. With a mobile phone always within arm's reach, you're not always turning to a search engine. You turn to YouTube to find a video. Or Pinterest to find a recipe. Go to Twitter to find out about that breaking news. Angie's List to find a plumber. On our phones, we often bypass Google altogether.
You can now think of your content strategy as one of your best moves to get found. If you are producing relevant, actionable, shareable and compelling content and hitting the algorithm targets, Google will like you. (This is actually a great development in terms of holistic strategy design for your nonprofit).
We’ll get into the nitty gritty of how content strategy and SEO are enmeshed in a minute, but first, a run-down on how you’re being judged by Google. It's important to understand the various things that come together to boost a website to the first page of search results.
How to Impress Google
It may seem shallow, but…Google only really likes you if:
- You release a continued stream of fresh, new content
- You clock fast load speeds
- You run a mobile-friendly website (1/3 of web traffic comes from mobile devices, so this is non-negotiable!)
- Other people (influencers especially) like you and share your content
And Get Found Online
You will also want to:
- Use Natural Wording: As voice search via mobile becomes increasingly important, you want your language to match how people talk to Siri. Sorry, no prose poetry or industry jargon. Write conversationally.
- Reach Out to Influencers: Google places a high value on social signals (sharing, links, etc). Try to build relationships with agencies, companies and individuals with more clout than you.
- Research the Beejezus Out of Your Keywords: Keywords are now more critical than ever, so do your keyword research carefully. Wherever possible (and not awkward), integrate keywords into titles and headings (which should be properly coded as H1 and H2 respectively in your website theme).
- Use Long Tail Keywords: Long tail keywords are meatier, more specific keyword phrases that provide a fast track to your org's niche for those most interested in that niche, for instance: "Nepal earthquake rebuilding projects Katmandu" versus "Nepal earthquake." Your goal should be to get on the first page of results for your core services.
And Generally Bask in SEO Glory
Of the utmost importance:
Incorporate Keywords into Content Strategy: Yes, we're back to keywords. Pepper your content with your most relevant keywords. Add SEO modules and plug-ins to your website and then build, as a team, around your keyword research. Promote your work with Google Adwords via a Google Grant.
If you are producing relevant, shareable, compelling, and actionable content, you will generate more keywords and see more sharing on social platforms, all of which lead to better SEO. This dynamic is really at the crux of how content strategy influences search results.
Social Media Optimization
Finally, your website must be properly configured for search engine optimization AND social media optimization. This means:
- Including the right meta tags for social media platforms
- Adding social media sharing prompts to all of your dynamic content
- Testing to ensure your titles, attributions, and photos share appropriately
- Uploading ideally sized photos for all content
A Note for Small Orgs
If you are a small organization struggling to produce consistent quality content, don't fret, there are some creative ways to skin that cat. Community-generated content (content provided by supporters, beneficiaries, volunteers, etc) is one brilliant solution.
Community-generated content expands the web of social media sharing, lowers your content strategy level of effort, and provides varied resources to your community. All of this is great for SEO.
In the end, if your site is mobile-friendly, keyword savvy, loads quickly, is eminently shareable, relevant, and connected to other influencers, you have found your way into Google's good graces.
Stay on top of these things and not only your SEO, but your entire online presence will thrive in a kind of snowball effect. As Google search adapts to a changing Internet, so must your strategy.